Disney has just released LIGHT & MAGIC, a six-episode documentary mini-series that tells the history of Industrial Light & Magic, the special effects company that George Lucas founded to make Star Wars. We learn about its contributions to cinema across history and the people behind it.
Industrial Light & Magic is one of the top special effects companies in the world, for decades they have been pioneers in the industry. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, ET, Back to the Future, Pearl Harbor, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Avengers are just some of the projects they have been involved in their history. As you can see, they have been at the top of their game since the beginning.
In this brief series, we’ll learn a little more about the history of the company responsible for some of the most acclaimed special effects in cinema history and its symbiotic relationship with Star Wars.
The story of George Lucas
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope was a groundbreaking movie that defied what most people believed about the process of making a movie.
We’ve all heard the stories about how nerve-wracking making the first movie was, it was an ambitious project created by a guy called George Lucas who was relatively new in the industry.
But, how did the idea of making an entire universe come out of his head? As a young man, George Lucas was into cars and speed. In fact, he aspired to be a racing car mechanic, until a car crash changed his life (and ours) forever.
After surviving the crash without any major injuries, Lucas got into college where he took many social sciences classes. It is well known that Lucas studied fields of study like linguistics, anthropology, and sociology before creating the Star Wars universe.
Building a society on such a gigantic scale is no simple feature so having this background was extremely important. Concepts like religion, hero/villain archetypes, and politics (to name a few) are a fundamental part of Star Wars storytelling, no matter where you are from, there’s something that you can relate to, whether it’s a place, a character or a story.
I believe this is one of the reasons why Star Wars was able to build one of the biggest fan bases in the world, George Lucas captured so many of human essence and perfectly combined them with an epic space opera.
The team behind Star Wars and ILM
When Lucas was in the pre-production phase of the first Star Wars movie, he was looking for special effects companies that would suit the vision for his project. He couldn’t find any, so he decided to build one himself.
Most of the people that ended up working on the movie were incredibly multi-talented individuals that didn’t fit the traditional side of Hollywood. Painters, mechanics, artists, car-lovers, model-makers, photographers, designers, engineers, and even a pilot.
John Dykstra, Doug Trumbull, Gary Kurtz, Richard Edlund, Joe Johnston, Lorne Peterson, Phil Tippet, Dennis Muren, Rose Duignan, and Ken Ralston, are just some of the names that made everything work out.
The series details how everything came together. It’s incredible to learn how by just hiring one person, this individual brought onboard so many of the artists that made George Lucas’ vision possible.
I imagine the process and think of it as building a puzzle, you have hundreds of pieces and you know they fit somewhere. It all starts very slowly, but once the key pieces are put into place everything just starts flowing naturally.
A series that will make you feel like a kid
The series is a delight to watch, even if you’re not generally interested in the production aspects of the movies. I can’t express how mindblowing it’s to learn so many things about everything that they did for the first trilogy.
I felt like a kid watching a magic trick for the first time. This is a must-see for every Star Wars fan!
Here’s a list of the six episodes and the official description of what it’s in each one of them.
- “Gang of outsiders.” An unlikely team comes together to create the effects for a new space film called “The Star Wars”
- “On the bucking bronco.George Lucas’s whole life has been leading to Star Wars, but can ILM finish the job on time?
- “Just think about it.” ILM moves north to face a daunting task, creating a sequel to the most successful film of all time.
- “I think I found my people.” It’s the era of the 80s blockbuster and ILM is thriving, but revolution is on the horizon.
- “Morfining.” The digital age brings new challenges to ILM, but not everyone is ready for such massive change.
- “No more pretending you’re dinosaurs.” CG finally comes into its own with Jurassic Park, paving the way for a new era of innovation.
The LIGHT & MAGIC is now streaming on Disney Plus, Disney’s own subscription-based streaming service. All six episodes of this documentary are available as of July 27, 2022. Disney Plus is