‘Light and Magic’ is an essential celebration for all movie geeks

New Disney+ docuseries will have you demanding trading cards of all ILM hotshots.


By Brad Gullickson Published 18 July 2022

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

What’s the name of that blue guy on the piano? Phil Tippet don’t remember, but we do (Max Rebo, baby!). What is the Return of the Jedi The visual effects supervisor reminisces how crystal is the transformative experience of wearing the Max Rebo costume. He remembers how his body and limbs came to life, how a rhythm ran through him as he tested the suit, and how his wife couldn’t believe it was him inside Rebo when she entered. the creature department of Lucasfilm. Tippett remains in awe of what a bit of foam rubber and latex can do when handled by certain artists, and his admiration is contagious.

Courses throughout 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 open the curtain on many cinematic touchstones. As an insider and filmmaker himself, the director Laurent Kasdan obtains unfettered access, and its talks deliver several previously unknown or shallow gems.

Told over the course of six episodes, the show begins with the deliberate but fortuitous creation of ILM. george lucas needed a team to achieve the impossible with star wars, and this crew has come together through various forms of chance and friendship. Whether Jean Dykstra had a different last name, he would not have been assigned to an adviser to the Industrial Design Department at California State University. This galaxy, far, far away, may never have happened. Or, at the very least, it wouldn’t look like that.

light and magic puts almost as much success at the feet of John Dykstra as at those of Lucas. Whereas star wars‘ had traveled to England to bring Obi-Wan Kenobi and Han Solo to life on rickety stages, Dykstra also struggled to pull off cosmic dogfights and Death Star trenches. The angry wild man is considered the Mirror Universe version of the director who hired him (please forgive the star trek reference). Where Lucas is calm and contemplative, Dykstra is loud and pompous.

Designers like Phil Tippett, Denis Murenand Richard Edlund rallied around Dykstra, and while their early works came together very slowly, they radically changed cinema. Such a feat would be difficult to discuss before watching the docuseries and virtually unachievable afterwards. Standing on the shoulders of Douglas Trumbull and 2001: A space odyssey, they have forever enhanced the cinematic spectacle. There was no turning back.

In light and magic, Kasdan isn’t avoiding the tensions that have boiled over ILM’s history. They enter the explosion between Dykstra and Lucas; why the photographic special effects supervisor was not invited back to The Empire Strikes Back. Both men are polite about it and necessarily hold back the details, but others who were there are more than willing to spill the tea. The same goes for other moments like the creation of Pixar and the impending CGI attack.

light and magicThe first half is completely captivating. However, the docuseries gets addictively juicy once james cameron come call with Terminator 2: Judgment day and Steven Spielberg requires realistic dinosaurs to jurassic park. It’s almost cruel for Phil Tippett to relive the catastrophic transition from stop-motion dinos to computer-rendered critters. He seems to have undergone tremendous healing and growth since then, but the pain is still present on his face. We feel for him, but we also appreciate how his misery has resulted in one of the best lines in jurassic park“You don’t mean off?”

Similar to the case regarding the battle between Dykstra and Lucas, it is the people on the fringes who provide the emotional narrative of this critical moment. Visual Effects Co-Supervisor Marc Dippe acknowledges the harm his digital work has done to Tippett’s soul, but evolution is evolution. Homo sapien does not regret having left Homo erectus in the dust, just as the speakers do not regret surpassing the dumb.

With star wars, George Lucas looked back narratively and forward creatively. His quirky sci-fi adventure was born out of his desire to graft 2001: A space odysseyto the astonishing effects of the cape and cape soap operas of his youth. Spaceships are cool when they’re fast, not when they’re spinning to classical music. Lucas’ desire to witness a calamity in the cosmos required impossible technology, so he found the people who could make the impossible possible. ILM has worked wonders in making the future its mission, frequently forcing them to abandon the processes they mastered and loved.

Lawrence Kasdan wins his running time. light and magic never lag. ILM has touched too many movies and impacted culture in too many ways to allow for one boring episode in the band. When an episode ends, you feel a pang of disappointment, but as soon as a new one starts, you go “Ooooooooooo”. Those who already love the creators within them will walk away with their love even stronger. 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, you are ready to make monster movies on your laptop. Or backyard! Stop-motion may no longer be the dominant creature art form, but Phil Tippett would surely be disappointed if I didn’t highlight the current revival of his favorite discipline in movies like his. crazy god.

After finishing the series, I went to my own journals and notes. I looked at the various ideas spread out there and considered the excuses that kept them from coming to fruition. The only thing that separates me from those children who made star wars is belief: in oneself, in possibility. Fear is the mind killer. And life and magic should kill fear.

The six episodes of light and magic will be first on Disney+ on 07/27

Related Topics: Star Wars, Star Wars Explained

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

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