Ralph McQuarrie reported dead
“That’s no moon.”
–Obi-Wan Kenobi (played by Alec Guinness)
screenplay by George Lucas
Star Wars affected us both intellectually and emotionally. No small part of that was the look of it. When you think about the Death Star, you picture it…not just the idea of a giant killer space station, but the way it appeared on screen.
Ralph McQuarrie was the “planet and satellite artist” who was responsible for that look.
Of course, it was George Lucas who conceived of the Death Star, and likely envisioned it in his imagination.
It was up to McQuarrie, though, to make George Lucas’ vision visible to the rest of us. What a conceptual artist does is, in a way, parallel to what an interpreter for the United Nations does: a conceptual artist is a translator for the eyes, not the ears.
Ralph McQuarrie would go on to feed our eyes in Close Encounters, Raiders, and Cocoon (for which he shared a Visual Effects Oscar).
Legend has it that it was his concept drawings for Star Wars, though, that helped sell the movie to 20th Century Fox. Without him, it’s possible the movie would not have gotten the funding it needed to become a reality.
Good-bye, Ralph…the Force would not have been as strong without you.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.