‘Solo’ the story of how smuggler Han Solo and best friend Chewbacca got together and attempted a couple of heists was an odd movie in some ways. It arrived five months after the divisive yet brilliant ‘The Last Jedi’, wracked with stories of production issues, on-set acting coaching and the removal of original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller in favour of Ron Howard.
You’ll find little in this book of the on-set issues, whether Lucasfilm thought Lord and Miller were making the movie too funny or Lawrence Kasdan arriving on set at Pinewood to act as a ‘shadow director’ but what you do get from Rob Bredow’s comprehensive book, ‘Industrial Light & Magic Presents Making ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ is a look at the technical piecing together of a ‘Star Wars’ film.
From the pre-production work through location filming in exotic locations such as the Dolomite Mountains, the Canary Islands and, um, Tilbury Docks into post-production, the book presents hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos. Effects sequences such as the train heist or the mines of Kessel are laid out in wonderful photographs both full colour and black & white.
It’s an expert’s eye, too. Bredow was the visual effects supervisor on ‘Solo’ and was close to the action throughout the production, which, as you’re reading, does make it feel like you’re being given an insider view of what it was like to be working on this film. That said, it is also a very technical view of the film. On the one hand, there is a great joy knowing that very old school techniques like rear projection were still used in some of the movie’s scenes. On the other hand, you don’t get a lot of insight into scripting decisions, casting or the aforementioned disputes.
In some ways, though, it is the book fans have been waiting for. Up until now, Abrams and Lucasfilm have published exquisite ‘Art Of…’ books for all the movies starting with ‘The Force Awakens’ but this is the first real ‘Making Of’ book and hopefully not the last. As usual with the Abrams coffee-table publications, it is packed full of artwork and photos. While I’m not usually a fan of cross-page presentation as I find the divide in the pages a distraction, there are some gorgeous shots in here, one favourite being a panoramic shot of the Sabacc table where Han, Lando and other assorted bounty hunters, aliens and no-good-niks are all sat.
Rather like ‘The Force Awakens’, there will no doubt be more to tell about the production of this film in the future. For now though, ‘Making Solo’ is a beautiful companion to the ‘Art Of Solo’ book and currently provides, in the written word at least, the most in-depth view of making a twenty-first century ‘Star Wars’ film that we have. Savour it.
(pub: Abrams, 2019. 252 page large format square hardback. Price: £35.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-41973-753-4)
check out website: www.abrambooks.com