George Lucas Criticizes ‘Retro’ Style of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’
Although George Lucas is no longer involved, interviewers can’t help but ask the creator of the Star Wars franchise for his thoughts on Disney’s new direction with the series. Lucas recently shared some brief, civil thoughts on The Force Awakens, calling it “very much the kind of movie” fans have been looking for, but what does that mean, exactly? In another new interview, Lucas elaborates.
The Star Wars creator appeared on Charlie Rose (via THR), where talk inevitably turned to his involvement — and lack thereof — with the franchise. Lucas called the films his “kids” and said, “I sold them to the white slavers that take these things, and…,” he trailed off, referring to when he sold the franchise to Disney back in 2012 for $4 billion (The Force Awakens has already earned $1 billion). And what, George?! Finish that sentence!
Some fans have criticized The Force Awakens for adhering too much to the original trilogy, specifically A New Hope, with many plot beats that directly reference iconic moments. Lucas agrees with that assessment, complaining that J.J. Abrams made a film that’s too “retro”:
They wanted to do a retro movie. I don’t like that. Every movie, I worked very hard to make them different. I made them completely different – different planets, different spaceships to make it new.
And that’s where we get into a familiar franchise debate: if you try to give fans something new, you run the risk of disappointing them with something that’s too different; but if you try to remain faithful to their nostalgia and the things they loved about the original films, they complain that it’s too much of the same. The trick is to hit that sweet spot somewhere in the middle, like Ryan Coogler did with Creed.
For what it’s worth, I think Abrams did an admirable job of combining classic homage with new characters, setting up the potential to give us even more “new and different” in the coming sequels. Essentially, all those familiar nods help ease people into the new stuff, while Lucas’ prequel trilogy was concerned almost entirely with the unfamiliar (like Jar Jar, and CGI).
As Lucas has said before, he had ideas for a new Star Wars trilogy, but when Disney bought the rights they weren’t interested in his plan — perhaps rightfully so. Lucas explains:
They weren’t that keen to have me involved anyway, but if I get in there, I’m just going to cause trouble, because they’re not going to do what I want them to do. And I don’t have the control to do that anymore, and all I would do is muck everything up. And so I said, ‘OK, I will go my way, and I’ll let them go their way.’
To be fair to Lucas, fans seem to have forgotten that he gave us three really great Star Wars films (or two really great ones and one that was just OK, depending on how you feel about Return of the Jedi), and the director has been on the receiving end of a lot of unfortunate resentment, especially now that The Force Awakens has proven a worthy successor.