I already put down my cash to pre-order the complete Star Wars saga on Blu-ray when it was first announced, but have only just seen the released cover art as part of May the Fourth Be with You. All I can say is “nice try.”

The trilogy covers are an homage to the beautifully painted movie posters of long ago when artists like Tom Jung and John Berkey were relied on their ability to render recognizable likenesses with pencil lines and brush strokes. But what appears to be painted here with wet and dry media is nothing more than a ‘Photoshopped’ composite of stock imagery tied together with scanned-in spatters and drips of paint.

My qualm is not with the technique itself; in fact I do the same kind of work. But given this film series’ long history of advertisement with painted movie posters, the fanboy in me wishes these Star Wars covers could have benefited from an artist’s own actual hand and instincts again. It would’ve justified the appearance of paint strokes. But that’s me and my wishful thinking of ‘art for art’s sake.’ Since so many elements have to be composed at the behest of so many people (in so little time), it’s no wonder that hand-painted poster artwork has become extinct, to the detriment of movie-goers like me who enjoy galleries of posters displayed in movie theater lobbies.

[Update: A recent Den of Geek article about this very subject]

The biggest offender of these trilogy covers must be corporate-driven: the absence of negative space. By that I mean nearly every square centimeter depicts a scene from the films, which makes it hard to decipher who or what is of importance. I’ll agree it’s tough to compose single pieces representing three movies each which contain multitudes of characters. But why does marketing feel the need to give every actor representation on the cover? Is it a part of the actors’ contracts? The prequel trilogy is especially problematic with its wall of heads. I’m surprised there’s no face stuck inside Yoda’s ear canal!

The calm at the center of my personal rant is actually the box set cover. On Tatooine, young Anakin walks toward the viewer while a ghosted figure of Luke walks away towards the suns. Both are well-known images in the films and advertising, but they are related to each other in an original manner which is completely cool in my opinion. I just wish some original thought was applied to the trilogy covers as well.