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SithDroid
01-30-2002, 02:31 AM
I thought about this question just recently. Would Star Wars have been so popular if the DESIGNS of the characters, aliens, spaceships, landscape, deathstar, costumes, etc... were different? And more importantly if so, then shouldn't the designers of all this get MOST of the credit and not GL?

Think about it. Would C-3P0 or R2-D2 have been well received if they were designed differently? Or how about Darth Vader. If we saw a less menacing costume would we not care as much? And what about the Millenium Falcon? If it was designed differently would we be able recognize it easily? Or what if Leia's Classic Harido Bun from ANH were different? Or the costumes? Could you picture Han without his signature vest? Or Stormtroopers in different armor?

These are only some examples. Anyone else have an opinion on this?

Wolfwood319
01-30-2002, 02:48 AM
Intriguing questions. A lot of the design credit goes to Ralph McQuarrie. I think that if the designs were more sterile and less static, like THX-1138 for example, then the movie would not have been as noticable or successful.

I think GL and Co. went in a new direction with their coined "used universe," making it much more realistic. Not everything was clean and shiny, but more lifelike. I think that's one aspect that made it as popular as it is, IMO.

TeeEye7
01-30-2002, 06:13 AM
The "look" of SW is what sold me when I first saw the movie in 1977. Vader, stormtrooper, light sabers, X-wings, TIE fighters....nothing quite looked like it before.

SciFi programs were either hokey in thier looks like the 50's movies (except for 'The Day the Earth Stood Still') or the future was squeaky clean like the original 'Star Trek' TV series. This is the period I grew up watching as a kid. At 23, when SW came out, there just was nothing like it. The story, or plot, wasn't especially ingenious, but the look certainly was!

If the designs were different, I don't think the movie would have appealed to us Baby Boomer (and others) like it did. I still am awstruck when I remember my reaction to the original trailer of SW in the movies, as was the audience at the time.

SithDroid: if it were another run-of-the-mill-looking scifi movie, it would have been overlooked. Up until then, only '2001' was the only movie that impressed me.

Woolfy: you opinion is dead on, IMO.

Cool quiestions!

Obi-Don
01-30-2002, 06:25 AM
A very good idea. Makes me wonder how I would have reacted to the movie if things were different. I don't know for sure,but I don't think I would have liked it so much and carried the love of Star Wars for so long. A real good question and one to think about.

Bel-Cam Jos
01-30-2002, 11:48 AM
As a semi-pro (uh, how so? :rolleyes: ) researcher of SW influences, thank these people/things:

Japanese samurai
German WWII soldiers
Leggs packaging creators
Chili dogs
lampposts
model kits
WWII aircraft and uniforms
Buddhist monks
movie director Fritz Lang (Metropolis)
Akira Kuresawa (sp?)
Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell ;)
Etc. etc.

It was truly a collaborative effort. Lucas is like the head coach of a sports team; gets the credit, but probably couldn't have done well without quality assistants and players.

Wolfwood319
01-30-2002, 02:11 PM
Woolfy: you opinion is dead on, IMO.

Why, TeeEye7, does this mean we're not friends? You know, if I didn't think we were friends, I just don't think I could bear it...:(

TeeEye7
01-31-2002, 07:41 AM
My 'dead on' remarks means:

Right on the money
Right on target
Dead on center

In other words, I'm in total agreement with your post. I thought it was well-stated. If I've somehow offended, I apologize. I thought my remark was crystal clear.

Show me :confused:

Jargo
01-31-2002, 09:00 AM
I'm a big fan of the designs more than ther actual movies themselves. It wa the designs in pictures i found in magazines that sold me star wars. but i would have to say that I think Ralph McQuarrie's best designs were never used. And those that were got watered down and cutesy-fied in the production process. Some of the designs that were drawn were quite rightly dismissed. Minch Yoda the blue half pint gnome is one that immediately springs to mind. I've always hated Vaders helmet. I think it cheapens him and makes him look foolish and un threatening. Something more mask like would have suited me, something that showed his scars and a little of his mangled face. Being able to see the hate in his eyes would have worked for me. Cloud city is a terrible concept in the movie. the set designs never worked which is why they CGI'd some elements into the movie to make it seem like a more cohesive concept. It's the one location that never works properly. You have this gleaming, floating city in pretty pastel colours that has mines in the bowels? If they'd used the darker grey original death star design (when the death star was just a floating prison city) it would have fitted that there were mines inside. That it was a working environment. As it stands cloud city looks like a horrible hotel from an episode of Quincey.
I could go on for hours on this subject but I think I've been boring you all long enough.

Fixer
01-31-2002, 09:04 AM
I think you have a point - have you seen the Colin Cantwell prototypes of the Death Star, ISD, TIE Fighter, etc. from the Star Wars Chronicles book? They look very Space 1999. However, Lucas knew he didn't want that look, and pushed for his now famous "Used Universe" style. While the great Ralph McQ, John Mollo, and Joe Johnston deserve a great deal of credit, you just can't marginalize Lucas' contribution to his creation. A great film is a collaborative effort - Gary Kurtz, John Dykstra, Rick Baker, John Williams, Ben Burtt, Marcia Lucas, Mark Hamill, Carrier Fisher, Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels, etc., etc. Without any of them, the film would be diminished. However, without GL, it wouldn't have existed.

stillakid
01-31-2002, 09:37 AM
I've said as much before, especially concerning TPM. The OT story is well laid out and is interesting enough, but the "old" look transposed upon extremely interesting hardware/costume/location designs gave SW an advantage over other cheesy sci fi up to that point.

TPM's only saving grace was the fantastic production design. Otherwise, the story is becoming more and more like the terrible geeky sci fi found in B movies from the 50's. (The serial part is good, the cloning of every freekin' character from the OT isn't).

JediTricks
02-01-2002, 12:40 AM
Ralph McQuarrie's Vader seemed very cool to me, but one thing I like about the Vader prop helmet/mask is that it looks ominious but it has a noble quality that the McQ version lacked (whereas Ralph's version has a ferocity that the final prop lacks). Would Star Wars be as popular if things were different? Probably not, changes like these alter the way the story itself is perceived since SW is as much visually-driven as it is plot-driven, and in the late '70s Sci-Fi was a very fragile genre with extremely fickle audiences.

bigbarada
02-01-2002, 09:23 AM
I can say from personal experience that the design work on Star Wars was what sold me on the film as a kid. I was a fan of the movies and had been collecting almost every picture, toy and storybook I could find for years before I even saw any of the films.

The look of the Stormtroopers, Chewie, Artoo, Threepio; but most of all Darth Vader who IMO has the coolest looking mask in the history of cinema (sorry Jargo!:p ). Then there were the ships: X-Wings, TIE Fighters, and the Millenium Falcon. All were light years ahead of anything we had seen before and represented a distinct level of care and love put into them by the design teams, something that is lacking in today's prequels. The "used universe" look, another stroke of genius from Lucas, puts these movies far ahead of lesser films like EP1.

Darth Rage
02-26-2002, 05:14 PM
yes if the starwars ships and characters looked like star trek's it wouldn't be to memorable.

Starwars reminds me of battlestar galactica with its characters and ships.

Darth Ovori
02-26-2002, 05:36 PM
I've always felt that 95% of Starwars success was the music and designs...

Lets be honest the story is the typical battle of good and evil, with daddy gone bad and lost kids searching thier past...

Take away the designs, names, layout and music and what do you have... ??? Yes George Lucas doe's have a great vision but without his artist's... ??? whom they originally designed everything for him...

And proof of it, Take TPM and remove all its cool CGI and designs and what do you have... The most pointless, gappy, boring script ever wrote for probably the greatest sci-fi saga ever...

ROTJ had some sort of success because ESB needed a conclusion... But if you watch Jedi without 50% of the new designs and as a movie on its own (meaning it was'nt a sequel to ESB) you probably have one of the worst movie's ever made...

dr_evazan22
02-26-2002, 09:08 PM
I haven't read all of the posts on this thread, so sorry if it's been said before-

While the designers deserve a lot of the credit for the look of the SW universe, a lot of the credit also goes to GL. I think its equal parts GL and Ralph McQ. G had the vision and RMcQ realized the vision (and more than likely designed much on his own).

That said, I was totally taken in within the first 2 minutes of the movie.

As a 7 y/o my mom wanted to take me. She told me a very brief synopsis and I was picturing those horrible Flash Gordon movie that GL grew up on.
I've been a fan ever since!

stillakid
02-27-2002, 12:00 AM
Originally posted by Darth Ovori
I've always felt that 95% of Starwars success was the music and designs...

Lets be honest the story is the typical battle of good and evil, with daddy gone bad and lost kids searching thier past...

Take away the designs, names, layout and music and what do you have... ??? Yes George Lucas doe's have a great vision but without his artist's... ??? whom they originally designed everything for him...

And proof of it, Take TPM and remove all its cool CGI and designs and what do you have... The most pointless, gappy, boring script ever wrote for probably the greatest sci-fi saga ever...

ROTJ had some sort of success because ESB needed a conclusion... But if you watch Jedi without 50% of the new designs and as a movie on its own (meaning it was'nt a sequel to ESB) you probably have one of the worst movie's ever made...


I agree with just about everything you said. Except ROTJ being that bad. As ANH was made to be a stand-alone movie, it is possible to evaluate it as one. I don't think that it is really possible or fair to fully judge the others as such. Jedi had a much more cartoony feel to it, which I think turned more people off than anything specific, like Ewoks.

But, yeah, the designs totally make the films (the story as a whole) what they are. GL gets the credit for envisioning a "used" universe, where previous sci fi hadn't ventured before, but his story isn't terribly original. That's the great thing about filmmaking though. Unlike any other art form, it utilizes nearly every technical advance yet made by humanity as well as nearly every form of artistic expression to complete it. A truely great film utilizes all the elements equally to form a unified and balanced work. When one of those elements, like the special effects for example, gets priority over the others, then failure as a great film is imminent. The story, the fx, the actors, the music, etc all have to work in tandem to achieve the best film possible. All too often, it doesn't happen that way. Ego, money, time, laziness, and expectations all get in the way.

mark2d2
03-11-2002, 04:56 PM
Regarding Return of the Jedi: I actually really enjoy the first whole half of the movie. All the Jabba stuff, the death of Yoda, right up through the speeder bike chase is brilliant stuff. More than worthy of the Classic Star Wars saga.

Enter the Ewoks. Truthfully, the film starts falling apart just before that with the Han and Lando goodbye scene. This is just flat out horrible. The Acting is beyond awful and the scene is pointless as it sets up this alarming sense of dread about Han losing the Falcon -- an idea that was discarded, so there's no pay off. But as annoying as the Ewoks are it's not all their fault. The film just gets lost in trying to do too much. The big space battle isn't that compelling because frankly we already saw this in ANH and it was simply done so much better. The Ewoks are just too dang cloyingly cute for my tastes. And do seem calculated purely for merchandizing.

The Phantom Menace was an explosive continuation of this. And I suffered for it.

gibbspaulus
03-12-2002, 04:08 AM
Jargo, back me up here. Uk store Marks and Spencers issued a sci-fi anthology many years ago, featuring excerpts ffrom Star Wars, A Doctor Who book, and several other sci-fi shorts and novels. It featured 'specially commissioned' drawings for each story and the SW ones were..... different. I will try and pick up a 2nd hand copy today and scan the pictures in.