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** Ralph McQuarrie SW world vastly different from G.Lucas Sequels**

Discussion in 'Original Trilogy' started by Ben_Kenobi, Oct 20, 2017.

  1. Ben_Kenobi

    Ben_Kenobi Rebel General

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    Let me start off by saying the original Star Wars film is my favorite so I’d like to make it a center point in this discussion! It resonated with me since childhood for its vast universe that exists outside the screen. The shadowy Emperor, famous “Kessel Run”, valiant Jedi Knights and enigmatic Force are but a few examples. Each viewing was a personal experience where I filled the gaps, shaping its mythology with my vivid imagination. When I came to the U.S as a teen I learned more of the film’s history and inevitably discovered Ralph McWarrie’s work.

    When I look at his brilliant art I feel captivated by his ability to tell a story in each artwork. In his painting of Alderaan you get the feeling of a noble and culturally evolved society, or the isolation in Tatooine and its small farmer dwellings separated by desolate deserts.

    While G.Lucas laid the foundation for the story (by story I mean everything that happens from the beginning to the end of the film) I strongly feel it was McWarrie’s contribution and the entire “70’s & 80’s sci-fi, fantasy art movement” that broadened the scope of the Star Wars world and fueled our imagination.

    As Lucas continued building upon the original work with the sequels, a lot of McWarrie’s otherworldly concepts got lost in translation. Looking back at the Empire and the Return I see a departure from the period 70’s sci-fi, fantasy art and a shift into modern artistic sensibilities. Lucas was the boss and naturally the artists had to adhere to his vision.

    The original Star Wars is my all-time favorite film not because of its directing or special effects. It stands the test of time thanks to its visual storytelling. It’s the ultimate sandbox for the mind that welcomes the audience into its otherworldly space while telling a very powerful, human story!

    I am curious if you, particularly those who saw it first before the sequels, feel the same?
     
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  2. AstromechRecords

    AstromechRecords Jedi General

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    It had to do with a lot of the art being placed in one time period. McQuarrie was a master at showing a world that had not already existed. ESB and ROTJ became a product of the times and a need for business. I don't think they got lost in translation, but rather that they were built upon an unexpected success.
     
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  3. Lt. Hija

    Lt. Hija Rebel Official

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    (Can the spelling mistake in the thread title please be corrected as we're talking about the contributions of Ralph McQuarrie?)

    As a buyer of the original McQuarrie "Portfolios" that were released with each film, I never felt this way. For Star Wars (A New Hope) all the original designs were still in a prototype stage before the designs got finalized, by the time of the pre-production of ESB the essential designs had become a standard McQuarrie could rely upon in his further contributions.

    But because of that, before the release of ESB, some of us thought that what McQuarrie depicted would be translated exactly into the film, e.g. snowspeeders with cannons cannibalized from X-Wings or Hoth riding creatures that were lizards, not mammals.
     
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  4. Get In Gear

    Get In Gear Force Sensitive

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    Don't forget, roughly as much of Ralph McQuarrie's Star Wars work was done AFTER Return of the Jedi had been made as was done before that point (around 24 for Star Wars and another 40 for Empire).
    McQuarrie did work on Jedi, but very few of his designs were used and he parted company with LucasFilm during production. Lucas later asked him to do some new paintings depicting key scenes from the movie after production had finished, which were used for the ROTJ Portfolio book.
    He was also commissioned to create some new paintings for the Illustrated Star Wars Universe book in 1995.
    His Alderaan painting was one of those new images, I believe:
    MCQ_IA_111.jpg
    His concept for Alderaan dating from production on the first movie looked like this, and was later recycled as Cloud City for TESB:
    mcq_ia_131.jpg
     
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  5. Lt. Hija

    Lt. Hija Rebel Official

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    Up to this day it saddens me that George Lucas did not use McQuarrie's 1995 depiction of Alderaan in ROTS.

    In the original, early drafts Alderaan was an Imperial prison facility in the skies where the Princess was held.
     
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  6. Ben_Kenobi

    Ben_Kenobi Rebel General

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    Thanks everyone for sharing your insights. I also wanted to talk about the special quality McQuarrie's work brought to the original film. Am I the only person who felt a big change in direction between the first film and the two sequels?

    For example, in the original film I never felt that Vader was "one-of-a-kind" persona. He was visually very impressive and his black armor stood out from the rest of the troopers but he also shares a lot of loose designs with them. So I always pictured him one of many Imperial Generals and his armor was an elite warriors armor. Because we only get a glimpse at different military units in the film, it left a huge room for imagination.

    Another example is the Jedi. Kenobi's description conjured images of heroic wizards who weren't organized like military, or in great numbers, and were respected for their wisdom and command of the force. I guess the cantina fight scene was instrumental in supporting that interpretation. Kenobi's prowess with the blade shuts the whole place down before everyone calmly goes about their business.

    Sorry, I can't uncap. the title of the thread.

     
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  7. Trevor

    Trevor Rebellion Arms Supplier
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    For everything that McQuarrie did, let's NOT be thankful that his cover of "Splinter of the Mind's Eye" ever made it to the big screen, because if it had actually become a movie, the SW that we know might be VASTLY different. :)
     
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  8. Ben_Kenobi

    Ben_Kenobi Rebel General

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    I got to reading Splinter after many years of almost entirely completing the EU novel series and... I wasn't impressed one bit. It was such a cheap take on the film, felt completely inappropriate thematically, and the plot just didn't make a lot of sense. I'm glad it was never used for anything other than comicbook material.
     
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  9. Trevor

    Trevor Rebellion Arms Supplier
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    In 1978, it seemed to make perfect sense because we'd all just seen "Star Wars" and it was the continuation fix that we all needed, and EXPECTED would be the next movie, actually. Now looking back on it using the SWU that we have now as reference, all I can think is "Oh LAWD!!!" :)
     
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  10. Jake Jar Binks

    Jake Jar Binks Rebelscum

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    The fact that george lucas never made his sequels and that mcquarrie is still inspiring the new sequel trilogy and George Lucas is just an advisor is because George Lucas had only concepts and the sequel trilogy was only planned after the success of the original trilogy. But, the prequels were always going to come first. That's why Mcquarrie had lots of unused concept arts and Lucas only had a few concepts but if you look at the force awakens most of the ideas from that were resulting from original ideas from its production, most were unused. Now, something like rebels is what Mcquarrie's art really goes towards, Zeb being chewbacca's original design etc.
     
  11. Lt. Hija

    Lt. Hija Rebel Official

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    Frankly, my feelings towards Rebels and how Lucasfilm utilizes McQuarrie's artwork is rather ambivalent.

    I never understood the need why George Lucas felt compelled to alter McQuarrie's depiction of the Great Temple on Yavin IV.

    Yavin IV Great Temple exterior corrected (final & signed) 30vH.jpg

    McQuarrie's temple was circular and had a flat top, according to his known production sketches.

    If the producers of the Nu Lucasfilm productions were really in earnest about "respect" for Ralph McQuarrie, they could have considered his original temple as depicted in the original version of ANH.

    Instead we got this Special Edition *improvement* for the worse, first in Rogue One, and now in Rebels and SW Battlefront.
     
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