The original poster used to promote the 1977 release of Star Wars, is arguably one of the most famous images used in film promotion. However, it seems there may still be some facts about it that some fans are not be aware of. An article has just been published on the official Star Wars website, revealing some of the behind-the-scene actions that impacted the poster’s design.
The poster in question is often referred to as the Star Wars “Style A” poster, and became as iconic as ones used for Jaws and The Exorcist in the 1970s. It was designed and painted by Tom Jung in 1977, and depicts the light-saber wielding Luke Skywalker and blaster-wielding Leia Organa framed against the Death Star and a silhouetted Vader. The artwork has a real “sword-and-sorcery” or epic-fantasy feel to it, and instantly marked itself as being something out of the ordinary at the time. Jung is an American advertising art director, graphic designer and illustrator, but has produced many well-known pieces of artwork for films, including; Doctor Zhivago, The Omen (original version), The Lord of the Rings (the Ralph Bakshi animation), and The Empire Strikes Back.
To mark the 40th anniversary of the original movie (aka. Episode IV – A New Hope), the official Star Wars website has published an article describing “Seven things you didn’t know about the original poster”. This includes some minor details, such as the fact that Luke is wearing a white version of “Vader’s boots” (foreshadowing, maybe?), and that Leia is toting a blaster identical to Han Solo’s.
Also included here are some facts regarding the addition of C-3PO and R2-D2 to the artwork. Apparently they were only added at a later date, as per a late decision by the marketers at 20th Century Fox. As Jung was not available at the time, a different artist was drafted in to edit the poster and it was Nick Cardy (famous for his ‘60s comic book covers) that actually added the droids before the poster went to press. Several “wardrobe” changes to Leia were made as well, and the whole resemblance to a Frank Frazetta illustration (famous for his depiction of the literary version of Conan the Barbarian) is not a coincidence. Jung modeled the characters of Luke and Leia in that style, and George Lucas was known to be a fan of the artist.
Another interesting fact is that the original Star Wars poster was only used as an official image by Fox at the (figurative) last moment. It doesn’t even appear to have been fully completed for the original May 25 theatrical release of A New Hope either, despite the post having become so closely linked to the film’s opening promotional campaign, over the decades since then.
Whilst the facts don’t exactly reveal anything really “new” about the early days of Star Wars production, they make for an interesting addition to other little known facts about Star Wars in general. It’s also a nice reminder of the history and background that went on behind-the-scenes, well before the franchise became the cinematic juggernaut that it is today.