The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a beautiful 256 page hardcover from Abrams Books. Put together and written by Phil Szostak, with a foreword by The Force Awaken‘s co-production designer Rick Carter, the book does an outstanding job of not just showcasing some of the concept art for the film, but presenting the behind-the-scenes story of the film’s creation and the art department’s role in shaping that story. Unlike a lot of art of books, this one has quite a bit of written content which gives fans an idea of how the movie evolved from various ideas to become the final product. Yet there is no shortage of artwork with 600 full-color illustrations, some of them spanning two pages to present the beauty of the artwork. If you’ve seen the movie, this is a great way to dive deeper into The Force Awakens, especially as we bide our time for The Making of Star Wars: The Force Awakens coming from Abrams Books later this year.

First off, the book doesn’t take much time to explain who the author of the book is, which I think is rather important. It’s hidden on the inside of the dust jacket which is something I have a tendency to toss aside without a second thought. Phil Szostak was actually chosen to chronicle the process and experience of the art department for The Force Awakens from December 2012 to the film’s completion. As the film’s official archivist, he’s the perfect choice to put together the book, and his selection of artwork and details about the film and the artists creates a wonderful picture of what the process was like. At a little over 11×10 inches in size (11 5⁄16 x 10 3⁄8 to be exact), the book has plenty of room to showcase that artwork and still squeeze in tidbits about the story’s development, evolution, and the behind-the-scene’s anecdotes.

To give you an idea of what kind of information they packed in, here are some highlights. They reveal the first working names for the characters who eventually became Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren. We get snippets from Michael Arndt and glimpses of what his initial outline and draft included. There’s artwork for locations that were initially going to be put into the film, but were later worked out of the script. There’s concept art for Maz Kanata, Supreme Leader Snoke and lots of designs for Kylo Ren. Surprisingly enough, his design wasn’t locked in until March 2014, just two months prior to principal photography. Also in the book is the character Warwick Davis played, a backstory for the animatronic bird that many have complained about, an explanation for the look of Snoke, Dennis Muren’s contribution to the Starkiller weapon, and how mummified heads influenced the look of Vader’s ruined helmet. There are tons of cool facts in the book which make it a great read from cover-to-cover.

As for the artwork, it speaks for itself. From fully detailed paintings, to rough visual concepts and intricate sketches, there’s lots to look at. There’s even a very small handful of photographs from the set/film, a couple blueprints, and some pictures J.J. Abrams drew on sticky notes for what BB-8 should look like. Wisely, they keep those types of pictures to a minimum so as not to hurt the focus of the book, but their inclusion does a great job of adding to the wealth of knowledge and reference material therein.

If you’re looking for a behind-the-scenes book for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this one is a superb choice. Filled with great information and artwork, it earns a well deserved five out of five metal bikinis. You’ll definitely want to add The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens to your library.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

 

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