The Literary Horizon: Mouse Under Glass, The Secret History of Star Wars

I am a sucker for behind the scenes stuff—you can’t imagine the hours I’ve spent watching director’s commentaries and behind the scenes documentaries about The Lord of the Rings alone. (I watch the cast commentary for The Fellowship of the Ring a lot. It’s comforting!) This explains why I’ve got these two books on my list; they’re more or less unauthorized behind the scenes books. It’s pretty simple this week, folks.

Mouse Under Glass by David Koenig

Koenig presents a chronological overview of 30 films from “Snow White” through “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”; he relates each one to its original tale, gives the Disney version, and tells what and why cuts were made. The promised secrets consist of such things as “Plot Holes,” “Bloopers,” “Hidden Images,” and “Strange Reactions.” Although there is no Disney art here, there are a few black-and-white illustrations by Joel Chandler Harris as well as Tenniel’s famous Alice sketches and one of Ernest Shepard’s Mary Poppins. Anecdotes about the growth of the Disney industry and the development of the theme-park rides are included.

via Amazon

It’s no secret that I love Disney, especially behind the scenes material about it. Have I gushed about how Tangled almost had a Regency design? The cut song “Someday” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame? Dreamy, dreamy, dreamy. This looks fairly straight forward, but I’m interested in it because Hunchback, my favorite Disney film, was the most recent film when this book came out—since it’s occasionally glossed over in other general overviews of the Disney animated canon, I hope it has more material on it.

Susan Palmer for Animation News Network found it to be a good repository of facts, although she found Koenig’s sections pointing out plot holes to be just petty. Kristin at Tales of Faerie enjoyed it, though.

Mouse Under Glass was published January, 1997.

The Secret History of Star Wars by Michael Kaminski

Star Wars is one of the most important cultural phenomena of the Western world. The tale of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and the fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker has become modern myth, an epic tragedy of the corruption of a young man in love into darkness, the rise of evil, and the power of good triumphing in the end. But it didn’t start out that way. In this thorough account of one of cinema’s most lasting works, Michael Kaminski presents the true history of how Star Wars was written, from its beginnings as a science fiction fairy tale to its development over three decades into the epic we now know, chronicling the methods, techniques, thought processes, and struggles of its creator. For this unauthorized account, he has pored through over four hundred sources, from interviews to original scripts, to track how the most powerful modern epic in the world was created, expanded, and finalized into the tale an entire generation has grown up with.

via Amazon

I’m not a huge Star Wars fan—I like it just fine of course, but I rarely find myself imagining myself in that universe (while I’m almost always imagining myself in Doctor Who situations). But finding what actually happened can be tricky, with Lucas, well, being Lucas and going back to “fix” the films—a fine impulse, but an ultimately misguided one, I feel. So despite the recent release of The Making of Star Wars, released by LucasBooks, I’d like to pick this one up to get a feel for what went down.

T’bone at, well, T’bone’s Star Wars Universe found it to be an interesting alternate to the other book, although it occasionally felt like Kaminski was on the attack, openly calling Lucas a liar and such. Since it’s from a small press, there are few reviews, but it currently has 4.5 stars on Amazon, gleaned from 18 reviews.

The Secret History of Star Wars was published on November 18, 2008.

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