LUKE SKYWALKER RETURNS TO THE GALAXY, FROM DECEMBER 15TH, 2017

ARRIVING IN THE NETHERLANDS, FROM 30/9/17. BOOK NOW FOR THE ULTIMATE 'STAR WARS' EXHIBITION

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

AFICIONADO REVIEW: "DARTH PLAGUEIS" BY JAMES LUCENO



STAR WARS: DARTH PLAGUEIS

A novel by James Luceno

Published in the UK by CENTURY PUBLISHING


Reviewed by Scott Weller


NOTE: This review contains possible SPOILERS


“Have you ever heard the story of “Darth Plagueis the Wise”? I thought not. It’s a Sith legend.”

Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious) to Anakin Skywalker (Jedi Knight)



A legend no more, as LUCAS BOOKS and one of their most highly regarded authors, James Luceno, finally expand on that brief but no less infamous and intriguing section of dialogue from EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH, to unearth and reveal the truth and final mysteries of Darth Sidious’s former Sith Lord master, Darth Plagueis, and his ultimate rise and fall, within the shocking events leading up to the destruction of the Republic in the STAR WARS Prequel trilogy. DARTH PLAGUEIS in a novel certainly possessing ambition worthy of the arcane and violent order itself, realised with approval and input from creator George Lucas himself….

And, after his previously disappointing Millennium Falcon novel- a nice idea that he sadly wasn’t quite able to pull of successfully in my own personal opinion and expectations, it’s great to report that DARTH PLAGUEIS is a fine return to form for Luceno within the STAR WARS galaxy.

A strong opening prologue launches the tale on a fixed note of brewing, calculated evil, showing how former Sith Apprentice Darth Sidious, aka Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (think of him as a hybrid of Satan and President Nixon!), having slain Plagueis, fully takes on the mantle of Sith Lord controller. It’s a welcome dark tenor for what’s to come in the books next 300 plus pages…

But Sidious’s control of the Republic had not been something to have happened overnight: his new reign having been but a part of a complex and manipulating nexus plan of triumph concocted by the Sith over many years, and after a prior thousand years of peace, of which, within their personal dictum of Master and Apprentice, the insidious sect have finally emerged from their deliberate hiding to begin slowly and surely initiating plans of corruption and manipulation across the galaxy, and to gain their revenge on the Jedi Knights that annihilated their order: their own personal nemesis and scourge.

The book begins 67 years before the original STAR WARS EPISODE IV, within a crystalline cave on the Outer Rim world of Bal’demnic, with the Sith pairing of alien Darth Tenebrous (a Bith in origin, and totally removed from those charming and lovable creatures of that race that normally play in the Mos Eisley cantina on Tatooine!) and his apprentice Darth Plagueis, another humanoid alien intriguingly from the greedy capitalist planet of the Muuns, who, through good fortune from the dark side of the Force, sees and relishes an opportunity to become the new Sith Master.

A recent visual conception of Darth Plagueis from STAR WARS INSIDER MAGAZINE.

Plagueis, in his disguise as the powerful and controlling business agent Magister Hego Damask, may not look like an impressive Sith from a visual perspective, but don’t be deceived-he has a fiery and dangerous intellect and superior physical dexterity with the use of a lightsaber, as a freighter crew foolishly find out to their peril in an early section of the book, not realising until too late just how dangerous their ‘stowaway’ really is. Its here that he also inherits a re-programmed medical droid who heartlessly and emotionlessly aids him in his dark continuing works-and a handy part of the storytelling process to answer some of the readers previous questions linked to the Force, and the Sith (particularly Plagueis). More on that later…

As time moves on in the Sith’s favour, Plagueis’s abilities gather momentum as he shows himself as a formidable adversary not just against any Sith pretenders in his path but also the then unsuspecting, sworn enemies that are the Jedi Knights. Plagueis is a master tactician who brings out the worst aspects in humans and aliens nature, especially those whom are supposed to bring peace and order to the galaxy, and as a cruel and twisted scientist zealously determined to change the order and nature of the Sith via discovering the secrets of eternal life-to rule as Sith Lord forever- no matter what the cost, for his own personal unremitting agenda and destiny of ambition and evil, including the perverting of the Force and the life giving midi-chlorian symbiont's that work with them. In his barbaris testing and experimentation on species from across the galaxy, Plagueis becomes a kind of intergalactic Doctor Mengeles.

The destabilisation of the Republic sees in political double-dealing (more relevant and recognisable than ever in todays boom and bust society), plot and counter-plot, shady alliances, family intrigues and assassinations of the best Machiavellian tradition that capture the necessary elements located within the Prequel movies spirit, of which Luceno, always possessing a good grasp of well paced storytelling, leads us up to the opening two Prequel movies and the important events of the Invasion of Naboo and The Clone Wars, (including and filling in plot strands like the late Jedi Knight Sifo-Dyas and his involvement in the creation of the Clone Army on Kamino, as well the first stages of the dark side temptation of the fallen Jedi, the vain Count Dooku). Research information for the book is also garnered from the master himself, George Lucas, making it one of the most cannon yet for the Prequel Saga novels.

It certainly provides a fair number of challenges for Luceno-a fine authorship choice- notably in the first third, where he has the unenviable job of creating the iconic character of Darth Plagueis literally from scratch, in a believable and accessible way that lives up to the coda of the on-screen Sith we’ve seen in the movies and the venomous, greedy, evil and corruptible and corrupting beings established in the Expanded Universe of STAR WARS fiction. Luceno does sterling work in those first 100 or so pages that bring Plagueis to life as the ultimate overlord, and its never boring, but the book really kicks into gear, and becomes a truly engaging read, when he meets the young student Palpatine on the city of Naboo-the ultimate new interpretation of the Garden of Evil and the hidden tree snake lurking with temptation inside.

Having obviously watched and admired Ian McDiarmid’s on-screen portrayal as the character alongside the rest of fandom, Luceno writes Palpatine extremely well. There are some fine moments where I could easily imagine the prestigious Scottish actor delivering the master manipulator’s dialogue with vicious, bloodthirsty relish.

Starting out as a keen member of the Naboo youth legislative program, the singular named Palpatine is, in many ways and examples-dark parallels throughout the novel- the Anakin Skywalker that wasn’t. As a young man he’s just as intelligent and resourceful as the eventual “Chosen One” of the Jedi. An academic, coming from a powerful and noble political family. He even wanted to be a Pod racer: everything Anakin should have had in life had he not have been born into a slave’s existence.

Darth Sidious/Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, as played in the STAR WARS films by Ian McDiarmid.

Palpatine wants a special and significant position in history; to be somebody important in the universe, possessing his own moral code of ethics and singular attitudes. And, right from the start, he’s someone who knows how to twist the hearts and minds of people into doing very bad things. He’s a charmer, but with a cold and deadly veneer beneath the smile. A dangerous but highly intelligent delinquent, whose evil Force abilities have lain previously dormant, ripe for control by the Sith, whose political aspirations make him a perfect puppet and disciple for Plagueis as the duo go on to become the ultimate architects of evil…

But is it possible for the Sith Lord, even one with such power and paranoia as Plagueis (and possessing the general Sith rivalries and vying for control bred into the species for so long), to fall into the trap of prior holders of the title? To fail to recognise and anticipate the true power of an apprentice until it’s too late?

Tantalising questions about the relationship between Plagueis and Sidious, the Sith as a race, their part of the Force (which, in both its aspects, captures the best and the brightest (or should that also be the worst of the darkest?!)), alongside their abilities, motivations and activities in and out of events leading up to The Clone Wars, are finally explained and will surely satisfy many of the fans expectations. Though I’m also sure that there will be some fans who’ll be upset by the fact that possibly too much has now been revealed about the saga’s greatest baddies, when they may have preferred some parts of their STAR WARS history to have been a bit more vague and mysterious. It’s a difficult balancing act to tread, and one that I’m sure Luceno must have thought about and conflicted himself over a lot whilst in the novels plotting stages. Personally, my only real criticism is that Plagueis’s involvement in the final chapters feels a little too shoe-horned with regards to the events of the Naboo invasion and the emergence of The Chosen One, but that’s a minor niggle, especially as the closing scenes between him and Sidious prove so satisfying. (I imagine Luceno had to lock himself into a very dark place both mentally and environment wise to bring this much anticipated story to life. So much so that I bet even his own family were too scared to go near him in for fear of bringing out the Sith Lord trapped in his mental processes!).

Darth Sidious shows his unique mastery of the Sith lightsaber blade.

As ever, the author has that fine skill of seeding the book with fun story building references of important characters (including the popular Darth Maul and his development as a Sith weapon of revenge and slaughter to be used against the Jedi), locations and events from across all the STAR WARS universe-film, books, comics and games, of which all the strands are put together in a welcome tapestry  In all those respects you won’t be disappointed with what he’s accomplished, and you may want to go back and re-read some of his earlier Prequel Trilogy themed books, like Cloak of Deception and Labyrinth of Evil.

Having been saved from prior cancellation by fellow LUCASFILM alumni Howard Roffman, DARTH PLAGUEIS proves itself as both a proud phoenix rising from the ashes idea and also as a much justified book for the Expanded Universe pantheon. It will please not only long time fans of the STAR WARS book cycle but also general fans of the films themselves who want to know more about the Sith Lords and how their ultimate reign of terror returned slowly and subtly back to the universe of the once wise Republic.

DARTH PLAGUEIS is easily one of Luceno’s best STAR WARS tales and will surely become one of the most popular and consistently read, and re-read, titles of the entire STAR WARS range - a fine alternate fairy tale of murder and evil for all followers of the Dark Side…

AFICIONADO RATING 4.5 out of 5

Monday, 30 January 2012

CLASSIC IMAGE: GEORGE LUCAS - DESERT CLEANER!


Back in the directors seat after years of absence, George Lucas, on location for the filming of EPISODE I in Tunisia during 1997, clears the sand of his beloved Artoo Detoo's previous track footprints for the next stage of shooting.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

EPISODE I PREVIEW SCREENING COMPETITION WINNERS...

The French poster for the upcoming EPISODE I re-release in 3D.

THE PHANTOM MENACE makes its return next month, and we're pleased to announce that the winners of tickets to the upcoming London preview screening were Mariana Camacho and Jason W.

Congratulations, and enjoy the film back on the big screen- where it belongs!

CLASSIC INDY: MUSICAL GIFTS...


Harrison Ford returns to play an older version of Indiana Jones, wearing his beard well and revealing his saxophone playing history, for the feature length 1993 YOUNG INDIANA JONES TV series episode Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues, designed as a second season launcher to win viewers back into watching the young audience educational series, of which Ford filmed all his snowbound scenes near his home in Jackson,Wyoming as a favour to George Lucas.

Clip: Young Indiana Jones & The Mystery Of The Blues (better Quality w/ tv preview) - YouTube

Saturday, 28 January 2012

"THE CLONE WARS" SEASON FOUR: INTO "THE BOX"


An early helmet design rendered by Ralph McQuarrie for a "Super Commando", conceived by George Lucas for STAR WARS II in 1977, and eventually becoming THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK's iconic and disreputable character of bounty hunter Boba Fett in 1979. This excellent original design is finally becoming an animated reality, for another of Fett's kind, Rako Hardeen, master marksman of Concord Dawn, who appears as part of Count Dooku's assembled force in next week's US premiere episode screening of THE CLONE WARS Season Four, titled The Box.


Clip: The Clone Wars The Box - Episode Preview 4.17 +melkor(SWP) - YouTube

GOODBYE, IAN ABERCROMBIE...



The sad news has come in States-side that popular British actor Ian Abercrombie, most well known to STAR WARS fans as the voice of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (above) and Darth Sidious in the long-running THE CLONE WARS animated series, has passed away. He was 77. Amongst a diverse body of work, primarily in America, his popular fantasy genre credits would include TV series like TWIN PEAKS, BIRDS OF PREY, BABYLON 5, STAR TREK: VOYAGER, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, whilst noted film work included THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK, ARMY OF DARKNESS and THE ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES. Abercrombie's distinctive voice also see in a very popular career in numerous animated series, including THE CLONE WARS and films like the recently released, Johnny Depp starring RANGO.


His friend and Supervising Animation Director on THE CLONE WARS series, Dave Filoni, posted this lovely tribute to the fine actor on his FACEBOOK page:


Today is a very sad day for Star Wars fans, as we lost a dear friend in Ian Abercrombie. You know him better as the voice of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine on The Clone Wars. I cannot express how thankful I am to have had the opportunity to work with Ian. He was extremely passionate about his role on the series and he was brilliant at it. I always called him “Chancellor” no matter where we were, in the studio or out at a restaurant. I think he enjoyed that a great deal. I learned so much from him about directing actors, and working with dialog. His advice and mentoring will be sorely missed by all of us. Though he played a villain on our show, you would be hard pressed to meet a kinder person. He loved to laugh and his sense of humor always lightened our record sessions. I will miss his stories, I will miss his performances, and I will miss his contribution to our show. 

My friend, the Force will be with you, always, and you will never be forgotten. 

Farewell

Dave


Ian Abercrombie: 1934 - 2012

Our condolences and best wishes go out to Mister Abercrombie's family and friends in this sad time.

Friday, 27 January 2012

CLASSIC IMAGE: A HAPPY GAMORREAN!


A bulky and distinctive Gamorrean Guard poses for an iconic publicity image for REVENGE (later RETURN) OF THE JEDI, against the red sails and mighty laser cannon on the top deck of Jabba's incredible Sail Barge, an exterior set constructed in all its visual grandeur on location in Yuma, Arizona during 1981/early 1982.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

CLASSIC ART: GRIN AND BARE IT!


Darth Maul gives us his best feral grin on the cover of Ryder Windham's latest young readers STAR WARS biography book: The Wrath of Darth Maul. The title is out now in the US and has had positive word of mouth reviews. Sadly, British SW fans will only be able to get it on import from Amazon and the like as we heard yesterday that SCHOLASTIC's UK book line will not be releasing it, nor any other future STAR WARS titles, despite the imminent release of EPISODE I in 3D at cinemas next month.

A real shame, and an end of an era, especially after the enjoyable run the publishers had with the Classic Trilogy's REBEL FORCE series written by Alex Wheeler...

BEHIND THE SCENES IMAGE: COVER-UP!


It's head and mount protected from the cold winds and inhibiting snow of the Finse winter, one of the two Stuart Freeborn created beasts of Hoth-the full sized, and sadly barely working animatronic Tauntaun- is transported to and fro from its various required shooting destinations, during March 1979 filming of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

STAR WARS AT 35: THE LOST "STAR WARS" STRIP ADAPTATION

Back to the beginning for Al Williamson's never completed STAR WARS adaptation.

Before he and iconic comics writer Archie Goodwin fully collaborated on the LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE STAR WARS newspaper strips set between STAR WARS and EMPIRE, and then later between EMPIRE and JEDI, the late, great artist Al Williamson had worked with his scribe compatriot on some B/W test strips for a 1978 adaptation of the original STAR WARS, their involvement in the saga specially requested by George Lucas, who particularly loved the duo's prior work over the years. Sadly, due to other more pressing project commitments by Williamson, a full strip adaptation was never completed or officially released, but in his 1983 Art of Al Williamson book a few examples of this great work did eventually see the light of day (of which two weeks worth of art had been completed before the project died).

As far as I'm aware, DARK HORSE comics never published this material when they did their popular publishing strand of the LATS material, so here's hoping that someone showcases this great art at some point in the not too distant future...

For more on Al Williamson's superb work, in both STAR WARS and comics mediums in general, check out this great Blog feature: FRED EGG COMICS

Al Williamson's unpublished original strip illustration examples on the STAR WARS production office wall at the Uk's Elstree Studios in Summer 1979: STAR WARS AFICIONADO MAGAZINE: MICHEL PARBOT

Monday, 23 January 2012

AFICIONADO COMPETITION: 2 PAIRS OF TICKETS TO AN ADVANCE LONDON SCREENING OF "EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE"!

The STAR WARS SAGA is back on the Big Screen. Where it belongs. And now in 3D, too!


To celebrate the release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D which arrives in cinemas February 9th, we are giving away two pairs of tickets to an exclusive advance screening on Wednesday the 8th February. The screening will take place at a West End venue (this will be revealed once you receive your ticket), in a galaxy far, far away. Storm Troopers will open the doors at 5:30pm, followed by action in the foyer. The saga will begin at 6:30pm.

Star Wars® and all characters, names and related indicia are trademark of & © 2012 Lucasfilm Ltd.

To enter the competition, just tell us the name of Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn's Padawan learner from Episode I, and send your answer by email to: (email address now removed to avoid spam messages) subject marked EPISODE I COMPETITION.

The closing date for the competition is this Thursday the 26th January.

Winning names will be picked out from our favourite 1977 Don Post Studio Darth Vader mask!

Good Luck, and May the Force be with you!

With thanks to our friends from 20th CENTURY FOX and SUBSTANCE.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

CLASSIC INDY: THE NAMES JONES...INDIANA JONES


Back in action after his back injury surgery, Harrison Ford returns to ELSTREE in London to don a distinctive white tuxedo and film the exciting and memorable opening scenes at the Club Obi-Wan for INDY II (later titled INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM), the then long-awaited sequel, in this case prequel, to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.

CLASSIC BLOG: THE MUSIC OF "STAR WARS" (WELL, SORT OF...)

STAR WARS music by John Williams: seventies-style!


Long before John Williams all defining musical score for STAR WARS-truly one of the greatest compositions of all time- I had always been interested in orchestral score music-as a very small child I would often listen to compilation albums to classic films and television series that, at that time, I had never seen, but which I instantly knew the theme tunes to once I eventually saw them. As a child, when babysat by my Nan, I would listen to the GREAT WAR FILM THEMES and leap off the sofa pretending to be a parachutist to the likes of the DAM BUSTERS and WHERE EAGLES DARE (don’t get me started on that film-it’s just fantastic!!). Most of these seventies compilation themes were produced by the British MUSIC FOR PLEASURE range, and were not the actual brought in scores but new realisations, normally from the well respected musician/composer Geoff Love and his orchestra-who, at that time, were well known for their work in the television industry, providing music for live entertainment shows on Sunday nights. By 1978, we had had the war films, the western themes, the TV themes albums, but with the arrival of STAR WARS, and the film heralding a brilliant new zenith for orchestral scores, as well as a return to that type of adventure music with a plethora or rival movies, all of the music companies, including MFP, were keen to get a piece of the action profits-wise in securing rights for their own versions of the theme tune on their science fiction film/TV compilation albums. Geoff Love and his MFP tram responded with STAR WARS AND OTHER SPACE THEMES-one of the first albums I listened to after being blown away by the original two disc Williams album score. As a fan, still to this day, of other sci-fi series and films, those represented on the compiled album were ones that I’d always wanted to have and listen to again and again, and I loved listening to this compiled themes LP the most-how it never scratched or warped from the playing I don’t know. Some of the arrangements range from the extremely good-THINGS TO COME, the mighty THUNDERBIRDS suite, and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY especially (and the MARS theme from the PLANETS SUITE, though not necessarily from a film, it has been used in TV series like SPACE 1999)-to the kooky (like BARBARELLA-but that was just a plain kooky film anyway (and, again, don’t get me started on Jane Fonda in that film-what a babe!!), to the downright awful (the STAR TREK arrangement is one of the worst I’ve ever heard –it doesn’t even sound like Alexander Courage’s accomplished score!!). And, being the seventies, some of the TV series cover versions have a cool disco vibe to them, like the re-interpreted UFO (which is brilliant, and my favourite on the album, alongside SPACE: 1999- put on those flares and hit that disco beat, man!!). But, as for the STAR WARS theme, well… it’s not Williams but I have to say I really like Love’s interpretation of it-there’s an interesting echoy sound to it and the orchestra playing it is quite loud and bombastic-living up to the war drums into infinity description of George Lucas’s original script intent for the title crawl. They may not be The London Symphony Orchestra but Love’s team is certainly enjoying the challenge of it and giving it a bloody good go! There must also be a special mention to the arrangement of the Princess Leia Theme on the album-again that composition always has been a very special one in my affections-and this version almost matches the greatness of the Williams original.

A few years back, my dad found an old tape version of the album and I’ve played it regularly ever since-perhaps unconsciously returning to my youth, but then again, just enjoying it-and it’s a good and evocative background album to write to. It may not be to everyone’s taste, and it is a product of its time completely (and check out that album cover-due to likeness/image copyright restrictions, almost every film and TV show represented on it is only vaguely like what we’re used to-check out Luke and Leia-hilarious!! And Barbarella?-she looks like she’s had her finger in an electrical socket!), but, if you want to travel back to those innocent days of the MUSIC FOR PLEASURE era, then samples of the album can be found at places like AMAZON and PLAY.COM  (you can even download the whole album, which, interestingly, has classic tracks that weren’t on the original LP we bought in 1978, presumably added on from extra re-releases over the years, like BLAKE'S SEVEN, THE TIME MACHINE, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, LOGAN’S RUN and THE OMEGA MAN!!).

They say nostalgia is back in fashion, but I don't think it ever really went away...

Saturday, 21 January 2012

CLASSIC IMAGE: PADME'S COSTUMED UNIVERSE...


Natalie Portman poses for a publicity photo as Senator Padme Amidala in one of Trisha Biggar's beautifully realised creations for EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH, and an outfit the character would wear again in the recent CLONE WARS Season Four episode A Friend in Need.


So pleased was Lucas by the Scottish Costume Designer's immense and detailed work on the Prequel Trilogy that he put out several trade advertisements in recognition of her sterling and memorable efforts, in an attempt to finally get her noticed by the American ACADEMY AWARD members. Sadly, as per usual, the guild members/voters overall snobby attitude to the STAR WARS sequels (Classic and Prequel) prevailed and EPISODE III, despite one make-up nomination, was ultimately not recognised for any of its technical merits.

One of Lucas's OSCAR "For Your Consideration" trade ads from 2005/2006.

Friday, 20 January 2012

BEHIND THE SCENES IMAGE: A WOOKIEE AWAITS HIS CUE!


Peter Mayhew, as a neck chained Chewbacca, and Carrie Fisher, inside the bulky Bounty Hunter costume once belonging to the later to be known character of Boushh, get ready to film a scene on the steps of the hot and smoky set of Jabba's Throne Room at ELSTREE STUDIOS in January/February 1982, for the then recent commencement of filming of REVENGE OF THE JEDI.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

CLASSIC BLOG: STAR WARS MEETS SAUL BASS!



I've always loved good title sequences in movies, from Maurice Binder's distinctive JAMES BOND intros of the sixties to the eighties, to the lovely Richard Fleischer PINK PANTHER starts. One of the all-time great modern film titles designers, however, had to be the late, Saul Bass-whose impressive work on title sequences and poster design for films like ANATOMY OF A MURDER and CASINO even now continue to inspire others with his legendary and inspirational style. One of these great new wave of Bass inspirationists has decided to interpret what STAR WARS would look like if it's titles were given a retro makeover back to the sixties. The results are both very impressive and great fun.


Check it out: Star Wars vs. Saul Bass - YouTube

AOTC AT TEN: SITH MASTERMIND


Behind the scenes for EPISODE II, Ian McDiarmid gets ready to once more bring deliciously evil life to Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, for what will be a pivotal dialogue scene on Coruscant between himself and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen)- either added late into the film or script extended during one of it's re-shoot periods- whom he proudly assures will become one of the greatest of all the Jedi.




Beyond the film, readers can now finally discover more about the fascinating character, and secret history, of Palpatine /Darth Sidious, and his relationship to his former Sith Lord master Darth Plagueis, with the newly released DARTH PLAGUEIS novel, from the reliable author James Luceno, which AFICIONADO will be posting its review of in the not too distant future...

Book trailer: STAR WARS: DARTH PLAGUEIS (Book Trailer) - YouTube

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

CLASSIC IMAGE: FIGHTING FURIES!


Light and Dark clash lightsaber swords, as Obi-Wan and Darth Maul go at it within the dangerous environs of the Theed City power complex. An adrenaline fuelled, crowd pleasing action sequence-one of the best seen in the entire STAR WARS SAGA- for EPISODE ONE, returning to the big screen in 3-D next month, choreographed by iconic stunt coordinator and all-round nice bloke Nick Gillard.

Nick Gillard watches over the next phase of Lightsaber battle choreography between Ewan McGregor and Ray Park at LEAVESDEN in 1997.

If you're in the US, don't forget that Nick is doing his VIP Lightsaber Master Class at the New Orleans Comic Con at the end of the month, and it looks like its going to be great fun for fans young and old. For more info head over to this link: Jedi Lightsaber Master Class VIP @ New Orleans Comic Con 2012 : Wizard World Comic Cons : NEW ORLEANS COMIC CON JANUARY 28-29, 2012 SAT-SUN New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center : New Orleans Comic Con 2012 Wizard World Convention JANUARY 28-29, 2012 SAT-SUN

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

BEHIND THE SCENES: MASTERS OF MUSIC!


January 1980: In London, film composer par excellence John Williams is re-united with the superior London Symphony Orchestra as they record over two hours of iconic music and themes for STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. In this image they enhance the stirring sequence where our Rebel heroes escape Bespin and Imperial Stormtrooper fire.


With thanks to Chris Baker for the image.

Monday, 16 January 2012

"ATTACK OF THE CLONES" AT TEN!


The overall STAR WARS Saga in 2012 has a lot to celebrate: not only the original first film hitting thirty-five, and the current CLONE WARS series now in its fifth year (with Dave Filoni fully confirming the next season online several days back via his FACEBOOK page), but also with the incoming Tenth Anniversary of Prequel adventure EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES, which makes a welcome return to cinemas screens in 3-D later in the year.

We'll be concurrently celebrating all three landmarks this year across the AFICIONADO sites, and here's out first tribute to ATTACK, with Matt Busch's superb artwork for the film via the 2002 CELEBRATION II convention magazine cover. I'm sure you'll agree the piece captures all the films memorable ingredients and characters well.

To see more of Matt's stylish and inventive work, and purchase some great exclusive items, head over to the link here: The Rock Star of Illustration - Real Detroit Weekly

And check out Ian Trussler's interview with Matt for AFICIONADO here: MATT BUSCH INTERVIEW

Sunday, 15 January 2012

BEHIND THE SCENES: THE GOLDEN MAN!


Anthony Daniels returns to inhabit the golden suit of See-Threepio, once more with Artoo Detoo, as host of the DISCOVERY CHANNEL's SCIENCE OF STAR WARS documentaries. The three part special series is being repeated in the UK on the DISCOVERY SCIENCE CHANNEL from this week 18th - 20th January at 9pm.

Daniels with his best friend Threepio. Image: DISCOVERY CHANNEL

CLASSIC IMAGE: KASHYYYK HOLIDAY!


The gang's all here for Life Day!

It can only be THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL.

Nuff Said!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF "THX 1138"

Humanity enslaved. Robert Duvall is THX 1138. Image: WARNER BROTHERS/LUCASFILM.

In the future nightmare world belonging to THX 1138, the no longer drug controlled citizen is put into isolation within a stark white prison area and beaten by his underground civilisation's robotic policemen. George Lucas's first film, made under the watchful guardian angel producer-ship wings of Francis Ford Coppola for AMERICAN ZOETROPE for WARNER BROTHERS, is a true and notable example of an artistic science fiction film endeavour, with an intelligent and thoughtful script and direction that is very adult and sophisticated, though deep beneath it there are also many elements story and behind the scenes wise that will be reinvigorated and adapted for the more crowd pleasing space fantasy environs of the STAR WARS SAGA, most notably in the morality and importance of man versus technology.

The classic and modern posters for the original film and its special edition re-release.

Original Trailer: THX 1138 trailer - YouTube

A dedicated site for the film: THX-1138.ORG

CLASSIC BLOG: "REMEMBERING THE SEVENTIES SOUND DESIGN OF THE ORIGINAL "STAR WARS"





To make space for future features and photos, I'm transferring the majority of the AFICIONADO blogs area of 2008 to 2010 from the main site onto this blog. It also feels more appropriate that a blog should be on a blog site!


Here's one of our first, and keep checking back for more on and off, mixed in with our regular new material (some past blogs will also be further updated with info and photos!):


Just a quickie to let people know of a great site I discovered via the ORIGINALTRILOGY.COM site. If, like me, you've ever been fascinated by the various sound mix differences of STAR WARS (or A NEW HOPE), you may want to check out Russ Dawson's excellent site charting the various differences between the original 1977 cinema Mono and Dolby release tracks done for the film when it was originally released. The site is a labour of love, nicely designed and well worth a look-you may be surprised by some of the stuff on there!!


Head over to:http://homepage.ntlworld.com/russdawson/mono/mono1.htm


ENJOY!!

Friday, 13 January 2012

RETURNING TO RETURN OF THE JEDI!


Here's a great new blog dedicated to the final film of the Classic Trilogy, RETURN OF THE JEDI: Returning to Return of the Jedi. Only a month or so into its creation, it's showing lots of exciting potential, and comes from a fellow Brit, Mark Cookson. I highly recommend it.

STAR WARS AFICIONADO wishes RETURNING TO RETURN OF THE JEDI the best of success for the future.


And don't forget, AFICIONADO's own exhaustive 2008 MAKING OF JEDI special-one of our biggest issues ever- is still available on PDF here: STAR WARS AFICIONADO ISSUE 14 - THE MAKING OF "RETURN OF THE JEDI"

BACK IN THE AIR WITH "RED TAILS"

Heroes of the skies: the cast of RED TAILS. Images: LUCASFILM/FOX

The George Lucas produced, Anthony Hemingway directed epic World War II movie about the true story of the brave Tuskegee airmen- RED TAILS- starring Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr., and featuring some incredible effects work from ILM, finally arrives in American cinemas this month, having received its star-studded New York premiere at the Ziegfeld theatre on January 10th. Annoyingly, there is no UK release date yet for the film-my guess it'll be March time, probably after the 3-D release of THE PHANTOM MENACE in February...

The most recent trailers for the film: Red Tails Official Trailer #3 - YouTube
Red Tails Trailer HD - YouTube

Here are some web galleries and articles on the film and the premiere event:

'Red Tails' sequels ready for takeoff | Welcome to S2Smagazine.com

Red Tails: George Lucas Celebrates with Terrence Howard, Ne-Yo, Michael B. Jordan and Cuba Gooding Jr. (Photo Slideshow) - Speakeasy - WSJ

Oh No They Didn't! - "Red Tails" Movie Premier

Red Tails New York Premiere | World Of Wonder


Beyond STAR WARS, lets hope we also get to see a lot more LUCASFILM original productions like this in the foreseeable future, both as potential franchises like Indiana Jones and one-off innovative comedy and drama.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

BEHIND THE SCENES: THE INTERACTIVE DARK LORD!


For all you Vader fans out there, here's a few behind the scenes shots of the London filming of Dave Prowse's iconic and much deserved return to the iron-lung suit for the 1996 STAR WARS interactive video/board game for HASBRO EUROPE, of which a portion of the Death Star II set (the storyline linked to RETURN OF THE JEDI) was resurrected and specially lit for Vader (once more voiced by James Earl Jones) and his troops to challenge his off-screen opponents, photographed by the classic first film's original Director of Photography: Gilbert Taylor. Both stars and cameramen did excellent work on a game which I still enjoy playing now and then...








At the time, news was rife that STAR WARS would be returning for the Prequels, of which Prowse was hoping he would be playing Vader again, telling CINESCAPE magazine in February 1996:



“I would love to play Anakin, but there’s some talk about Mark Hamill doing that role, playing his own father. I don’t know how they’d explain his going from his size to my size when he plays Darth Vader, though. Whoever they choose needs to be a very physical actor. He could be the greatest dramatist in the world, but without a physical presence, Vader wouldn’t be worth anything.”


 With thanks to Chris Baker for selected images.

Star Wars Interactive Video Board Game VHS footage - YouTube

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

STAR WARS AT 35: THAT PONCHO...


In the then coldish March/April 1976 climes of the Star Wars Canyon in Tunisia, West Africa, actor Mark Hamill wears a brown lined poncho over his distinctive costume whilst in preparations to film a scene alongside Anthony Daniels as See-Threepio and Kenny Baker inside the squat Artoo Detoo shell. Hamill wears the distinctive apparel several other times in posed stills taken during the location filming, though he doesn't wear it in the actual filmed scenes of the completed movie. It's interesting to note that the poncho does not officially appear in the first STAR WARS movie until later in the film, where it looks like Luke has purchased it within the Mos Eisley spaceport (perhaps as part of an attempt to not stand out in the crowds-from a further missing scene or line of dialogue?) whilst selling the Landspeeder to Wioslea the speeder dealer. From then on, he wears it whilst heading to Docking Bay 94 and on his arrival at Yavin with Princess Leia. After that, it's never seen again in the film series (and I'm not even sure if it exists within the hallowed halls of the Lucasfilm Archives).

Hamill wearing the poncho for a mid-1977 posed photo shoot taken by famous cameraman Bob Seidemann.

Whether or not the Poncho was always originally planned as a costume design for Luke is not known for sure. I personally reckon it was an item that was acquired whilst the location filming was happening in Tunisia or about to happen (possibly from the London-based Bermans and Nathans, the film's primary costumer?), either by Hamill himself (if he originally purchased it, he may, perhaps, have kept it after filming?) or by costume designer John Mollo and then later found its way into being part of the film when the shoot transferred back to London. If anyone could provide any further information or confirmation on this bit of STAR WARS costume history, please get in touch...

Monday, 9 January 2012

CLASSIC IMAGE: MOORE THAN MEETS THE EYES...


The distinctive alien-ness of the shadowy and thought manipulative Sly Moore (played with striking and haunting stillness by Australian actress Sandy Finlay) brings subtle menace to the political aides who gather protectively around Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, operating from his power base within the decaying Galactic Republic of EPISODEs II and III.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

CLASSIC INDY: "WHAT IS THIS?"



"This is not the Mitchell-Hedges skull..."

Legendary archeologist Indiana Jones ponders the mystery of the immense, metal-attracting crystal skull head found within the creepy underground Conquistador grave of Peru, in this scene from the under-rated INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL.

No news on INDY 5 yet (if it happens), but check out this nice L.A. TIMES webs feature on the enduring friendship/working relationship between Steven Spielberg and John Williams: John Williams and Steven Spielberg mark 40 years of collaboration - latimes.com