LUKE SKYWALKER RETURNS TO THE GALAXY, FROM DECEMBER 15TH, 2017

ARRIVING IN LONDON, FROM 18TH NOVEMBER, 2016. BOOK NOW FOR THE ULTIMATE 'STAR WARS' EXHIBITION

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

HAPPY SITHMAS!

Darth Vader makes a conversion to the confectionery side, for Kinnerton's UK Xmas chocolate advent calender!

The Happiest of Xmas and New Year Greetings to all STAR WARS AFICIONADO readers worldwide!

See you in line next year for THE FORCE AWAKENS!

Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and co. in 1980: Star Wars on Blue Peter! - YouTube

Check out the Awesome 'Star Wars Rebels' Crew Christmas Card | The Star Wars Underworld

Lucasfilm Christmas Card (featuring Artoo and Chopper!): Happy Holidays

Tsuneo Sanda Christmas Card: Greeting Card 2014

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

COMING TO THE 'STAR WARS' UNIVERSE IN 2015...

Stunning preview art for EPISODE VII, for Entertainment Weekly magazine, by Martin Ansin.

To say 2015 is going to be an exciting time for STAR WARS fans of all ages is surely an understatement! Here's just a small sneak peak of what will be catching AFICIONADO's specific attentions, as The Force Awakens...

EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS (in cinemas worldwide from December 18th, 2015)

* Hopefully some new footage for February's US SUPERBOWL half-time entertainment/movie promos period, as well as selected behind the scenes footage at CELEBRATION in Los Angeles in April, plus footage and cast and crew attendance at SAN DIEGO COMIC CON in July; a second teaser trailer for May's STAR WARS DAY, and a final extended trailer and new character TV introduction spots by at least October/November.

* New EPISODE VII sneak peaks in all the UK film and sci-fi magazines. EMPIRE film magazine, which has a strong relationship with Abrams/Bad Robot and Disney/Lucasfilm, are bound to have special previews by summer-time and October. Continuing the tradition, the US VANITY FAIR and ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY will likely do something special as well! Expect Daisy Ridley to be on the cover of VOGUE or ELLE by at least December.

* Expect several tie-in MARVEL comics featuring lead-ins to specific events and characters of EPISODE VII, plus the later adaptation of the film.

* John Williams surely stunning soundtrack, available by at least mid-December.

* Disney Theme Parks ride/material linked to the film, with new contributions (either voice work or specially shot footage) from its new younger heroes, notably John Boyega and Daisy Ridley.

* Official novelisation- rumoured to be penned by Alan Dean Foster.

* Massive three-wave set of trading cards rumoured from TOPPS, separate or alongside its new Masterwork series.

Rian Johnson will be directing EPISODE VIII.

EPISODE VIII: TITLE TBA

* Pre-production work, animatics and early special effects sequences will gather apace in the US and London from Summer onwards, with Rian Johnson on board for writing/directing duties. Luke and Leia will apparently continue to make vital contributions to VII and IX.

STAR WARS UNTITLED SPIN-OFF

* Commences shooting at Pinewood Studios around May, written by Gary Whitta, directed by Gareth Edwards. May involve a pre-EPISODE IV story about how the Rebels, using help from bounty hunters and other shady associates, win their first major victory against the Empire and capture the original Death Star plans.

OTHER CINEMATIC EVENTS

* EPISODE III gets a limited 3D release later in the year (US TBA), possibly followed by IV to VI in the format (US). The Classic Trilogy may get an additional non-3D theatrical release in the weeks of anticipation to EPISODE VII.

* Classic Trilogy to finally arrive unaltered, but restored in sound and picture quality, by November on manila Blu-ray, via DISNEY in special arrangement with LUCASFILM and FOX.


STAR WARS REBELS

* The continuation of Season One, beginning in the US on DISNEY XD and online from early January, featuring the vocal return of Frank Oz as Yoda, Billy Dee Williams, and a possible second Vader cameo. Complete Season DVD release expected by October.

* Season Two, beginning next September/October, with possible guest voices (for a flashback sequence?) from Matt Lanter as Anakin Skywalker and Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano. Plus some kind of linkages in and out of that year to EPISODE VII.

* A possible Obi-Wan TV special of some kind may be in the works- TBA.

OTHER BOOKS

* A mountain of EPISODE VII related books for readers young and old by November/December, including a novel tie-in (arriving after the film's release in cinemas), a storybook, several visual guides from DORLING KINDERSLEY (with a spread peek at new ships in next summer's Definitive Guidebook), plus a Making of, likely by J.W. Rinzler.

* At least two lavish new archive-related SW books from J.W. Rinzler/ LUCAS BOOKS spread through the year, with separate publicity features via STAR WARS INSIDER.

* Original novels: Luke Skywalker stars in Heir to the Jedi, Vader and Palpatine in Lords of the Sith, and Asajj Ventress and Quinlan Vos in Dark Disciple, all in the UK from Winter to Summer via CENTURY PUBLISHING.


OTHER COMICS

* MARVEL unleashes its new series of Classic Trilogy adventures in January, including separate Darth Vader and Princess Leia mini-series in February and March. It also continues its digitially recoloured reprints of classic past comic stories and film adaptations in physical and online form.

Monday, 22 December 2014

BEHIND THE SCENES: WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME...



This is one bar where, when you walk into it, nobody is going to shout out, "Norm!"

In charge of the Mos Eisley Cantina, Wuher (Ted Burnett) confers with a host of intergalactic patrons, including, far left, an unknown actor- who'd also be seen in 1976 for the second season episode of SPACE: 1999 - The Metamorph - as the small pig-nosed alien once known in the production notes as "Little Aunt Beru", originally to have been female and played by Gilda Cohen; Angela Staines and Christine Hewitt as two "space hookers/aka Star Whores" who would become the more politically correct and child readership friendly Tonnika sisters in the Expanded Universe, and, right at the back with the goggle hat, Tommy Weldin as one of Jabba the Hutt's thugs, Gela Yeens.

In a 1977 interview, Carrie Fisher recalled that many of the unusual looking actors chosen to play aliens for the first movie came from a very distinct London casting agency, called Uglies, Inc.

Another great rare polaroid from the recent BFI exhibition collection of STAR WARS' 1976 Continuity Supervisor, Ann Skinner.

(3) BEHIND THE SCENES OF 'STAR WARS' AT THE BFI - DECEMBER 2014

Meet the Humans from the Mos Eisley Cantina | StarWars.com

Sunday, 21 December 2014

THE CLONE WARS: OUTER RIM SLAUGHTER!


The formidable Savage Opress, now allied with his brother Maul, begin their rein of terror in the Outer Rim, killing anyone, or any Jedi, that stands in their way- as seen during the opening scene events of the Season Five episode Revival.

'TEMPLE OF DOOM' AT 30: INTO DARKNESS!


Rounding off 2014's landmark celebration of 30 classic and inspiring years of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is this lovely cover, by Jackson "Butch" Guice, to the film's compiled comic adaptation, as part of the Marvel Super Special series of 1984. I personally had never seen this particular art piece before, so I thought it was worthy of posting.

With thanks to STARLOGGED - GEEK MEDIA AGAIN

Saturday, 20 December 2014

BEHIND THE SCENES: "MY ONLY HOPE"!

Filming the classic scene between Leia and R2 on the Blockade Runner at Elstree - July 1976. Image: Ann Skinner.

The original 1976 version of Princess Leia's message for Obi-Wan Kenobi, from Ann Skinner's UK continuity script for STAR WARS:

"General Kenobi, years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars. Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. I regret I am unable to present my father's request to you in person, but my ship has fallen under attack, and I fear my mission to return with you to Alderaan has failed. I have fed information vital to the survival of all free planets into the memory systems of this R-2 unit... my father will know how to retrieve it. You must see this droid safely delivered to him on Alderaan. This is our most desperate hour... You must help me Obi Wan-Kenobi, you are my only hope."

From an earlier 3rd Draft Continuity Script of 15th March, 1976:

"Commander Obi-Wan Kenobi, I present myself in the name of the royal family of Alderaan, and the Alliance to restore the Republic. I break your solitude at the bidding of my father, Bail Antilles, Viceroy and Chairman of the Alderaan system. Years ago Commander you served the Republic in the Clone Wars. Now he begs you to aid us again in our most desperate hours. He would have you join him on our home planet Alderaan. You must go to him! I regret I am unable to present my father's request to you in person... my mission to return with you has failed, information vital to the survival of the Alliance has been placed in this droid... my father will know how to retrieve it. I plead with you to see this R-2 unite safely delivered to Alderaan. You must help  me, you are my last hope." 

Skinners' advance pre-filming character notes for LEIA ORGANA, from 1976

"Sc(ene).4: puts information into R2, 16 years old. Member of the ALDERAAN SENATE, Sc.42: Her father once the ruler of Alderaan"

A wealth of Ann Skinner's rare polaroid images behind the scenes of the original STAR WARS, alongside sections of her continuity script, are currently on display at London's British Film Institute, until 4th January, 2015.

On the set of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope | BFI

CLASSIC IMAGE: SENATORIAL LUXURY...


Now blossomed into womanhood, the beautiful Natalie Portman strikes a dreamy pose modelling another of Trisha Biggar's equally stunning costume designs for Padme Amidala, during early events of EPISODE III.

Friday, 19 December 2014

BEHIND THE SCENES: JABBA TAKES SHAPE!


At Stuart Freeborn's London premises, the mighty gangster Jabba the Hutt- one of the most ambitious, time consuming and costliest creative projects ever undertaken in make-up construction for a movie- enters its final stages.

Slimy Piece of Worm-Ridden Filth - Life Inside Jabba the Hutt - @Jamieswb on Vimeo

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

CLASSIC IMAGE: POINTING THE WAY!


As suns-set begins on Tatooine, a friendly Jawa points the way to Anakin Skywalker as he continues his search for his mother, kidnapped and taken into the depths of the harshest of wastelands, in this lovely image taken during location filming in Tunisia by George Lucas himself, for EPISODE II.

Monday, 15 December 2014

CLASSIC IMAGE: FATE OF A JEDI!


Having knowingly walked into a trap, Luke Skywalker, arrived in the hot and eerie Bespin Carbon Freezing Chamber, awaits his destiny with Darth Vader, in this classic scene- a colourised B/W still - from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

HAPPY UK 'STAR WARS' DAY!

Art by Paul Shipper.

To all the dedicated fans young and old across this fair isle, and to those hundreds flocking to the British Film Institute on London's picturesque South Bank to immerse themselves from the cold in a special Classic Trilogy Special Edition film screening, a genuine warm-up to EPISODE VII next Christmas, May the Force Be With You!

UPDATED 15/12/14: 8 things we learned from Star Wars Day | BFI

Thursday, 11 December 2014

EPISODE I AT FIFTEEN: THE ESCAPE BEGINS...


In the Theed Hangar on Naboo, a fast as lightning Obi-Wan Kenobi launches into a group of Battle Droids in order to free captured soldiers and pilots now vitally needed to help Queen Amidala escape her planet, whilst also setting up a resistance force against their Trade Federation occupiers. An exciting scene, and showcase for Obi-Wan's Jedi abilities, from EPISODE I.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

CLASSIC ART: THE 'STARKILLER' THAT WAS...


Showing its roots as a deliberate homage celebration to the classic fantasy comic/book adventures of FLASH GORDON and JOHN CARTER, this is the cover to a very special, and very rare, auction collection piece (belonging to early STAR WARS spacecraft designer Colin Cantwell), of George Lucas's original epic, altogether very different screenplay draft for the film from the early seventies, when it was evocatively known as Adventures of the Starkiller

If anyone has any more on this, or who the cover artist was, please get in touch...

More on Colin Cantwell's rare auction pieces (including other work on 2001 and the BUCK ROGERS TV series) can be found here: Unseen Star Wars artwork and designs come up for auction, in pictures - Telegraph


With thanks to Chris Baker for the heads-up on this.

Monday, 8 December 2014

CLASSIC STRUZAN: 'THE CRYSTAL STAR'


Luke Skywalker is front and centre of the action in Drew Struzan's exciting cover for Vonda N. McIntyre's 1994 Expanded Universe hardback tale, The Crystal Star. And let's face it, the cover really was the most popular thing about a book that quickly and sharply divided fandom on its original release twenty years ago. I personally found it a chore to read- a shame as McIntyre is a solid author- with characterisations for our core heroes that felt way off base in most respects.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

'TEMPLE OF DOOM' AT 30: A DIAMOND THAT'S NOT A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND!


Eventual Mrs Spielberg Kate Capshaw rehearses the classic comedy moment where Willie tries to recover a unique diamond, only to lose it, firstly kicked around, then buried within a floored pile of ice, during the film's incident-packed opening sequence.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

SPECIAL EDITION CLASSIC IMAGE: OUT OF THE TREETOPS!


The brief new sequence may not quite match with the existing John Williams 1977 music, but I nonetheless love this evocative shot from the EPISODE IV SPECIAL EDITION, where a Rebel sentry witnesses X-wing fighters lifting off from the Yavin IV jungle and heading towards the Death Star. It exemplifies the satisfying mixing of beauty, nature and technology often seen in the Classic Trilogy.

Interestingly, this visual idea for the shot was always present in the original script for STAR WARS-noticeable in the Revised Fourth Draft of 19th April 1976, depicting four fighters emerging from the mist enveloped foliage and heading skywards.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

CLASSIC IMAGE: FURRY FIREPOWER!


Yoda's finest Wookiee protectors on Kashyyyk - leader Tarfful and technician Chewbacca- pose for a great publicity image in 2003, for EPISODE III.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

REMEMBERING THE IMPACT OF 'DARK EMPIRE'

Classic cover art by Dave Dorman for the DARK EMPIRE comic series. 

1991 was an incredible year for STAR WARS fans. Timothy Zahn had unleashed the first in the Thrawn Trilogy of books giving us a potent mixture of story, characters and action continuing the saga after Return of the Jedi which pretty much remains unequalled and unparallelled in its success in the franchise's Expanded Universe literary history. Then, by the end of the year, came an assault on our visual senses via the relaunch of the saga's comics dominion, via Dark Horse, picking up the rights to do a new series of adventures after MARVEL had given up the ghost and the unique opportunity at resurrecting its popular title (which had been axed before its time) - of course now, as of 2015, its a whole different story! Arriving to satiate fevered fan demand in comic stores worldwide, bouyed by atmospheric cover art by Dave Dorman (long before unfairly being left out of creating official sell-out CELEBRATION convention artwork), the unleashed Dark Side focused six-part epic that was Dark Empire.

Six years after the big Ewok party bash of Jedi, and the Empire returning events of the Thrawn Trilogy, things look gloomier than ever for the Rebel Alliance now that they've been pushed back from the main core by an enemy that's now at civil war with itself. Luke Skywalker remains the beacon of light and hope, but when he's captured by a clone copy of the resurrected Emperor Palpatine - whose life force transferred after his "demise" on the second Death Star -  it now looks as if our former farmboy, possessing growing powers in the Force than ever before, has now seemingly swayed his allegiance towards the dark side of his family lineage (a scenario that Mark Hamill had ultimately wished had happened to his character in Jedi), with only Princess Leia, now a Jedi herself and capably using the Force and handling a lightsaber, heading into the deepest regions of the galactic core, on a rescue mission, alongside familiar support from Han Solo, Chewbacca and the other icons. Can Luke be rescued before The Emperor unleashes a devastating Dark Force wave against the last vestiges of the Rebellion?

Tom Veitch's script is a worthy continuance of the saga (especially with its major action sequences) and its epic scope, giving us new backstory and concepts still being used today (including some teases about the Clone Wars (which had still yet to be defined-Lucas at that time not yet focused on coming back to do the Prequels) and solidifying the use of Jedi Holocrons), whilst nicely developing Luke's character arc and bringing back The Emperor- an enemy too worthy to be left rotting at the bottom of the Death Star's reactor core. Here we get him not just in his decayed form but also as a new, more youthful and powerful opponent, culminating in his clashing sabers with Luke in an exciting finale sequence. The mixing of old and new characters (we even get to see one of Han Solo's former girlfriends!) is confidently handled, as is the further ease of bringing additional baddies back from the grave (like Boba Fett- and yes, I can hear all those fans cheering out there!). Scots artist Cam Kennedy's exhilarating and highly detailed art would be a genuine thrill to behold (I remember being in awe of the the first issue, in particular with its showing of the Imperial City ground civil war and Luke singularly taking on an Imperial Walker!), investing the saga with all-new kinds of weapons and technology - some of which would debut in of their time officially sanctioned role playing games - mostly on the Empire's side (immense world devastators, probots big enough to devour spaceships and remote controlled TIE fighters being just some of the stand-out examples), plus new worlds to discover (like the immense and treacherous purple rock formations of the fifth moon of Da Soocha, the Imperial power enclave of Byss, and the exploration of key worlds linked to the Classic Trilogy, like the moon of Nar Shaddaa or the water planet of Mon Calamari (brutally attacked by The Emperor's new forces). Special kudos to Kennedy for his distinct and atmospheric use of colour to heighten the drama in a way that I hadn't really seen done before in previous STAR WARS MARVEL comics - making the adventure feel more like a part of the filmic universe and its continuity than ever before.

J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan may never have seen this comic book series, but I can't help feeling that, like some of the early EU books, a lot of the upcoming EPISODE VII will inherit a similar spirit in dark storytelling (especially linked to the Skywalker lineage and the rumoured idea of their having the Empire and Rebels apparently in an uneasy alliance against a new civil war fraction), featuring likely character clashes between friends now distanced from each other, alongside a visual style and similar upgraded continuity to the visual motifs, spaceships, weaponry and armies previously seen during IV to VI.

Still one of Dark Horse's finest entries, and the first and best of the Veitch/Kennedy sagas, continuing to build on the returning heavy fan demand for new STAR WARS adventures, if you haven't read the original Dark Empire previously, it's well worth your time discovering.



OUT NOW IN BOOKSTORES: 'ALIEN - RIVER OF PAIN'

A prelude to the Xenomorph war, ALIEN: River of Pain bares its teeth!

Arriving in stores and online with the ferocious speed of a Facehugger attack comes TITAN BOOKS final entry in the all-new ALIEN 35th Anniversary series- River of Pain. Respected genre talent Christopher Golden's eagerly awaited telling of the tragedy of the doomed Hadley's Hope colonists seen in the 1992 Special Edition of James Cameron's barnstorming action/scare fest ALIENS, reveals how the biological Xenomorph threat would be unwittingly reborn to cause bloody terror and chaos anew...

Facing greater dangers than ever before: Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and Newt (Carrie Henn) in ALIENS.

Check out the KOOL TV review here: KOOL TV REVIEW: 'ALIEN - RIVER OF PAIN' NOVEL

Get ALIEN: River of Pain here: Alien: River of Pain (Novel #3): Amazon.co.uk: Christopher Golden: 9781781162729: Books


Friday, 28 November 2014

'STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS' - THE FIRST TEASER TRAILER ARRIVES!


Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Movie Trailers - iTunes
Star Wars: The Force Awakens UK teaser | Official HD - YouTube

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' character names revealed -- exclusive | Inside Movies | EW.com

Short but very sweet (and pretty much confirming what plot material has already leaked online), it's here, and we can't wait for December 2015!

The new stars of STAR WARS. Introducing John Boyega as Finn...
Introducing Daisy Ridley as Rey.
Introducing Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron.
A new droid hero, BB-8, to capture family hearts.
A new Sith opponent- Kylo Ren?
Old enemies get a visual upgrade...
... whilst the Rebel Alliance is back in business.
And some things thankfully never change!

Welcome Back to the STAR WARS SAGA!

CLASSIC IMAGE: STARSHIP SENTINEL!


Filmed during London pick-ups for EPISODE II, the Artoo Detoo "suit" is later operated out of shot by regular Droid Man" Don Bies, for the moment where it picks up Obi-Wan's urgent message from Geonosis.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

ILM CLASSIC IMAGE: BREAKING THE BLOCKADE!


Flying boldly into the face of the Imperial blockade, the first Rebel Transport and its two X-wing protectors make a full speed departure from Hoth covered by the destructive energy rounds sent from their base's Ion Cannon, in this great storyboard from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

EPISODE I AT FIFTEEN: RACING THE DESERT!


His presence now detected on Tatooine by dark technological forces, Qui-Gon Jinn and his new Jedi-to-be friend Anakin Skywaller race the desert wilderness beyond Mos Espa in order to reach Queen Amidala's ship and initiate an even quicker departure from Tatooine, in this memorable scene of imminent danger from EPISODE I.

Friday, 21 November 2014

CLASSIC ART: LIGHT AGAINST DARK!


The intimidating figure of Darth Vader looms large over the galaxy's newest protector, the young and innocent Luke Skywalker, firmly holding his father's laser sword as he's thrust into the adventure of a lifetime, in this early but nonetheless stunning poster idea concept art from Ralph McQuarrie for Star Wars.

The original STAR WARS and its incredible impact on, and tribute to, the science fiction/fantasy genre will form part of the first episode of the upcoming three-part UK BBC 1 documentary series Tomorrow's Worlds: The Unearthly History of Science Fiction, which also looks at other past greats including STAR TREK and DOCTOR WHO. It starts tomorrow (Saturday 22nd November) on BBC 2 and BBC 2 HD (9.45 pm) and will surely prove essential viewing...

Anthony Daniels taster clip: ▶ The secret of Star Wars' success - Tomorrow's Worlds: The Unearthly History of Science Fiction - BBC - YouTube

Tomorrow’s Worlds: The Unearthly History of Science Fiction – New BBC Two Documentary Series | Telly Chat

Thursday, 20 November 2014

CLASSIC IMAGE: JEDI CRUCIBLE!


Another of Nick Gillard's specially posed lightsaber conflict images for Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen, as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, used for key publicity and marketing images for EPISODE III.


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

CLASSIC IMAGE: B-WING BRUISER!


Seen in so little of the finished film but nonetheless a popular addition to the STAR WARS spaceship league: the Rebel B-wing fighter prepares to enter the Battle of Endor, during the gargantuan action-packed finale of RETURN OF THE JEDI.

I always wanted its toy incarnation as a young teen, but it was quite hard to find in the UK during the mid-eighties. Here's hoping this unique craft-type gets more glory if the rumours of its reappearance prove true for EPISODE VII...


Monday, 17 November 2014

"HAPPY LIFE DAY!" (AGAIN!)


Yep, it's that time of the year again, when we take that dusty VHS tape down from the back of the cupboard and settle down to either A) celebrate B) enjoy C) wail in pain or D) angrily throw cans at the screen! Hoorah, its the 36th Anniversary of THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL!

I wonder if the new cast of The Force Awakens have heard of it, or even seen it. I'd love to know what they thought of this 1978 "gem", and whether they mercilessly teased Harrison Ford about it during filming!

On behalf of space chef Gormaanda, HAPPY LIFE DAY!

That Horrible Star Wars Holiday Special | Mental Floss
'The Star Wars Holiday Special': Read THR's 1978 Review
http://www.ranchoobiwan.org/2014/11/17/happy-life-day-for-the-36th-time-now-go-out-and-collect-something/

Saturday, 15 November 2014

THE CLONE WARS: PRESSING THEIR ADVANTAGE...


Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano assist the injured Ki-Adi Mundi and his soldiers in capturing Geonosian prisoners, after a tense, fiery conflict, during Landing at Point Rain- the adrenaline-fuelled first part of the epic re-taking of Geonosis, beginning Season Two of THE CLONE WARS in action-packed style.

'TEMPLE OF DOOM' AT 30: GONE FOR A RIDE!


He's used to planes, trains and automobiles. Now Harrison Ford undertakes an altogether more different, and literally back-breaking, form of transportation than he's normally used to, during Sri Lankan filming of TEMPLE OF DOOM in 1983.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY, ELSTREE STUDIOS!

The incredible Rebel base interiors for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK at Elstree Studios in 1979.

It housed labyrinth planet killers, bog planets, enormous ice caverns, and alien-filled cantinas for the the STAR WARS universe from 1976 to 1982 (as well as a few mostly blue screen domains during 2002 and 2005), then became home to the globetrotting exploits of that fearless archeologist adventurer Indiana Jones. Now, the UK's prestigious ELSTREE STUDIOS celebrates 100 incredible years of existence in bringing dreams to cinematic reality. It's had some rough patches over the years, mirroring the ever-changing overall state of the British entertainment industry with whom its been locked in symbiosis, and studio facilities may also have shrunk over the last ten years- the loss of the incredible George Lucas Stage to make way for a TESCO superstore in the nineties remains an unforgivable act- but Elstree's lasting legacy as one of the world's finest film and TV production base facilities looks set to be sustained for a long time to come- particularly as home to many continued popular BBC series and event specials.

To all the men and women, past, present and future, working at the studios: HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY! 



Elstree Film Studios Homepage

List of Elstree Studios productions - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

STAR WARS AFICIONADO WEBSITE: AFICIONADO REVIEW: 'THE ELSTREE EMPIRE DAY' - 5TH MAY 2012

Monday, 10 November 2014

CLASSIC IMAGE: GETTING A GRIP!


Not ready to let Padme's would-be assassin escape his grasp, Anakin Skywalker holds for dear life onto the tip of slippery bounty hunter Zam Wesell's craft, during the memorable Corsucant air chase of EPISODE II.

OUT NOW ON UK BLU-RAY AND DVD: 'X-MEN - DAYS OF FUTURE PAST'


A genuine return to form for the epic 20th Century Fox franchise, thanks to the combined talents of director Bryan Singer- the original keeper of its cinematic flame, and the writing talents of Simon Kinberg, proving just as adept bringing these complex MARVEL comic heroes to life as he is with the new STAR WARS REBELS for Disney, X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST- the fifth film in the series of man versus mutant, mutant versus mutant, is complex, epic, and a helluva lot of fun. As exciting now as when things first kicked off in 2000, its certainly the best adventure since X2, as our beleagured, threatened with extinction saviours of the past and present must join forces through the powers of thought process time travel, and the custodial presence of Hugh Jackman's always snarlingly excellent, claws-wielding Wolverine, to fight the oncoming threat of the lethal and highly adaptive robot killers that are the Sentinels- finally making their way to the big screen with emotionless savagery.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST - Official Trailer (2014) - YouTube

Delivering the kind of effective old and new character mixing/storytelling that we hope will be achieved, if hopefully done even more inventively, for the upcoming EPISODE VII, DAYS OF FUTURE PAST arrives on Blu-ray and DVD today in the UK and is well worth a look, alongside a solid array of special features and select deleted scenes.

Full review: KOOL TV REVIEW: 'X-MEN - DAYS OF FUTURE PAST' (BLU-RAY)

Get it here: X-Men: Days of Future Past [Blu-ray + UV Copy]: Amazon.co.uk: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Bryan Singer: DVD & Blu-ray

Thursday, 6 November 2014

AFICIONADO REVIEW: 'STAR WARS COSTUMES: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY'


The clothes that defined a universe. The superb STAR WARS COSTUMES: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY. Images: TITAN BOOKS/LUCASFILM. 


STAR WARS COSTUMES: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY

Written by Brandon Alinger

Forewords by John Mollo, Nilo Rodis-Jamero and Aggie Rodgers

Published in the UK by TITAN BOOKS


Reviewed by Scott Weller


Back in 2005, Prequel Costume Designer Trisha Biggar compiled one of the most lavish coffee table books yet on the huge range of incredible costumes created for the STAR WARS saga: Dressing a Galaxy, yet its section devoted to the Original Trilogy was by no means as detailed and complete as it could have been-with plenty of potential possibilities for a separate, future title of its own. Such a project has been a long time coming, but now die-hard prop collector/film-buff Brandon Alinger, surely the envy of STAR WARS fans and rivals everywhere, has put together (with support and encouragement from LUCASFILM’s J.W. Rinzer) the ultimate book charting the many varied, beautiful, functional and stylish costumes present within A NEW HOPE to RETURN OF THE JEDI, as STAR WARS COSTUMES: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY, published by franchise stalwarts TITAN BOOKS, arrives just in time to fill some very big Christmas stockings this holiday season.

▶ Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy - Book Trailer - YouTube
 
A 1976 Mark Hamill poses for an image now specially adapted for the new book.

Truly the most meticulously researched look at the largest archive of costumes taken out of storage since their original filming, their presentation in this 200 page plus tome comes via stunning, newly shot photography showcasing them at their very best quality possible outside of physically looking at them at exhibitions, additionally providing us with a unique and rare window into the world of costume creation and production for a series of films that set the standard for so much that would follow in its wake in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. And for inspired and inspiring Cosplayers it’s surely a dream come true to finally be able to create/reproduce work to similar standards!
 
A specially shot image of the surviving Chewbacca costume, presumably from RETURN OF THE JEDI.

STAR WARS COSTUMES also gives us the lowdown on, and celebrates, the work of the many people and companies involved behind the scenes, and reveals more about the little details that would make the big picture seem that little bit bigger- items created and captured on celluloid that we may have missed previously, despite umpteen viewings, now ripe for exploration, alongside some known and not so well known anecdotes on how and why certain things were made (like how Lando’s JEDI guard helmet was amusingly inspired from a pair of baseball gloves!). There are a few unavoidable blanks in the origins here and there that, which, with the long passing of time, will likely never be truly solved, but this book is nonetheless full to the brim with behind the scenes info to be relished.

So, one film at a time, here’s AFICIONADO’s guide to the books highlights…
 
John Mollo's original 1976 design for the Jawas of Tatooine...
... and as photographed for the STAR WARS COSTUMES book.

STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977) aka STAR WARS

Not wanting to get caught in the trap that so many sci-fi films, then and now, fall into when it comes to futuristic wardrobes: over the top designs that soon look dated or feel more in the style of the era they were originally made, STAR WARS creator George Lucas wanted a wardrobe for his new space fantasy adventure that didn’t stand out yet had to be futuristic, whilst also feeling recognisable and accepting to the audience. No mean feat, requiring someone with extraordinary insight into the world of costuming and practical realization.

Early Ralph McQuarrie costume concepts for Han Solo and Chewbacca from 1975.

Used to a more earthbound military history in film-making, John Mollo’s attention to detail and believability made him the perfect choice in bringing life to the Rebels and Imperials waging intergalactic civil war in the original first film, of which he’d later win a well deserved OSCAR- the only time a sci-fi film has won such a distinction for Costume Design from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. And for STAR WARS COSTUMES, he gives his most detailed behind the scenes contributions yet regarding their genesis and making: from oft-experimenting with fabrics- sometimes a case of using only what was available to them on a tiny budget, the vital importance of conceptual designer Ralph McQuarrie at the films early stage of pre-production, the many conversations and experimentation ideas Mollo conceived with George Lucas (including some never before seen art pieces), and numerous trips to the prestigious London Bermans and Nathans costume makers/hirer's to create concept- working pieces that could then be later built and tailored for use imagineering the film’s diverse characters and creatures. All of this gives us a unique flavour of the original film’s making- a creatively intense experience of the kind that would later be similarly felt by Mollo’s successors during RETURN OF THE JEDI.

The evolving faces and costumes for C-3PO.

Mollo also gives Alinger access to sections of his costume notes/production diary (including EMPIRE), alongside dips into of their time interviews with key production personnel (presumably Charles Lippincott’s original BTS interviews, parts of which were also used in J.W. Rinzler’s THE MAKING OF STAR WARS, back in 2007). Alinger, a massive STAR WARS original prop collector known for buying up many rare treasures from the likes of Alan Tomkins and the late Stuart Freeborn, has also surely brought his own items for inclusion, not just costumes but precious art and reference polaroids.
 
On the Death Star hangar set, Dave Prowse is costumed as Darth Vader by Wardrobe Supervisor Ron Beck.

Further on, there’s important sections on how the various departments would often interact and join forces, especially on the droid and creature costumes, and key boxes on other top contributors: sculptor Brian Muir and his creation of the mask for the distinctive, bulky first Vader costume (with additional sections for the cosmetic changes later made to the Dark Lord by other talents for EMPIRE and JEDI), the late Liz Moore’s remarkable work in creating the numerous face and plating’s of C-3PO (with a selection of evolving "faces" specially assembled), and Stuart Freeborn’s innovative work in creating the mask for Chewbacca the Wookiee, an evolution on his previous engineering of the ape creatures for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. Plus a wide variety of pattern changing Rebel pilots helmets and the challenges of the early Stormtroopers (still the best of the three films, in my opinion) that were tough to make yet ultimately proved flimsy and breakable over the duration of their filming time.

It’s a shame that so few of the original costumes for the first film survive to hold court at LUCASFILM- some have disintegrated beyond use, whilst others would disappear years ago, before the company began a proper archiving/inventory of its materials (from 1980 onwards). Other costumes built specially for the film by Bermans and Nathans, then returned back to them afterwards in a prior arrangement, have since been lost or acquired by rival collectors. With LUCASFILM wanting to keep the book strictly within their own official remit, I'm assuming Alinger was probably unable to contact some of these very well known "outside" fans and ask for their additional help/contributions. Fortunately, there’s enough good use of rare imagery, conceptual art and other items to supplement what is available, and fill in most of the missing history pieces.
 
Ralph McQuarrie's early design for the "Superstormtrooper".

EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

With STAR WARS a bona fide world hit, a sequel was swiftly inevitable. At first, the producers thought they could re-use existing costumes and save money, but, thankfully for everyone, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK became bigger, bolder and more expansive in its costume requirements and variety than anything seen previously, solidifying the fact that this was not going to be a quick and dirty cash-in to the impressive adventure that came before. More challenges would come for the returned John Mollo, but this was ultimately to be his final work for the series, an overall experience that didn’t prove to be quite as an enjoyable now that George Lucas was no longer director and instead an Executive Producer. The pressure of delivering a first sequel that could live up to audience’s expectations was firmly grasping everyone’s mindset, especially the intelligent, thoughtful and more slow in deliberation new director in Irvin Kershner. Mollo’s relationship with Kershner ultimately proved less efficient and slower-moving than it had been with Lucas, as, alongside producer Gary Kurtz, every costume detail/iteration was pondered to the last possible minute. But the ultimate results more than paid off for any stresses incurred over the long seven month shooting schedule.
 
John Mollo and Irvin Kershner inspect a Snowtrooper costume in its near final stages.
The vast costume wardrobe for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK at Elstree Studios, 1979.

Unlike EPISODE IV, the photo records and majority of costumes from EPISODE V onwards would thankfully be retained and catalogued by LUCASFILM. The new environs of the ice planet Hoth would see some superb designs and final creations, including Samurai-style Imperial Snowtroopers, and rough and ready Rebel opponents. Then there’d be the key emergence of shadowy predator Boba Fett, whose detailed origins from “Superstormtrooper” concept to eventual bounty hunter are finally, exhaustively revealed, alongside a wealth of new studio photography, particularly showing us the many variations of helmet used both in EMPIRE and the second sequel– this is the book that finally presents the exhaustive history of the character’s costume creation.

Anthony Daniels suits up again for C-3PO, in an easier to wear costume.
On set polaroid costume test for Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker- April 1979.

In the film’s final third, the cloud city of Bespin and its costumed populace would need to convey the Art Deco sense that Lucas specifically wanted, whilst the creation of tiny Minch Yoda sets a future precedent, its wearing of clothes following in the tradition of Ben Kenobi, but, by the time of the Prequels making, ultimately becoming synonymous with all of the Jedi Order.
 
John Mollo's 1978 costume concept art for Leia's Hoth wardrobe.
The final realisation, as specially photographed for the book.

Behind the scenes, EMPIRE is also the film where “greeblies” - a term used by Lucas for STAR WARS to describe pieces of junk used to add costume and character effect- would come into their own!

John Mollo's superb costume rendering for Darth Vader from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI

By 1982, past the tense filming and almost crippling schedule overrun costs of EMPIRE, Lucas would decide to do as much of RETURN OF THE JEDI’s pre-production as possible in the US. Enter resident ILM talent Nilo Rodis-Jamero as the film’s new costume designer, under recommendation from new director Richard Marquand to Lucas, alongside practical realization via the equally dedicated and enthused Aggie-Guerard Rodgers, both of whom would, where possible, wisely keep to the original continuity for the previous films created by Mollo in between concocting a diverse new range of stunning pieces that would forever cement the final film into fans and cinemagoers imaginations.
 
Howard Kazanjian, Richard Marquand and George Lucas go through Nilo Rodis-Jamero's expansive costume portfolio for RETURN OF THE JEDI in late 1981.
Watched by Aggie-Guerard Rodgers, Mark Hamill and Lucas discuss Luke's darker new look in 1981.

Speaking of their time on JEDI with affection and detail, backed up with key interviews from wardrobe assistants (who’d be on set daily to assist in the practical wear of the costumes by the actors), cutters, specialist plastics manufacturers and jewelry makers, innovation and collaboration would be the key words for their time on the movie, which would ultimately need more costumes devised and created than ever before- the emphasis on durability and comfort in order to face even more wear and tear in studios and on location, especially with the film’s many new action sequences and increased use of stunt actors.


Leia's Bounty Hunter disguise in Jabba's Palace.
Lucas supervises the costume test for Carrie Fisher's wearing of Leia's Rebel Commando outfit.
She may have hated every minute wearing it, but there's no denying that Carrie looks terrific in her Slave Girl costume!

JEDI was a ground-breaker in so many ways, especially generating a further strong union between costume design and the newly formed ILM creature shop then building the many animatronic heads and body parts to which the costumes would be applied with, and which had to be specially constructed for easy access in wearing. This same kind of close communication would also apply to what was being built in the UK with the love ‘em or hate ‘em Ewoks, and the way they developed in practical form via Stuart Freeborn. Such intense lengthy periods of costume use would go on to generate unique problems needing unique solutions, like finding ways of keeping all the alien costumes clean and hygienic- no mean feat, especially for our teddy bear heroes in the ever-changing weather of the Californian Redwoods during April/May 1982!


Darth Vader- updated.


Boba Fett goes green for Jedi.
Costume reference polaroid for Michael Carter as Bib Fortuna- January 1982.
At Elstree, the many created Ewok heads are kept in special bags to keep them clean.

The end of an era, until our classic heroes return with EPISODE VII, its JEDI’s costumes that standout the most within the book. Colour depth and detail on the newly photographed clothes is especially superb. Highlights include Princess Leia’s Boushh disguise, with its intriguing layerings, Jabba the Hutt’s major domo alien, Bib Fortuna, select key aliens from Jabba’s Palace and the Skiff battle, and the popular biker scouts of Endor. Going back to the Princess, there’s more on the creation of her infamous “Slave Bikini” (including an interview with its original co-creator/sculptor Richard Miller). It’s also nice to see the deleted sandstorm scene costumes getting an airing, too.

The revised blue-shirted Han Solo costume for JEDI that Harrison Ford ultimately gave a thumbs-down to!

Rounding off the book, more rare goodies include a set of ultimately unused, adapted TESB Hoth Rebel trooper costumes for Endor scene filming, an intriguing test photo of an early, more primitive looking Ewok from Stuart Freeborn, and some costume ideas for Han Solo (including a specially created and fabricated new brown waistcoat) that Harrison Ford didn’t want to wear! And, last but not least, and because you surely demanded it, that charismatic caped wonder Prune Face finally gets his time in the limelight!

AFICIONADO RATING: A prestige collection and celebration, and an essential purchase. 8.5 out of 10

Please note: Certain archive images presented in this feature are not in the book.

With thanks to TITAN BOOKS for all their assistance with the compiling of this feature.

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