The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film Info

Fan Club Reviews of best titles on art fashion, artists, history, photography. Check out our top reviews and see what others have to say about the best art and photography books of the year. Check out The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film Community Reviews - Find out where to download The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film available in multiple formats:Hardcover,Kindle Edition with Audio/Video,Paperback The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film Author:J.W. Rinzler,Peter Jackson Formats:Hardcover,Kindle Edition with Audio/Video,Paperback Publication Date:Apr 24, 2007


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Reviews for The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film:

5

Jan 25, 2013

"This film has been murder." - George Lucas

"I told George, 'You can't say that stuff, you can only type it.' But I was wrong. It worked." - Harrison Ford (in a quote that's been sort of taken out of context for years)

If you're a major Star Wars fan (more than I am, and I like the films quite a bit on the whole, yes even the prequels to greater or certainly lessor degrees), you've likely already read this, and probably own it as well since it's been out for over ten years. The people I'd like to "This film has been murder." - George Lucas

"I told George, 'You can't say that stuff, you can only type it.' But I was wrong. It worked." - Harrison Ford (in a quote that's been sort of taken out of context for years)

If you're a major Star Wars fan (more than I am, and I like the films quite a bit on the whole, yes even the prequels to greater or certainly lessor degrees), you've likely already read this, and probably own it as well since it's been out for over ten years. The people I'd like to recommend this book t0 are those who like movie books and have at least some likability for the series (certainly for the original, non-Episode-titled entry), but aren't sure about digging in to a fully comprehensive breakdown. But for me, this is simply one of the masterful breakdowns of how a movie gets made, certainly on such a scale as this, and what it means to be in the PROCESS of directing, writing, producing and just crafting a motion picture.

Though the technology by now has advanced of course, there's still much that one can get excited for here - indeed after reading this I'm all the more impressed that JJ Abrams had at least SOME practical effects and creatures in his 2015 episode 7 - and it's interesting as it's a story about the making of a film that simultaneously supports and refutes the 'auteur' theory. On the one hand, from reading this book, no one else could have spear-headed and lead the production of Star Wars than George Lucas; it was his creative obsession for years, he went for it following the uncertainly of directing, no kidding, Apocalypse Now (which, by the time Coppola decided to go forward with it, Lucas had to turn him down), and he went to the extremes of cutting together hours and hours of WW2 plane-fighting footage and compressed it down to show everyone in his immediate team how he wanted the final dog-fight on the Death Star to go. For 4 years this man ate, slept and breathed his creation to the point of STILL doing a final mono mix for major theaters on the day that the film was already opened in 70mm on 5/25/77.

On the other hand, it could be argued that the film would have not come off the ground, at all, without it being a collaborative effort and that "A NEW HOPE" has several auteurs, all crucial (though some may argue that John Williams is the sort of emotional glue who's score holds the film together); Richard Edlund and John Dykstra's groundbreaking special effects; Ben Burtt's original and off-kilter sound design and choices that made characters who seemed so 'huh' completely adorable and funny like the Jawas and R2DR; Ralph McQuarrie, who's designs really helped to capture what was probably much loosely formed in Lucas' head; even some of the cast were kind of 'authors' of the movie (Harrison Ford being someone who, having worked with Lucas before and just knowing this guy Han Solo, pulling off the dialog in ways that improved it many times over). There are more that can be counted, but what the book posits is that the creation of this not-low-but-not-high budgeted movie (probably low for what was really required) was basically the equivalent of creating a spectacular new car: you need a vision to pull it off, but also people to build it and give it all the new bells and whistles, and, at the end of the day, needs to *work* like car.

It's totally engrossing to see how Lucas - who, as we're told and see, wasn't even that passionate about writing and it wasn't his forte - goes through several drafts of the script and how it could have possibly been even wilder than it turned out to be. As someone who loves to see in a making-of book with cinema the steps of process and how a creator comes to this decision or that or what limitations come up, how The Adventures of Anakin Starkiller becomes Star Wars (drop the 'The' ala Facebook) makes it a must-read book all on its own. What makes it something that I know I'll buy and keep on my shelf are a) all of the other stories told from cast and crew, brought together by author JW Rinzler in a way that is easy to understand even as it goes through some descriptions that may be confusing to non-cinephile-like people used to technical hargon, and b) all of the great color photos, designs and behind the scenes pictures, down to even full crew shots of people working (and having fun) at ILM.

It's hard to imagine what this book left out, though I should note that if you go into the book expecting for some revelations of, say, Lucas as being some hack who lucked in to the success of the movie via his editors and ILM crew, you may be mistaken/disappointed. But I have no reason to doubt the research here, and if anything my respect for Lucas (certainly from this time period) shot up exponentially while reading this. He comes off as someone who isn't necessarily the greatest "actors" director (not to say that he doesn't give enough for them as to what they need, or as Carrie Fisher says the John Huston approach of 'not saying anything means you're doing a good job' pretty much), but as someone leading the charge of such a HUGE vision as this, in every department, it's a trip and a half. From every little cut, from every moment that a tie fighter has to fire a weapon or do this or that, one can see that this was a guy really into this film, and yet was more than able to let his team do their work and get their best done (albeit the struggles with Fox, who sort of become oddly enough the background villains of this story as they don't give much of a shit for the production, made the filmmaking rushed in some cases due to a shortened and underfunded pre-production).

I'd recommend this certainly to students seriously looking into becoming filmmakers - it's certainly a title that even young people who don't watch many old movies will be familiar with and may make those curious about how these "old" processes like matte paintings and model building and creature effects worked - but also to someone looking for a great story with some unexpected turns. Probably the most interesting if sort of enigmatic figure though is the one at its core: George Lucas. A man who (spoilers, sort of) didn't like how the film came out (and no wonder he went back and made it a Special Edition, but less about that right now the better), but it was in the way that is sort of common for innovators who can't really see how well they did something. His vision seemed to be probably TOO big, or what he saw in his head so massive, that he could only accomplish so much while still making special effects a complete game-changer with the creation of ILM (the latter seems to be a key point of the book and rightfully so). If there's a song that Lucas sings and plays more than once it's the blues song "I Can't be Satisfied", but boy can that bearded little nerd play it!

PS: Carrie Fisher wins the world. ...more
4

Feb 05, 2014

J.W. Rinzler is an excellent, meticulous researcher who is able to present his information in a clear, interesting manner. He has the talent to do this for both books like this one, that are "out of universe" and for "in universe" books like the Star Wars blue prints series. For die hard fans, he's a real treasure. This is a fantastic book, filled with wonderful details about the making of my favorite movie, ever. It's fun to read, and has great photographs, but it also makes a great reference J.W. Rinzler is an excellent, meticulous researcher who is able to present his information in a clear, interesting manner. He has the talent to do this for both books like this one, that are "out of universe" and for "in universe" books like the Star Wars blue prints series. For die hard fans, he's a real treasure. This is a fantastic book, filled with wonderful details about the making of my favorite movie, ever. It's fun to read, and has great photographs, but it also makes a great reference book. (I actually read it for an essay I wrote on George Lucas's creative process--there's so much good stuff in here about that, man, you'll never look at Star Wars the same way after you read this book.) If you like Star Wars, this is definitely a book you should, at least, check out from your local library. But I highly recommend owning it. ...more
5

Jun 19, 2014

This is the book that would have changed my life had I read it as a 14-20 year old, causing me to pursue a career in film.

Having just completed it as a 37-year-old, I'm still highly inspired by the persistence, creativity, leadership, teamwork, and raw determination displayed by so many who collaborated on this film. Simply the making of this movie is as dramatic as the story itself, and highly worth the reading.

This is for fans of Star Wars, movie buffs, film historians, and - for the right This is the book that would have changed my life had I read it as a 14-20 year old, causing me to pursue a career in film.

Having just completed it as a 37-year-old, I'm still highly inspired by the persistence, creativity, leadership, teamwork, and raw determination displayed by so many who collaborated on this film. Simply the making of this movie is as dramatic as the story itself, and highly worth the reading.

This is for fans of Star Wars, movie buffs, film historians, and - for the right person - perhaps one of those life-changing books you'll get to read. I really don't think it's too much to say that. And if you think you know everything there is to know about Star Wars and its making, you especially will enjoy learning a great deal of new information here.
...more
0

Nov 09, 2019

I was after a big excavation of the prehistory and contingencies of the beast and this has it in spades.
5

Apr 14, 2019

Fantastic, it was the start-up of movies and movie-making. Amazing to read about all the hard work, detours, and battles fought to make this. Star Wars fans or film fans should definitely check this out. Definitive.
5

Aug 10, 2008

One of the few Star Wars books that avoids staring through the rose-colored glasses and shows Lucas & Co as what they were: a bunch of 20-something prodigies who could have just as well made a huge sci-fi flop as they could a media empire. Most of the interviews were culled from the time of actual production, so there's not much revisionist history. An excellent read with lots of awesome photos of people in 70s dress.
5

Jan 20, 2016

This is an amazing book that delves deep into the history of Star Wars. It shows you how the script developed, how Lucas convinced the studio to take a chance on it, and how it was made. It also includes a lot of interviews and quotes from the creators of the film. This is one of the best film books in my library.
5

Dec 31, 2016

So much behind-the-scenes info. It's a fanboy's paradise. Loved it!
5

Jul 08, 2007

delivers - by conveying the reality behind the film. A strong sense of being there while it was made.

tons of tiny details that help bring all the creative peeps involved from (from lucas to mirch to coppola, and on and on) down to earth, while pulling back the curtain a weee bit on lucas's little talked about saavy business decisions.

Was blown away to read about the ways in which ILM was sort of a union breaking art-engineering collective/experiment. Very interested in the perspectives of all delivers - by conveying the reality behind the film. A strong sense of being there while it was made.

tons of tiny details that help bring all the creative peeps involved from (from lucas to mirch to coppola, and on and on) down to earth, while pulling back the curtain a weee bit on lucas's little talked about saavy business decisions.

Was blown away to read about the ways in which ILM was sort of a union breaking art-engineering collective/experiment. Very interested in the perspectives of all the doubters before the film's success.

Especially enjoyed the repeated examples of ways in which people simple couldn't process the script. The way they could picture han as james dean, but not with a space ship (instead of an old beat up car). They could picture a princess in flowing robes, but not with a gun. they could picture a farm boy, but not on the moon.
These were the examples that really drove it home for me - how the script was turning all known sci fi cliches on their head, but still keeping them in the mix.

Was also charming to learn more about the context of the timing, how early 70s cinema was overlooking the youth market - leaving a huge gap for American Graffiti and then Star Wars to walk in and fill. Never knew that.

In a way, I'm left thinking star wars was kind of like the ultimate Grindhouse movie (or maybe, i should say, Jaws and Star Wars both seemed to come from the Grindhouse school of sensationalism - but delivered on their mind blowing promises, and genre mixups). I always thought Grindhouse cinema was about pushing the limits, and finding creative new ways to shake up what audiences could expect from a movie - and now I think many of these popular 70s icon-movies were like Grindhouse pictures that actually delivered what they teased. ?
(maybe I shouldn't be saying Grindhouse at all. does that imply it needs to have sleaze? or that it can't have any studio involvement? or that it could only play at cheap sleazy theatres due to it's content? hmm.) ...more
5

Nov 01, 2008

I first saw Star Wars at the age of 3, and from my early childhood until today, I have spent countless hours reading about that movie. From the first comic book adaptations, to magazine article and books, I have always wanted to know more about how the movie was made.

I've seen at least a dozen "making of" documentaries and shows, and even attended a 30th anniversary screening of the film after which George Lucas, Carrie Fischer, Mark Hammill, and the special effects, sound and editorial crews I first saw Star Wars at the age of 3, and from my early childhood until today, I have spent countless hours reading about that movie. From the first comic book adaptations, to magazine article and books, I have always wanted to know more about how the movie was made.

I've seen at least a dozen "making of" documentaries and shows, and even attended a 30th anniversary screening of the film after which George Lucas, Carrie Fischer, Mark Hammill, and the special effects, sound and editorial crews reminisced about the film for over an hour. And of course I've owned the film on VHS, Laserdisc, and DVD (several versions of each). I thought I knew a lot about "Star Wars". And I pulled the kids out of school for a day last year to go to a Star Wars convention.

Then I got this book, and my life was complete (at least as far as "Star Wars" is concerned). "The Making of Star Wars" takes the reader on an exhaustively detailed, step-by-step journey through the writing, production, post-production and distribution of Star Wars. It feels like you are sitting at George Lucas's side as he writes and makes the film.

Everything is described in detail: the script writing process, the special effects, the props, the costumes, the sound design, the financing, the lighting and cinematography, labor relations with the English crew (not good), filming in Africa, England, California, and Central America, scenes that were changed or deleted, early reviews and public reaction, advertising, and on and on.

Let me be clear, no amount of detail is spared. For example, you may know that there are a few shots towards the end of the movie that show the rebel base in the jungle. And you may know that these few shots were done in Central America, at the Mayan ruins. But this book tells you about the trip the special effects guys took to get there. You hear about the muddy roads, and the hotels and bad food. You get to hear about them climbing the Mayan ruins, and what kind of camera equipment they took with them. And there are pictures of their trip. And you get to hear about the car trouble they had on the way back from the Los Angeles airport on the 405 freeway.

But best of all is the process through which the book was written. Instead of interviewing the participants 30+ years after the fact, the book is entirely based on interviews that were done from 1975-1978. So you get to hear peoples' opinion of the project before they knew it was going to be one of the most popular films of all time. This is a very candid book, and nothing is glossed over. Let there be no doubt, Star Wars was a very, very difficult movie to make (even putting George Lucas in the hospital with chest pains), and this book will help you appreciate how hard it can be to make a movie when you don't have enough money or technology.

In addition to the solid detail, there are endless amounts of little pieces of trivia and factoids that have never been revealed. And pictures: tons of pictures of the film making process and storyboards. Memos and notes, rough drafts and sketches. Kate, our 4-year-old Star Wars fan, loves to look at the pictures, just to see Stormtroopers with their helmets off, or R2-D2 getting worked on.

Upon finishing this book, I can honestly say I now feel like I know everything I wish I could know about Star Wars, which I never thought I would say. For a Star Wars fan who wants to know how the film was actually made, this book is a certified miracle.

...more
5

Apr 10, 2020

If you are interested in Star Wars, and/or film production, this is a perfect film for you. The book likes to show some of the warts encountered on production of this classic movie.
5

May 02, 2019

Definitely the definite edition! Must-read if you're a star wars fan like me.
0

Feb 14, 2020

The be-all-end-all source of information on Star Wars, the 1977 film. Excellent book.
5

Apr 03, 2020

Loved it. Truly fascinating what George Lucas went through to get the film made.
5

Sep 14, 2018

Wonderful book. Everything you would want from a "Making of" book. Lucas's accomplishment feels thrilling once more after hearing the first hand accounts collected during the actual filming of the movie or shortly thereafter. Highly recommended.
5

Jul 08, 2017

Really exceptional piece of work. Contains all the information a geek could want, as well as wonderful photos and interesting audio/video clips. I'm a massive fan of Star Wars, and now a fan of Rinzler as well.
5

Oct 21, 2019

This is a great book, although there is apparently at least one deliberate inaccuracy in the book for an interview with Lucas, which Lucas apparently requested. This is disturbing for the novel, but it appears that everything else with the book is alright.
5

Feb 08, 2020

Giving this five stars for sheer quantity of info and pictures, however, for readability I'd give this four stars. It was a bit of a tough slog early (lots of lawyers doing lawyer stuff), but after about 100 pages it is quite riveting. Making films is such a massive collaborative undertaking and this book shines best in showing that process.
4

Jun 25, 2017

This is a very well-written, very detailed look at the making of Star Wars, from George Lucas saying "I want to make a Flash Gordon movie" to "I am retiring from directing and setting up a company to make the sequels." You should only read this book if you want to learn everything about how that movie was developed, written, rewritten, designed, filmed, edited, assembled, etc. But if that does interest you, definitely read this book.
5

Feb 22, 2020

Wow. This book was recommended by a friend as the ultimate history book for you (meaning me) and he was right. Its incredibly detailed and gives a lot of insight into how Star Wars went from an idea to a movie, and its a fun read. I read the digital special edition which has a bunch of video and audio added to it, from early dailies to voiceover recordings of Alec Guinness telling Luke to use the Force, and giving me goosebumps in the process. If you are at al interested in Star Wars above the I Wow. This book was recommended by a friend as “the ultimate history book for you” (meaning me) and he was right. It’s incredibly detailed and gives a lot of insight into how Star Wars went from an idea to a movie, and it’s a fun read. I read the digital special edition which has a bunch of video and audio added to it, from early dailies to voiceover recordings of Alec Guinness telling Luke to use the Force, and giving me goosebumps in the process. If you are at al interested in Star Wars above the “I’ve seen them once and that’s enough”-level; this book is for you. ...more
4

Jan 14, 2020

An absolutely exhaustive collection of literally everything to do with the production of 1977's Star Wars.
And when I say exhaustive, I mean actor interviews, journals, paperwork, Polaroids, accounting documents, storyboards, anecdotes, studio political intrigue, internal memos, and so forth.
It took me quite a long time to read half because of its...well, dryness (but that's the whole point of the book, so I can't fault it for being academic) and it's physical size.
This is a biiiig book.
Plus, An absolutely exhaustive collection of literally everything to do with the production of 1977's Star Wars.
And when I say exhaustive, I mean actor interviews, journals, paperwork, Polaroids, accounting documents, storyboards, anecdotes, studio political intrigue, internal memos, and so forth.
It took me quite a long time to read half because of its...well, dryness (but that's the whole point of the book, so I can't fault it for being academic) and it's physical size.
This is a biiiig book.
Plus, now I know that George Lucas was 1. a madman capable of working insane hours 2. a genius and 3. thinking about midichlorians in 1978. ...more
5

Nov 26, 2018

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Star Wars fans, just....read this book. Certainly there are some parts where the level of detail creates a Dagobah-esque thick fog to wade through, but the wading is worth it: there are facts and tidbits that give more context and richness to the film you love so well and blow your mind a little bit in the process. Some of my favorite parts were just hearing what certain recognizable props were made out of, or imagining the madcap environment at ILM during its heyday. For best results, read it Star Wars fans, just....read this book. Certainly there are some parts where the level of detail creates a Dagobah-esque thick fog to wade through, but the wading is worth it: there are facts and tidbits that give more context and richness to the film you love so well and blow your mind a little bit in the process. Some of my favorite parts were just hearing what certain recognizable props were made out of, or imagining the madcap environment at ILM during its heyday. For best results, read it while sitting up in bed next to another Star Wars fan, blurting out interesting passages to share probably just as he was about to fall asleep, but that he's obliged to wake up and laugh about. ...more
3

May 31, 2019

Exhaustive

I found the history of George Lucas struggles producing the movie and getting sustained support from his studio an insightful view into just how enormous a task movie making can be- even if you have a strong vision and determination to match. That Star Wars even came together as cohesively and wonderfully as it did makes me marvel at the amount of talent, vision, and tenacity it takes to make films- especially good ones.

I didnt like that many of the quotes, from original sources (ie Exhaustive

I found the history of George Lucas’ struggles producing the movie and getting sustained support from his studio an insightful view into just how enormous a task movie making can be- even if you have a strong vision and determination to match. That Star Wars even came together as cohesively and wonderfully as it did makes me marvel at the amount of talent, vision, and tenacity it takes to make films- especially good ones.

I didn’t like that many of the quotes, from original sources (ie production crew, actors, etc.), scattered throughout the book, left me hanging- many were not followed by further explanation to provide context and relevance to the quote.

I wouldn’t recommend Rinzler’s book to a casual Star Wars fan. The book was even a bit too exhaustive for myself at times.

Bonus- if you have the Kindle version there is some really cool bonus media, including home movie footage! ...more
2

Feb 19, 2020

Any Star Wars fan will love the photos in this coffee table book.

But if you decide to read the story of how the film was made you may feel bogged down.

All the important people who made the film are mentioned but since Im not a Hollywood insider, and very little time is spent with each of them, I found it difficult to remember who was who. If you are not familiar with film production then the description of how the special effects and camera work were made is difficult to follow.

I did enjoy the Any Star Wars fan will love the photos in this coffee table book.

But if you decide to read the story of how the film was made you may feel bogged down.

All the important people who made the film are mentioned but since I’m not a Hollywood insider, and very little time is spent with each of them, I found it difficult to remember who was who. If you are not familiar with film production then the description of how the special effects and camera work were made is difficult to follow.

I did enjoy the chapters on the casting of the film and the comments from Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Alec Guinness, and Peter Cushing as the film was being made.

What makes this 'making-of' book unique is the lost interviews that marketing director Charles Lippincott did just after the movie was made. The comments from George Lucas, the cast and crew about how they felt immediately after making the movie is very enlightening and more revealing than interviews done years later after everyone had time to reflect.

I’d say twenty-five percent of the text was interesting so as a Star Wars fan it was worth reading.
...more
4

Dec 03, 2019

So we'll just get this bit out of the way now: if you're a Star Wars fan that loves knowing behind the scenes stuff, then this is the book to read. It's cobbled together from Lucasfilm archives, and thank the gods someone had the foresight to store these things away or some elements of the story would have been lost forever.

This book is a trove of information that, I personally at least, didn't know all of from the numerous making ofs that I've seen of the original film over the years. You get a So we'll just get this bit out of the way now: if you're a Star Wars fan that loves knowing behind the scenes stuff, then this is the book to read. It's cobbled together from Lucasfilm archives, and thank the gods someone had the foresight to store these things away or some elements of the story would have been lost forever.

This book is a trove of information that, I personally at least, didn't know all of from the numerous making ofs that I've seen of the original film over the years. You get a good look at the genesis of Star Wars from it's first drafts to the shooting script and even how things were changed then.

It doesn't start with the beginning of Star Wars being made so much as going back even further to when George first started developing the idea and started pitching it to studios. Suffice to say, if it wasn't clear before, then it is clear now that it's a miracle this film was even made.

At times the text is a little dry, and it's difficult to keep track of who everyone involved in Star Wars is. Some names are more familiar, but with production staff, members of ILM and Fox it can sometimes be a little tricky.

Packed with interviews, behind the scenes photos, storyboards etc, this book is a little cumbersome in size, but worth it in every sense. ...more

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