‘Luz y Magia’ is an essential celebration for all moviegoers

New Disney+ docuseries will have you demanding trading cards from all of ILM’s featured characters.

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By Brad Gullickson Published July 18, 2022

star wars explained is our ongoing series where we delve into the latest Star Wars shows, movies, trailers, and news to divine the future of the franchise. This entry reviews the new six-part docuseries Light and Magic from director Lawrence Kasdan.


What the hell is that blue guy on the piano called? Phil Tippett he doesn’t remember, but we do (Max Rebo, baby!). That return of the jedi the visual effects supervisor recalls how glassy the transformative experience of wearing the Max Rebo suit is. He remembers how his body and limbs came to life, how a rhythm rippled through him as he tried on the costume, and how his wife couldn’t believe it was him inside Rebo when he walked into Lucasfilm’s creature department. . Tippett continues to be amazed at what a little foam and latex can do when handled by certain artists, and his awe is contagious.

running along light and magic, the new Disney+ documentary series celebrating Lucasfilm’s special visual effects division, Industrial Light and Magic, are interviews with legendary filmmakers that pull back the curtain on numerous cinematic milestones. As an informant and filmmaker, the director lorenzo kasdan gains unrestricted access, and his interviews turn up several previously unknown or shallowly excavated gems.

Told over six episodes, the show begins with the intentional but fortuitous creation of ILM. George Lucas needed a team to achieve the impossible with Star Wars, and that crew was brought together through various forms of luck and friendship. Yes John Dykstra If he had a different last name, he wouldn’t have been assigned a counselor from the California State University industrial design department. That galaxy, far, far away, may never have existed. Or, at least, it wouldn’t look like it does.

light and magic puts almost as much success at the feet of John Dykstra as it does at Lucas. Weather Star Wars‘ was in England struggling to bring Obi-Wan Kenobi and Han Solo to life on ramshackle sets, Dykstra was equally struggling to pull off cosmic dogfights and Death Star trenches. The short-tempered savage is seen as the Mirror Universe version of the director who hired him (please forgive the star trek reference). Where Lucas is quiet and contemplative, Dykstra is loud and bombastic.

Creators like Phil Tippett, dennis diesY Richard Edlund they rallied around Dykstra, and although their initial work came to fruition very slowly, they radically altered cinema. Such a feat would be hard to argue with before watching the docuseries and virtually unfeasible afterward. Standing on the shoulders of Douglas Trumbull and 2001: a space odyssey, they forever improved the cinematic spectacle. There was no going back.

In light and magicKasdan does not avoid the tensions that arose during ILM’s history. They get involved in the explosion between Dykstra and Lucas; why the special photographic effects supervisor was not invited to The Empire Strikes Back. Both men are polite about it and necessarily hide the details, but others who were there are more than willing to spill the tea. The same is true for other moments like the creation of Pixar and the onslaught of incoming CGI.

light and magicThe first half is absolutely fascinating. However, the docuseries gets addictively juicy once james cameron comes calling with terminator 2: Doomsday Y Steven Spielberg demands realistic dinosaurs for Jurassic Park. It almost feels cruel for Phil Tippett to relive the catastrophic transition from stop-motion dinosaurs to computer-rendered beasts. He appears to have experienced tremendous healing and growth since then, but the pain still registers on his face. We feel sorry for him, but we also appreciate how his misery resulted in one of the best lines in Jurassic Park“You don’t mean extinct?”

As in the case of the battle between Dykstra and Lucas, it is the people on the sidelines who provide the emotional narrative for this critical moment. Co-Visual Effects Supervisor mark dippe he acknowledges the damage his digital work did to Tippett’s soul, but evolution is evolution. Homo sapiens has no regrets about leaving Homo erectus in the dust, any more than sound films have regrets overtaking silent ones.

With Star Wars, George Lucas looked backwards narratively and forwards creatively. His original science fiction adventure grew out of his desire to transplant 2001: a space odysseyThe amazing effects of the swashbuckling serials of his youth. Spaceships are great when they’re fast, not when they spin to the beat of classical music. Lucas’s desire to witness a calamity in the cosmos called for impossible technology, so he found the people who could make the impossible possible. ILM accomplished wonders by making the future their mission, which often required them to ditch the processes they dominated and loved.

Lawrence Kasdan earns his runtime. light and magic never drag. ILM has touched on too many movies and impacted the culture in too many ways to allow one boring episode in the group. When an episode ends, you feel a pang of disappointment, but by the time a new one starts, you’re going “Ooooooooooo.” Those who already love the creators within will come out with their love even more solidified. Those who have never met a Phil Tippett or a John Dykstra will add them to their list of favorite filmmakers.

light and magic is a documentary about love that also promotes love. It inspires, sending creative shivers through your system. As a young Dennis Muren once made monster movies in his backyard, he is ready to make monster movies on his laptop. Or backyard! Stop-motion may no longer be the dominant creature art form, but surely Phil Tippett would be disappointed if he didn’t highlight the current revival of his favorite discipline in films like his. crazy god.

After completing the series, I went to my own journals and notes. I reviewed the various ideas that spread through them and contemplated the excuses that prevented them from updating. The only thing that separates me from those children who made Star Wars it is belief: in oneself, in possibility. Fear is the murderer of mind. Y life and magic must kill the fear.


The six episodes of light and magic will premiere on Disney+ on 7/27

Related Topics: Star Wars, Star Wars Explained

Brad Gullickson is a weekly columnist for Film School Rejects and a senior curator for One Perfect Shot. When he’s not rambling about movies here, he’s rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Catch him on Twitter: @BocaDork. (he/he)

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