Star Wars is one of the most important cultural phenomena of the Western world. The tale of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and the fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker has become modern myth, an epic tragedy of the corruption of a young man in love into darkness, the rise of evil, and the power of good triumphing in the end. But it didn't start out that way. In this thorough account of one of cinema's most lasting works, Michael Kaminski presents the true history of how Star Wars was written, from its beginnings as a science fiction fairy tale to its development over three decades into the epic we now know, chronicling the methods, techniques, thought processes, and struggles of its creator. For this unauthorized account, he has pored through over 400 sources, from interviews to original scripts, to track how the most powerful modern epic in the world was created, expanded, and finalized into the tale an entire generation has grown up with.
©2008 Michael Kaminski (P)2014 Audiobooks.com
As many people have noted, this is a book for the diehards. It is long. It is detail packed. It is repetitious, It is exhaustive in every sense of the word. And, to be blunt, it's an awful lot of words to say what anyone who has followed the Star Wars franchise since the early days already knows: George Lucas never really had a master plan and has been making it up or modifying the past (retcon, as the author helpfully defines multiple times) as he sees fit since the beginning.
That said, the research here is very impressive. Kaminiski has really done his homework, a chore which can't have been too easy given the contradictions of the mountains of Star Wars info available and the way Lucas plays things close the the vest, letting out only what hewants you to know at that time. It's fascinating to hear the script changes or Lucas's own words changing over time. And its fun, and a bit frustrating, to see how Lucas twisted the franchise into a pretzel to fit whatever his vision was that week.
But, I have to admit, this book wore me out. Maybe I'm not an uber fan, just a fanatic? There were only so many times I could hear essentially similar information about this change or that. The minutia is impressive, but overwhelming at times.
Still, if you want to know exactly how we got from the original 1977 movie to the whole universe it is today, I doubt you'll find a better resource.
I grew up on Golden Age Radio, I love to learn about a great many things, and I enjoy a wide variety of genres. Me, bored? Never!
This would have been a 5 star work, save for the extreme repetition of facts. Ironically, the author thanks his editor up front, who probably should have been fired. This is such an issue that it probably could have reduced the size of the book by a third without loss of content.
That said, this book is a wonderful companion work to J. W. Rinzler's equally incredible "Making of" volumes. This work covers the creative story development of the 6-film saga in full in such a way that no stone is left unturned, and gives us insights into the lives of the people involved, especially that of creator George Lucas. This work is so detailed that it breaks down every single version of the scripts, stage by stage. In this regard, this book is an absolute MUST for the die-hard uber-fans of the Galaxy Far, Far Away.
Not covered are the technical aspects, such as special effects, sound effects, or the musical scores.
What is casually glossed over in the history is the infamous 1978 Holiday Special. There is some basic information on the Ewok movies as well as the Droids and Ewoks cartoon series, but nothing in-depth for these either.
One point of weirdness: the narrator attempts impersonations of the various people who are quoted in interviews or various characters quoted in scripts. Some of these are passable and even respectable, and others are so far off base so as to be screwball if you know what the person is supposed to sound like.
Casual fans need not bore themselves with this book, but any "Star Wars Nerd" type fan (you know, the ones who know the difference between the remastered movies and the originals, the ones who are obsessed with Bobba Fett, or who belong(ed) to the 501st legion etc) should read/listen to this book. Then watch the movies (with and without commentary) again. That's all I'm going to say.
It was a little nerdier than I was expecting. There was some good background on Lucas and his wife that was very interesting but it's mostly "Lucas wrote this 30 years ago and now says that and this fan newsletter contradicts him in this way....blah blah blah." There was a lot of good info but it was divided by long boring meaningless story as well. The one thing that I couldn't stop laughing at is how many times the author used the word "swashbuckling." I actually turned it into a drinking game :)
I listened to this immediately after listening to How Star Wars Conquered The Universe. While it was full of analysis, critique and of course all manner of trivia and apocrypha, it was handled in a more literary and academic way than I expected. These two audiobooks make wonderful companions to each other.
If you are looking for more information than you'll ever want to know about Star Wars, this book is for you. Pretty good over all, though! The reader's impersonation of George Lucas 's voice was dead on! Recommended.
While I enjoyed the background information it was too long and spent too much time exploring what Lucas might have been thinking. In some ways it reminded me of Atlas Shrugged; an interesting story drug out far too long.
This is a very well built, very interesting description of the script progress and a travel through history. While having a huge respect for Georges Lucas, the author made sure to be critical concerning every aspect of the Star Wars history, from the initial conception to the final films, and how it was bound to Lucas' life.
It is however very "nerdy", with aspect that might not be appealing to casual readers.
I personally enjoyed a lot learning about Lucas' relationship with Coppola and Spielberg, as much as I enjoyed the extensive description of the different scripts. Star wars fans and movies adepts alike will enjoy this book.
It is especially a good choice as audiobook, being 24h long.
The voice acting is incredible. You'll hear soundalikes for everyone such as George Lucas, Mark Hamill, Gary Kurtz, Irvin Kershner, Francis Ford Coppola and even Martin Scorsese. A compelling book that, in audio form, feels like a great audio documentary. Fantastic.
And it's great to hear quotes from great publications like Film Threat.
"Essential for Star Wars fans"
I have to agree with other comments about the extreme repetition in the book but don't let that put you off.
This book is a great critical appraisal of the films. It doesn't kiss Lucas butt and is openly critical but at the same time this obviously written by a fan and it makes you want to watch the movies again. The analysis of Phantom Menance is interesting- basically a movie which could be edited into a much better product (ironically the same could be said of this book)
it is a stunning piece of in depth research which gives you a great idea of the creative process of moviemaking.
A really relevant read in light of the new Force Awakens movie. Look forward to a better edited version of the book to include the new movies
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