Ralph McQuarrie is 'Star Wars', and This Mini Doc Proves It

By Darren Orf on at

The internet is understandably excited about the new Star Wars trailer. I have no problems considering myself a mega-ultra-super fan. I've made pilgrimages to conventions around the country and seeing new live-action Star Wars footage that isn't the prequels is really exciting. But there's one name that's been woefully absent during the internet's long discussions about the plausibility of lightsabers and that really cool X-wing scene: Ralph McQuarrie.

McQuarrie is Star Wars, and I say that with no exaggeration. Sure the scripts belong to George Lucas, and Star Wars would be nothing without them, but McQuarrie gave the original series that classic Star Wars feel, which even 35 years later can still capture imaginations. Character concepts? McQuarrie. Vehicle designs? McQuarrie. Planet topography? McQuarrie. The guy was in every sense a creative genius.

And it wasn't just the original trilogy. His artistic influence guided the prequel films and the Clone Wars series. In a five-part documentary, filmed in 2012 after McQuarrie's unfortunate passing, George Lucas and many other creatives who helped shaped the franchise weigh in on McQuarrie's monumental influence.

The documentary itself isn't much, just a collection interviews split up by stunning McQuarrie concepts, but there's a part in the first segment that always gets me: Scott Farrar, ILM's visual effects supervisor, puts into focus how McQuarrie was as instrumental to Star Wars as George Lucas.

The concepts they came up with were brilliant. Just brilliant. It helped every one up and down. Whether you were a model maker, a photographer, or a costumer, they broke new ground in ways nobody else had. You look back at the work, even at this point, and it holds up. There's lots of movies and lots of pieces of art that don't hold up past five years. We're talking shots and designs and things 25 or 30 years or more and they hold up as beautifully now as they did then. Now that's genius.

If you've got about 40 minutes to spare, it's a fitting tribute to the man, who even now, is making us ravenously watch an 88-second Star Wars teaser trailer on repeat.

Still via Ralph McQuarrie, Star Wars Artist: Tribute to a Master