R.I.P. Ralph McQuarrie (1929 – 2012)

For the man I hold responsible for not only the existence of the original Star Wars trilogy but it’s look and feel, I just don’t think I have the adequate words for how much I’m affected by his passing.

Most everyone knows how George Lucas was finding doors shut in his face by the leading movie studios when trying to secure financing for his space saga. It wasn’t until Lucas hired McQuarrie to produce Production Paintings that would help to convey to the Studio Executives what he had envisioned in his mind’s eye for the film that the necessary funding was obtained, in fact it was the first studio they held a meeting with after the paintings had been completed, 20th Century Fox.

Ralph McQuarrie’s career didn’t obviously stop at Star Wars. He also had a hand in designs for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Cocoon, Nightbreed, and even the Back to the Future Ride that was at Universal Studios beginning in 1991 until it’s closure in 2007.

George Lucas has written a very nice remembrance over on the official Star Wars.Com site.

[Via] Star Wars.Com

THX 1138 on Blu-Ray

A chilling exploration of the future is also a compelling examination of the present in George Lucas’s THX 1138, starring Robert Duvall as a man whose mind and body are controlled by the government. THX makes a harrowing attempt to escape from a world where thoughts are controlled, freedom is an impossibility and love is the ultimate crime.

THX 1138

Back when Star Wars came out I had already seen the Lucas classic American Graffiti. I thought to myself why did it take Lucas so long to make a Sci-Fi film, when he is so obviously good at it. Then I heard he had done a movie before American Graffiti, the cryptically named THX 1138. I was very excited to see it as soon as heard about it. Of course in my kid brain I thought it would be a sort of proto-Star Wars. So when I saw it, I was very disappointed. It wouldn’t be until I hit my early teens and saw it again that I would appreciate it on its own merits.

THX 1138 is not a space opera, but it is classic Sci-Fi, that might be difficult for a kid to “get”, but not for an adult. Today when I watch it, I still do not heavily identify with the story, but I enjoy the performance and the direction is absolutely amazing. Couple that with incredible cinematography and you got a classic film. Which I might add looks pretty darn good in Blu-Ray – since it very visual. This Blu-Ray release is well worth it and has a good amount of extras:

* Commentary by George Lucas and Walter Murch
* Theatre of Noise Experience: isolated sound effects track
* Master Sessions: Docupod gallery showcasing Murch’s pioneering work
* Two documentaries: A Legacy of Filmmakers: The Early Years of American Zoetrope and Artifact from the Future: The Making of THX-1138
* Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB: Lucas’ original student film
* Vintage production featurette: Bald
* Theatrical trailers

My week of SF movie is drawing to a close and I have been enjoying it thoroughly. One more to go and the next one a true SF classic…

THX 1138 on Blu-Ray [@] Amazon

“Raiders of the Lost Ark” Story Conference Transcript

indiana jones

In late January of 1978, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Larry Kasden got together to discuss a new movie idea that would eventually become the Indiana Jones franchise. Lucky for film geeks and historians, they had the foresight to have the entire even transcribed for later review. This document gives remarkable insight into the creative minds behind the film, but is also an interesting look at the creative process itself. You always know a great director is skilled in the technical aspect of film making, but I am halfway through it and I have been nothing but impressed by their understanding of film history character development and genre (what happened to part 4??). What a great thing to be able to be a fly on the wall for this meeting.

Download the Transcript [via] maddogmovies