We've already seen a ton of astonishing artwork from the making of classic Star Wars — but the new book of storyboards from the original trilogy is still a revelation. So many cool images, so many glimpses of how key sequences could have looked different. We've got some exclusive images to share with you.
Top image: C3pO and R2D2 escape. "Imperial gunners let the drifting life pod sail by." Art by Joe Johnston.
It's hard to flip through Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy quickly. You keep getting caught on every other page by a cool image or something that turned out different in the movies.
The book starts out with some early storyboards for the opening sequence of the original Star Wars from back when George Lucas was calling it The Star Wars. Darth Vader looks nightmarish, wraith-like. C3pO looks straight out of Metropolis. Princess Leia looks just like Dale Arden from the Flash Gordon comics. Chewbacca looks more like he does in this famous early illustration.
And for some storyboards between Lucas' second and third drafts, Luke is a girl.
There's also a storyboarded version of the Obi-Wan/Darth Vader duel from the first movie, where Obi-Wan survives. For the later movies, there are some sequences that look way different in earlier versions — like Jabba's throneroom and Luke fighting the Rancor. Or Luke confronting Darth Vader.
The sense you get from looking at these storyboards, espeically for the original movie, is one of frenetic creativity, with artists working frantically to produce tons of images under deadline. The little notes in the margins reveal that Joe Johnston once created 40 storyboards in a single day, as Lucas kept changing his mind about how the Death Star trench run sequence would go — and all the VFX artists were waiting for Johnson to sketch the new version.
But these storyboards are also beautiful works of art, that really do deserve to be in a coffee table book. As much as we love the concept art from the original trilogy, these are just astonishing in their own right. See for yourself, below.