Review: ILM Presents The Making of Solo: A Star Wars story

ILM Presents The Making of Solo: A Star Wars story

Author: Rob Bredow

Publisher: Abrams

Pages: 256

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Although Solo: A Star Wars Story didn’t do as well at the box office as the other three Star Wars movies produced by Disney, it did get something the others don’t have: an official Making of book.

In April the book Industrial Light & Magic Presents: Making Solo: A Star Wars Story was released, written by Rob Bredow, head of ILM.

Although the title might suggest this is a book similar to the three (definitive) making of books Jonathan Rinzler wrote about the original trilogy this isn’t the case.

Every Star Wars fan knows the production of Solo wasn’t the smoothest: the film had more reshoots than any other Star Wars production and went over budget. All of this was due to a change of direction as Lucasfilm veteran Ron Howard (Willow, American Graffiti) took over from original directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord who were fired near the end of the production.

Yes, from Lucasfilm’s point of view it is understandable the ins and outs of this aren’t revealed, but as a result the book doesn’t feel complete plus it would have made the book more interesting. What’s also missing are the concept sketches (which is normally a part of every Making of book). Maybe this was done on purpose since an extensive Art Of Solo book was released last year? Maybe the biggest omission are the aliens created by Neal Scanlan’s workshop. Sure, there are some in the book (mostly screencaps) but the book would have benefited from having more detailed (pre) production photos. Also not in the book is detailed info about the casting process and since the book was released almost a year after Solo hit the big screen the absence of how the movie was received is also remarkable.

Instead (and I guess that’s why “ILM presents” is added to the title) we see and read how the author Rob Bredow experienced working on this film. And yes, he does succeed gloriously in giving the reader that ‘fly on the wall’ feeling: many candid behind the scenes photos of mostly crewmembers (and cast as well) on the set of Star Wars. Crew in desert wastelands. Emilia Clarke on Birkenstocks. Phoebe Waller-Bridge in a green mo-cap suit. Ron Howard with various hats. It is all there.

The truth is: these photos are great. In fact, this approach makes the book unique as there aren’t many Star Wars books with so many candid photographs of sets, locations and crew.

To sum it up in one sentence: Perhaps Solo: a photographic journal would have been a better title. It is a great book that fans of the movie who want to experience what it’s like to be a fly on the wall on the set of a Star Wars movie will like.

ILM Presents: The Making of Solo: a Star Wars story is definitely a unique book, but for different reasons one might expect!