Among the many behind-the-scenes books that have been released in the wake of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the visually stunning The Art of Star Wars The Last Jedi by Phil Szostak is a must have for fans of the galaxy far, far away.
The Art of Star Wars The Last Jedi is an incredible coffee table style book that gives readers (and lookers) a view of the conceptual process behind the film and how it made the leap from canvas to screen.
Covering everything from locations and characters to ships and story elements, The Art of Star Wars The Last Jedi breaks down the amazing content from the film into its components and gives some detail as to what could’ve been or what almost was. Going further than just offering concept art, it explains aspects of the decision making process and the fluidity of the movie-making process.
Plus, it’s just plain pretty to look at.
Isle Of The Jedi
Seen briefly at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the island that Luke chose for his self-exile is located on the watery planet Ahch-To. In The Last Jedi the island is explored more fully; revealing many of its secrets but not explaining all of them quite yet.
Han Solo, explaining to Rey and Finn in The Force Awakens, that after a tragedy Luke set out for the first Jedi Temple. Throughout this film there are glimpses of the architecture of the Temple but The Art of Star Wars The Last Jedi gives a drastically different view of some of the original designs. Great domed structures far more elaborate than what made the final cut. In a quote from legendary Star Wars artist Doug Chiang:
I was going with a really eclectic mix of architecture and mysticism. I thought “Let’s design things that hint at the power of Luke.” Weird stuff. So I had the idea of floating rock domes, little things that are very Star Wars.
It’s easy to see why some of the more extravagant designs were left aside to serve the story. Luke seems to have long pondered the Jedi Order and what he sees as their failure due to blindness and hubris. So rather than residing in the opulence of that aesthetic, the story is so much richer by showing the simpler origins and mindset of the first Jedi.
There is also a glimpse at several ideas for events during Rey’s time on the island that did not make it to filming or were eventually changed. Art depicting a “marauder attack” on the island may or may not have been filmed, but it is looking like this will wind up on the Blu-Ray release as a deleted scene. Another piece of art shows just how different Rey’s experience inside the Dark Side cave was first imagined; with two mysterious figures wielding lightsabers, one blue and the other red.
Attention To Detail
Along with another tie-in book, Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary, The Art of Star Wars The Last Jedi is another example of the thought, love and passion that goes into every detail.
So little time is spent within the “Force Tree” on the island, but much deliberation was put into its design. Some of the art depicts it much larger than the version that was seen. And inside; a much larger repository of Jedi lore and knowledge. The final product came across more as an alter to the several ancient Jedi texts on display. There are even examples of pages from within those texts, even thought they are never opened.
A mosaic on the floor of the Temple which is never clearly seen is featured in the book along with a little background on its meaning and inspiration. Made up of colored stones, it reflects the balance that the early Jedi sought. It resembles the Yin and Yang which are elements of Chinese philosophy and the meditation pose of the “Prime Jedi” is reminiscent of a religious tradition in Zen Buddhism. Both were important in George Lucas’ inspiration for the Jedi themselves.
Although the sequences that take place during Rose and Finn’s important mission to Canto Bight go by in a flash, a significant portion of this book are dedicated to the concept and design of this intricate location. From the vast amount of new alien beings to server droids and gambling machines, so much work went into this casino but with such little screen time most was breezed by or not even seen at all. But the desire to have a lived in and fully fleshed out universe is still apparent in the breadth of artwork throughout this book.
Though mostly an art book much can be gleaned about the ever changing story from the introductions and the brief captions around the images.
Right at the beginning of the book there is a section titled The Death of Han Solo and Rebirth of the Jedi. What is learned here and showcased in the following few pieces of art is that some of the key moments from The Force Awakens were not included in that films art book to preserve its filmgoing experience. Meaning no spoilers. So the older Luke Skywalker on Ahch-To and the death of Han were not depicted but are included here. There are also some great tidbits of the original script from writer Michael Arndt that were kept. Things like the “Jedi Killer” and keeping Luke till the end of The Force Awakens.
From details behind Snoke’s massive Throne Room and attendants to his deadly Praetorian Guard, even the clothes he wears, there is so much to digest in this book. At almost 250 pages, The Art of Star Wars The Last Jedi is well worth picking up to further enhance the complete The Last Jedi experience!
Mike Harris hails from the suburbs of Chicago and has been a fan for most of his life. Working as an industrial radiographer and raising a family with his wife take up most of his time, but there’s always room for Star Wars books and podcasts! Just looking to give back to Star Wars and the fan community, it’s been a source of fun and learning for him for so long.