The first season of The Mandalorian achieved the unthinkable.
It united Star Wars fans more than any other Star Wars title since the original trilogy. We universally agree, it’s a pretty damn solid show. And while on the surface a “making of” series may seem like another Disney money grab, Disney Gallery The Mandalorian also does the unthinkable. It succeeds in spades by engaging and inspiring us through the care the filmmakers put into crafting, not only a stunning television series but, Star Wars that’s faithful to Star Wars.
When I write about Star Wars, I often refer to my “inner 10 year old.” The reason is thus: that time in my life was magic.
Star Wars was a huge part of that magic and as a result, when done properly, Star Wars triggers that nostalgia nearly, well.., let’s just say many years later. A chemical in my brain causes me to experience those same euphoric feelings I felt as a 10 year old watching the original movies.
In the late 70’s and early 80’s, I ravenously consumed every “making of” of sci-fi movies I could find. The hour long “making of” for each Star Wars film, the shorts for 2010: The Year We Make Contact and Alien that aired between movies on HBO, all viewed countless times. I wanted to do what those people were doing on my TV screen; make movies.
Now I am.
“Making Of” documentaries have become the standard for every film today.
What sets Disney Gallery The Mandalorian apart from the rest is it’s round table format; series creator Jon Favreau and Director/Executive Producer Dave Filoni, at a round table, with various sets of talent – Directors, Actors and Key Crew, discussing all aspects of the creation of the show while supporting the ample behind the scenes footage. This organically captures the filmmakers passions for Star Wars and helps shape each Gallery theme.
With each interview, you feel the genuine pride from being involved with the series. That doesn’t always happen.
Even Werner Herzog, the eccentric filmmaker who had never seen Star Wars, who plays The Client, lit up when talking about The Child, commonly referred to as Baby Yoda. If you’ve previously seen or heard Werner Herzog speak, his child-like enthusiasm is both disturbing and immensely heartwarming.
What especially stands out is Dave Filoni. In nearly all eight episodes, he invariably steals the show with his personal and insightful love of Star Wars. His experience getting the call from LucasFilm to bring The Clone Wars to life felt relatable because he was just a huge Star Wars dork like the rest of us. And, because he thought he was being pranked! A dream phone call and interview that started his Star Wars adventure.
However, what’s truly special is Filoni’s take on the Episode I: The Phantom Menace lightsaber duel between Darth Maul, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn.
He correctly points out that this fight is arguably the most important of the Star Wars saga. Darth Maul robs Anakin Skywalker of a father figure, Qui-Gon Jinn, thus being the inciting incident that starts Anakin’s journey to the Dark Side of the Force. This round table moment had everyone at that table, and I’m sure at home like me, hanging on his every word. It was if millions of jaws suddenly dropped at once in awe.
Each episode focuses on a specific facet of filmmaking. Whether it’s music, visual FX, directing, or acting, each maintains a consistent tone of excitement and provides an extraordinary glimpse into what it’s like to create Star Wars. Humanizing the filmmakers, exploring where they came from and their relationship with Star Wars, makes you feel like that could be you. Direct evidence that following your dreams, no matter how fantastic, can take you to places you never imagined both creatively and in life.
If you haven’t been able to tell yet, this series has been very personal to me.
Even though I work in the film industry and have had written material that’s been aired (uncredited, so don’t bother to look it up!) I’m humbled that I can still feel that same excitement as I did when I exposed my first 16 millimeter film roll at Penn State’s film program. That for as pain staking as the process of film making can be, that I still would give my right kidney to be involved with Star Wars, the last item on my checklist as a filmmaker.
The Mandalorian reignited my passion for filmmaking.
Disney Gallery The Mandalorian set it ablaze.