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70 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wait, you mean there's stuff I didn't already know?!
The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film (Star Wars)

I was four years old when the original "Star Wars" was released, and like so many kids of that generation, that film and its two sequels defined an enormous part of my childhood. Even though I didn't know it at the time, it introduced me to the "best bits" of classical...
Published on September 30, 2007 by W. S. Bandla

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Be careful which edition you get!
The paperback version of this book that I first bought (not from Amazon) turned out to be a version that was practically text-only, and also lacked some sections of text. Illustrations were only in a few photo pages inserted among the low-quality text paper. Quite disappointing, since I expected what can be seen through "look inside" on Amazon. Apparently, this is the...
Published on June 14, 2010 by Jesper Larsson


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70 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wait, you mean there's stuff I didn't already know?!, September 30, 2007
This review is from: The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film (Star Wars - Legends) (Hardcover)
The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film (Star Wars)

I was four years old when the original "Star Wars" was released, and like so many kids of that generation, that film and its two sequels defined an enormous part of my childhood. Even though I didn't know it at the time, it introduced me to the "best bits" of classical mythology, while being a visual catalyst for my imagination (and years of subsequent role-play, particularly in Upstate New York, where re-enacting ice planet Hoth after "Empire" came out was all too easy...).

As I grew older (I hesitate to use the phrase "grew up," as I'm not sure it's happened yet), I came to appreciate more than just the adventure and dynamic visuals that "Star Wars" represented; it was my "gateway drug" into wanting to learn more about how movies were made. I remember all of the TV specials of that era that pulled back the curtain on the filmmaking process, particularly with regard to the original "Star Wars" trilogy, and I couldn't get enough information. That hunger became the same kind of obsession that's typically associated with "Star Wars" fans, and I absorbed every scrap of detail I could find, from Ralph McQuarrie's concept art, to model photos, to script pages, and even before the Internet made it only a matter of a few clicks to access such information, there was a wealth of it, when it came to "Star Wars."

Fast forward to 2007; "Star Wars" is 30 years old, a whole separate trilogy has come and gone, and my own children are budding "Star Wars" fans for their own reasons. I figured I knew pretty much all there was to know about this film. I darn well should have, for as much time as I had spent (and continue to spend) over the years actively seeking out new details about it. Then came this book; I didn't know anything.

This is dense, dense reading, covering every minute detail about every aspect of production of the original "Star Wars," from drafting the script, to getting it taken seriously by Hollywood, to assembling the team that would revolutionize filmmaking as we came to know it. This is a wonderful thing. I find myself poring over every word, every image, every caption and footnote, just as I did as a child who was learning about film for the first time. It is an amazing tribute, an insanely detailed reference volume, and most incredible of all, a unique representation of a film that has been covered in so many ways by so many authors, that finding anything new to talk about seemed impossible.

The aspect of this book I personally find most exciting is that all of the interviews that comprise it are taken from the period immediately surrounding the production and release of the original film. There is none of the revisionist hindsight pertaining to the film that has come about as a result of the films that came after; every word spoken by the people involved is "of the moment," and as such, is refreshingly candid about what was going on while the film was in the throes of its conception and execution.

The hardcover volume is worth the extra cost, because of its additional supplemental material, not found in the softcover edition. There are 45 pages of storyboard reproductions, as well as Lucas' first-ever references to the larger world beyond what was shown in the original film, in the form of interview excerpts taken in 1977, which involve Lucas describing character and environmental background information. As author J.W. Rinzler explains in the opening to the section, "Many of these ideas...[have since been] modified to a greater or lesser degree. They are presented here...[as] an idea of how he first began [the process of expanding the "Star Wars" universe]." Given the amount of tweaking that the backstory has undergone in the decades following "Star Wars," the inclusion of Lucas' first impressions of it in this volume are incredibly valuable to anyone who, like me, has wondered if the second trilogy of films was truly borne from his original ideas, or was more a product of his later experiences.

This book is exactly what its title promises: the definitive history behind the original film. And for someone who has spent most of his life feeling like there was nothing new under the suns (not a typo) when it came to the story of how "Star Wars" was made, that's saying something.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Definitive, April 25, 2007
By 
Rob Keil (San Francisco) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film (Star Wars - Legends) (Hardcover)
I've been a huge Star Wars fan since I was a kid, and have collected a tremendous amount of "making of" material in various forms over the years, so I figured I'd heard it all and seen it all. I've read this volume cover to cover now, and what I have seen and read opens a whole new chapter in my understanding of this milestone film. There are literally hundreds of photos in this book I have never seen, and the process of making the film (all the way from original concept to opening day) is documented with a level of detail far beyond any account that exists. This is not light reading or a "bubble-gum" movie souvenir book, but an extremely detailed account of the struggles, disasters, and eventual successes of a film that changed cinema forever. The research and production of this tome was obviously a massive project, but the results are truly impressive. Rinzler's book will surely be the definitive work on this important subject.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New material for an old film -- worthwhile!, April 25, 2007
By 
Jon Folkers (Silver Spring, MD United States) - See all my reviews
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There are so many books and films about this now-classic film that it's hard to imagine that anything published in 2007 could bring anything new to the table. There was a made-for-TV special with the same title, but believe it or not, no companion book ever came out for the original "Star Wars" movie -- just every other film in the series.

The beauty of this thick volume is the in-depth, candid look at the production *before* anyone knew it was a hit. The interviews and notes are almost entirely from 1975 and 1976, which really gives you a flavor for how crazy/brave/pioneering/enterprising young George Lucas was when he fought to make the film.

Writing and production quality is excellent, but it's the content that really shines here. I have the paperback version, which is an excellent value from Amazon, but apparently the hardcover edition has even more exclusive content.

This book is strongly recommended for any fan of the series, the genre, or filmmaking in general. You'll want to watch the documentary "Star Wars: Empire of Dreams" again after seeing this, too .... set some time aside to geek out with your sideburns out.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Be careful which edition you get!, June 14, 2010
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The paperback version of this book that I first bought (not from Amazon) turned out to be a version that was practically text-only, and also lacked some sections of text. Illustrations were only in a few photo pages inserted among the low-quality text paper. Quite disappointing, since I expected what can be seen through "look inside" on Amazon. Apparently, this is the British paperback version, and according to Jonathan Rinzler (himself?) in a comment (which was written before I changed this review), the American paperback is nothing like this. Well, I don't really know, I'm just saying: be careful about which edition you choose! I recommend the hardback.

I originally gave this a "1" rating, based on the terrible paperback, but since I realized Amazon does not separate between editions in ratings (and also it might not be the edition actually on sale here) I changed it.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review from the OPB, April 25, 2007
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This review is from: The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film (Star Wars - Legends) (Hardcover)
Overview

This is a fantastic work, which spans the origins and creation of the film and includes insights into nearly every aspect of the filmmaking process. A true archive of both information and visuals, it is, in my opinion, a book that should be in the collection of every fan of the film. Highest recommendation.

This review is broken down by the following group areas - Written Content, Visual Collateral, Presentation/Quality, and Overall Value - focuses on the perspective of the original prop hobbyist, in that sometimes we are looking for photos pertaining to real, original props and editorial content is of less interest; other times, in performing research, we may be seeking information more so than photos, etc.

Written Content (10/10)

This is, quite frankly, the most impressive and comprehensive Star Wars resource I have ever laid hands on. Whereas the legendary Star Wars Chronicles set the mark some time ago, in my opinion, in terms of visual collateral and photos, it had little by way of actual written content - just remarks about the stunning photography and images.

This book matches the visual collateral in quality (though not sheer quantity) but far exceeds in the realm of pure information, narrative, background, insights, opinions, and more. You truly can't appreciate it until you begin flipping through this book - it's just astounding.

If anything, the reader gains an appreciation for how impossible it seems to be that the final product is what it is, in that it was such a collaborative process that underwent constant change and alteration, and it had so much stacked against it throughout the creation of the film.

As someone particularly interesting in story, character, and writing, I was especially captivated in following the development of the story and script itself, and its many and drastic changes.

But I would say that there is definitely something for everyone in this work. There is focus given to special effects, models, creatures/masks, acting, production, post production - it's all here, in a format that encourages a bit of "flipping around".

Visual Collateral (9/10)

Of course, some of the photos have been seen before, in various publications and elsewhere. But there is so, so much I'd never personally seen. An incredible amount of "eye candy". Description just can't do it justice.

Particularly interesting to me were some of the prototype props, such as the photos of the unpainted prototype R2D2 and the early lightsaber prototypes (think "flashlight").

There is a substantial amount of behind the scenes material as well as sketches and artist renditions, photos of models, sets, workshops, actors, etc.

As far as photos of actual props go, there are some excellent reference photos with great detail, which may be of some help to those lucky enough to have original pieces from A New Hope.

Between this book and Star Wars Chronicles, I think any fan would be happy with the amount of material covered in both books.

Presentation/Quality (9/10)

It's a nice-looking, squareish hardcover book with a reflective yet not "fingerprint magnet" jacket. I usually take the jacket off right away (I find them annoying) and the actual book is all black textured material with a gold signature across the front (I assume George Lucas).

The interior pages are of a high quality, and I get the impression it will hold up to handling quite well. Again, not of the "fingerprint magnet" variety (my biggest pet peeve with books - designed so as to discourage handling!).

The content of the book is laid out in good order and there is at least one photo on every page in the book; though the "all photo(s)" pages are few and far between, which is a distinct departure from the Chronicles style. This is just as much about information as it is the visuals, and the visuals truly compliment the editorial content.

Given the overall length of the book, things are broken up well enough to where you can read section by section or skip around based on interest.

I was a bit disappointed with the index. It is fairly comprehensive in listing actors and production members, as well as main characters, but is limited to mostly that (i.e. you can't look up "lightsaber" and find the references in the book). Not the biggest deal, but given how much content there is, going back and trying to find something after the fact is a huge challenge. An expanded index would have been a bonus, in that there is so much content to work through. One would truly have to read through the entire work once just to have an idea of how much is covered throughout the book.

In summary, it is a beautiful "coffee book-style" piece that is difficult to put down once you start flipping through it.

Overall Value (9/10)

The retail price is $75, which seems like a lot for a book. However, Star Wars Chronicles was $150 in initial release, and was fewer pages (320 vs 372) though it was 100% full color with pull outs and a slip case.

Given that it can be had via Amazon.com for $[...] and deeply discounted at other retailers as well, I think it is well worth the price of acquisition. It is a wealth of information, in a high quality book, with all full color photos throughout.

Conclusion and Overall Rating (10/10)

I would characterize this book as a "must have" for any Star Wars fan. It is a fantastic book with an incredible about of both written and visual content, much of which is unique to this release. Along with Star Wars Chronicles, I would say these are the two books any serious Star Wars fans should have in their library. Highly recommended. I can count the books in my collection that I would rate a "10" overall on one hand, and I have a pretty extensive library. Star Wars is, in my opinion, the most important film of my generation, and this book gives exclusive insights into the making of that legend.

Jason De Bord, Original Prop Blog
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29 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Long Overdue, but not the Definitive Work, May 18, 2007
By 
Dave (Washington, DC USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film (Star Wars - Legends) (Hardcover)
I consider myself to be a die-hard Star Wars fan, and when I heard this book was coming out I was thrilled! A comprehensive book about the beginnings of the Star Wars saga - from concept to the first movie - was long overdue. Once it arrived, though, I must say I was somewhat disappointed. The book seemed to think that if some fact was available anywhere else, it needn't be included. I expected at least some consideration given to major changes in the film made as late as the editing stage - such as the deletion of the Biggs scenes on Tatooine - but these barely pass without mention. I also found the "rare photos" all too often to be of the crew of Star Wars and ILM rather than pictures of details or props from the movie itself. I have the utmost respect and admiration for these people, but that's not a reason to buy a $75 book. If you're a Star Wars fan, you can glean more from fan histories on the internet than you can from here - although it does have nice additions and some surprising facts. The physical format and page quality is, to be fair, impressive and enjoyable. Overall, I'd recommend this book if it can be purchased at discount, but not at full list price.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Force is strong with this one, April 26, 2007
By 
Martini Houdini (Forest Hills, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film (Star Wars - Legends) (Hardcover)
Finally, a Star Wars book that truly captures in very specific detail the struggles that Lucas and crew went through during the filming of Star Wars in the mid 70s. This book is truly a labor of love by Rinzler in the same way that Star Wars was for Lucas, which is evident by the sheer volume of information that will give you new insight into just how difficult, often frustrating, and risky it was to make this landmark and extremely influential film that struck a chord with an entire generation.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive is a right word, June 7, 2007
By 
lordhoot "lordhoot" (Anchorage, Alaska USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film (Star Wars - Legends) (Hardcover)
Making of Star Wars by J.W. Rinzler is truely a definitive account of how Star Wars was created. The book proves to be well written, superbly researched and the author obviously had the total cooperation from George Lucas. The material presented in this book proves to be a literal gold mine of information that easily surpassed any film documentary any reader may have seen on DVD or TV on this subject. The book is also blessed with many photographs, illustrations, draft notes and all that carefully traced the gradual, somewhat painful growth of the story, concepts and film making of the movie Star Wars. Now, some of the photos and illustrations have been seen before in other publications but this book gathered all into one tome and made it utterly interesting experience to go through them all. Some of the more exciting material of this book shows the evolution of the story of Star Wars and how George Lucas had to make many changes, committed many compromises, just to get the movie made.

Along the way, there are host of tidbits information on all aspects of the making of the movie, many stories of how George Lucas got some of his ideas and concepts. The book traces the development of Star Wars from the initial concept of George Lucas all the way to the released of the movie and its consequence aftermath of total success. Its a complete story that will totally engross the reader may that reader be a fan or not.

If I had any real gripe about this book, it may be that the story hung too tightly around George Lucas and even if he may have been the sun to the host of planets circling around him, maybe the author could have expanded a bit more in other directions. A good example would be that I thought the account of how the soundtrack of Star Wars was concieved to be weakly presented.

But overall, this is one of the best "making of" books I ever read and even if the price range appears to be pretty steep, its a book well worth buying and reading. For any real Star Wars fan, money matter not when buying this book, its totally mandatory.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That's no moon, that's the best Star Wars book ever..., May 3, 2007
By 
S. Dicken (Pacifica, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film (Star Wars - Legends) (Hardcover)
A friend of mine emphatically recommended that I order this book, and I did based on his word alone. When I got it, I was ready to be stunned, but I wasn't prepared to be absolutely blown away. Just flipping through, I only made it to page 65 before being completely overwhelmed with the depth of and quality of information... and I was just scratching the surface, with almost 300 more pages to go! I've got a lot of books on the making and the art of Star Wars, and there are literally hundreds of photos in this book that I've never seen before. And they're good photos too! I can't wait to have time to sit down and read this book cover to cover- a whole film class on Star Wars, in a single book!

You'd be hard pressed to find any book or documentary that goes as in depth into the making of a film (or any other single piece of art, for that matter) as The Making of Star Wars by J.W. Rinzler.

The pages are printed on non-glare paper too, so there's no trouble reading the small text in direct light - a problem that far too many "coffee table" books suffer from (although the photos in this book have an elegant glossy sheen to them).

Highest possible recommendation for any Film fan, and a must have for any Star Wars aficionado.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You know when you hear about something that will be released that you hope...., April 25, 2007
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This review is from: The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film (Star Wars - Legends) (Hardcover)
... will be the most amazing, fantastic thing you could ever hope for but you know it probably WON'T be and then when it finally does come out it leaves you feeling dissatisfied and even a little jaded?

NOT THIS BOOK. Just thumbing through it quickly today after it arrived (sadly it's pouring out so it is sitting on my desk at work, safe and dry) made me nearly as excited as I was on that line outside the old RKO Keith's theater (Flushing, NY) way back a long, long time ago...

There are a lot of wonderful photographs and art pieces, but what I find even more wonderful is that there is SO MUCH to READ, and not in that 14 point type so many impressive-looking books use to fill up space with as little real content as possible - this baby has a 10pt typeface (I'm pretty sure it's 10.) That might sound silly, but I'm sure someone out there understands. We're talking comprehensive here.

Don't wait for paperback, don't wait for used - this is absolutely worth the price. If you can, get two, so you can have one in the bookcase/on the table, and one you can take from room to room with you to read and savor without worrying about keeping it pristine.

This is the 'Darkness on the Edge of Town' of books about Star Wars.
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The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film (Star Wars - Legends)
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