Friday, August 9, 2013

People of the Chair- George Lucas

So, I started out this series by talking about someone who I have always admired, I guess it only makes sense to follow it up with someone I... Well, I don't despise him exactly, but I definitely don't think that highly of him as a filmaker, even though his brainchild is three of my favorite movies.

With the selling of Lucasfilm to the mouse and the coming of Episodes VII-IX on the horizon, I thought it was time that I gave my thoughts on the man behind the sale. George Lucas is one of those people that everybody seems to have an opinion on. Some people love him, a lot hate him. But our feelings for him really started to take shape after the release of the prequels because it showed audiences his true prowess (or lack thereof) as a director. So what are my thoughts on the guy? I don't like him as a filmaker, but as a businessman, you have to give the guy credit. So much so that I think of him as a businessman first. Which would be great except that you are in show business, and you are trying to sell toys. Not always the best goal to have because one is always going to suffer. In his case, his movies suffered. If you look at a lot of the creatures and machines in the prequels and the remastered originals, you may find yourself coming to the conclusion that it was there for the sake of selling action figures, which is really sad. When you start thinking more about the profits of the movie rather than the integrity of the piece, you lose your credibility as an artist in my opinion. Now, I'm not going to turn this into a review on the prequels, though we will get to that eventually.

And it seems that his way of thinking only became that way in the mid nineties when the prequels were being written because in his earlier days, he appeared to at least be somewhat passionate about what he was doing. These days, filmakers like James Cameron and Zack Snyder have been known for pushing the envelope in terms of the visuals of a movie, but George Lucas was the first person to do that. A New Hope was one of the first big sci-fi movies that had such a big and grand scale, which is why it has become a cultural phenomenon in the years following its release in the 1970's, and for that you do have to give George Lucas credit. Story wise, though, you would have to credit the legions of writers who had to go through rewrite after rewrite in order to make the story work. You see, while Star Wars had the scale to dwarf all other sci-fi adventure movies, it certainly didn't have the story. You remember the movie they were faking in the movie Argo? From what I understand, the original draft by George Lucas was on par with that, which would not do. IF the visuals were going to be grand, then the story needed to match it. Now, thankfully it went through the treatment that it did because not only has it been a cultural phenomenon, but some people are saying that, along with comic books, Star Wars is American mythology. Unfortunately for George, it wasn't the story that he had wanted, and when it came to writing the stories for the sequels, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, he found his ideas getting rejected more and more. I've heard that one of his ideas was so stupid that he got laughed out of the writer's meeting. I don't know that to be true, but when you hear stories about what the original was supposed to be like, then I wouldn't be surprised. I know that these days, George Lucas has all of the credit to be had for creating Star Wars, but I think that it is wrongly placed. Now, I know what some defenders of George Lucas would want to say, that even if he was entirely responsible for the original Star Wars, it's possible for him to make a bad movie. And yes, thta is true, not even Martin Scorsese has a hit every time. But to make two bad movies, a mediocre third, and then produce a fourth movie in another franchise that sucked... and then a few years later produce another mediocre movie that could have been great, you have to admit, something's not right here. Even if Star Wars was his complete brainchild, you could definitely see that there was a point where Lucas had given up on the artistic aspect of his work.

And now he says that he's retiring. Considering that since the release of the prequels, he's only made three major decisions, I have to ask... What are you retiring from? He hasn't had many hands on jobs in previous years, so what has he been doing? I was under the impression that he was already kind of retired. But I guess now that he has officially handed off the baton, I guess now he can officially stop screwing his own ideas.

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