Light & Magic: The documentary on how the creators of Star Wars shaped modern cinema | Television and Show

The history of cinematic special and visual effects from the perspective of those who have helped shape it over the past 40 years. This is what the documentary series Light & Magic tells in its six episodes, released recently on Disney +, promising “unprecedented access” to the voices and faces that have brought dozens of universes and characters to life.

For those who don’t know, Industrial light and magic is the VFX company created by george lucas in 1975, for the sole purpose of making star wars may be possible. Create the technology from scratch if necessary, in order to obtain the blueprints required by the spatial action that your story needed.

Overcoming these early barriers of “possible”, and beyond the adventures of the Skywalkers, they did not stop there, but marked countless milestones in the industry, including creating effects used for the first time in iconic sagas and films such as Indiana Jones, ET, Poltergeist, Star Trek, Terminator, Willow, Ghostbusters, The Abyss, Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, Casper (Gasparín), Forrest Gump and the Marvel Cinematic Universe since its creation.

A battle of planes, in space? Dinosaurs chasing a vehicle? A liquid metal robot? Imploding a house? All of this was once impossible.

The story dwells on each of them and more, showing how the way of making films has progressed from amazement at the new to the present, in which we are already accustomed to impeccable special effects.

The list of projects in which they participated is much longer than that, including no less well-known deliveries such as Avatar, Transformers, Who Frammed Roger Rabbit (Who framed Roger Rabbit?), Mission Impossible, Men in Black (Men in Black), Wild Wild West, The Mummy, Jumanji, Schindler’s List and Pirates of the Caribbean. But it’s clear that even six hours of documentary isn’t enough to give space to everything they’ve done.

It is the members of this company who are the protagonists of this story, which tells from its humble origins in a makeshift place in California, to its current situation in San Francisco. In doing so, it reveals archival footage from that era, unmissable behind-the-scenes glimpses.

Being a documentary created by and for Disney+, and although they depict dark episodes and key internal divisions, the idealistic view of what happened on their sets and offices takes over. It all culminates in a play whose obvious purpose is to convey a dream, and perhaps inspire stories of what was a golden age.

To do this, they have interviews with well-known personalities, starting with George Lucas himself and directors close to him, such as Ron Howard, James Cameron and Steven Spielberg, also passing through those who eventually became his heirs, such as JJ Abrams and Jon Favreau.

But the focus is not on the directors, with some iconic ones not even mentioned, but beyond: on how magic and worlds were brought to life with matte paints, puppets, characters, stop motion, sound effects, the cameras themselves. , and possibly digital effects.

And of course, among those who have taken these tools to another level, starting with John Dykstra, Chrissie England, Ralph McQuarrie, Lorne Peterson, George Mather, Rose Duignan, Gary Kurtz, Joe Johnston, Richard Edlund, Dennis Muren, Ken Ralston, Jon Berg, Phil Tippet, John Knoll, Harrison Ellenshaw, Grant McCune, Jim Morrisamong others who formed this “gang of outcasts”, interviewing many of them and paying tribute to those who are no longer there.

But technology advances and crafts become obsolete, just like in any industry, and Light & Magic also stops at those times. When the “family”, as we persist in calling it, fractures. Because the digitization of cinema promoted by George Lucas has claimed victims for those who have been left behind.

The story is told by an invisible Laurent Kasdan, a name close to the mythology of Star Wars, having participated in the scenarios of The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens and Solo – having also been executive producer of the latter -, as well as in other films which include Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Bodyguard.

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