Star Wars has a storied history of pushing the medium of film forward with ground-breaking technology, which is intertwined with George Lucas’ legacy. We’ve also had a glimpse at how it all comes to life with great documentaries like The Beginning: Making Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, Empire of Dreams and The Director and the Jedi. Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian joins that great list of documentaries, but pulls the curtain on how the first live-action Star Wars television series came to be.
It’s well-known that George Lucas wanted to explore television after finishing Revenge of the Sith with a live-action Star Wars series centered on the crime underworld. Unfortunately, that never came to fruition because a television show that cinematic couldn’t be done at the time. When Disney purchased Lucasfilm, many people, including myself, wanted that live-action Star Wars series with television’s explosion into the golden era making it more possible than ever before.
This would eventually come to pass with The Mandalorian, and the Disney Gallery eight-part documentary series is about to show us how a live-action Star Wars series was finally feasible. If there is one area where The Mandalorian delivered, it was giving a sense of cinematic scale that we have never seen before on television.
The first episode of Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian focuses on one of the most interesting behind-the-scenes storylines of the show, which was the assemblage of a star-studded cast of directors. While Jon Favreau was the creator of the series, the episodes themselves were directed by Dave Filoni, Rick Famuyiwa, Deborah Chow, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Taika Waititi.
What’s so interesting about this group of directors is that it’s comprised of filmmakers like Taika Waititi who just helmed Thor: Ragnarok and Dave Filoni, who’s never directed live-action before. Speaking of Filoni, the cowboy-hat wearing mind behind Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Rebels has become a fan-favorite among fandom. Before landing The Mandalorian gig, many fans were clamoring for him to enter the live-action side of the franchise. Based on this first episode alone, it certainly looks like Lucasfilm is grooming Filoni into becoming George Lucas’ rightful successor with him showing off his vast knowledge of Star Wars throughout.
The documentary also explores the other directors and their own personal love for Star Wars. If there is one thing to take away from the first episode, it’s that every director involved has a profound but unique love for the franchise. They are all different filmmakers with their own unique sensibilities and experience, so it was intriguing to see how they came together to collaborate and create a consistent season of television.
The premiere episode also shows us some of the challenges the director had to face, especially when dealing with new technology and how much problem-solving is involved with the filmmaking process. Another highlight is seeing the backdrop of the StageCraft technology. As you see the behind-the-scenes footage, you’ll realize how much of it was filmed with massive digital walls, which is very much the natural progression of the Prequel Trilogy’s green screens.
Plenty of great behind-the-scenes stories are also shared in the documentary and it’s great to see these directors have a conversation in the roundtable setting that the series presents. As we go through each director, we also get a sense of the thought-process behind each episode. A major criticism some have had with the first season of The Mandalorian is that it was more episodic than some might have thought going in. The first episode really shows us Favreau’s vision for this series as he hosts the conversation between the directors.
There’s so much that gets put into these projects that we anticipate and it’s always great to get some insight in the creative process. Starting off with the star-studded directors was a great way to show one piece of the whole when it comes to how they pulled off The Mandalorian. The documentary really gives off this feeling that The Mandalorian was an experiment in many ways beyond the technology. A group of directors of this caliber usually doesn’t get assembled for a television series and the first episode illustrates this in a great way.
Overall Thoughts: If you’re a fan of Star Wars or just interested in filmmaking, Disney Galley: The Mandalorian provides a great in-depth look at just one facet of production in a well-done manner. The best thing about the series is that there are still seven episodes to go, with plenty more parts of production to explore. When I first heard of The Mandalorian and eventually saw the series, I knew I had to see how Disney and Lucasfilm created this groundbreaking series. The first Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian episode is a sign for the best case scenario.