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A Super Documentary For Star Wars Fans - Ralph McQuarrie: Tribute To A Master

Selling a film to a movie studio can't be easy. Millions of pounds are at stake and Hollywood is littered with glorious failures. (Only 50% of Hollywood movies actually make a profit.)

How do you make the pitch even harder? Propose something that has never been achieved before. Require technology and techniques that don't yet exist. Fill your film with imaginary worlds, astonishing space battles and strange creatures and droids. 

And be a young film-maker too.

By the early 1970's one young film-maker, George Lucas, was proposing exactly that. Having failed to secure the rights to produce a Flash Gordon movie he began to pen his own space-fantasy - 'The Star Wars'.

In parallel, artist and design illustrator Ralph McQuarrie (who had previously drawn diagrams for the Boeing 747 construction manual) was animating CBS News' coverage of the NASA Apollo missions.

In 1975, having completed his script, George Lucas turned to McQuarrie to bring his story to life.

 

Ralph McQuarrie concept art for the movie Star Wars

 

The results were astonishing. Evocative, serene, action packed, alien and yet familiar. 

 

Ralph McQuarrie concept art for the movie Star Wars

 

McQuarrie's work was fundamental to the look of 1977's Star Wars and of the wider Star Wars Universe.

 

Ralph McQuarrie concept art for the movie Star Wars

 

As Lucas built on the phenomenal success of Star Wars he continued to turn to McQuarrie to bring this Universe to life.

 

Ralph McQuarrie artwork for The Empire Strikes Back

 

Many of the films' scenes are direct reproductions of McQuarrie artworks.

 

Ralph McQuarrie concept artwork for The Empire Strikes Back

 

Having worked on the Star Wars saga, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, E.T. and Cocoon (for which he was eventually awarded an Oscar) Ralph McQuarrie left us in March 2012. In tribute, Lucasfilm and the Dreams and Vision Press produced a superb series of short films describing his on-going influence on the Star Wars Universe.

Collected and editing together, this 42 minute documentary is full of amazing artwork and Lucasfilm insights, including rare interviews with George Lucas himself. We recommend it whole-heartedly.

 

 

To round off this week's blog post, McQuarrie even produced a couple of conceptual designs for a Star Wars movie poster!

 

Ralph McQuarrie concept art for a movie poster for Star Wars

 

Thirty years later, one of these would finally be completed by artist Lawrence Noble and released at Star Wars Celebration Japan in 2008!

 

An original concept movie poster for Star Wars by Ralph McQuarrie and Lawrence Noble

 

We have been lucky enough to secure a number of them! You can find them here.

If this has also whetted your appetite for all things Star Wars, why not check out our amazing collection of Star Wars movie posters too?

 

Adam and the Art of the Movies team

Ralph McQuarrie concept artwork, copyright the Dreams and Vision Press

 

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