The 6-episode documentary series “Light & Magic” presents us with the genesis of films, which revolutionized the effects especially in films and therefore cinema as such.
Light & Magic – what is the Disney + series about?
The Disney + documentary series “Light & Magic” details the story in detail Industrial Light & Magica visual effects company that George Lucas was brought to life during the making of the first film in the series “Star Wars“In the mid-70s. And of course, to some extent, you can view “Light & Magic” as an extended ILM ad packed in entertainment form, but the new Disney + series is much more than that.
It is a historical record of the rise and operation of the first true filmmaking special effects company and the pioneers of CGI (Computer Generated Image) who transformed modern cinema. Thus, “Light & Magic” is also a record of part of the history of cinema.
Light & Magic – a fascinating journey back in time to the birth of modern special effects
For some time, special effects have become an integral part of the cinema. Of course, when we think about them, images from great science-fiction or fantasy shows appear in our minds, but you also have to bear in mind the fact that special effects or computer effects (called CGI for short) are also increasingly used in more modest productions, like some dramas, comedies. All sorts of visual tricks sometimes help to achieve the intended plot effect, which would not be convincing with a different approach.
It is enough to mention here the films showing characters with amputated limbs, which are often created with the use of appropriate computer effects. Looking at special effects in this way, we will realize how important it is to be part of contemporary cinema. That is why the documentary series “Light & Magic” is so important.
Most of the Disney + series revolves around the origins of Industrial Light & Magic, how ILM gradually paved the way for visual effects during the filming of the first Star Wars. I think that for every Star Wars fan, even familiar with the materials from the plan of creating the legendary trilogy, “Light & Magic” will be a real treat.
We will see here a lot of video recordings and archival photos related to the first artistic steps of George Lucas, as well as his work on the set of “A New Hope”. We will see how the first ideas for visual effects and tricks in the first “Star Wars” were born (let’s see, for example, how the idea for the appearance of the Millennium Falcon ship was born). Thus, a considerable number of Industrial Light & Magic employees were given the floor.
It gave a really interesting story about some of the last pioneers when it comes to technological revolutions in cinema. The story of artists, innovators who found their niche and managed to make it a market power known all over the world. For many cinema fans, Industrial Light & Magic is almost synonymous with the magic of the film. It is a company that brought to life some of the most remembered and beloved shots or sequences in the history of cinema.
Light & Magic – evaluation of the Disney + series
A minor disappointment on my part, however, came when I realized that the “Light & Magic” series focused the most attention on the genesis of the company. Obviously, this is a key topic related to this entire story, however I missed a closer look at the work of magicians from Industrial Light & Magic on subsequent films and to look behind the scenes of local productions.
Of course, we get a bit of behind-the-scenes stories from James Cameron’s “Abyss” or “Terminator 2” in the final episodes of the series, but it was rather due to the chronicler’s duty of the creators. The genesis of Industrial Light & Magic is the most interesting, but the further development and further milestones of this company are only slightly less important.
To some extent, I understand that we are talking about the Disney series here, so this company mainly cares about promoting its titles, because in fact, “Light & Magic” is mainly about working on special effects for the Star Wars saga – starting with “New Hope” and ending with the TV series “The Mandalorian”. And it is clear that it was the classic Star Wars revolution that took place and a quantum leap in the development of visual effects in the cinema was taken, but the ILM portfolio is definitely more extensive and has a whole lot of other breakthroughs.
In this regard, I felt as if I was just watching an introduction to a much larger story. The very title of “Light & Magic” allowed me to hope that it is a much more extensive story, especially since we get six episodes of almost one hour. Don’t get me wrong – this series is fascinating and addictive, especially for a cinema-loving viewer, also from the other side of the camera and back room. On the other hand, “Light & Magic” just did not fully turn out to be what I was hoping for.
However, bearing in mind the fact that this is a series available on Disney +, and therefore there are potentially considerable chances that it will be reached by viewers from the younger generation, already brought up in a world of movies filled with fully developed CGI effects, I hope that for them it will be an opening experience eyes. And maybe it will also generate respect for people who were pioneers of modern special effects and whose imagination pushed all of Hollywood forward, but it can also arouse in them a real fascination with cinema and its cuisine.
As I wrote earlier, also the biggest fans of the Star Wars and George Lucas brand will find a lot of fun in “Light & Magic”, although they probably will not learn anything new from this series. Despite this, the creators (and “Light & Magic” was made by not just anyone, because the screenwriter of, among others, “Empire Strikes Back” and the first Indiana Jones – Lawrence Kasdan) managed to balance the content well both in terms of newcomers to the Star Wars world and special effects, as well as old stagers. A really fun to handle and addictive documentary series. Not only for movie fans.
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Light & Magic - Disney + series review
The 6-episode documentary series “Light & Magic” presents us with the genesis of films, which revolutionized the effects especially in films and therefore cinema as such. Star Wars world and special effects, as well as old stagers. A really fun and addictive documentary series. Not only for movie fans.