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The Star Wars Poster Book    by Stephen J. Sansweet & Peter Vilmur order for
Star Wars Poster Book
by Stephen J. Sansweet
Order:  USA  Can
Chronicle, 2005 (2005)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Just looking at the front cover of this striking coffee table book brings back memories of the edge of the seat excitement of those first few Star Wars movies. They reminded me of Saturday morning cliffhanger films I watched as a child, and now my teen sons are big fans as well, reading the books and playing computer and video games, as well as watching and re-watching all the movies.

In his Introduction, Steve Sansweet recalls buying his first Star Wars poster. He tells us that, when a poster works, it 'becomes shorthand for the film' and allows its owner to 'relive the emotional high' from the movie. Over 300 (out of about 2,000!) posters are presented in this wonderful book, under the chapter headings: Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Interregnum, and The Prequels. An Appendix at the back provides a long list of known posters, including advertising & promotional, and commercial. The book's text describes movie production history and challenges, poster design techniques, and marketing efforts - it starts with a sentence to make fans smile, 'George Lucas just knew that he had a disaster on his hands.'

Posters are from all over the world, from Argentina and Australia to Turkey and Thailand (the latter has the words, in English - 'The War of the World'!) In addition to the movies, posters promote things from books to Frozen Coca-Cola, shoes, and tissue donation. Though most are familiar, a few seem to have little to do with the films. Russian posters, in particular, win the weirdness award. There's a peculiar one with a cougar-like Vader, another with very strange aliens, and a third with cowboy made out of circuit boards. I love the Star Wars Concert poster that shows R2-D2 beating drums. There's a great Cantina Denizens one, and a delightful Star Wars Christmas Album. The Ohrai "Starfall" is magical, and the manga poster is cute. But my overall favorite has to be the ALA Yoda "Read" Poster - 'READ - and the Force is with you.'

In addition to giving us the chance to recall the movies' emotional high, this impressive book conveys a sense of the enormous effort behind production of the films, and also of their huge marketing impact. Give The Star Wars Poster Book to a fan this holiday season, or leaf through a copy yourself - and relive the magic.

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