REVIEW: "The Art of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge"
Updated: Jun 27
On the brink of Wild Space, an outpost lies off the beaten path. It's a stepping-stone in a galaxy far, far, away that invites you to explore the past while adventuring into the future; it's a place that, as Walt Disney Imagineering portfolio creative executive Scott Towbridge describes, has "always been there, just waiting for us to discover it."
This is the magic, and mystery, of Galaxy's Edge.
Whether or not you've visited Black Spire Outpost on Batuu, there's plenty you can now immerse yourself in from the comfort of your own home. Amy Ratcliffe's The Art of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge gives readers a perfect inside look at what Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Imagineering have been cooking up for Disney Parks since 2012. Featuring hundreds of pieces of concept art, sketches, and images as well as dozens of interviews with creatives, Ratcliffe captures the heart and spirit of Star Wars's most ambitious expansion.
This newest installment to the long-running "Art of" collection is unique in that it covers a Star Wars project that is still living, breathing, and evolving as we speak. As has been the case with this series, you'll uncover plenty of unused concepts, such as a bounty-hunter chase ride and a lumbering beast named Elee; but, more often than not, these ideas simply exist to test the limits of creativity. What feels different about this "Art of" book, though, is there's less finality to it than that of its movie counterparts. Instead, The Art of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens your eyes to the endless, and soon-to-be, possibilities.
If not yesterday or today, why not tomorrow? It's this innovative Imagineering spirit that visibly comes across the page and keeps me excited for the park's future.
The Art of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is not merely an advertisement for Disney Parks, although I will admit I'm more eager to go than I ever have before. Rather, you'll gain a comprehensive understanding of what inspired the look and feel of Batuu. For instance, the Imagineering team took a six-month trip to Pinewood Studios to work alongside Lucasfilm set designers in addition to on-location research in Istanbul, Morocco, and the Greek Island of Delos.
In order to build a world that was believable and authentic, it was essential to study every minute detail of our own.
I was even more thrilled to learn that the design of Galaxy's Edge relied on some early concepts from legendary Star Wars artist Ralph McQaurrie, whose work is the gift that keeps on giving. Likewise, when it comes to set design, the teachings of George Lucas haven't escaped the mind of Lucasfilm vice president and executive creative director Doug Chiang, who's featured prominently throughout Ratcliffe's book.
"[George] always said, 'Make sure you make it look eclectic. Don't make it look like it was carefully art-directed, like somebody went in there and dressed everything to perfection, because that's not real life,'" Chiang said.
This book is chock-full of interesting tidbits and beautiful artwork that bring Galaxy's Edge to life on the page. Flipping through the nearly 250 pages of various attractions and locales make you feel as if you're a kid again, and, by the end, you'll even get a sneak peak at what's next: the overnight adventure aboard the Halcyon starcruiser. (If there's any chance I'll get to hear Admiral Ackbar say, "It's a trap!" in person, I suppose I'll have to throw down some cash.)
Ratcliffe, who's been incredibly busy publishing Star Wars content over the last twelve months, puts her all into The Art of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, even noting in a recent newsletter that she conducted seventeen interviews in seven days early in the writing process. It definitely paid off in what ends up being an extremely well-researched "Art of" book that shines the spotlight on one of the most distinct traits of Galaxy's Edge: it's a place with so much history but also where history is being made.
In a year when we've all been stuck inside due to the pandemic, The Art of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge keeps me hopeful we'll one day step into a larger world and lose ourselves in the wonder.