on April 25, 2007
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.
on April 25, 2007
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.
on April 25, 2007
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.
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
on June 14, 2010
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.
on December 30, 2013
Never read the coffee table book, but the trade-offs with the Kindle version made it the better option.
Devices read on:
* iPad (retina)
* Nexus 7 (2013)
* iPhone 5
Still pretty, and many are illuminating, but by default they're never full page -- always a ton of white space around 1-3 zoomable pictures -- so you lose the ease of flipping through pages and just landing on something pretty
*Audio and Video only playable on some devices*
If you have an iPad or Kindle Fire, you're golden. Videos and audio work on those devices, and they're amazing. Own a Nexus 7, you're SoL. Nothing plays, which is too bad considering the Nexus 7 was my favorite device for actually reading the book.
* Everything else:
Great detail without going dull. Lifelong Star Wars fan, so getting this much narrative of the production itself is like nothing I've ever seen.
Being able to actually read this thing anywhere is great. I don't see how I would have consumed the coffee table edition, outside of the occasional bored skim.
One of my all-time best Kindle purchases.
on May 18, 2007
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.