Star Wars Fans Just Lost One Of Their Most Creative Minds

By Rachel Morris | Sunday, 29 May 2022 20:30
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Colin Cantwell, the man who created the spacecraft in the “Star Wars” films, has passed. He was 90.

The Hollywood Reporter reported that Sierra Dall, Cantwell’s partner, affirmed that he died at his home in Colorado on Saturday.

Cantwell invented the prototypes for the X-wing Starfighter, TIE fighter, and Death Star.

He also operated on films including “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “WarGames.”

Cantwell was born in San Francisco in 1932. Before toiling on Hollywood films, Cantwell attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where he received a degree in animation. He also attended Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture.

During the 1960s space race between the US and Russia, Cantwell worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Nasa, enabling the American public to better understand the flights.

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This led to him working alongside TV journalist Walter Cronkite during his historic Moon landing broadcast in 1969, providing a connection between him and the astronauts.

Cantwell's interest in both architecture and space saw him prosper in Hollywood, where he worked in special photographic effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey, helping to create the film's dramatic space opening scene.

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Star War director Lucas then recruited him, alongside other designers like Ralph McQuarrie, to help create initial models for the original 1977 film.

"The beginning of the film after the scroll, the ship coming by was like one giant dart," Cantwell clarified in an interview. "It kept coming and it kept coming. "This is what had to compound itself in the first half-hour of the film," he additionally stated. "It had to be all so absurd and different and insanely joyous and perilous that the audience wouldn't leave. They would want to be in it. The first half-hour had to be extraordinarily successful and beyond reason.

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"It had to be a strange kind of joyous. It is all the impossibilities that are playing together, and that is what makes it Star Wars. It is so many layers that the different characters showed that they are different but doing this giant parody at the same time."

Cantwell also operated on technical dialogue for Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, was a computer graphics design consultant for WarGames in 1983, and wrote two sci-fi novels.

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