The director of the Lucasfilm Archives says that before Return of the Jedi
, it just never occurred to anyone to formally store and catalog the accumulated "stuff" associated with the Star Wars
films. Stormtrooper helmets and lightsabers were crammed next to models of tauntauns and sandcrawlers in closets and cubbyholes. Only when George Lucas was surrounded by all this junk for a Jedi
publicity shot did the Lucasfilm folks realize what an amazing collection they had.
That collection only grew when Lucas scored with the popular Indiana Jones trilogy, which added all manner of whips, swords, and idols to the archive. This photo-packed book chronologically surveys the collection's highlights: props, models, storyboards, backdrops, and sketches, spanning all six films. Fans of either (or both) series will be gratified by a glimpse at these oh-so-cool artifacts. Unfortunately, the text isn't quite as edifying as the pictures. Behind-the-scenes insights, such as the fact that Imperial Walkers were a late substitution for Norwegian army tanks and that Indy's shooting of the swordmaster in the market was a fatigue-induced ad lib, often take a back seat to unnecessary plot recaps and equally superfluous explanations (for example, that the Force is sort of like chi). Of course, the artifacts from the archive are the real attraction, and they don't disappoint. --Paul Hughes