The Star Wars universe seemed plenty big back when we waited years between movies to catch up on what was happening in that galaxy far, far away. But like our own universe, it’s still expanding, 10 years after George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to the Walt Disney Company. For our annual TV Issue—an exploration of what’s new and great in television—Anthony Breznican goes behind the scenes to report exclusively on five new Star Wars shows (plus the already beloved Mandalorian) planned for Disney+. As ever, the properties marry epic storytelling with cutting-edge technology and effects, and Anthony is the first journalist to visit the innovative soundstage that makes possible all the virtual alien landscapes we know and expect. He’s also got details on the rematch between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader (the return of the franchise favorites) and a charming story about how Rosario Dawson freaked out her friend’s kid by FaceTiming him in full costume as a Force-seeker called Ahsoka Tano, complete with blue-and-white head tails. Even Baby Yoda gets the Annie Leibovitz treatment—his first-ever photo shoot, for the record.
If the expansion of the overall TV universe evokes the views of Einstein, then the nature of its evolution right now feels Darwinian: ever more varied, complex, and competitive. Sometimes the competition is right there in the show, as R.O. Kwon writes about Squid Game, the dystopian Korean drama on Netflix that united nations in its popularity. Joy Press, meanwhile, profiles Matthew Macfadyen, the affable star behind the scheming, smirking Tom Wambsgans, Succession’s ultimate striver. And for more on TV’s survival of the fittest, don’t miss Joy’s column on how streamers, in their quest for dominance, are becoming more like network TV, for better and worse.
Two years ago the photojournalist Alex Majoli traveled to Sicily for Vanity Fair to document the terrifying first wave of COVID-19. The entirety of Italy was in lockdown, an unprecedented and at the time almost incomprehensible situation—public spaces were deserted, hospitals overwhelmed, doctors exhausted and despondent. This spring Alex traveled to Ukraine to photograph a different deadly European front. Many of the images published in these pages are from the port city of Odesa, where Russia, now several months into its invasion of Ukraine’s sovereign territory, has been operating a campaign of missile strikes. Alex captures the beauty of that city through the resilience of its people, and the pain of separation embodied in a father bidding his son goodbye at the train station. Similar scenes have played out thousands, if not millions, of times across Ukraine, an undercurrent of personal grief amid the epic tragedy of this war.
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