STAR WARS takes on a dazzling new look in the first-ever animated feature from Lucasfilm Animation - STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS.LUKE
As the Clone Wars sweep through the galaxy, the heroic Jedi Knights struggle to maintain order and restore peace. More and more systems are falling prey to the forces of the dark side as the Galactic Republic slips further and further under the sway of the Separatists and their never-ending droid army.
Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan learner Ahsoka Tano find themselves on a mission with far-reaching consequences, one that brings them face-to-face with crime lord Jabba the Hutt. But Count Dooku and his sinister agents, including the nefarious Asajj Ventress, will stop at nothing to ensure that Anakin and Ahsoka fail at their quest.
Meanwhile, on the front lines of the Clone Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Master Yoda lead the massive clone army in a valiant effort to resist the forces of the dark side ...
The voice cast features Matt Lanter as Anakin Skywalker; Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano; James Arnold Taylor as Obi-Wan Kenobi; Dee Bradley Baker as Captain Rex and the Clone Troopers; Tom Kane as Yoda; Nika Futterman as Asajj Ventress; Ian Abercrombie as Chancellor Palpatine; Anthony Daniels as C-3PO; Christopher Lee as Count Dooku; and Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu.
"STAR WARS" Returns to the Big Screen
In 2005, "STAR WARS: EPISODE III Revenge of the Sith" brought the live-action, cinematic "STAR WARS" Saga to a close. But creator George Lucas and the storytellers at Lucasfilm Animation had more stories to tell about the "galaxy far, far away."
On-screen, the expansive, galaxy-changing Clone Wars was only fleetingly glimpsed in "Revenge of the Sith" and at the end of Episode II, "Attack of the Clones." But its importance to the "STAR WARS" galaxy is enormous -- causing the Republic to become an Empire, leading to the "period of civil war" famously mentioned at the opening of Episode IV, "A New Hope."
Since its first reference in a passing remark by Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi more than 30 years ago in the very first "STAR WARS" movie, the subject has ignited the imaginations of moviegoers:
You fought in the Clone Wars?
Yes. I was once a Jedi Knight, the same as your father.
I wish I'd known him.
He was the best star pilot in the galaxy, and a cunning warrior.
I understand that you've become quite a good pilot yourself.
And he was a good friend.
"For years and years, people have wondered what the Clone Wars were, based solely on this quick mention," says Clone Wars director Dave Filoni. "The live-action movies were really centered on the Skywalker family, and we've never gotten to see the full breadth of the conflict."
Now, with the new animated feature, "STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS," audiences will at last experience the galaxy-changing conflict, which simultaneously expands the scope of "STAR WARS" beyond anything that had been seen in the previous films, and also introduces new characters, new dramas and new adventures.
The backdrop of the Clone Wars, Filoni says, offers a chance to tell the tale of a struggle that turned a Republic into an Empire and paved the way for a civil war that ultimately resulted in freedom for the galaxy. "We may be dealing with a small window of time, but the scope of war -- particularly a galactic war -- is pretty expansive," he says. "There's a lot going on -- heroes, villains, intrigue, adventure. It's all part of the story we know, but it's always been in the background. Until now."
One of the first steps in bringing "STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS" to the screen was finding the right entry point. The previous films had been confined to the Skywalker saga, but "THE CLONE WARS" offered nearly limitless options.
"A war, by nature, is a patchwork of untold stories," says "STAR WARS" creator George Lucas. "What's fascinating to me is that there are people motivating these far-reaching events, and that those individuals are so often overshadowed by the big picture, by the events themselves. We know what happens to the galaxy, but we don't know exactly how it all came to pass. These are the stories behind the story."
Taking an entirely fresh approach to a film series that is forever imprinted on the minds of generations of fans, Lucas sought to create a distinct visual style that would evoke the spirit of the films, while at the same time bring a unique, distinctive look to the first animated "STAR WARS" movie.
"We didn't want it to look photo-realistic," Lucas explains. "We were working with animation, and we wanted to really utilize the format. That meant shifting our thinking a bit. It's a whole different way of telling stories, and it gives us the freedom to do things that just aren't possible in live action."
While overseeing the project as executive producer, Lucas brought in Dave Filoni -- a veteran of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" and numerous animation projects -- to serve as director. With a deep-rooted fandom and a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the "STAR WARS" universe, Filoni proved the perfect choice to take the reins.
"I've been dreaming about 'STAR WARS' since I was a kid, playing with the toys in the backyard with my brother," Filoni notes. "Actually working on a 'STAR WARS' movie is beyond anything I could have imagined. It's great to work in this world that I love so much, and to do it with George Lucas. Coming from a fan perspective, I also realize how important it is to do it right."
With an entirely new story and a cast of characters that grows in significant ways, Filoni says "STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS" holds true to the films that came before it, while bringing a new sense of adventure and excitement to the "STAR WARS" galaxy. "There's one thing we knew we had to deliver above all else -- a 'STAR WARS' movie," Filoni says. "The characters are distinctly stylized, while their environments come to life in a much more realistic way, very much creating the kind of immersive worlds people expect to see in a 'STAR WARS' movie."
What Are the Clone Wars?
"General Kenobi, years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars."
-- Princess Leia, "Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope"
For a thousand years, the Old Republic prospered and grew under the wise rule of the Senate and the protection of the Jedi Knights. But as often happens when wealth and power grow too fast and too far, greed-fueled evil soon took root. Commercial interests became over-valued, the Senate became corrupt, and an ambitious politician named Palpatine was voted Supreme Chancellor. Most disturbingly, after a thousand years of seeming absence, a dangerous legion reappeared: the Dark Lords of the Sith.
Amid this turmoil, a Separatist movement was formed by Count Dooku, a charismatic former Jedi. He promised an alternative to the corruption and greed that were running rampant -- and he persuaded thousands of worlds to secede from the Republic.
Unbeknownst to most of his followers, Dooku was himself a Dark Lord of the Sith, acting in collusion with his mysterious master, Darth Sidious. Over the years, Sidious had struck an unholy alliance with the greater forces of commerce and their private droid armies, which were unstoppable simply due to their sheer numbers.
Eventually, Count Dooku lured the unsuspecting Jedi into a trap on the desolate planet Geonosis. Little did the Separatists know, the Jedi had discovered their own secret weapon: a massive army of clones that the Republic had secretly commissioned years earlier. The Jedi won the battle of Geonosis -- but the victory was short-lived.
Instead of ensuring the Jedi's power, Geonosis became the first battle in a massive war that spread like wildfire across the galaxy, engulfing thousands of different star systems.
It was the start of the Clone Wars.
Now, the Jedi fight to maintain freedom and restore peace to the galaxy, using their army of clones against the massive droid army. Across hundreds of planets, the Jedi and Separatists fight for the future of the galaxy. As this terrible conflict grows ever wider, Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano and Padmé Amidala are swept into the turmoil of war…while Count Dooku, Darth Sidious and Asajj Ventress stop at nothing to ensure the fall of the Republic.
This is "STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS."
Designing a New Galaxy
It's Still Long Ago and Far, Far Away, but the World of "THE CLONE WARS" Is Unlike Anything That's Come Before
The "STAR WARS" Saga introduced a galaxy that has become one of the most distinctive and instantly identifiable in movie history. Its iconic lightsabers, spaceships, costumes, droids and planets created a singular look that has endured through three decades and generations of fans. To translate the "STAR WARS" aesthetic to an all-new format for "THE CLONE WARS," the crews at Lucasfilm Animation faced a rare challenge.
"Our goal was to produce a movie unlike anything else in animation," says "STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS" director Dave Filoni. "But we also had to stay true to 'STAR WARS,' to honor everything that George Lucas has created. That's easier said than done, and it took us a long time to figure out exactly how to develop the look, style and feel of an animated 'STAR WARS.'"
It was Lucas himself who urged that "THE CLONE WARS" should forge its own distinctive visual style, separating itself from what had come before. Setting the story before Anakin's descent into darkness, Lucas and Filoni felt animation could inject "THE CLONE WARS" with a rousing spirit of fun, highlighting the young Jedi's heroism rather than his forbidding destiny. By visually distinguishing everything in its universe -- from the battles to the characters themselves -- "THE CLONE WARS" establishes itself as both a bold departure and a return to form for the Saga.
"George wanted the characters to live on their own, separate from the recognizable actors who portrayed them in the previous films," says Filoni. "To do that, we really had to find the essence of the characters, and to bring them to life in a way that wasn't just a reproduction of their live-action counterparts. We wanted to break free of any preconceived notions of what 'STAR WARS' should be."
This meant eschewing photo-realism and embracing an entirely new look, different from almost anything else in cinematic animation. Of course, there were precedents for bringing the "galaxy far, far away" to the animated arena, including a 2004-2005 Cartoon Network "micro-series" about the Clone Wars period.
"We loved the look of the micro-series, and when we began to see the maquettes that were licensed on its behalf, it was a neat glimpse into what those designs might look like in a 3-D space," says Catherine Winder, the film's producer. "But we wanted to take it much further, to do something dramatically different with 'STAR WARS' and animation. Working in computer graphics, we incorporated those stylistic aspects into a world with an entirely different depth, physicality and scope. From there, it really began to grow and evolve into what's on screen."
The radical redesign involved a reinvention of the visual dynamic that fans have traditionally associated with the series. Drawing from a myriad of influences, Lucasfilm Animation experimented with an extreme shooting style, using aggressive lighting and framing to set the stage for the stylized new look of the characters themselves.
"I've always been a big fan of the anime look; Japanese animation and manga tend to push the envelope with really innovative composition, so we followed that lead," says Filoni. "That said, animation is a vast field, and it's too filled with possibilities for us to limit ourselves to one style. We also took inspiration from Gerry Anderson's 'Thunderbirds,' which was shot in the 1960s using marionettes. So we really took these disparate influences and fused them into something pretty unique."
Filoni believes the creative risks that Lucasfilm Animation has taken, encouraged by executive producer Lucas, will please longtime fans and excite new ones. "In 'STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS' we've got new characters, new planets, new vehicles, new battles and a new story, and it's animated with a completely new style," he says. "It really is 'STAR WARS' like you've never seen it before -- in every way possible."
A Jedi Knight whose exceptional Force abilities and rebellious nature will one day lead him down the dark path of the Sith, Anakin Skywalker is nonetheless an idealistic leader and a heroic champion of the Galactic Republic. Guided by a self-assurance that borders on arrogance, he is bold and aggressive, but as he's matured, he has also learned that sometimes strategy and temperance can prove more effective than a flashing lightsaber. Even so, Anakin's brash impulsiveness prompts Master Yoda to pair him with a new apprentice in an effort to help curb the young Jedi's wild ways. As Anakin steps into the role of teacher, he finally sees the other side of the Master-Padawan relationship and recognizes the difficulties that he presented for his own former Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Leveraging his experiences as a problem Padawan, Anakin commits to becoming a good example for his own apprentice -- but in tight situations, he still relies on derring-do and instinct.
Though he is deadly with a lightsaber and skilled in the art of war, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi is a peaceful soul, guided by an empathetic spirit even amidst the violence and devastation of the Clone Wars. He recognizes that there are often alternatives to fighting, and takes up arms only in an effort to defend the values and ideals of the Galactic Republic. In stark contrast to his volatile former Padawan, Obi-Wan remains calm and level-headed in even the most dangerous situations, relying on temperance, discipline and dry wit where Anakin would default to violence. Having recently seen Anakin graduate to the status of Jedi Knight, Obi-Wan now finds endless delight in watching his friend and one-time student struggle with a strong-willed learner of his own.
A new addition to the "Star Wars" universe, Ahsoka Tano is a teenaged Togruta girl assigned by Yoda to serve under Anakin Skywalker as his Padawan apprentice. Discovered as an infant by Jedi Master Plo Koon and raised in the Jedi Temple, Ahsoka is a devoted student of the Jedi ways, eager to prove herself to Master Skywalker. Headstrong and enthusiastic with a bubbling abundance of innocent optimism she rarely hesitates to express her youthful exuberance…though she has yet to learn the finer points of diplomacy and timing. A formidable swordswoman, budding tactician and shrewd critical thinker, she is nonetheless still a youngling; at the age of 14, she is still two years shy of the traditional graduation age. But the ever-escalating galactic conflict has stretched the Jedi resources thin, and thus Ahsoka's talents earn her an early promotion. Master Yoda chooses to pair the young Padawan with Anakin in an effort to help the brash older Jedi learn a greater sense of personal responsibility. Besides being impressed with the girl's composure and Force abilities, Yoda hopes the responsibilities associated with having a Padawan will teach Anakin to behave with more Jedi-like patience and maturity himself. Straddling the chasm between Anakin's impulsiveness and Obi-Wan's staid deliberation, Ahsoka also brings her disarming wit to the front lines, often lightening the burden of war with a well-timed quip or an insightful jab. As a result of her rigorous education, Ahsoka tends to play most situations closer to the book than does her Master, but she's quickly learning that sometimes there's no substitute for a healthy dose of improvised derring-do. Despite her inexperience, she rarely hesitates to question orders and voice her own opinion, much to Anakin's chagrin.
Lithe and lethal, Asajj Ventress is the trusted assassin of the villainous Count Dooku, serving him from the shadows as he weaves his web of deception throughout the Clone Wars. Though she's not officially a Sith apprentice, she has been well trained in the ways of the dark side, and can wield her twin lightsabers with surgical precision and deadly force. In addition, her serpentine grace and devious cunning make her a deadly foe for even the most seasoned Jedi Knights.
A lifetime of enduring cruel hardships has purged any compassion from her evil heart; forged in the crucible of her bloody homeworld, her deep-seated rage and smoldering bitterness keep her on the dark path and bolster her dark side powers.
The Clone Troopers
Created from the formidable genetic template of Jango Fett -- a bounty hunter feared throughout the galaxy for his deadly abilities -- the clones are nonetheless a force for good in the galaxy. Bred and trained on the oceanic Outer World planet of Kamino, they are born to support their Jedi leaders and to protect the noble ideals of the Galactic Republic with unflinching loyalty. Despite shared genes and a shared mission, however, the clones are by no means mindless drones or mere copies of Fett. Each soldier takes great pride in his own unique personality, often going to great lengths to find ways to demonstrate individuality. It's common for clones to give themselves names, and to distinguish themselves further through stylized haircuts and tattoos. While their intensive training conditions the clones not to question their role in the galactic conflict, they are also burdened with a humanity that sometimes causes doubt and remorse.
"CLONE WARS" Director Dave Filoni and Executive Producer George Lucas Discuss the Latest "STAR WARS" Adventure
THE ART OF ANIMATION