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Tag Archive: The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story


Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s truly a rare summer when a new Star Wars movie is in theaters–the last time was in 2005 with the release of Revenge of the Sith.  As with the past three post-Disney acquisition Star Wars films, several publishers have released tie-in books for the latest Star Wars chapter, Solo: A Star Wars Story.  Some books provide fans with a behind-the-scenes tour, others provide novelized backstories, and still others provide an in-universe look at the story.  For a behind the scenes view you’ll want Abrams’ coverage of the concept art in The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story (reviewed at borg.com here).  For an in-galaxy view of the characters and places, the book you’ll want to get your hands on is DK’s next chapter in their Star Wars book series, Solo: A Star Wars Story–The Official Guide, by Pablo Hidalgo.

The Official Guide is written like the magazines in the 1970s and 1980s that would follow on the heels of a blockbuster film, a “souvenir” type book that would highlight anything everything fans of the film would want to know more about.  The key feature of this full-color hardcover volume is the high-quality, detailed photographs, particularly of the characters, costumes, and props–perfect for cosplay reference.  It also includes some great detail in its several images of the re-imagined early Millennium Falcon.  Especially in a film of the Star Wars universe, where one of the trademarks is inclusion of enormous crowd scenes with varying peoples of different backgrounds, races, species–and names–moviegoers often miss most of the background characters.  When a costume can cost thousands of dollars to design and construct, it’d be a shame to simply leave the characters in the background.  So that’s where The Official Guide becomes a unique resource.

In no other book will you find all of these new characters from this latest Star Wars film.  They have names and backgrounds, and their cultural objects they carry say something about them.  But this is Star Wars, so you can expect to see the latest stormtrooper variant (like patrol trooper, fleet trooper, mudtrooper, and range trooper), as well as denizens of the most recent hives of scum and villainy (like the Grindalid Moloch, the Corellian Rebolt, shipping magnate Crev Bombaasa, and, hey, that’s Ron Howard’s brother Clint as Ralakili, running the droid fights).  A great two-page spread features the new many incarnations of mechanical fellows from Lucasfilm’s droid shop.

Here are some pages from the book, courtesy of the publisher:
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Review by C.J. Bunce

Fans of the original Star Wars trilogy and the new film Solo: A Star Wars Story should take note of the fourth installment of Abrams Books’ Star Wars artbook series.  The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story by Phil Szostak not only looks behind the scenes of the production of the second of the modern anthology movies and fourth of the modern sequels, it reveals the finest and the most evocative Star Wars-styled concept art created since The Empire Strikes Back.  Taking a different path from the episodic sequels, the creators that imagined the look for Solo took their inspiration directly from the work of Ralph McQuarrie (original trilogy production illustrator and concept artist), Joe Johnston (original trilogy ILM art director), Harry Lange (original trilogy art director and set decorator), and Colin Cantwell (the first Star Wars spacecraft designer), concept artists behind the original Star Wars movie.  Including artwork both used for the final creation of sets, effects, and costumes, as well as imagery that didn’t make it to the final cut, The Art of Solo provides visuals fans back to the 1970s have only dreamed about.

Solo is also the first movie of the post-Disney period of Star Wars to draw back to the actual input from George Lucas for more than merely sketches and early descriptions of his earliest ideas from 1973.  Lucas was involved from the beginning, planning a Han Solo movie since before the Lucasfilm sale, and so this sequel has inspiration and concept direction from the creator of the franchise himself.  Lucasfilm/ILM lead concept designer James Clyne, production designer Neil Lamont, costume designers Glyn Dillon and David Crossman, Neal Scanlan‘s creature department, and Rob Bredow and Pat Tubach‘s visual effects team were aware of the unique challenge facing this film–creating something faithful to the original trilogy and beloved characters while also taking the look and feel of the space fantasy into new territory.  The result is a film full of different worlds that still feels “Star Wars-y,” as the designers call it.  For this film, that meant a Western homage mirroring the American journey of settlers from the East Coast to the West Coast, and also importing story elements found in Akira Kurosawa’s Westerns, among many other classic films.

Many of the portraits and landscape paintings are poster-worthy.  Earthbound physical locations were tracked down to define new worlds Corellia, Mimban, Vandor, Kessel, and Savareen, along with CGI renderings, all to look like they belong in the Star Wars galaxy.  As Star Wars was created in the 1970s–taking place ten years prior to the original Star Wars–the artists looked for styles and ideas from the 1960s via movies, bands, computers and technology, and other cultural influences for costumes and set decorations.  So before Emilia Clarke was cast as Qi’ra, images of the character needed to establish her locations and costumes included drawings that look very much like Grace Kelly.  Incorporating images of younger versions of both Harrison Ford and Billy Dee Williams were obvious choices for creating their first looks, like the duo at the gambling table where Lando would lose the Falcon to Solo.  But soon Alden Ehrenreich’s image became the face of Han Solo.  All along, Chewbacca was Chewbacca, only the crew aimed to convey a different view of the Wookiee, where having all his hairs styled in place was no longer important–this was the young, wind-blown companion from the past, the one quicker to tear someone’s arms off.

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