- Paperback: 626 pages
- Publisher: Legacy Books Press (Nov. 18 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0978465237
- ISBN-13: 978-0978465230
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.6 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 1 Kg
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #414,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Secret History of Star Wars Paperback – Nov 18 2008
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About the Author
Michael Kaminski lives and works in Toronto as a camera technician in the film and television industry. A graduate of Vancouver Film School, he is a member of the International Cinematographers Guild. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Michael Kaminiski's book is a bit of a mixed bag.
I can't deny he has done his research. His book goes into exhaustive detail. The depth of his analysis and the comparison of the various drafts is impressive, in particular his assessment of ROTJ at different stages of its development. I was convinced by his assertion that no uniform for the Jedi was every created (see p.324) and what we see in the prequel trilogy came about by default - ie the robes Obi-Wan wears in ANH were actually Tatooine dress, not Jedi as shown by the fact that Owen wears them too. I'd never considered that.
Equally impressive are some of the obscure documents he has managed to track down. Among the most noteworthy were the memos rejecting ANH by Universal and United Artists (on p.61). The accepted story is that they hated the proposed film. In truth their feelings were much warmer, they just weren't convinced enough to fork out millions of dollars. I was also pleased to see that Kaminski states the importance of Marcia Lucas, George's wife. I think her role in the original trilogy, as so often happens with the (female) supporting partner, has been overlooked.
Having said all that, I have a fair amount of criticism. For a start the book is too long. Mostly this is due to repetition as a lot of information is presented in duplicate, sometimes even triplicate. He repeats the plot of 'Hidden Fortress', for example, three times; the definition of 'retcon' is also given on numerous occasions (I got it on the first reading!). I assume this is due to the fact the book started as a series of separate articles. An editor really should have sorted this out. There are other editorial oversights too which diminish Kaminski's authority, such as unexplained jumps: Marcia goes from being GL's girlfriend to wife without even mentioning they got married! There are also some silly mistakes: Liam Neeson, for instance, didn't win an Academy Award for 'Schlinder's List' (p. 353) he was only nominated.
My biggest reservation, however, regards the tone of the book. For this the blame lies squarely with the author. For a start it's a bit patronising. Kaminski writes as if nobody before him had ever realised there are inconsistencies in the saga. I think anyone even remotely acquainted with the movies gets that. From Vader's screen time and relative position in the first 1977 movie it's clear that he wasn't originally envisioned as the lynchpin of the saga. That decision was made sometime during the development of ESB. Like I say, that's not quite the revelation Kaminski thinks it is.
He then attacks Lucas on the basis that the official story behind 'Star Wars' was that it was conceived from the outset as it turned out on screen. Although I agree that Lucas is often elastic with the truth, sometimes to the point of making things up, I don't think he quite deserves the scorn Kaminski pours on him. Indeed, he sometimes accuses Lucas of almost Orwellian acts of manipulating the past: see p. 207 for charges of 'suppressing and destroying'. Come on!
The author also compares statements Lucas has made over the years as further proof of his wicked intentions to hoodwink the public. The best example is on p.209. And the best response is: can't people change their minds? Don't we all? What seemed true in 1980 might not be so in 2004! I think of something of the daft things I wrote about my first boyfriend. I believed them with utter sincerity at the time; obviously now my views are very different. Kaminski seems to believe that if someone makes a statement it's set in stone and true forever after, and uses this to condemn their future self.
To that end, he's also quite rude about Lucas - something which I was uncomfortable with. We're all entitled to our opinions but a writer will seem more authoritative if he's objective. On p.361, for example, he describes GL as a `bloated, soulless technocrat'. OK, so he's paraphrasing other people but without a direct source it's difficult to disconnect statement from author.
The Appendices are a masterclass in supposition.
I struggled to decide what star-rating to give this book. Ultimately I wanted to give it 3.5 stars but since my policy is always to round up it gets 4... but I hope anyone reading this review sees that in the context of my reservations.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in knowing more about George Lucas, the '70s and '80s, and how one small film turned into a saga that changed the world.
The secret history of star wars, is about the movies story and script developement. It does not touch on any of the technical aspects of the movies. It starts with background on George Lucas, and how he ended up in the movie industry. Also what led up to his creation of starwars.
This book covers alot of the rumors I heard in the past about the prequels. Such as episode one was going to be released in may of 1997. I remember reading that news in a cinescape magazine back in 1995.
The one rumor I heard way back in 1993 that wasn't covered in this book was the rumor that Mark Hamill was going to play Anakin in the prequels. I read that in a sci-fi magazine somewhere.
This book is similar to William Shatner's Star Trek Movie memories. With the difference being that Star Trek memories dealt with all the politics, and drama that occured in the making of star trek. This book how ever only touches on that slightly. Focusing on how George Lucas developed the story, and characters of star wars.
Its interesting to read all the alternate ways this story could have went. It also touches on the sequel trilogy that was rumored for years, and where that story may have went.
So if you love star wars. Then get this book.
I can only hope there are more chapters to come because this book was written before the announcement of Episode VII. See that? That's what this book is all about! Lucas confirmed MANY times that he will never make any more Star Wars movies after the prequel trilogy, yet here we are, waiting for a bunch more. Now, perhaps Lucas was telling the truth, he said "he" wouldn't be making anymore, and "he" isn't, Disney is. So what he says may be considered true ... from a certain point of view.
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