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The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story behind the Original Film

Jonathan W. Rinzler

(Del Ray Books)

In The Making of Star Wars: the Definitive Story, Jonathan W. Rinzler has gone back into the archival materials at Skywalker Ranch and produced a hefty, and pricy, art book crammed with newly unearthed interviews; early, crudely drawn sketches of now-classic spaceships; and unpublished photographs.


The difficulties of making Star Wars have been well documented elsewhere but Rinzler says, “There were a lot of stories circulating out there by people (who) either hadn’t done the research, or aren’t lucky enough to have the interviews. (This) is almost an oral history based on the interviews done in 1975-1977.”


Those interviews, with actors Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill who spoke frankly on their roles and experiences, were done before the film’s 1977 release. None of them knew they were part of an epoch-changing movie. “Star Wars got an amazing response,” Carrie Fisher says. “I used to drive by and look at the lines and think, `what?’”


“I knew we were making a book, when I found (the interviews),” Rinzler says. “At first I saw (John) Dykstra (visual effects guru) and then (George) Lucas and I thought it would be wonderful if the actors were there—and there they were.”


Charles Lippincott, then Lucasfilm’s vice president of marketing and merchandising, “had gathered a huge quantity of material for a making-of book. They intended to make a book back then, but circumstances were such that the files were put away.”


Rinzler notes that a gold mine of unpublished photos were “in the image archive. Most people are noticing the black and whites—those were always in the image archives and people didn’t know about them. Because I worked there, I had the luxury to go through the image archive” for months.


Included in the Deluxe Edition is a priceless chapter, “George Lucas expands his universe” a narrative set down in 1977 to `record his knowledge of the world he’d created.’ Rinzler writes, “The communication technique he hit upon was similar to role-playing. He assumed a character and responded to questions about his or her background, personality, home planet, and so on.”


What clearly shines through the tiny-fonted and skimpily-indexed text is Lucas’ stubborn determination to make Star Wars his way. “I’m very, very adamant about my creative work,” he says in an interview for the book. “Even when I was young, I was not that willing to even listen to other people’s ideas—I wanted everything to be my way.”


The Making of Star Wars proves it in copious detail.

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By Ethan Sacks
22 May 2007
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