Artist Overview: Ralph McQuarrie (Part 2)

This is the second part of my ”journey” through the magnificent book, Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie, Volume I-II. This post is about the second half of the first book Volume I and it consist of McQuarrie’s illustrations done for The Empire Strikes Back (1980).

There’s couple of things I’d like to point out I found interesting. It seems Boba Fett looking character was to be an Imperial commander, who would have had a significant role in the battle of Hoth. McQuarrie’s designs draws heavily from the ancient samurai/shogun style helmet designs and costumes as well. There’s no clear explanation in the book why this character was cut from the final film.

Second interesting thing that was cut out from the final film was the Darth Vader’s castle. It looks like one of the medieval castles found in Transylvania, Romania. It has real traditional castle feel to it and I think it was better to cut out from the final film. It explains too heavy-handedly the origins of the character and makes him appear too much Nosferatu/Count Dracula character. Concept sketches of Vader’s castle offers really fascinating view on the character development and what Lucas had originally visioned Darth Vader to be.

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Documentary overview: Horror Europa with Mark Gatiss (BBC, 2012)

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Horror Europa is actually a sequel to three-part documentary series A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss released in 2010. Horror Europa begins surprisingly from a Belgian city of Ostend. Mark Gatiss leads viewers to an old, luxury seaside hotel with dark past associated to tyrannical King Leopold II. Gatiss journeys through continental Europe tracking filming locations of classic horror films and interviewing people who made them.

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Daughters of Darkness (1971)

The documentary is also an interesting look at the very gloomy, bloody and  horrific past of Europe. The devastation of World War I through the inter-war years leading to the carnage of World War II. Dark history of Europe is very much present even in the colour choices of some of the films presented in here: in Daughters of Darkness (1971) director Harry Kümel wanted to dress actress Delphine Seyrig in Nazi colours of black, red and white. The fascism is also very present in the violent main character Captain Vidal in Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) directed by Guillermo del Toro.

Mark Gatiss delivers his lines/anecdotes with passion but he also maintains certain intellect approach to films he is so very fond of. This is and interesting look at the history of European horror films. It have some obvious film choices but I think it is very well measured out and offers insight into lesser known films that are very essential to the canon. This documentary is recommend to anyone with interest in history of cinema.

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Nosferatu (1922)

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The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (1974)
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Dario Argento
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Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Gatiss

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_History_of_Horror

 

Book recommendation: Kinoplakatkunst aus Belgien – Die 50er- und 60er-Jahre

This book offers interesting  overview to film advertising in Belgium during the 1950s and the 1960s. The book covers many film genres including drama, adventure, comedy, western, war and crime. Each poster is accompanied with a little fact sheet containing basic information for the film.The posters on display are very well reproduced and their colors seem very accurate to my eye.

It is a fascinating, unseen, forgotten piece of Belgian/European film advertising. At least for a Finnish reader like myself.

Don’t let the book’s German title fool you. Only the introduction is written in German and the basic information regarding each poster as well. Downside is that all the film titles are in German and you can find the English title only if it’s printed in the poster/artwork. So it makes harder to track any particular film.

Other downside is that the book doesn’t tell the proper names of the artists involved. In fact, there’s only two artists mentioned: WIK and Ray. I did some research online and found that Ray is the pen name of Ray Gilles. Gilles was a Belgian commercial illustrator who was active in the 1960s. Here’s link for more information on Gilles: http://www.ilovebelgium.be/ray-gilles-forgotten-illustrator I could not find any information about the pen name WIK. If you know something about illustrator ”WIK” please write to the comment box below. Thanks!

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Book recommendation: The Art of Hammer

This book displays plenty of Hammer’s film posters around the world. It is written by Marcus Hearn, co-writer of The Hammer Story in 1997.  This is mainly a picture book and it contains short written introduction about Hammer and it’s advertising activities. The posters are in chronological order and sorted by year they were released.

Featured posters are from various countries and represent naturally wildly different styles for same films. For example Polish posters are radically different from their British counterparts. Whereas British posters are traditional the Polish posters are surprisingly modern and features often distorted photographs instead of hand drawn illustrations.

The book has 191 pages and the last featured year is 1979 when Hammer’s fame was already starting to wane. This book is in no means the definite collection of Hammer film poster but offers great overlook to the company’s film advertising. I certainly think this collection is enough for many people interested in all things Hammer. A highly recommended!

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About the film poster project

I am currently doing series of vintage looking film posters and I’d like to share some insight to the creative process behind them. This also marks my very first blog post on the subject.

Inspiration for ”Iron Man” poster came from a Black Sabbath song. Lyrics of the song were basis for the elements you see in the painting. After all, the song is a true Hammer Horror tale of an vengeful astronaut trapped inside space suit.

Here you can see development stages of ”Iron Man” character. I did not want to have that traditional hi-tech NASA or Transformers look but rather very clumsy, barrel chested, kind of a like deep sea diver from the 1940s. Lack of any facial features on the mask was intentional to achieve inhuman, sort of a ghost like presence.

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This collage shows main influences for the poster. From left: Astronaut suit with painted hockey gloves from ”Alien” (1979), promotional picture from ”The Reptile” (1966) and ”Nosferatu” (1922).
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The defining look for the Iron Man’s helmet is shown in the middle sketch. Sketch on the far left is a bit too much reptilian and not enough bulky.
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On the left is the final sketch for the poster. It has just the right mood for a horror picture. The woman was clumsily left out of the sketch and I was just concerned to get Iron Man right.