Ever since watching The Last Jedi at the cinema I’ve been trying to pull together my thoughts on the film so I could get them down for the blog and channel. This has continued to elude me. It did lead me to a different destination which is more my thoughts on the direction of Star Wars itself.
I think that’s the issue. I’m wrestling with The Last Jedi specifically because what I have to say isn’t really about The Last Jedi but Star Wars moving forward.
I needed to pan back and look at the bigger picture.
Video From The Channel
The video covers the same topic no doubt with interesting deviations and variations!
The Moon Landing
On of my theoretical favourite books of all time is a book called Moondust. It’s a non-fiction book. It tells the story of the moon landings from the perspective of the people, the time and the place. It conjures up that era in an immediate and evocative way and it’s totally enthralling.
One of the questions that book asks is why we’ve never been back to the moon or built on the moon landing to go to Mars?
It postulates that the people and time was unique and that is why the moon landings happened and nothing so amazing has happened since.
I’ve come to the conclusion that is exactly the same with Star Wars.
A Cinematic Moon Landing
A New Hope is essentially a cinematic moon landing, unique to the people and time it was created. While some might argue that is true of all films, it is substantially more true for some. It’s so true in the case of Star Wars that once time moved on and the mosaic of resources ceased to exist the unique creation failed to be re-created despite people mixing the same or similar ingredients together.
At The Time, Cinema Was Ready
Around the time Star Wars hit the cinema, big screen, quality science fiction wasn’t focused on space opera. It was what some might call proper, premise-based science fiction. The 70’s gave us Silent Running, Planet of the Apes, Westworld, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Logan’s Run, Soylent Green and Solaris.
The above is not a complete list, but swashbuckling blasting firing heroes and space pilots destroying planet-sized super-weapons it ain’t. It isn’t Flash Gordon.
On this basis it could be argued that cinema was waiting for something different. Something that would take the space opera serials of yesteryear ground them more in theme, enhance the acting and push the technology to deliver something spectacular that had not been seen before.
The audience was potentially ready as well, as they’d have not seen anything with the pace, excitement and spectacle of Star Wars in a ‘science fiction’ set-up on the big screen.
At The Time, Lucas Was Married
George Lucas was married throughout the creation of the original trilogy, getting a divorce from Marcia Lucas in 1983. George was married to Marcia, who was a highly respected film editor who officially worked in that capacity on A New Hope and Return of the Jedi and unofficially on The Empire Strikes Back. She was also the editor on American Graffiti and the Martin Scorese films Taxi Driver and New York, New York.
Marcia Lucas won an Oscar for the editing of Star Wars.
This is not me putting forward that Marcia deserves all the credit for Star Wars or that she ‘saved it in the editing room’. It’s not even about the specific things she’s been labelled as having the idea for (the death of Obi-Wan which Lucas couldn’t solve), saving an extended scene (the attack on the Death Star) and adding some much needed human touches (the kiss before swinging of the chasm in the Death Star) but it worth recognising that as his wife and partner, and also a skilled editor Marcia had significant influence on how, Star Wars specifically, turned out. This is true in her role as editor and the fact George Lucas listened to her, even over contemporaries like Francis Ford Coppola.
Think about if for a second, the man who often says that Star Wars is build on the common structures of epic storytelling did not know what to do with Obi-Wan? This is despite the fact the mentor dying is a key element of such heroic epics.
George Can’t Write For Shit
Lucas himself admits that dialogue is not his strong point. He has also admitted writing was never something he has enjoyed. On A New Hope Lucas estimates that 30% of the dialogue was done by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz. Lucas then benefited from Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford re-wrote or cut many of their lines.
You can see again A New Hope becomes the film it is because of the people involved.
You can also look back at the scripts as they developed, and no final version of the script really existed for Star Wars, at see the prequels waiting to happen once Lucas was alone with his yellow pads and a pen.
Lucas certainly did plot everything out in advance across all three films, A New Hope was a singular endeavour which didn’t even have that name until it got changed later along with the edition of the episode number. A core of the major plot twists and events weren’t even the idea of Lucas.
This takes nothing away from the man, most creative endeavours with a singular, creative figure often turn out to be a highly collaborative effort. It’s the same with The X-Files and Christ Carter and Star Trek and Gene Roddenberry, for instance. They deserve all the credit for having the visions and drive to see a creation through.
It’s just the creation is very rarely there’s alone.
This Is My Problem With The Disney Films
Let’s make something clear. I thoroughly enjoyed The Force Awakens, Rogue One and The Last Jedi at the cinema. I’ve since watched the first two multiple times at home and I’ve certainly come to appreciate Rogue One more over time.
This is not me discounting the flaws in each film, though these flaws may not be the same ones as you have in your head.
The jury is still out on The Last Jedi, though I enjoyed it immensely at the cinema just like the previous two.
The problem with the new films is are trying to pull off another moon landing when really all they are doing is launching satellites into orbit or unmanned space missions. All these things can be cool and interesting…
…but they ain’t no moon landing.
They aren’t the cinematic moon landing that Star Wars was because it isn’t the same time and the same people certainly aren’t involved or they but they’re different people with different agendas and it different points in their careers.
Like the moon landing it ain’t going to happen again.
All The Fans Answers Are Wrong!
They’re wrong because it’s just not possible to make a film as good as Star Wars. It will just never happen.
The suggestion that they should bring back Lucas is a testament to the individual, creative genius idea but he’s going to save nothing. He is a creative person divorced from the network of individuals that made him great.
Introducing stories from the EU won’t make any difference as those stories were crap. I’ve read the better ones and they ain’t great. They make all the common mistakes people who write and are interested in Star Wars make. They feel the need to fill in every blank in the Universe and explain the ‘magic’ that should be left unexplained. For all the people who applaud the Extended Universe it loads of midi-chlorian moments as they tried to explain the magical technology.
The Extended Universe wasn’t even a series of satellite launches it was a series launches were the rocket exploded on the platform.
Keeping the characters from the original trilogy is almost as the main cast is a complete waste of time. They need to pass the torch and in many ways die in order to do that. This makes perfect sense. You can moan about the replacements but that’s a different problem.
I’ve come to accept Star Wars as a unique a thing as the moon landing because the evidence tells me it was true. The way the original series developed and the creative resources around Lucas. The time and the place that ensured Star Was fresh and new.
Hell, even business theory which explains the resource-based view of strategy that explains why some companies can’t repeat another’s success even if they know exactly what there strategy is.
The new Star Wars films may be fun and entertaining, but they’re not going to be as good or recapture the experience of the originals (that’s a time and place as well). It’s not nostalgia. It’s the simple fact that for A New Hope especially, they’re just not as good.
I’m sure those that lived during the time of the moon landing see it as a singular and unique moment in time. It truly was. We need to recognise that this is the exact same situation with Star Wars and let ourselves be satisfied with these satellite launches and unmanned missions instead.