by @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron
Star Wars has a long tradition of insightful and emotional behind the scenes documentaries and Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian is no exception. The eight part Disney+ series chronicles the making of The Mandalorian’s first season, with each episode highlighting a different facet of the show’s creation. From directors to actors to visual effects to score, each installment of the series offers a unique look at The Mandalorian and, if this is even possible, furthers one’s appreciation of an already fantastic season of television.
When it was first announced, Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian was pretty unexpected. Documentaries are common for film and television, but having an entire eight episode series dedicated to the making of a streaming television show is unique. One of the main reasons Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian works so well is its intelligent structure, dedicating each episode to something distinct about the show. Rather than cover the show chronologically, similar to how The Skywalker Legacy documentary covered The Rise of Skywalker recently, Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian kept things fresh each week with a different spotlight. Some episodes were more engaging than others because of this format, but they all worked cohesively in the long run to paint a comprehensive picture of how the first season came to be.
A common theme throughout the entire show is the passion and love for Star Wars embodied by everyone working on The Mandalorian. This is best exemplified by the interplay between Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, whose fun making the series is palpable. The two have some great conversations throughout the series, talking about their love for Star Wars, the influences on the show, and their desire to honor George Lucas’ legacy while forging an original story of their own. Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian is worth watching for the insights provided by and discussions between Favreau and Filoni alone.
The directors and actors installments excel in showing how different visions converged in the first season. With Favreau and Filoni’s overarching influence on the series, to see what each individual director like Taika Waititi or Bryce Dallas Howard brought to their individual episodes was really interesting and sparked some great discussion among the directors. Favreau clearly assembled a team of talented directors, whose passion for Star Wars and filmmaking in general complemented one another to culminate in a cohesive, enthralling first season of The Mandalorian. Hearing the actors speak about their roles also added another layer to the show. Many documentaries spotlighting actors are relatively surface level, but Disney Gallery fostered some genuine, insightful conversations among the actors, Gina Carano’s ode to Carl Weathers being a particular highlight.
Ever since the original Star Wars, the franchise has advanced filmmaking technology and The Mandalorian is no exception. Disney Gallery depicts some of these technological advances in amazing detail. It’s jaw-dropping to see the volume in action and how they were able to seamlessly utilize this novel technology throughout the series, a massive upgrade from blue and green screens and their issues with interactive light. We highly recommend subsequent viewings of the first season of The Mandalorian to see the extensive use of the volume and how realistic and lived in the technology makes different planets and environments seem. Other facets of visual effects, such as the use of miniatures and pre-visualization, were portrayed in the documentary and, collectively, painted a picture of how each episode sequentially came together from script and concept art onto visual effects.
As with most filmmaking documentaries, Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian was full of interesting tidbits of trivia for hardcore Star Wars fans like ourselves. Learning that Kuill originally did not speak basic, that Karga was an alien character at one point, that Pedro Pascal came up with some of his own dialogue and that Mark Hamill has a vocal cameo are just a few examples of the great content featured in this documentary series. Similarly appealing to hardcore Star Wars fans was the inclusion of the 501st Legion as extras. Hearing the story behind their role in the show and seeing real Star Wars play actual roles in a real Star Wars project was great to see and was emotionally impactful in demonstrating how meaningful Star Wars can be. In addition, Dave Filoni’s discussion on Duel of the Fates in the documentary made headlines several weeks ago and showed that Disney Gallery can lean into a deeper, more analytic view on Star Wars that adds so much to broader canon.
Overall, Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian is well worth watching for casual and hardcore fans alike. Some choppy editing and episode conclusions aside, the series delivers on every front in terms of offering fans a glance behind the scenes of The Mandalorian. It’s clear throughout the series that The Mandalorian was developed by a team of people who invested extensive time and effort in producing a show Star Wars fans will love and talk about for years. Moving forward, we’re hoping that Disney+ continues to feature these in depth behind the scenes looks at Star Wars projects. And we definitely wouldn’t complain if we got more of Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau analyzing and discussing Star Wars in the future as well. To see a show like The Mandalorian so passionately produced by true Star Wars fans for true Star Wars fans is awesome to see in this documentary and just makes us anticipate the second season that much more.
Images courtesy of Disney+ and Lucasfilm