The trivia behind the concept art of 'Attack of the Clones'

Nov 8, 2020
jango fett slave 1

attack of the clones art bookAttack of the Clones came out on 16 May 2002 and seeing as that's close enough to a 20 year anniversary, I had a look through my 'The Art of Star Wars, Episode II - Attack of the Clones' book.

There is more than just amazing concept art in there, it has plenty of facts and trivia about how the film came into being.

Author Mark Cotta Vaz shines a good insight into how George Lucas would make decisions about what creatures and space ships and costumes would go into the film - it's an interative process that largely appears to have worked.

It also shows some of the challenges that producer Rick McCallum faced and how his production team overcame them.

1. The Clone Trooper classrooms are a reference to Luca's first film, THX-1138

ryan church clones

The cloned troopers (from Jango Fett's DNA) were taught in giant classrooms.

Artist Edwin Natividad stated 'it's assembly line learning, no individuality. There's no personal attention, they're just soldiers being trained'. They are literally a factory production line of humans  Iain McCaig confirms they confirming the idea was they were going 'back to George's THX days'.

And this is what totally happened in the final film:

attack of the clones thx 1138 reference

There's a lot going on during the Kamino sequence - the introduction of the clones, Jango and Bobba Fett, and throughout it all, a strong thematic parallel with the Empire Strikes Back.

2. The design of Coruscant

The idea of an 'Imperial City' was dabbled with as an idea by George Lucas during the pre-production of Return of the Jedi. It even had a name, Had-Abbadon. Lucas his now-famous concept designer Ralph McQuarrie to come up with some ideas:

imperial city ralph mcquarrie

First mentioned in the Thrawn 'Heir to the Empire' novels by author Timothy Zahn and spied at the end of Return of the Jedi celebration scenes and an in bit of The Phantom Menace (refer The Jedi Temple), Attack of the Clones was Star War's first chance to truly flesh out the planet of Coruscant.

George Lucas challenged the design team to make the city to look better than Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner (which funnily enough starred Harrison Ford who had become a box office A-list celebrity at that point following his two Star Wars roles and his massive Lucas produced hit, Indiana Jones).

A key feature was that personal vehicles could not be found on the lower streets. Only public transport existed. The planet's lower level inhabitants were modelled to look like they were part of a 'rough trade' or took part in criminal elements. This was in strict contrast to the upper levels where the nightlife was 'decadent'.

Here's an early design idea by Marc Gabbana:

Marc Gabbana coruscant design idea

3. Anakin's Yellow Speeder

The yellow 'speeder' that Anakin Skywalker uses when he and Obi-Wan Kenobi chase the assassin Zam Wesell, is, of course, a reference to the yellow hot-rod that featured in George Lucas's second film, American Graffiti.

shuster speeder design attack clonesJay Shuster had designed his concept shortly before a meeting with Lucas.

He thought maybe Lucas had seen some elements of Anakin's TPM pod-racer, Lucas certainly loved the exposed engines and it was the director himself who ordered the speeder have a paint scheme like the hot rod in his 1973

Here's a screen comparison of the two films by Mike Klimo:

comparison of the yellow car in american graffiti to Attack of the Clones

4. When a Sith Lord is not a Sith Lord but Ventress

When Lucas was bedding in the script for AOTC, at one point, the Sith Lord that became Count Dooku was considered to be a female. Artist Dermot Power came up with this design:

dermot power female sith lord ventriss

When Lucas decided that Dooku was his man, Power's design was ultimately used as the inspiration for the Clone Wars character, Ventress

ventress original design

Power said of his work: "My first drawing had her was;k down the stairs. I gave her a slim upper body clad in armor or leather, widened her hips, gave her a heavy belt and baggy pants for a grounded feeling - like watching a samurai."

It's amusing the art book does not acknowledge this design became Ventress, but this of course makes sense as the book came out well before Ventress's official entry into Star Wars canon. 

5. The Arena Battle Monsters

obi-wan battles the acklay in ATOC
Obi-Wan Kenobi takes on the Acklay

Harking back to John Carter of Mars, Ray Harryhausen and perhaps a few gladiator movies, Padme, Anakin and Obi-Wan are forced to take part in their own execution by three deadly creatures.

monsters in the area geonosis

The Acklay became so when George Lucas asked Iain McCaig to combine to sketches he had done - designed liked to a velociraptor and a praying mantis.

The Nexu was once a lion that could breathe fire and the 'Reek' was inspired by the dinosaur species Placerias from the Triassic period. 

The Battle of Geonosis

Attack of the Clones is a bit of a convoluted mess.

We all get it, and those that don't well they love it so good for them. What's not really up for debate is how awesome the last 40 minutes of the film is. After the arena battle and Yoda flies in with his cloned army  (apparently with no qualms about using humans as meat puppets) to save the day - and then a battle ensues proper which makes for some great action scenes amidst the chase with Count Dooku.

Here's some cool concept designs that went into the battle:

air attack geonosis

battle of geonosis clone troopers
yoda geonosis concept art

ryan church geonosis artwork

jedi fight concept art

reek attack concept 

Other fun facts learned from reading 'The Art of Star Wars, Episode II - Attack of the Clones' :

  • Padme's costumes in The Phantom Menance were inspired buy actual costumes from Mongolia. For Attack of the Clones, Padme was dressed with a more Elizabethan era style. 
  • The centipede like mechanical monsters sent into Padme's room by Zam Wessel are called 'kouhuns'.
  • Jango Fett's Slave 1 ship was designed to look similar to the Millenium Falcon, as if it had been made in the same era, or even by the same manufacturer. 
  • Kit Fisto was originally designed in mind as a Sith Lord and only became green once made a Jedi. 

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