Review: The Making of Return of the Jedi

makingofrotjWith The Making of Return of the Jedi, J.W. Rinzler rounds out his trilogy of “making of” books that have become essential to Star Wars fans and film aficionados alike. Does this installment live up to the high standards set by its predecessors, The Making of Star Wars and The Making of The Empire Strikes Back? Find out after the jump.

As a Coffee Table Reader

The Making of RotJ is a huge book. It’s also gorgeous, leading many owners to want to proudly display it on their coffee tables, ottomans, or living room shelving units. The book’s gold color scheme stands out, and the cover image – the confrontation between Luke and Vader in the Death Star’s throne room, with the Emperor watching in the background – is instantly iconic.

The inside of the book is just as beautiful. It’s filled to the brim with concept art, production stills, and behind-the-scenes images. (Ralph McQuarrie’s concept art of “The Emperor’s Castle” is absolutely stunning and I want a print for my wall.) While I think The Making of RotJ is much too hefty to fit the typical description of a coffee table book, it’ll definitely start conversations during family gatherings or dinner parties. (Just make sure you don’t have a family pet that enjoys shredding paper, not that I have experience with that or anything.)

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Filmmaking History

Star Wars fans aren’t the only group who’ll be awed by Rinzler’s encyclopedic tome. Filmmakers and filmmaking aficionados alike will appreciate the level of detail that goes into Rinzler’s descriptions of Jedi‘s every stage. The early script drafts, conversations between key figures such as George Lucas, Director Richard Marquand, and Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, and the vast amounts of notes depict just how daunting making a Star Wars movie can be. (Nearly as daunting as writing a making of book, I’d imagine.)

If you enjoy film as a medium, you’ll enjoy this book. No questions asked.

For Star Wars Fans – Is There Anything We Don’t Already Know?

In a word, yes. In two words, hell yes. Sure, there’s stories that every Star Wars fan knows about what went on behind-the-scenes or what got changed during the development of the movie or even that the Imperial capital was once referred to as Had Abaddon. But Rinzler’s access to the Lucasfilm archives allows him to tell the complete story in a way even the most knowledgeable of fans will find fascinating.

Closing Thoughts

Like its predecessors, The Making of RotJ is told in chronological order. It delves into the stories behind the story, and paints a striking picture of the individuals entrusted to bring a beloved film franchise to its end. You could spend hours upon days upon weeks combing through every page, smiling when stumbling upon an already-down anecdote and boggling when learning something knew about a film you’ve known and loved forever. Although I skimmed the book upon receiving it, I feel like it’ll be years until I’ve uncovered everything.

And even if for some odd reason you never read a word of text, the pictures alone are worth the price of admission.

A copy of this book was provided by Random House for review purposes. 

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