I almost couldn’t believe it when my wife turned from her computer and said seven beautiful words: “George Lucas is retiring from Star Wars”. The truth was less simple, but certainly documented in places such as this article.
And I admit it, over the years I’ve become such a hater this pronouncement felt like some huge chain had fallen from my limbs. Like a refreshing drink of cool water after being lost in the desert, or that feeling you get when a good friend finally breaks up with someone who was abusing their relationship. Yes, I am indeed one of those horrible fanboys Lucas is referencing when he complains:
“Why would I make any more, when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?”
Am I sorry that it’s come to this? I searched my feelings, and came to the conclusion that, no, I’m really not. Make of that what you will, but when Lucas confirmed he was going to make Phantom Menace 3-D happen, combining two of my greatest pet peeves in recent cinema, it was hard not to feel like he was personally out to punch me in the dick. So my dick already feels much better.
Star Wars does not equal Lucas. It’s easy to adhere to that fallacy, and certainly Lucas himself has made little effort to share credit with all the others involved in taking his early ideas and making some compellingly dramatic sense of them… but let’s face it, the best Star Wars stuff since 1983 has often seen a direct correlation to how little Lucas is involved with the project. I’m not a huge fan of the EU efforts, but there was some rich background woven up there which he decided to completely ignore, culminating in the prequel novels where cycles of writers desperately tried to justify and make sense of fundamentally retarded ideas, only to see it all undone by the next movie and its fresh shotgun load of nonsense. It would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad.
So yeah, if Lucas has finally decided to wash his hands of Star Wars and Indiana Jones and head back to art films like THX-1138 where no one will really care about pacing, bizarre non-sequiturs or wooden direction? I think that’s best for everyone. Good properties based on the IPs can and will still be made, without the man who didn’t find anything narratively questionable about the idea to have Darth Vader build C-3PO and grow up on Tattooine. Or who put together a thick dossier just to convince Spielberg that Indy surviving a nuclear explosion in a refrigerator wouldn’t look horribly silly.
When I told Lucas that Spielberg had accepted the blame for nuking the fridge, he looked stunned. “It’s not true,” he said. “He’s trying to protect me.”
In fact, it was Spielberg who “didn’t believe” the scene. In response to Spielberg’s fears, Lucas put together a whole nuking-the-fridge dossier. It was about six inches thick, he indicated with his hands. Lucas said that if the refrigerator were lead-lined, and if Indy didn’t break his neck when the fridge crashed to earth, and if he were able to get the door open, he could, in fact, survive. “The odds of surviving that refrigerator — from a lot of scientists — are about 50-50,” Lucas said.
Watching the interviews with Spielberg regarding Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I got the feeling he had passed into the realm of I-don’t-give-a-fuck-anymore. He was done with the Indiana Jones character and had better things to do than argue with Lucas anymore on what would make good cinema.
I’m sure it’s not you, George, it’s us. You said as much. Like a certain POTUS of 2000-2008, you stick by your mistakes without apology or even acknowlegement, at best quietly sweeping them under the rug (what happened to all that Midichlorian talk after Phantom Menace? Wasn’t that an important plot point to you?). This is especially ironic considering you felt the need to go back and fix your “mistakes” in the original movies now that you didn’t have anyone to tell you no. I’m surprised you didn’t redub C-3PO as that sleazy salesman you first wanted.
Maybe you, like Bush Jr., will be more forthcoming once you’ve retired. Of course, the looming problem with that is you’ve apparently announced retirement more times than a pro wrestler, including the intent to go back to “small, experimental films“.
I would like to believe you’re sincere this time. I think it will be better for everyone. Maybe on your way out you could even authorize a remastering of the original theatrical films, instead of trying to bury them away as not fitting your “vision”.
But I have to admit, a man who apparently had such a monkey on his back about “his” movies that he felt compelled to screw with them on fundamental storytelling levels doesn’t exactly fit the profile for graceful retirement. To this day you can’t even stop tweaking, and it’s gotten to the point it seems like you’re just fucking with us because you can. Because you feel we’re being spiteful and mean, so you want to be spiteful and mean right back. Even if you feel like we deserve it, perhaps you could take a page from Alan Moore on when he quit writing for DC Comics:
“When you find out you’ve been standing in shit, you don’t jump up and down on it to punish it, you walk away.”
Also, no matter our falling outs, I really don’t want to see you end up like pop culture adventure/sci-fi’s version of Ric Flair.
Just walk away.
We will give you safe passage in the Wasteland.
Just walk away and there will be an end to the horror.
We await your answer.