Ralph McQuarrie, designer of 'Star Wars', dead at 82
|NEWS - MOVIE NEWS|
Ralph McQuarrie, visual genius and the force behind the look of the Star Wars franchise, passes away...
The man who brought George Lucas's vision to life for the Star Wars franchise, Ralph McQuarrie, has passed away at the age of 82. McQuarrie was one of Hollywood's premier futurists and concept artists, ranking alongside the like of Ron Cobb, Syd Mead and H.R. Giger in terms of his contribution to screen fantasy over the last thirty-odd years.
In a statement to Shadowlocked, Roger Christian (whose set decoration techniques on A New Hope were to influence decades of SF movie-making, alongside his work on Alien (1979) and subsequent Oscar-winning work as a director) said:
"Ralph McQuarrie was the true inspiration for much of my creative work on Star Wars [A New Hope]. George [Lucas] brought 12 of his paintings over to London with him, and there was Star Wars: the creatures, R2D2, C3P0, Storm-troopers, Darth Vader, Tatooine. Luke's Land-Speeder, Chewbacca...it was all there. George could show us instantly what he wanted, as the paintings were so succinct. He was a gentle and wonderful human being - a science-fiction legend. These humble beginnings were really the heart of Star Wars. The force is with him.."
The news of McQuarrie's passing came via his official website a short time ago. In the first of what will be many memorial tributes, the site declared:
"...once you got to know Ralph it was impossible not to become a fan of Ralph the man...Ralph was a very special person for many more reasons than his undeniable brilliance with a brush. He was an especially kind, sensitive, deep, modest, funny and fascinating gentleman. And as fine a role model as any one could have wished for. His influence on design will be felt forever. There's no doubt in our hearts that centuries from now amazing spaceships will soar, future cities will rise and someone, somewhere will say...'that looks like something Ralph McQuarrie painted'."
When Indiana native McQuarrie moved to California in the sixties as a technical illustrator for Boeing, he began his side-path into Hollywood by designing film-posters, the most famous of which was ultimately to be for Star Wars itself (click for larger)...
"I will always remember him as a kind, patient, and wonderfully talented friend and collaborator."
- George Lucas
McQuarrie worked on projects including Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), where he designed the Mothership; as design consultant and/or conceptual artist on The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Return of the Jedi (1983), Jurassic Park (1993), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), amongst others.
His work fired and fuelled my own imagination as a kid growing up in the original, seminal Star Wars craze of 1977/78, and while it's hard to believe he's gone, it's damn sure that he'll not be forgotten either by sci-fi enthusiasts or film historians.
George Lucas is quoted at Newsquod as saying: "I will always remember him as a kind, patient, and wonderfully talented friend and collaborator."
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