ByRory O'Connor, writer at
Breathing movies. Humbly writing about them.
Rory O'Connor

Ralph McQuarrie won an Oscar for his visual effects on Cacoon, he also worked as an illustrator for Indiana Jones and later designed the space ship for E.T., but before all that McQuarrie made his name as the visual artist for a little movie called Star Wars.

George Lucas quite liked his poster work so decided to give him a shot but, little did he know, that very move would change cinematic history forever. Take a look at just how influential he was with the newly released concept art below:

Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope

Here's what McQuarrie had to say on his early work:

I just did my best to depict what I thought the film should look like, I really liked the idea. I didn't think the film would ever get made. My impression was it was too expensive. There wouldn't be enough of an audience. It's just too complicated. But George knew a lot of things that I didn't know.

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

McQuarrie famously suggested that the iconic breathing apparatus be added to Vader's suit

George had described Darth Vader as having flowing black robes. In the script, Vader had to jump from one ship to another. George said, ‘OK,’ suggested adding a samurai helmet, and Darth Vader was born.

George Lucas had this to say on the artist's work

When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph's fabulous illustrations and say, 'Do it like this.'

Return of the Jedi (1983)

There’s no doubt that centuries from now amazing spaceships will soar, future cities will rise, and someone somewhere will say, “That looks like something Ralph McQuarrie painted.”

We can only hope they'll be saying that when Star Wars: Episode VII opens next year. Let us know which caught your eye in the comments below.

Ralph McQuarrie passed away on the 3rd of March, 2012, may he rest in peace.


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