The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
While the book was hit with a little bit of delay, the final Art of book in the Skywalker Saga was more than worth the wait. Learn more in my full review!
One of my favorite kinds of Star Wars movie tie-in material (aside from the toys that is), are the art books. Fortunately Lucasfilm has been delivering on some incredibly detailed Art Of books with each new release. More than simply showcasing some of the concept works that went into developing the new film, these have gone one step further by offering key details on how the film came together at various stages of production.
In lieu of proper “Making of” books, the Art of series from Phil Szostack (who’s written all of the Disney era Star Wars art books, except for Rogue One) has filled a behind-the-scenes gap for fans. The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is no different and continues to brings a plethora of great information on how the various new creatures, locations, and stunning new elements came to life on the big screen.
Being the final film in the Skywalker Saga, this was easily my most anticipated “Art of” book. I mean, just LOOK at that cover! It’s gorgeous and hints at how some of the most iconic sequences in the film were conceived. What’s nice, however, is that being the final film in the trilogy, the main cast was already set, meaning the bulk of the art on display utilizes the actors’ likenesses (unlike the first couple that had generic stand-ins). So we can truly visualize our favorites in these scenarios that didn’t pan out.
As was the case with The Force Awakens art book, quite a few pieces were kept out of The Art of The Last Jedi in order to preserve spoilers. Because of this, The Art of TROS begins with a look back at TLJ, showing off those never before seen concept pieces that show off Rey and Kylo’s battle against Snoke’s guards, as well as the final confrontation on Crait. These are a lot of fun to look at, even though it’s now been two years since that film released, and offer some interesting glimpses at how some of the most impressive imagery in the film came to be.
The book then rolls right along into The Rise of Skywalker. It’s laid out in a fairly simple format, starting with the earliest moments of pre-production, when JJ Abrams gave artists the barest outline of the film, and then continues on through every phase of production. The result is we get to see the evolution of several different sequences throughout each stage of the film. This means that the art you see doesn’t follow on from the film chronologically, but in terms of when they popped up in production. That might seem a tad confusing at first (especially if you’re just flipping through it), but it’s easy enough to figure out.
As both a fan and a film junkie, seeing how certain concepts changed, or didn’t, as they went through the concept phase to ending up on the big screen is a lot of fun. It’s also really interesting to see what elements of the story were present (like Dark Rey!) from the very beginning, even as the script was being worked on.
The book itself is a wide coffee table style tome. If you’ve picked up any of the others over the last five years, it’s exactly the same style. The paper is thick and allows for the best presentation of these art pieces as possible. You can clearly see all the detail put into them and each is given plenty of room to stand out and shine on their own.
Even better, many of the images have little chunks of text that go with them in the form of quotes from the artist who drew them. These often brought a lot of insight into how ideas came to be, and the mindset behind their creation. They’re fun tidbits of information showing how artists were inspired by previous films.
While the focus of the book is, obviously, on the art, there are big chunks of text sprinkled throughout that offer updates on the film’s production throughout the process. From when sequences were shot, to which unit was handling it, these sections have a surprising amount of depth to them on the general making of the movie itself. While it may not be as deep as a full on Making of book would be, the information given is insightful and filled with interesting bits that fans will surely go nuts over.
Everything about The Art of The Rise of Skywalker speaks to a level of detail and care for the film and Star Wars in general. It’s put together in a way that’s both enjoyable to read cover-to-cover, or simply flip through for a few minutes at a time. The art is all around incredible, with several pieces I’m hoping will eventually get a poster treatment of some kind I can hang on my wall. Couple that with clear, insightful, writing about the film’s production and it’s a fitting tie-in book to wrap up the saga.
The only bummer is that it seems like much/all of the Palpatine stuff didn’t make it into this book (probably for the same reasons TLJ stuff is at the start of this one). Considering the delay in its release, I was hoping to see some of that added in since spoilers would no longer be an issue. Alas, I suppose we’ll have to wait for another art book down the road to see them. I just hope we don’t have to wait long for it.