Growing-up watching ‘Star Wars’, I was often amazed at the quality of the creature-making and mask work that the series had. Don’t get me wrong, I was equally fascinated by the work of, for example John Friedlander on ‘Doctor Who’, but ‘Star Wars’ had an extra-special something. This is something that is presented in a colourful and informative way in ‘The Moviemaking Magic Of Star Wars: Creatures And Aliens’ written by Mark Salisbury.
While Lucasfilm and Disney presumably continue to tie themselves in knots over releasing an actual ‘Making Of-’ book, ponder what went wrong with ‘Solo’ and the franchise’s toxic conservative fandom attacks the later movies’ progressive stance, it’s refreshing to find such a detailed and treasure-filled book such as this aimed, quite correctly, at the kids.
Starting with ‘A New Hope’ and looking at each movie in the series up to and including ‘Solo’, ‘Creatures And Aliens’ showcases the weird, wonderful and often delightfully furry species that have made an appearance in the films. Old favourites such as Yoda and Chewbacca are given pages devoted to their often surprising concept art, as their appearances morphed during production. Other less fondly remembered monsters are here, too. I was delighted to see some of my favourite creations, the Geonossian Arena creatures, featured in some detail here.
As I’ve mentioned before with the ‘Star Wars’ storyboard books, the arrival of CGI means a literal removal of some of the physicality of the movies’ universe and making-of material. Seeing how a character like Boss Nass from ‘The Phantom Menace’ is ‘layered-up’ on a computer isn’t necessarily as fulfilling as seeing how the Jabba puppet was operated in ‘Return Of The Jedi’.
This being an Abrams book it is, of course, packed to the gills with gorgeous behind-the-scenes pictures and, in a move that’s especially fun for children, plenty of pull-outs, booklets and flaps to be discovered and examined. It’s this sort of tactile quality that really brings the aliens and their creation to life.
Ultimately, for an adult reader, this book felt like a chunk of nostalgia, like being reminded of the ‘Star Wars’ ‘Making Of-’ programmes that ITV would run during the Christmas or Easter holidays in the late 80s. It preserves the magic of the movies, while endearing the reader to the magic of the achievement, the sheer level of technical skill required to make the fantastic seem real.
If you’ve a young ‘Star Wars’ fan in your life, I’d say 8 or over or even a young film buff, ‘The Moviemaking Magic Of Star Wars: Creatures And Aliens’ is a great way to engage their minds about how new life-forms can be created onscreen and may indeed fire-up their own imaginations.
(pub: Abrams Books for Young Readers. 144 page illustrated hardback. Price: £21.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-41972-819-8)
check out website: https://www.abramsbooks.com/abramskids