We’ve Made George Lucas Sad About the New ‘Star Wars’
I never believe anything George Lucas says publicly. Over the last few days, a 2008 interview with Lucas has resurfaced (the Internet does this sometimes) in which the ‘Star Wars’ creator said, “There will definitely be no Episodes VII-IX … The ‘Star Wars’ story is really the tragedy of Darth Vader. That is the story.”
Well, first, everything in that sentence is false. As we know, there will be Episodes VII-IX and Lucas could have prevented them from happening if he really was hell-bent on them never happening. Lucas selling Lucasfilm to Disney reminds of a friend in high school who would set his empty McDonald’s cup on the passenger side mirror of a moving car, then, after the wind from the moving car immediately blew the cup off, would, after a fit of fake surprise, claim “I didn’t litter. I just set the cup on the mirror.”
The other lie comes in the second part of Lucas’ sentence about the ‘Star Wars’ saga being about Darth Vader. If you re-watch the original ‘Star Wars,’ you’ll notice that Mr. Vader is not really in the movie that much—an odd move for a series of six films about that character. The truth is, Vader, in the first film, is just a goon that happened to kill Luke Skywalker’s father. If you read the first draft of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ (and I have), Darth Vader is not even Luke’s father. In fact, it’s the ghost of Luke’s father who appears on Hoth to tell Luke to seek out Yoda (who is named “Minch” in this first draft).
Anyway, my propensity for not believing what George Lucas happened again when he was asked The New York Post about the new trailer for ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ and he reportedly replied: “I don’t know anything about it. I haven’t seen it yet.” He then went on to say, “I plan to see [the movie] when it’s released."
This is an odd thing to say and I’m not sure I believe him. But, just the fact that I feel unsure of Lucas’ truthfulness makes this sentence inherently interesting. This doesn’t seem like Lucas’ usual revisionist history bulls---, this seems different. This seemed like something a person who feels hurt would say.
It’s a weird thing to do, getting in the head of someone like George Lucas, but I couldn’t help but try. Once I got past, “what will I buy today?” and “what disease can I cure with one donation?,” I started asking myself-as-George-Lucas, “How do I feel about ‘Star Wars’?”
It has to be a weird thing, making this product that so many people love even though people hate you for making it. There are not a lot of people who are in that unique position. Lucas has received some serious scorn over the years. And, yes, some of it is deserved (I don’t care so much that Lucas made the ‘Star Wars’ Special Editions, but it’s not a great thing the original version seems like it’s gone forever), but these attacks don’t just make their (again, often valid) points—these attacks get personal. I get the impression that some people think that George Lucas is an unemotional robot and these insults don’t affect him. From what I read, I get the impression that Lucas is an emotional guy who takes everything to heart.
A criticism of The Prequels has always been that Lucas surrounded himself with yes men. I think this is a cause-and-effect relationship. By the time Lucas made ‘The Phantom Menace,’ it had been 22 years since he had directed a movie. I think by this point, people were just happy he was directing again and left alone, fearing he might just one day come into work and say, “Screw this, I quit.”
In 2014, Lucas never gets enough credit for what he’s done for ‘Star Wars.’ Take ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ for example—you know the movie you really like—Lucas never gets credit for writing the screenplay. Lawrence Kasdan gets a lot of credit, but even Kasdan has admitted he just came in to polish up the dialogue (Kasdan’s role on ‘Return of the Jedi’ was much more expansive). Leigh Brackett’s first script was pretty much abandoned (if you don’t believe me, you should read it) and it was Lucas who wrote the second draft (he neglected to take a screenwriting credit). So, if you want to make a GREAT ‘Star Wars’ movie, the secret seems to be hiring an outside director and cinematographer (in that case, Irvin Kershner and Peter Suschitzky) and have a screenplay written by Lucas and polished by Kasdan. Somehow that combination equaled magic—and Lucas is VERY much a part of that magic.
But, now, people don’t like him.
And, yes, the Prequels aren’t very good, but nothing’s going to change that now and Lucas is gone, so what’s it matter? If Lucas reads the Internet, all he still sees about himself is mostly scorn. And now there’s a new ‘Star Wars’ trailer that everyone seems to like, only Lucas isn’t involved. When Lucas sold ‘Star Wars,’ maybe he really thought it was “over.” As in, “Not sure why you’d want the rights to this, there’s nothing else to say about it.” And now that ‘Star Wars’ is huge again, maybe he feels a little left out? Maybe he regrets his decision? We’ve all been in a position where we leave something, thinking we were done with it, then realize, later, when life goes on without you, that maybe you do miss it after all and have a lot more to say.
And, worst of all, people seem to like it better now that, you, the creator, is gone. That’s a tough thing for anyone to accept. So, yeah, I have a hard time believing that Lucas hasn’t seen at least seen some of the trailer, at least by accident. But I can also believe that he hasn’t sat down to specifically watch it. It’s probably a painful thing. If it were me, the whole thing would make me sad.
And, if someone asked me what I thought of the trailer, no matter if I had seen it or not, I would answer, “I haven’t seen it yet.”
Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and GQ. He is the senior editor of ScreenCrush. You can contact him directly on Twitter.