on 4 October 2013
This,like the two previous volumes is a beautiful book covering all the elements of the films production from beginning to end with hundreds of illustrations, set pictures (including a stunning one of Princess Leia in THAT costume and a surprise foe for the Rancor that made me burst out with laughter when I saw it),not to mention reams of detailed production notes.
Its broken down into a dozen or so chapters that truly show how the film evolved through the entire production and ,just like its predecessors,its a wonderfully detailed recollection of how a very well loved film was made and brought a fitting end to a trilogy that has no equal, at least by my reckoning anyway.I've spent a good evening just browsing through it and smiling at various set photo stills,everybody looks like they had a blast on this final shoot. I'll even forgive the Ewoks appearance (and interestingly they don't appear that much in this book).
The whole series easily surpasses anything I've ever read on how these films were really made nearly three decades ago and this last one completes the series most fittingly. It's a superb addition that completes a stunning set. No real fan of the trilogy can call himself that and NOT have these.
on 4 February 2014
In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m a big fan not only of the original Star Wars trilogy but also of behind-the-scenes books and so this was an absolute perfect fit for me. The third in Rinzler’s series - but the first I’ve read - this is an exhaustive account of making the third Star Wars film from preparing the script right through to the release. I thought I knew a lot about the production (last year I read Peecher’s “The Making If Return Of The Jedi” and although that is quoted frequently here, this book is markedly more in-depth) but Rinzler reveals several facts here I’m sure are appearing for the first time (I didn’t, for instance, realise Ralph McQuarrie left the film early, burned out from Star Wars and Empire), building the story from contemporary interviews (in 2011 and 2012), vintage ones (from Peecher and various magazines and journals) and also production reports in the Lucasfilm archives.
What I liked most about it is that even though this is clearly sanctioned by Lucasfilm, it is remarkably candid. Interviews are often frank - nobody liked the Ewoks apart from Lucas, Richard Marquand’s filming style annoyed several actors (Carrie Fisher accuses him of treating her badly, whilst fawning after Harrison Ford), the ILM supervisors often clashed heads over equipment and Fisher’s party-girl antics sometimes affected her performance - but all the better for that, as it shows how hard people worked in often trying circumstances.
I particularly found the transcripts of the story conferences fascinating, as Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan (who do most of the talking), Howard Kazanjian (the producer) and Marquand build the script up, piece by piece, often following paths that lead nowhere (an awful lot of design work went into the Imperial stronghold of Had Abaddon until they decided to put the Empreror on the Death Star), putting the story together. There’s talk of death and sacrifice (even before Harrison Ford signed on), as pretty much every aspect of the film was open to discussion.
Moving beyond pre-production, the book charts the progress as sets go up in England (designed by Norman Reynolds), Buttercup Valley in Yuma (the barge sequences - which cost millions and yet appear in the film so briefly that Lucas now regrets not filming it all at Elstree) and Crescent City in Northern California, where the crew got to take over a portion of logging forest. The actors add fresh angles to the story and, again, the frankness of some of them is refreshing, even if some of the behaviour (from the likes of Anthony Daniels and David Prowse) isn’t.
For me, the most interesting part was post-production, as ILM moves into gear and the deadline to release day counts down. Taking on an unprecedented number of effects shots and with a writer/producer who kept adding shots (with Lucas shooting most of the live action inserts himself as Marquand had moved on to his next project), the book captures well the frenzied atmosphere of a crew making ground-breaking discoveries whilst not really having the time to do so (especially since most of the crew were coming off other films, such as E.T., Dragonslayer and Poltergeist). It also does a good job catching everyone’s reaction on Black Friday, as Lucas threw out a load of shots as not being good enough. Ken Ralston (space battles), Dennis Muren (speeder bikes and the rancor) and Richard Edlund (everything else) are quoted extensively and clearly convey the scope of work they were dealing with. Phil Tippett, who designed the creatures with Stuart Freeborn, also lays claim to naming Salacious Crumb when, after a night on the sauce, he apparently said, “Wait a minute guys while I tie my soolacious.”
George Lucas casts a long shadow, involved in the process from the beginning and his comments on hiring Marquand since he didn’t want to do all the work himself quickly come back to haunt him. Although Marquand did direct the film - his wife and son are interviewed - and Lucas clearly had a great deal of respect for him, he had to be on set virtually every day as Marquand wasn’t experienced with special effects. The toll on Lucas’ home-life was devastating, with him hiding his impending divorce from most of his crew (both Lucas and Spielberg were involved in divorce during the pre-production of “Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom” (concurrent to this), with both of them blaming their ruptured personal lives for the darkness of that film). In a nice turn, for a modern book, Marcia Lucas’ role (though slimmed down with this film) is still acknowledged, even if she only makes a couple of appearances.
The final part of the book deals with the release and reception of the film, as it gobbled up box office records and delighted the paying public, whilst drawing mixed notices from the critics. There’s also an epilogue, charting what happened to most of the key players after the film wrapped and Lucasfilm went into a ‘two-year hibernation’ and as Lucas himself is quoted as saying, it’s good to see so many people going off and changing the way films are made and perceived. The ILM and Lucasfilm group from the early 80s, was probably the equivalent of the Corman outfit in the 60s and 70s).
The book is filled with beautifully reproduced photographs - designs, on-set, pretty much every aspect of the production - and Rinzler has done a great job, identifying most of the personnel captured in them.
If you’re a fan of Star Wars and/or Making Of books, then this is a superb read - informative, amusing, frank - and I was sad to finish it. Very highly recommended.
on 8 October 2013
Having pre-ordered the previous two books when they originally came out I was extremely pleased that J Rinzler had decided to complete the 'Making Of' for the original trilogy by writing this book.
Now that I have had a chance to read through it ( abeit very briefly) I can say that this book is equally on a par with the previous volumes , if not outdoing them.
The book is written in exactly the same format as the previous books and has lots and lots of behind the scenes photos and interviews.
However where this book slightly deviates is that it contains a lot more art, sketches, storyboards etc which really help lift it to a different level.
I cannot recommend this volume highly enough and if you own the other two books then go get it ,if you don't own the other books then I would as : Why not?
on 3 November 2013
A great third addition to the series ( if you haven't read the first two, then please do!), this book goes in depth into the making of episode 6 of the Star Wars saga, and delivers a definitive study of the making of a Hollywood blockbuster. Wonderful reading, and truly engrossing for any Star Wars fan. Packed full of of never-seen-before pics, and different variations of the screenplay, it also goes into fantastic detail about every step of the movie making process, and pulls no punches in it's analysis of how Return of the Jedi was made, how it performed, and how it came to be the most unfavourite of the original trilogy. Superb stuff!
on 13 October 2013
Rinzler's three books almost outshine their subject matter itself. Buy them all now, sell your house or your spouse if you have to, just cash out for these monumental books NOW! This volume, about the often undeservingly snubbed "Return of the Jedi", features one the most heartbreaking photos that I've ever seen; deep down we all know what happens with the sets after a movie has wrapped, but actually seeing it: "Ay, but to die"...
This review is written by a moderate SW-nerd and not a fanatic by any means. I've never posted a review on Amazon before, but having JUST finished my maiden voyage through this volume, I couldn't contain myself: It is a thing of true beauty with a dedication to detail that invites to hours upon hours of extensive reading.