Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle by Ryder Windham, Daniel Wallace and Pablo Hidalgo

As part of DK Canada's May the 4th Be With You promotion and contest, here's a review of a book in their Star Wars collection.

Star Wars Year by Year is a visual chronicle featuring the Star Wars movies, creators, crew and actors against the backdrop of other events happening in the world. The book goes month-by-month showing how the Lucas empire started as an idea and progressed into this mega cultural phenomenon. It's divided up into 5 sections: Life before Star Wars, The Original Trilogy (1973-1983), Between the Trilogies (1984-1996), The Prequel Trilogy (1997-2005), Clone Wars a& Beyond (2006-2010).

This is such an awesome book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm not the biggest Star Wars fan on the planet, but I have seen all of the movies; some of them more than once. I love that the book shows what was happening in the world in relation to everything Star Wars. There were lots of behind the scene details and stills of the movie sets. It's simply amazing how the world affected these movies and how these movies affected the world. The book also showed how technical advances allowed Lucas to carry out his dream with finer details and special effects and how these movies affected other movies in turn.

The book features many two-page spreads with fantastic photos. Because of the size of this book, you can see the finest details on these. Speaking of photos, this book has too many to count. Some are large; some are small; each one is pertinent and interesting. The book also has the ads and movie posters associated with the movies as well as many of the toys and games that came out as a result of the movies.

The book is filled with tons of interesting tidbits about the movies, cast and crew. An avid fan might know this stuff, but a lot of it was new to me. For instance, did you know that episode six started out as "Revenge of the Jedi" not "Return of the Jedi"? Anyway, I learned a lot about George Lucas, the six episodes, ILM and the world in general.

My favourite pages in the book deal with how the movies have become entrenched in our society. Here are but a few:
pages 72-73: Star Wars holiday greeting cards. Hilarious.
pages 230-231: The different lightsabers used in the movies.
pages 242-243: Yoda in his many forms. As a plushy, board game, bubble bath container, mouse pad, candle holder and on and on. Cute, they are.
pages 282-283: The Vader project, in which contemporary artists were given a replica of Darth Vader's helmet to customise. The results are amazing.
pages 274-275: Star Wars 30th anniversary stamps created by the United States Postal Service.
pages 288-289: The Lego Star Wars minifigures.

Included with the book are two ready-to-frame prints that are housed in a protective sleeve attached to the inside cover. I particularly enjoyed these. Who doesn't love swag with books? They are:
Lighting Concept by Matt Gaser of Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Duchess of Mandalore from season two of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, 2008
Harrison Ford on set during principal photography of The Empire Strikes Back, summer 1979

The table of contents lists the 5 sections and the years within those sections. It does have lots of entries, but I'm not sure how useful it's going to be. The index is quite long and contains lots of relevant entries, which should aid the reader quite nicely.

Highly recommended for Star Wars fans.

For more information about this book, please visit DK's website.

I'd like to thank Chris at DK Canada for this review copy and for inviting me to participate in the May the 4th Be With You promotion.

Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle by Ryder Windham, Daniel Wallace, Pablo Hidalgo (Lucy Dowling, Editor), Dorling Kindersley (DK), ©2010. ISBN 9780756657642(Hardcover), 320p.

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