When it was announced this spring that the German publishing company Taschen (known worldwide for their particularly beautiful and large books) was working on a Star Wars release, expectations were immediately high. This could be one of the most ultimate reference works.
Last week was the day: this gigantic work (weighing 7.5 kilos and 33 x 7 x 48 centimeters in size) was delivered. At the back of the credits a nice surprise (the author used two of my interviews, so I am already listed for the 5th time in a reference work) and you would say: give it a big 10 and we don’t talk about anything anymore, do we?
Before I start answering this, we start from the beginning: what is “The Star Wars Archives”?
It is a book that takes you back to the early 70s when George Lucas made American Graffiti and the first ideas for Star Wars came into being. On the basis of the most beautiful designs, drawings, stills, behind-the-scenes photos and posters, you then go through the trilogy chronologically, with special attention for The Holiday Special, the two Ewok films and the Ewok and Droids animation series (considering that all this is often ignored is a huge plus). The majority of the book is therefore visual. Due to the enormous size, the large images (often full page) look better than ever. Is there anything to read? Certainly: in addition to the foreword by George Lucas, it also contains two exclusive interviews with him, which is also one of the strongest points of this publication.
It is clear that in the trade-off between images and text, the first was given priority. As I said above, this makes sense, but in terms of information, this book will definitely not go down as “ultimate”. Over the past 20+ years many books have been published (one can speak of a supersaturation) and the three Making Of books by J.W. Rinzler are way on top.
This oversaturation can also be seen on the visual side of the book, since many photos and drawings have already been published. A good example is the designs of Ralph McQuarrie. These should of course be included, but his complete work was released two years ago. For “the collector who has everything” it will sometimes come across as old wine in a new bottle. Nevertheless, there is more than enough new stuff to be found in the photo area, so that even completists can be surprised.
Giving a rating to this book is a real brain teaser. Ultimate reference work? Yes and no. Visually it is definitely one of the 5 best but informative far from it. An eye catcher? Absolutely. Taschen has given Star Wars the “coffee table book treatment” and fans of this will enjoy it. Worth € 150 and “a big 10”? With this book, that depends more than ever on what you already have and what you are looking for. What in any case may be concluded is that after this release the “original trilogy reference book work market” is now really saturated. Time for this kind of massive works that will take a good look at the Prequels. A nice task for Taschen?