You may have heard some chatter about the artist who painted the original Star Wars posters potentially returning to design artwork for the upcoming Disney-produced films. And you may have thought, “What’s the big deal? So Drew Struzan, who made a name for himself by painting the now iconic posters for The Empire Strikes Back as well as other George Lucas productions like Raiders of the Lost Ark, is interested in coming back for the new Star Wars movies. Who cares?” Well, die-hard fans might care just a little.
But what gives? Movie posters don’t exactly carry the cache they used to. Now, we get more excited for a 15-second teaser for the upcoming trailer of a given event film than we do for the reveal of its poster. Why worry about what the paper promotional materials will look like?
To put it simply, it’s an easy way to bridge the inevitable gap between the new movie and the classic, beloved trilogy. The promise of further filmic exploration of the Star Wars universe is troubling to some purists, especially those who were already crushed by the addition of the second trilogy, which started with 1999’s The Phantom Menace. Bringing back Struzan is by no means a way of securing any integrity on the part of the actual film iterations of the Star Wars saga, but it’s a measure of good faith, however little. The sight of those iconic posters (like the Empire Strikes Back one above) triggers an instant jolt of nostalgia. One look sends die-hard fans back to the first time they saw the film, the first time they discovered the screeching whoosh of a TIE-fighter, the labored breathing of Darth Vader, or the gurgling call of Han Solo’s trusty “walking carpet.”
Besides, Struzan returned for both the new Star Wars trilogy and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (his poster was arguably the best part of the entire fourth Indiana Jones movie debacle). To present a new Star Wars film without his promotional assistance would feel wrong, and to some extent, naked. Seeing that painted image of young Anakin Skywalker on the Phantom Menace poster, even now, brings me back to the days leading up to the film’s release, when the art hearkened back to the original trilogy and filled me with the hope that the new films might live up to the originals, even in some small way. Despite being disappointed by that hope, it was a feeling I wouldn’t take back even if I could. And it’s something — despite all my misgivings about the new films — that I hope to feel again when the new films are upon us. Is that too much to ask?
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[Photo Credit: Drew Struzan/Lucasfilm]