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on 6 December 2014
Almost half a century on from its original cinema release, Star Wars is a cultural phenomenon - a staggeringly successful and enduring film franchise, with many of its tropes and characters becoming popular culture icons across the world.
However in December 1976, six months before the first 'Star Wars' movie hit the theatres, this innocent little paperback novelisation of the forthcoming movie was quietly published. It's credited to George Lucas, but I gather it was actually ghostwritten for him. Nonetheless, you can still recognise chunks of Lucas' amusingly cumbersome dialogue at times! Goodness only knows what anyone who read this book at the time thought of it, before they'd seen it realised on the big screen. My guess is that they'd thought it an imaginative if slightly convoluted advanture story, told in rather ungainly prose. It retrospect, if you're at all familiar with the film, it's impossible to read this book now without seeing images of it brought to life on a vast scale with groundbreaking special effects and twinkling performances from a great cast.
Speaking as someone who thoroughly enjoyed the Star Wars films, I found this little novelisation quite fascinating, actually. It's peppered with lots of little extra bits of detail and the odd "deleted scene" beyond what we got see on the screen - filling in a lot of the gaps and background story (and occasionally contradicting something they did differently in later films). We spectacle on the cinema screen was so well realised that we didn't really "need" to know what a Sith Lord was or have the differences between antigrav and hyperspace drives explained to us, but its nicely satisfying to find out in this book. It's no great work of literature, but probably 1p well spent if you're a Star Wars fan.
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on 12 November 2003
In late 1976, Ballantine Books published the first edition of Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker, a novel by George Lucas. Adorned only with conceptual art by Ralph McQuarrie, it did not set the literary world on fire. As it turned out, however, the "major motion picture" it was heralding on its cover blurb became one of the biggest box office hits, and Star Wars went on to become a huge part of our culture.
Although it really wasn't George Lucas who wrote this first published tie-in to what would later be called Episode IV: A New Hope, the novel reflects the director's vision. Author Alan Dean Foster, who had adapted the scripts of the Star Trek animated series into the Star Trek Logs books, took Lucas' fourth revised draft and wrote a masterful adaptation that truly captures the spirit of the movie's characters and situations.
Star Wars begins with a short prologue that, with a few "special modifications" in the text, is really the outline for the current Prequel Trilogy. In the form of an excerpt from "the first saga -- Journal of the Whills," we are told that the once-powerful Galactic Republic, protected by the Jedi Knights, "throve and grew. But as often happens when wealth and power pass the admirable and attain the awesome, then appear those evil ones who have greed to match." Insidiously, like a house under attack by termites, the Republic rotted from within until "[a]ided and abetted by restless, power-hungry individuals within the government, and the massive organs of commerce, the ambitious Senator Palpatine caused himself to be elected President of the Republic....Once secure in office he declared himself Emperor...."
The novel then segues directly into the famous opening scene of Star Wars: an Imperial Star Destroyer (called here an Imperial cruiser) chases Princess Leia's Rebel Blockade Runner and captures it over the desert planet of Tatooine. After a brief battle, Imperial stormtroopers take over the ship, and Leia is taken before Lord Darth Vader, who wants to know what she did with secret data "transmitted by Rebel spies."
Leia, of course, has wisely hidden the data -- the plans of the Empire's ultimate superweapon, the Death Star -- into the memory banks of Artoo Detoo, an astromech droid. Artoo and his loyal but easily rattled counterpart, See-Threepio, have managed to flee aboard a tiny escape pod down to the hostile wastes of Tatooine. They are "found" by jawas, a race of small desert scavengers, then sold to a moisture farmer named Owen Lars and his nephew Luke Skywalker....and when Luke stumbles on a fragment of a message for someone named "Obi-Wan Kenobi," well, things really get interesting.
Foster's novelization is very faithful to its screenplay source, and even the "added" material (Luke's first appearance in the novel as he repairs a vaporator, or scenes with Biggs and his friends at Tosche Station) comes from Lucas' fourth revised draft (available in Carol Titleman's The Art of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope). Most of the "deleted scenes" later appeared in Brian Daley's Star Wars: The Radio Drama), and the encounter between Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt (spelled Hut in this novel) was restored and tweaked with CGI in the 1997 Special Edition re-release. Of the three Classic Trilogy novels, this is the best-written. Foster's style is crisp yet elegant, and it does not read like it's a screenplay adaptation.
The original 1976 hardcover edition (which I own thanks to the kindness of my best friend Rogers) includes 16 pages of promotional pictures and character profiles of the major roles. It's been since reissued several times, either singly or as part of omnibus collections in both paperback and hardcover, with different variants of cover art.
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on 4 November 2014
 I am a big fan of Star Wars - I love all six movies and think that the saga is one of the best-looking series of films ever created. So naturally, I had high expectations for this book of Star Wars Frames. I have mixed feelings about the results... I love the concept of the book and what it represents, but I think the execution of the idea was poor in a few areas.

As a play-by-play through the films, this book is a massive success. A person who hand never seen Star Wars would get a good idea of the overall story just by looking at these frames (over 200 images per film). Virtually every scene/sequence of the saga is represented with at least one frame. If you love the movies, this book is a trip down memory lane.

As for the printed image quality, I think it is quite good - although you must understand that these are frames taken directly from the films and adjust your expectations accordingly. Since the images are not enhanced in any way, the entire frame is not always in focus (and some action shots are going to appear blurry altogether). What you see in the book is essentially what you'd see if you paused a blu-ray of the movie and looked at one frame.

Apparently George Lucas himself curated this massive collection of frames, going through over a million images and reducing it to the 1400 that appear in this book... a remarkable feat, and one that no doubt was very time-consuming. But I'll be honest: in looking through the book, it sometimes feels as though the frames could have been randomly selected. I am assuming that's not the case, but some of Mr. Lucas's decisions are bewildering to me - I would love to get some insight into why he chose what he chose.

Obviously, Star Wars is first a motion picture. But the principles of motion pictures and the principles of still imagery differ in some areas, and in a sense the printed book format does not lend itself to isolated frames from what was originally intended to be a moving image. I say this because in flipping through the book it becomes quite obvious that many of these isolated frames (each of which contributed to a marvelous movie) would not pass a high-school photography class. They do not follow the basic rules of what make a good image - color balance, composition, etc. [Several examples of such frames can be seen in my video review - I trust that you'll easily spot a few overexposed frames that certainly don't belong.]

Now, to be clear about the problems stated above: I am talking about a relatively small percentage of frames. The majority of the book is marvelous. I can see that Mr. Lucas and/or his editors took the time and effort to ensure that most of the 4-frame spreads had optimal symmetry. Many of the scenes get an even-number of frames, which is a good thing because it allows an entire page or two to be dedicated to the same scene/setting (rather than having two completely unrelated frames sharing the same page).

Having looked through the book, it is fun to think about which frames I would personally add or omit had I curated this collection. Overall, this is a nice collectible for the Star Wars fan and one that I'm proud to own.

For more reviews, please see my Amazon profile or visit MovieArtBook(dot)com. Thanks for reading!
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on 9 November 2013
I pre-ordered this a while ago as I was overjoyed when I found out it was being released.
Now that I have had time to go through both volumes I am extremely impressed with the package.
Over 99% of he 'frames' that George Lucas has selected do justice to the Saga ( one or two are questionable but out of over 1400 that's not bad!).
Going through the volumes is like going through the whole Saga in still photography, a kind of deluxe giant fotonovel (if you are old enough to remember those!).
For Star Wars fans this is the ultimate collectible in terms of being able to go through all six movies at once.
So why only four stars?
Well for the size of he books I have concerns about whether the binding will hold - hopefully there will be no issues but just some concerns. It would have been better to have an individual book for each movie but I suppose this would increase costs.
Highly recommended purchase.
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on 27 November 2013
Book: Star Wars Frames - The Plus And The Minus

- printed on thick super quality paper
- real binding is used, no glue (the book doesn't "crack" when lying open flat)
- great slipcase box
- lots of great pictures which allow you to study stuff you missed on screen
- your own mind provides the appropriate John Williams music for each scene

- some scenes get only one or two photos like the Jango Fett & Ben Kenobi fight on Kamino

Wash your hands: lots of blacks in this book which is prone to glaring fingerprints.
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on 23 December 2013
I, like most fans, couldn't afford the first edition signed by Lucas, so I was so excited to see it released in this format at an affordable price.

Like the forward mentions, these books are in part a tribute to all the work that went into these movies, including artists, cinematographers, and so on. They are key moments personally picked by George Lucas, individual frames that he felt best tell the story, reveal the best lighting, the best angles, expressions etc. I feel, after having bought so many "making ofs" and cross sections and other reference books, it was refreshing to just see selected frames, nothing added or taken away, no retouching and the like, just key frames that tell the stories I fell in love with over the years.

You won't get any insights into the movies, no anecdotes or commentaries, just the pictures you saw on the big screen in a format you can hold in your hand and stare at as long as you like. If you're a fan, you love these books.
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on 22 July 2002
This is a great book, it basically follows everything that's seen in the film, but does go into more detail about certain things. Something you can't convey in a film. I've seen the film many times, but the book offers so much more!
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on 1 January 2014
Stunning set of books of an excellent quality. A collectors "must have". I hope Amazon learn how to package this item with more protection as I had to return the books twice due to damage sustained in transit.
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on 26 March 2014
I would say that it is an excellent gift for a mature Star Wars fan, however I would have preferred if there a few fewer frames as it though 2 to a page was too much and should have been more selective in their choosing of their frames, but this is not detracting from the fact that it is still an excellent present.
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on 15 January 2014
The package is lovely on this set of books that are crammed full of information and photographs about every Star Wars movie. It is a large item and rather heavy. The box containing the books is gorgeous as are the contents. The perfect gift for any Star Wars fan.
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