No movie series has as many iconic images as Star Wars. From the worn-down wastes of Tatooine to the crisp corridors of the Death Star, its retro-future aesthetic imprinted itself firmly into pop culture from the 1977 get-go, and has continued to impress since. One man is responsible for this – no, not George Lucas, we’re talking about Ralph McQuarrie (OK, so George played a big role as well, obviously, plus all the production designers, costume makers, associate producers, etc. etc. – film is collaborative!).
The point being – Ralph McQuarrie was great! Possibly cinema’s most revered concept artist, he painted countless concepts during pre-production for all three original Star Wars films. This new collection (we hesitate to call it a book, despite the section of the site we’re filing it in) brings together one hundred of those images in the form of postcards. It’s actually a spin-off from a previous book, Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie, this time with the focus on a finer selection of artworks – it’s not as definitive a collection as that book, nor does it provide the same context and behind the scenes info.
What it does do, though, is allow you to really admire the mastery of these paintings. The postcards are landscape and quite big – about 23.5 by 11 cm – so great for looking at, putting on your wall, or even, if you can bear to give one up, posting. They also come in a case that can be used as a frame, with your choice of card placed at the front of the pack so it can take pride of place on your shelf.
The art itself is a stunning and fascinating insight into the design of the movies. Some of these images you’ll have seen before, on book covers for example, while other ones will be completely new to you and just as interesting as the more famous ones. Throughout them all, McQuarrie’s style is cinematic, full of character, and evocative; you can imagine the pictures coming to life on the screen, and sometimes you will even recognise images that were directly translated into camera shots. Even more intriguingly, there are concepts for locations and scenes that never made it to film, such as the planets Had Abaddon and Sicemon, both of which were cut from early drafts of the Return of the Jedi script – though the Had Abaddon concepts later inspired the Coruscant and Mustafar scenes we saw in the prequels and Rogue One.
All in all, this is a gorgeously presented selection of equally gorgeous artwork, not to mention much more affordable than the – albeit more comprehensive – book it’s spun off from; it’s a product that’s difficult not to recommend to Star Wars fans.
STAR WARS ART: RALPH MCQUARRIE – 100 POSTCARDS / ARTIST: RALPH MCQUARRIE / PUBLISHER: ABRAMS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW