The Art of Star Wars:
Episode I -
The Phantom Menace
by Jonathan Bresman
Published by Del Ray
Scott's Rating: 4 out of 4
This book collects all the concept art, design sketches, animatics, models, matte paintings, and more from the development of Episode I. A MAJORITY of the pictures in this book weren't even used in the final film. It describes the design process and the thoughts that went behind many of the sketches and paintings. It also details the inspirations and origins for many of the characters, buildings, ships, droids, and more. It then concludes with profiles of each of the artists.
This book is an absolutely incredible treat. Concept art is one of my favorite parts of behind-the-scenes stuff, and this is jam packed with it. It's incredibly interesting the read about the development of such things as Darth Maul, the battledroids, the Jedi Council, Theed, Jar Jar, and more. Here are a few highlights that I specifically pulled out for a prequel post:
At one point the Gungans were to ride "Air Whales", flying beasts on the planet Naboo. The Air Whales were to be a nod to Ralph McQuarries "Thrantas" developed for the original trilogy but never used.
Terryl Whitlatch drew many early Jar Jar concept drawings with a Gungan dog character named "Blarf". Blarf was based on her pet boxer Abigail.
The stone head seen on Naboo was at one point going to be seen in the background of Tatooine as part of a buried lost city.
The book confirms speculation posted here in the past that the buildings seen in the city of Theed were partly inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's Marin County Civic Center.
Several of the final designs seen in Episode I were inspired by Ian McCaig when he angrily scribbled on drawings in frustration, then happened to like what ended up on paper. Among them were the design for Darth Maul and the dress the Queen's decoy wore when they left Naboo.
Mos Espa was at one point designed as a scaled up city sized version of Owen and Beru's underground dwelling. The whole city was originall going to be part of a pit and a canyon.
The pod race announcer's full name is Fode/Beed Annodue.
The Skywalker Family Emblem can be found on the sloping headrest of Anakin's pod next to a Huttese symbol. The stripes on Anakin's Pod were inspired by a paint job on a sports car George Lucas had as a kid.
The air taxis on Coruscant were designed to look like fish.
The design for Yaddle came from a concept sketch of a young version of Yoda.
When Lucas asked McCaig to draw Darth Maul as his worst childhood nightmare, it was suprisingly a female character that looks like the love child of Marylin Manson and Raggedy Ann. Several other "Sith Witches", as they were called, were also designed but not used.
Several Evil Senators were designed but not used, and they had the same facial tattoos as Darth Maul.
As rumored way, way back at the beginnings of this site, the mention that Obi-Wan's design was originally to look like Madmartigan's from the film Willow.
As you can see, there's a lot of cool stuff here. The paintings are shown in great detail and are fun to examine. I also like the fact that the artists are highlighted at the end. So often they don't get the credit they deserve, but this addresses that.
There's only two minor complaints I have. The first is that as much as this book shows, it does not show EVERYTHING. If you look in the Star Wars Insider's Guide, there's a lot there that doesn't show up here. The Star Wars Insider also has featured production artwork (such as an Aurra Sing sketch) that's not here. Also, in digging up prequel information, we were able to smuggle out concept art of the entire Jedi Council that didn't make it. That's a shame because the costumes were so interesting. There was also at least one Pod Race picture we got that I would have liked to have seen. I may be expecting a bit much, but there it is. :)
My other minor gripe is that it would have been nice to offer the softcover version at the same time as the hardcover. While the hardcover is reasonably priced at around $40, it would have been nice to offer a cheaper alternative to those whose pocketbooks are strapped at the moment because of buying everything else in May. :) This was done with the "Making of" book and it was much appreciated.
Definitely the Marylin Manson / Raggedy Ann love child.