So you may have heard the news that Disney has bought George Lucas’ company “Lucasfilm” for $4 billion.
This won’t be a long post. There have been enough weighty tomes, editorials and blog posts written about Star Wars to restock the Library of Alexandria. So, this is just a short, personal piece to say:
As a Star Wars fan who grew up with the original movies, I tried to stick with the “franchise” (I hate that word.). I tried to stick with it after The Phantom Menace. I tried to stick with it during the hilarious farce that was Attack of the Clones. And I even got a little bit excited about Revenge of the Sith. (Until Darth Vader howled “Noooooo!” at the end, like a pussy.) But, even then, I did try. I tried to overlook the cynical exploitation of all my best childhood memories for the sake of a quick buck and a few more action figures.
Oh, come on, I hear you say. Get a grip. It’s only a movie.
This is what writer and comics editor, Heidi MacDonald had to say, prior to the release of Revenge of the Sith:
“Star Wars was the guiding light of my teenage years. You can only imagine what we felt like 25 years ago when we walked out of the theatres showing Empire Strikes Back. There was no internet – nothing had been spoiled in the slightest. We were in shock – Vader was Luke’s dad? Who was the other? Were we really going to have to wait three years to get Han out of carbonite?
Against all common sense, I surrender myself to Revenge of the Sith. Stephen Spielberg says it made him cry. I’m sure I’ll cry, too. For my childhood, for the many hours of love and faith my friends have poured into a dumbass movie franchise for the last 30 years, for Anakin, for the fact I can’t turn back now.”
I’ve always loved that quote, and I felt pretty much the same way at the time. And then, yesterday, with the announcement that Disney has bought “Lucasfilm”, I read these quotes:
Disney CEO Robert Iger: “This is one of the great entertainment properties of all time, one of the best branded and one of the most valuable, and it’s just fantastic for us to have the opportunity to both buy it, run it and grow it.”
George Lucas: “I’m confident that with Lucasfilm …. having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.”
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. It’s not about making entertaining movies that will enrapture an audience and stay with them for the rest of their lives; it’s about making theme park rides and “consumer products”. And don’t get me wrong; I’m not naïve. I’ve always known it was about money, ever since the first Star Wars lunch boxes. But I guess I was foolish enough to think that George Lucas might have some integrity left. This cynical, money-grubbing exercise says otherwise.
There was a time for Episodes 7, 8 and 9 and that was back in the mid-80s when the actors involved where still of an age when they could play those characters. Now, they would need to hire a new cast of actors. While it’s fun to imagine the possibilities (Michael Fassbender as Han Solo?) this is entirely missing the point.
The original movies were often hokey, often corny, and the dialogue was often risible. But we loved them. We loved them because of the characters and the actors who played them and because they were very much of their time. That can never be created.
So, don’t bother, all you new generations that Lucas talks about. Take Michael Fassbender and make your own science fiction epic. Leave Star Wars in the past. Where it belongs.
As W.B. Yeats famously said about Star Wars, “I have spread my dreams under your feet, George; tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”
(Image: Click the pic for credits)
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