Today words and names like “Wookiee,” “Jedi,” “Darth Vader” and Millennium Falcon are recognized in virtually every household, so it takes a little bit of imagination to return to that time orbiting May 1977 when the very first Star Wars film arrived in theaters. How was this new mythology and world of unknown creatures and concepts originally translated and advertised? Travel back with some of the artifacts and images from the first film in the franchise, housed in the Core Collection Reference Files at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Margaret Herrick Library.
Director George Lucas hired illustrator Ralph McQuarrie to create the conceptual art that would bring the Star Wars universe to life in the film’s preproduction phase. Here McQuarrie originally portrayed the character who would become known as Luke Skywalker as a woman, circa 1975.
Another preproduction painting by McQuarrie depicts the droid duo R2-D2 and C-3PO, utilizing a design aesthetic that evokes Metropolis (1927) more than Star Wars.
This third sample of McQuarrie’s work visualizes a confrontation between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader that was never realized in the film.
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