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The Mandalorian and The Magnificent Influence of Art

  • Hilary Davidson
  • 18 December
  • 0 COMMENT

Art and the Mandalorian

by Charlotte Naylor

One of the most captivating aspects of the Star Wars™ franchise is that it knows no boundaries. Near and far (or in a galaxy far, far away…), the Star Wars iconic themes are globally recognized. In the same note, that archetypal theme is resonant in the Disney+ spin off, The Mandalorian™ - and aren’t we all thrilled about it!

The Mandalorian is an American space western streaming television series created by Jon Favreau for Disney+. The first series launched in November 2019 and is the first live-action series in the Star Wars franchise. The story begins five years after the events of Return of the Jedi (1983) and stars Pedro Pascal as the title character - Oberyn Martell for those Game of Thrones fanatics amongst us. This time, however, he's a lone bounty hunter who is hired to retrieve “The Child.”


Shown above: Child's Play Limited Edition Paper by Thomas Kinkade Studios

I think the biggest buzz around this series and amidst Star Wars fans is the fresh cast and innovative story line yet set in a world that we all know and love so well. It’s recognizable but different. Almost like when you re-decorate your home and add a little something original to the space, The Mandalorian provides that contemporary and present-day twist on the iconic films adored by fans old and young. 

Whilst new in storyline, The Mandalorian visuals have been on par with what we’ve come to expect from blockbuster movies. The artists working on the series have incredible vision when it comes to expanding the world of Star Wars and transporting viewers into sci-fi western territory.  

Art as A Driving Force of Creativity

Indeed, there’s much to be said for the art in The Mandalorian that takes readers on a visual journey of creativity and brings the story to life.  

Phil Szostak, the creative and content specialist for both the Star Wars and The Mandalorian franchise duly articulates the importance of art for these series. He stipulates how Favreau, in a similar way to George Lucas, relied heavily on art to piece the whole production together. For much of the Mandalorian creation, he would have ideas, but nothing written [1]. Consequently, designs and concept art would be generated, fed back into Jon, which in turn would spark more writing ideas. It’s a back-and-forth process, with art as the driving factor of creation and innovation. 

Indeed, it's a very symbiotic relationship between writing and art. And that’s a huge theme in Star Wars in general. It’s the ultimate way of stimulating more ideas for the writing process. Art is so unique and special to this kind of production, and works particularly fruitfully for Star Wars, as without that visual cue in place, it’s hard for the writers to wrap their heads around what they’re trying to visualize with their story. And as we all know Star Wars visuals are so different to any other franchise we have ever seen - I guess that’s part of its huge, global appeal. Consequently, artists hold this impeccable responsibility to inject life into the story in a way that a writer may struggle to do so alone. 

We need only look at some of the artwork from the series, with scenes like a gigantic metallic Razor Crest machine soaring above the remnants of conflict across a sunlit sky above. Now how could this even remotely be visualized without the immense influence of art?


Shown above: Turning Point Limited Edition Paper by Thomas Kinkade Studios

Similar to the way Monte Moore’s powerful depiction of “Turning Point” powerfully captures the major theme of “doing what's right” resonate in the series, the art helps to bring these concepts to the forefront of the viewers' mind. The Mandalorian’s arm reaching out to “The Child” in a choice between life or death, iconically symbolizing the hardened bounty hunter’s choice of “life” - setting the tone for the rest of the series adventures.

From the framed canvases, draft sketches to the final products on the big screen, The Mandalorian showcases the power of art to bring a story to life, with deep and meaningful messages of a hero’s journey seeking to do duty and service for someone else. I guess it’s a story we all can relate to or need to hear at this present moment during these rather dark and unprecedented times.  

In the wake of season 2 and with global events like the COVID-19 pandemic still raging on, people will more than likely continue to seek out their favorite forms of media and art as a means to escape reality. And luckily, for Star Wars fans, they’ll be able to look no further than The Mandalorian.

 

References:
[1] Larson, Kyle. (2020, November 24). Phil Szostak Talks The Art of The Mandalorian. Star Wars News Net. https://www.starwarsnewsnet.com/2020/11/phil-szostak-talks-the-art-of-the-mandalorian.html

Cover Image:
Photo of John Rodriguez. IG: @alphaignition

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