Given the flurry of rumors that have plagued Lucasfilm in the wake of Solo: A Star Wars Story, from the firing for original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the questionable marketing, and its ultimately disappointing box office performance, the second Star Wars anthology film seems to have been forgotten in all the noise. That’s where The Art Of Solo: A Star Wars Story comes in.
While the forwards, written by Production Designer Neil Lamont, Art Director James Clyne, and author Phil Szostak all gloss over all the behind-the-scenes drama, it does give a glimpse to the earnestness that lied in the film’s origins. All three detail the early days of pre-production and the time spent studying classic muscle cars and watching George Lucas’ second film, American Grafitti. As this was taking place, The Force Awakens was being filmed, and The Last Jedi was already in development.
Sure, configuring a stand-alone movie to fit perfectly into an ever expanding, and increasingly intricate cinematic universe, sounds difficult. However, the film’s early concept art, which is the heart of the coffee-table book (in case the title wasn’t a tip-off), is the kind of stuff you can lose hours pouring over, reminding readers of the endearing creativity that goes into a project of this magnitude.
Much of the artwork echoes what ended up on screen, particularly the full-page paintings imagining the half-dozen planets featured in Solo. Additionally, there are previous versions of ideas that made it past pre-production, just much differently than their earliest conception. Early drafts of Lady Proxima, Dryden Voss, and Enfys Nest, contrasted with versions that were eventually realized, is the kind of tailor-made stuff that longtime Star Wars fans.
But the book’s real treasures come from ideas that were eventually discarded. From Mimbanese troopers to Vandorian horses to Wookiees dressed as Stormtroopers(!), these concepts that never made the final cut, but gives some glimmer of hope that they still might make their way into future installments.
By ignoring all the troubled aspects of the film’s production, and release, The Art Of Solo is a much-needed fresh perspective on a Star Wars movie that became notorious for several reasons that had nothing to do with the film it became. Instead, it reveals the free-thinking creativity before it was refined into the meticulously, and oftentimes rigid, Star Wars universe.
The Art Of Solo: A Star Wars Story is available now for purchase online and in bookstores everywhere