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The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Hardcover – October 12, 2010
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*Starred Review* For Star Wars fans looking for a way to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the release of The Empire Strikes Back, this book will seem heaven sent. Rinzler follows up his magnificent The Making of Star Wars (2007) with this in-depth account of the production of the second act in George Lucas' original three-act epic. The author distills information gathered from a variety of sources: interviews with the actors and filmmakers recorded while the movie was in production; archival records; newspaper and magazine articles; new interviews; and books (including the now-rare Once upon a Galaxy, Alan Arnold's 1980 making-of book). Rinzler explores every aspect of the production, from the writing of the screenplay to casting to location filming to special effects to composing the score and designing print ads. The book is profusely illustrated with preproduction sketches, on-set photos, excerpts from various script drafts, reproductions of Lucas' handwritten notes, and more. Even fans who consider themselves quite knowledgeable about the movie might be surprised at some of the information here (Jeremy Bulloch, who played bounty hunter Boba Fett, was the half-brother of associate producer Robert Watts; the design of one of Empire's classic posters was modeled on a poster for a rerelease of Gone with the Wind). A splendid, comprehensive, and utterly indispensable book. --David Pitt
Advance praise for The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
“These books are the acid flashback they’ve been promising us without the mess and fuss of dropping acid . . . again. A trip worth taking.”—Carrie Fisher, actress/author
Praise for The Making of Star Wars
“Rinzler’s books sort of freak me out—because I feel when I’m reading them that I’m right back there!”—Robert Watts, Star Wars production supervisor
“The Making of Star Wars is perhaps the most insightful account of what it’s really like to make this kind of movie. The untainted perspective from the pre-release interviews offered inspiration when I found myself in the uncertainty brought upon by the chaos of day-to-day filmmaking.”—Jon Favreau, director of Iron Man, Zathura, and Elf
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Top Customer Reviews
One of the included quotations from Kershner regarding his approach to the making of "Empire" illustrates why this movie is so well-loved by Star Wars fans, and in my opinion reflects what exactly was so frustrating to many fans about the Prequels:
"The thing that you learn in directing is that when you're on the floor, no matter how complex the shooting is...you have to remain absolutely sensitive to every nuance of the behavior of the people around you. Because, ultimately, if you don't keep in mind the overall humanity, then the machine takes over and suddenly all you have are technically fine shots, technically good performances. The story's being told, but something's lacking, something mysterious, indefinable." --Irvin Kershner
"Empire" had this "indefinable humanity" in spades, and the book really shows how the director was able to craft such a tale. Kershner really played with the tensions between Luke and Vader, and between Leia and Han. He (along with Frank Oz and Mark Hamill) made us all believe there is a soul underneath that puppet (Yoda). The lack of this "indefinable humanity" in the Prequels is what made me so sad about how the those movies ultimately came out (but perhaps this should better be saved for another review).
Back to the book: I highly highly recommend this. From the inclusion of amazing archival behind-the-scenes photos, gorgeous concept art and sketches (most notably by Ralph McQuarrie), to in-depth first-hand accounts by most of the important cast and crew, it really brings you so close to what everyone went through in the making of the movie.
This book focuses less on the evolution of the Star Wars universe and characters, as this was well covered in the Star Wars book, so there is more room for what I find most compelling - the story of the actual artwork creation, production and post-production. I think this book is a little stronger in that respect than the previous one. I found the sketches of Darth Vader's castle (yes) particularly fascinating. Beautifully printed, well laid out and expertly researched, this is a must-own for the serious Star Wars fan or those interested in the business and process of filmmaking in general. The cover price of $85 is admittedly very steep, but the Amazon price (as of this writing) is more like $50, making it well worth it.
In short a massive undertaking and a beautiful book. A Making of Return of the Jedi book of similar quality is hopefully in development, and I eagerly await the results.
Once again, I'm marveled by the amount of information packed into the book by author J.W. Rinzler. I can't even begin to imagine the amount of research and effort is needed to put everything together, after the movie was screened 30 years ago.
The book details the arduous journey in the making of the film from the first story conference up to screening, and to the film awards won after that. The writing is excellent, filled with all sorts of stories and quotes. You get to read about the technical aspect of creating the movie, the little tricks used to create something believable on screen - see how they use fiber optics for lighting spaceships, painting the backgrounds, fixing up Yoda, and much more including production diaries of how they shoot.
The pages are also loaded with concept art, sketches, storyboards, memos, film stills and photos. All well reproduced, very detailed. There are lots of fun stuff happening behind the scenes captured on camera.
While the book is pricey, yes, it's well worth the money. With so much material, it will take more than one sitting to go through them.
Definitely a "must have" for Star Wars fans.
Note that in the previous book, they took out some content from the paperback edition. Not sure if it's going to happen here again.