Yeah, it’s taken us a little longer than expected, but here they finally are, the winning essays in our Why do you Love/Hate George Lucas contest.
Carl Rossi ^ I don’t hate George Lucas. I have fallen out of favor for the man. Star Wars, though exciting and proof of an amazing imagination, had a marginal script. But I loved it so much and its two sequels, I was willing to look the other way when his other film projects came out. People said “Howard the Duck!” I said, “Tucker!” They said, “Radioland Murders!” I said “Young Indiana Jones!” They said, “Captain Eo!” I said “He finished Jurassic Park! And Willow was pretty good too!”
But I can’t defend him anymore.
1 Not since he ruined the original movies with such spectacular mistakes as “Greedo fires first”, “Luke screaming when falling in Empire” and the new horrendous music in Jabba’s Palace in Jedi. Not only to mention that the Episode I, II, III naming convention blows. If we can handle twenty James Bond movies and none of them read like James Bond 20: Die Another Day. Then I think we can handle just the proper titles of the movies.
2 Then there’s Jar Jar. Ewoks I could handle because there’s a theme of the fallibility of technology in the original trilogy and the Ewoks put a brought the idea home. But Jar Jar? The only way he could be excusable is if he were the equivalent of a human at the age of 5 when we saw him in Phantom Menace. And he’s not. He’s old enough to be banished.
3 Ultimately, the new trilogy is a drawn-out, boring political drama with by-the-book action sequences. The flying car scene in Attack of the Clones doesn’t hold up to the flying car scene in The Fifth Element. I mean really, how many times does Obi-Wan have to say, “I hate it when he does that!” The chase in the factory towards the end in Attack of the Clones with Padme and Anakin was as exciting as watching someone play a video game. In fact, I think I remember that scene in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
The crowning achievement for the man has to be American Graffiti. And more specifically, the scene when Steve and Laurie are fighting and they dance together. Despite an amazing imagination, he really doesn’t have the ability to express it on paper or on film.
Steve Phillips ^ It’s 1977 and an 8-year-old boy walks nervously into a darkened movie theatre, unsure of what’s going to happen next. His father sits him down in a chair double his size and places a tub of popcorn in his lap; he looks up and stares into the black abyss before him. The minutes seem like hours, and then through the darkness magical words appear. “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.” The gigantic “Star Wars” logo shoots out from the screen and the tremendous music fills the air. The boy about leaped out of his seat and his eyes are permanently glued to the screen, now a lifetime is forever changed.
It is now 2003 and that 8-year-old boy is now almost 34 and the years sure have flown by. I remember that June day way back then like it was yesterday and I turn into a boy again. Last May I was able to take my 8-year-old son to see the opening of “Attack of the Clones” and I saw the same look in his eyes as he watched that super make believe world unfold before him. I realized then what George had done, he took children and opened the doors of imagine and possibilities, he let them know it’s ok to dream. For adults George reminds them of what it felt like to be a kid, he reminds them of what they lost and lets them be forever 8 years old. That’s what George Lucas has done for me and my family and nobody can ever take that away. I believe that no one would be Anti-Lucas if they would just “Forget what they have learned” and to “Let go” and be a child again.
Thank you George!
BC ^ The super-mainstream George Lucas has now isolated himself so much from the creative mainstream that he’s slowly becoming the Michael Jackson of film makers. Both men in the 1970s and 1980s made such an impact on pop culture that the flood of money and power has mutated them into a kind of parody of themselves today. That said, George probably does a better job of keeping his hands to himself on that big old ranch of his.
And it’s too bad because George still knows where his strengths lie: in crafting original characters. The film maker may not be able to write an unstrained line of dialogue but let’s face it, love em or hate, Jar Jar Binks is one for the ages, as iconic as any wookie or droid in the first trilogy.
So yeah, it’s easy for the “film people” to hate the man for steering clear of any emotional urgency in his work, as it is for the “movie people” to love the novelty of his spectacle. But let’s all remember that George, as much as Chaplin and Hitchcock before, made his mark knowing that more than anything moviegoers of the world want to be awed. There’s pleasure at work here, and though his crackerjack sensibilities have been criticized as “hedonistic” by some, Mr. Lucas (just like Michael Jackson) is a showman at heart. And for the most part in his career it works.
But the man doesn’t seem to be operating on any sense of real human connections anymore… only the idea of them. Seeing his last two films you wonder if the stoic Jedi is his way of explaining a genuine awkwardness around women as well as justifying his infamous isolation. Watch Lucas give an interview; he actually TALKS like a Jedi.
Strange how his best pal Spielberg still has that 25 year old wiz-kid inside him — so even when Spielberg fails, he fails with vigor. Looking at something like ‘The Two Towers’ this past year in the wake of “Episode 2,” you almost feel sorry for Lucas — who was just blasted out the water of cultural relevance! He numbs his actors with blue screen sets to the point where we can actually see the indifference in their eyes. There’s no excuse to misdirect his players the way he does. There’s no flame, no sense of giddiness, no Han Solo swagger. Everyone in that last film was just reading lines. When you compare that to the operatic stuff Peter Jackson is doing, you can’t help but wonder if Lucas is just a little rusty or if it was ever there to begin with. If he were smart he’d keeping mapping out stories and ideas and leave the “heavy lifting” to those who still have that warm cinema grumble in the pit of their tummies.
Sure, the same can be said about Francis Coppola, who likewise never got it back to his 1970s heyday. It’s not about what kind of film anyone makes — there’s nothing inherently evil in bang bang blockbusters — it just that when you reach a level of super-success, sometimes your creativity can’t recover from the trauma. This is why Scorsese is gonna keep cranking em out — only a few of us snobs like him. Here’s hoping James Cameron catches on to this.
Damn that “Two Towers” was good.
Eli A. Reusch ^ Here we are, the year 2003, and George Lucas is limping around recovering from repeatedly shooting himself in the foot. I was almost willing to forgive him for “Episode 1” because the last 10 minutes of “Clones” was so great, but he comes back with another huge cinematic faux pas to rival even the death of Annakin’s mother in “Clones.” He is not going to be releasing any of the original theatrical releases of the original trilogy on DVD… ever.
Now, I love the original trilogy. They’re the three films that defined a generation of films, their influence is unrivaled, and their fan base is rabid and dedicated. And he’s not allowing them to be released, warts and all, to a loving and adoring public.
Lucas was a genius. His ideas changed the face of science fiction films as the world knew them. It appears he has become a victim of a runaway ego, unwilling to admire the beauty of his original vision. I know I’m not the only fan who feels betrayed here. For God’s sake George, listen to your fans. Without us, you never would have been able to make the myriad films you made following the Star Wars trilogy. I hate to sound sanctimonious, but I feel like he owes his fans more than an unbridled display of cinematic megalomania.
That’s my two cents.
Mike Klimo ^ Aside from his devotion to advancing digital cinema, editing, sound, and projection technology (not to mention his educational contributions), I love George Lucas for the same reason we all should: he created a myth for our time.
In 1977, Lucas refashioned an old story in a way that spoke to an entire generation of humans, not just Americans. It opened our hero-less world to a realization of basic morality, universal archetypes, and the mysterious force that underlies all forms. Star Wars offered clear answers to a world searching for meaning in ambiguous times.
In 1999, Lucas continued his modern day myth with a sophistication, ambiguousness, and cultural inflection more relevant to our planet today than most people realize. War with Iraq is imminent. Corporate malfeasance runs rampant. Global terrorism has people living in fear. Anti-Americanism is growing. EVIL isn’t as unequivocal, external, and far, far away as we once thought. With the prequel trilogy (and the original trilogy), underneath all the special effects, deliberately flat characters, overly stylized dialogue, and old fashioned American pop culture sensibilities lies an important lesson: if we are to prevent evil, we must understand the origins and nature of evil. It’s a powerful message, even when it’s hidden inside corny, escapist entertainment. All the personal taste criticisms of ignorant and immature talkbackers and movie journalists will never change that fact.
And our runner-up – Scott Murray ^ I greatly admire George Lucas for the depth of his creativity and his drive to make his ideas a reality. I admire the way he used that drive and took a risk in 1977. He took a dead genre, redefined it and gave it new life. He gave audience members like me a great escape and since then I have never been the same.
Mr. Lucas inspires me in my own projects and given me one of the greatest feelings of nostalgia forever. His gamble is still paying off today. Nobody is happier about that than me…well, except maybe him.