Thank you, Zyra, for letting me do my favorite thing: obsessing about Star Wars and my OTP, on the H/L Writers Blog.
Well, friends, I've spent the last 72 hours purchasing and reading the expanded ebook editions of the JW Rinzler "Making Of" books. I asked Zyra if I could hop up here and share my impressions with you all, since I know that not all of you are crazy enough to buy all of these editions. "Impressions" are all these are, and highly biased ones at that.
The Making of Star Wars
For some reason I don't have much to say about the "making of" aspect of this volume. And that's strange because this is the book that is based the most on unseen material. Rest assured it's a good story, though, with plenty to learn.
There are a couple of extra features in here to warm the fangirl's heart. First, and most outrageous, is an audio clip of George Lucas being interviewed by Charles Lippincott, the Lucasfilm Vice President of marketing and merchandising. He's asked why he cast Harrison Ford, gives the non-answer of "because he was best for the role," and when pressed says, and I quote directly, "because he was handsome and dashing and sullen...and had an undercurrent of sensual hostility." Seriously: that's what he says. Lippincott then makes a noise like "WooOOOOoooo!" Whatever wackjob theories I've ever had about Ford's role in Lucas' imaginative life are now proven incontrovertibly. (Their personal relationship is also a source of fascination to me, but I'm trying to keep it classy here.)
For an even cheaper thrill that provides zero insight into the creators of the film, you could look to a daily of the cantina scene in which Han shoots Greedo. This is a single fixed camera at Han's seated eye level, more or less, so when Greedo pushes him back toward the alcove, Ford steps into the frame ass first. It basically looks just like this:
It's not particularly enticing, just good for a giggle.
In addition to those, there isn't much in the Star Wars book that I found really fascinating. From the ebook extras, the footage from Tunisia is pretty amazing, and there's some film from the Death Star escape that's fun. What I found missing from this book was anything really interesting about Carrie Fisher. It was just pretty sparse in the areas where I have most interest.
But if you're a conspiracy theorist like me, you might also find this kind of interesting: a passage about principal shooting discusses the friendships growing among the actors. It mentions the growing bond between Hamill and Ford, and Fisher and Hamill. And does not, as one might expect, add anything else. I found that an intriguing omission, and I've been busy crafting new and different conspiracy theories to explain it. In the interest of keeping it classy, as I mentioned, I will say no more. But I'm biting my tongue. :-)
(Keeping it classy, right. Is that why you have a hand-drawn storyboard of a butt up there, LP?)
The Making of the Empire Strikes Back
The Making of Empire book is the only one I have in both hard copy and ebook. If you don't own a copy in either format, I highly recommend it. The transcript from the day of shooting the carbon freeze scene alone is worth it. This transcript is taken from the same tape quoted in the "Once Upon a Galaxy" book by Alan Arnold. But this version (as you'd expect from something published 30 years after the fact) is much more candid. I was fascinated by the details about the differences in approach between Lucas and Kirshner, including the story of how Gary Kurtz came to leave Lucasfilm. I'm a strong Empire partisan, and I'm of the school of thought that it never could have been made as it was with Lucas any closer than an ocean away.
So, strictly from the fangirl perspective, what is there in the Making of ESB book to cause major squeeing? Aside from the on-set transcript, not much. When I heard about the added content for the ebooks, I was hoping to to perhaps see some behind-the-scenes footage from that day, since it seems like that does exist. But no luck. There are, however, some nice clips that really illuminate the process of shooting the film. For instance, there's an interview with Carrie Fisher explaining the secondary importance of the actual dialog being delivered during shooting, as well as footage of her and John Ratzenberger (Cliff Clavin!!) being prepped for the evacuation briefing scene, which was apparently particularly difficult for Fisher to film.
But, as noted before, there's nothing in here truly squee-worthy for the 'shipper.
The Making of Return of the Jedi
Now the Jedi book is probably the one that I found the most interesting. I readily admit that Jedi is my least favorite of the OT, and since I'm far from the only one who feels this way, there's a lot in the book to explain what went on to make it the film that it is. For instance, we have Harrison Ford, who apparently didn't see a script until arriving in the UK, lamenting that Lucas et al care more about Luke than Han as a character(!!). We learn that it was Lucas' idea to put Carrie Fisher in a dancing girl costume, perhaps in reaction to complaints that previous films hadn't been "sexy" enough. (Please. Just ask any heterosexual woman which of the three films is sexiest, Lucas. I dare you.) The Ewoks, love 'em or hate 'em, are also all on Lucas' head. Not just their existence, but the specific character design. He also himself (as second unit director) filmed a lot of the footage that some consider most egregious, including the baby ewok shots. So basically, Lucas made the film for man-children like himself.
There is some great content in here for any fan of Carrie Fisher. I don't care if she was allegedly trashed half the time during filming, her commentary about the whole thing is spot on. Especially when she points out that the second she's put in the slave girl outfit, she's silenced. Think about it - she doesn't utter more than 6 words through that entire sequence. She goes from intrepid rescuer to mute sex slave. Fisher is quoted as saying that it was during the shooting of these scenes that she decided to become a writer.
As for the ebook extras, there's some fun stuff. There's an interesting daily from the Rebel briefing room scene where some blocking is worked out with the big three. There are several other dailies that are neat to see. From a fangirl's perspective, though, nothing beats a photo which may actually also appear in the hard copy of the book. It's a shot of Ford reclining sans shirt on the sands of Yuma, Ariz., looking much like a scruffy (link: https://www.google.com/search?q=odalisque&client=safari&hl=en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=VCpvUv3TIsW24APhqoCIDw&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAA&biw=1024&bih=672) odalisque. There's definitely some sort of fic prompt in there, friends, I guarantee.