Up front, I love books about concept art for films. Love them! Last year, I read The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and was blown away. This year, I’m happy to report I’ve had the same reaction to The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The all-encompassing beauty of the concept art, and the informative text combine for a thrilling experience perfectly in keeping with the movie itself.
The Art of Rogue One is written by Josh Kushins, and features forewords by concept artists Doug Chiang and Neil Lamont, and by Rogue One’s director, Gareth Edwards. These are folks with a clear love for Star Wars that goes back to their earliest days, and that fact shines through in this book. As a Star Wars fan from way back myself, I’m appreciative. Fans sharing their exceptional work with other fans elevates the whole Star Wars experience.
The Art of Rogue One is a fine read, but the text never overwhelms the art, which is the true star of the book. Star Wars has a long history of outstanding concept art, dating back to the genius of Ralph McQuarrie. His influence is ever-present in the work of Star Wars art to this day. However, the artists highlighted in this book all stand on their own as well, each putting their unique stamp on the galaxy far, far away.
The book primarily focusses on the worlds of Rogue One – from Lah’Mu, Yavin 4, and Jedha, to Eadu, Mustafar and Scarif. Within each section, the different characters, aliens, technology, and atmosphere of these worlds are spotlighted. I found the development of all the characters interesting, but in particular it was fascinating to see the many iterations K-2SO went through. It seems everyone worked on him at one point or another, till the final version made it to the screen. Often you just take it for granted that the characters or aliens you love were that way from the start, but then you see how much thought and reason went into their creation, and you love them all the more for it.
One thing I would have liked to have seen was a bit about bringing Grand Moff Tarkin back for Rogue One, but I understand that was probably more technical than artistic. Not a big quibble at all.
The text by Josh Kushins is never intrusive and gives invaluable insight into the making of Rogue One, from the point of view of the director, the writers, and the artists involved. Even the captions are rich in detail — with a few amusing anecdotes. Deeper meaning is brought to certain scenes, and seeing Rogue One after reading this book makes it a more significant experience.
The Art of Rogue One follows the final product we see on-screen, not what came before the reshoots. I think discussion or artwork from before would only serve to muddy the waters. So, if you’re expecting to learn more about an earlier version of the film, you won’t find that here. That’s as it should be.
The Art of Rogue One is accessible to all Star Wars fans. You don’t need a degree in art or filmmaking, and you don’t need to be of a certain age — Adults, young adults, and children can all take something away from The Art of Rogue One. It’s a book you will revisit, so be sure to keep it handy. Trust me on that! It’s called a coffee table book with good reason.
Thank you to Abrams from providing a copy of this book for review purposes.Powered by Sidelines