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The Art of Star Wars, Episode I - The Phantom Menace
ISBN 034543109X / 9780345431097 / 0-345-43109-X
Publisher Del Rey
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Star Wars owes a lot to its details. George Lucas made his world so believable and compelling by getting all the little things right, whether it was a chip in Vader's helmet or the sand on a Stormtrooper's boots. Of course, this feat was no accident--extensive conceptual planning and design went into all the Star Wars movies, perhaps most so for Episode I: The Phantom Menace. This excellent "insider story" art book by Phantom Menace researcher Jonathan Bresman pulls together a wealth of these preliminary paintings, sketches, and computer animatics. Starting in early 1995, the Episode I art team sweated out nearly four years in a renovated attic at Skywalker Ranch, and Bresman's book gives an eye-popping account of their efforts, a sweeping survey of the movie's "evolutionary record," what Bresman calls "the unseen art that serves as the foundation for the film."
Divided into sections covering each of the movie's major locales (e.g., Theed, Coruscant, Otoh Gunga), The Art of Phantom Menace gives detailed illustrations of many of the creatures, structures, and vessels that made the final cut to film. But even more interesting are those that never left the sketchbook or hard drive--what fan wouldn't want to see a bulky, bipedal droideka or Padmé's horned, reptilian "swamp horse"? Call-outs alongside the art reveal the untold story behind many characters, like how Jedi Council member Yaddle really did begin as a sketch of a young Yoda, and how Jar Jar at one point had a wacky "dog" sidekick named Blarf. (Lucas and crew thankfully dodged that bullet.) --Paul Hughes [via]