The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Bursting with hundreds of stunning works of art, including production paintings, concept sketches, storyboards, blueprints, and matte paintings, this visual feast will delight Star Wars fans and cineastes for decades to come. The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the definitive expression of how the latest chapter in the Star Wars saga was dreamed into being.
The release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theaters brought an end to the 'mystery box' and allowed a slew of new materials on the film to drop, giving eager fans all the information they'd been craving. One of the coolest of these to hit, is The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a behind the scenes look at all the design that went into bring the galaxy far, far away back to the big screen.
I'm going to get this out of the way, right of the bat: If you're a Star Wars fan, there's pretty much no reason to skip out on this book. Seriously, it features tons of amazing art and key information about the filmmaking/storytelling process that went into the movie.
The book is laid out in three sections, consisting of art/designs that developed throughout the pre-production phase, production, and post-production. As such, it gives you a nice look at how certain things evolved into their final appearance on the screen, and how some things changed even in the middle of production. It's a rare and fairly comprehensive look at the amount of work put into the design behind a massive blockbuster film.
The pre-production section is probably the most interesting aspect of the book for me. It goes back all the way to the film's initial announcement, before the film had a script or director attached to it. In here we see the artists developing generalized idea pieces to give the other filmmakers some guidance on where they might want things to go. These are a lot of fun to look at and see "what could have been" with the storyline as well as being able to see how certain key pieces obviously influenced the direction of the story even at that early stage.
As the pre-production section continues, you get insights into when specific story ideas came to be and how that changed the art department direction. The text blurbs offer up many useful insights in this regard, giving a nifty timeline to go along with the artwork. Once more elements of the story began to fall into place, you can see the shift the art begins to take as they begin to develop more specific ideas for characters and plot points that started making their way into the script.
This is especially true of Kylo Ren. The book shows the various incarnations the "Jedi Killer" went through when he was initially being crafted (before it was even known he would be a a Solo). Seeing his evolution in the early stages is enlightening and shows the amount of effort that goes into bringing new characters to the big screen.
It was also interesting to see how these designs continued to be modified even as filming began. Even as sets were being built and created for the early part of the shoot, the artists were still hard at work crafting finalized designs for sets and characters near the end of the shoot. Harrison Ford's accident on the set forced some scenes to be shot in a different order, which meant set designs that were once "final" had to be reworked quickly so that set builders could make them quicker.
More Than Art
It should go without saying that the art featured in the book is stunningly gorgeous. Ever little bit of it is impressive and there are several I would love to have hanging up on my wall. Even outside the context of The Force Awakens movie, they're unique and engaging pieces of Star Wars art, much like one would enjoy the Ralph McQuarrie pieces that didn't end up in the final films.
The Art of The Force Awakens is much more than just a book with pictures. It's laid out very intuitively, making it easy to pick up and thumb through to places you might be more interested in. As such, it makes for an excellent "coffee table" book, that can entertain guests coming over, and serves as something you can frequently come back to.
More than that, the text features a plethora of great behind the scenes information and nuggets that Star Wars fans will likely be pouring over for years to come (already, several think piece articles have spurred from it). They aren't merely descriptions of the art or what we're looking at, they reveal unique aspects of characters and settings that you wouldn't otherwise be privy to.
While the official Making Of book isn't set to release until the Fall of this year (heartbreakingly), this Art of book provides enough insight into The Force Awakens, that it feels like an excelelnt substitute while providing art that never gets old. So even if you're not "big" into art, this book still has plenty to offer.