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The Future Through the Past,
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Art of Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace: Episode One (Cinéma) (Gebundene Ausgabe)It is hard to think of Star Wars as just a film without wanting to look deeper into what goes on behind the camera, and in this case what is behind the camera is so much larger than a standard movie. Star Wars spawned industries and new technologies through Lucas' obsession with getting his vision on to the big screen, but Lucas' visions would be nothing were it not for the legion of talented concept artists who rendered his thoughts on to paper, then a model or costume, and now, the computer. Indeed, the art department of Industrial Light and Magic-Lucas' preeminent special effects house, has some of the brightest, most imaginative artists working within the industry today.
For the Phantom Menace Lucas turned to Doug Chiang to provide much of the design work used within the film, most notably the ships and vehicles of the Trade Federation and those of the Naboo. The Art of the Phantom Menace takes us through the evolution of these designs from concepts to the screen, and in many cases abandoned ideas were often better than what eventually made it to the screen. Plus, it is easy to understand why Lucas wanted the Trade Federation army to be comprised mainly of robots instead of people-it is much more pleasant to have Jedi hacking the arms, legs and heads off of non-thinking robots than it would be if they were Stormtroopers or other living soldiers.
While these designs are nice, I found them to be conservative and far less evocative than the previous host of vehicles in the first three films. A Naboo N-1 Starfighter resembles a speed boat with port and starboard engines, garishly painted yellow with chrome accents; it also completely lacks the impact of an X-Wing with its variable geometry wings and more utilitarian design. The Queen's cruiser is little more than a silvery US Air Force SR-71 spy plane. In fact, much of the designs fell flat, whether it was the Trade Federation battleship-a toroid with a sphere mounted in the center just isn't as impressive as the fearsome wedge-shaped Star Destroyer. I however liked the AAT and MTT used by the Federation, the Armored Attack Tank had a decidedly insectile and alien appearance while the locomotive inspired Multi-Troop Transport seemed imposing and powerful.
The pod racers had a beautiful look-like much of the Star Wars designs, looked functional and well used, unlike the pristine pixie dust and polish that accompanies the vehicles and sets of Star Trek. I enjoyed the pod designs immensely and chuckled when I recognized that Sebulba's pod car was in fact the front end of an A-10 Fairchild with engines attached on either side of the cockpit. The book takes us through the evolution of not only vehicles, but also costumes and sets.
The big advantage Lucas in the Phantom Menace was that many of the sets were all done with CGI, meaning they were nothing more than blue walls behind the actors which were then rendered in during post production. Whether they were full-scale physical sets or CGI, it didn't matter, the background buildings of Naboo, Coruscant, and Tatooine add so much flavor to the film, because they are so varied and work well add distinctiveness to each of the locations through out the film. It also gives us a look at the creatures seen through out the film, the stages of gungan development from amphibians to Jar Jar Binks, beasts of burden and the myriad of creatures seen in the senate chambers, swamps, and deserts.
This book is for those who like to look beyond the film, to know how a vehicle or creature or building began as a rough piece of concept art to the finished product. Though as I said, I wasn't all that thrilled with the vehicle designs, I felt that the book itself was a worthy addition to my Star Wars library of art and special effects books. And while there isn't a lot of text to read (always a downside), the art more than makes up for it.
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