Friday Face/Off: George Lucas
Kayleigh (had an Indiana Jones hat specially commissioned – check her headshot!):
In some ways, I’m completely unsure as to why we’re even having this debate at all. I mean, it’s George Lucas. GEORGE LUCAS! You know the man I mean, right? Sure, he grew up on a walnut farm and, sure, he might be a little nuts (see what I did there?) but this is the genius behind Star Wars and Indiana Jones, two of the greatest movie franchises of our lifetime. All you have to do is hum the theme tune for either of them and everybody knows what you’re talking about. And you’re telling me that you don’t think the George Lucas is a genius of modern cinema? I really don’t see it John. I really don’t.
John (was prescribed six years of CBT after seeing A Phantom Menace):
George Lucas is indeed responsible for some corkers, I have no argument there. But what’s he spent the last twenty years doing? Hatching plans to bring down every one of his marvellous creations one at a time, that’s what. Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. THREE FUCKING DEE. The higher you sit, the farther you have to fall, and Georgie boy has plummeted a long, long way. Sure he’s raking it in like nobody’s business, but at what price? Lucas will not stop until the fragile integrity of his best work lies trampled in the mud, and I hate him for it.
I really don’t think we can condemn him completely to the bottom of the pit for that. Sure, the prequel trilogy was just… it was just terrible, I suppose. But it did feature Ewan McGregor (a hugely redeeming feature!) and it reintroduced the franchise to an entirely new generation, all of whom bloody LOVED seeing Anakin Skywalker go mental and lose his legs. Those kids would have never even thought of watching Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope had it not been for this brand-spanking new look at the Skywalker clan. And I doubt I need to remind you John, hardened film critic that you are, that A New Hope received SEVEN Academy Awards, broke all box office records and, oh yeah, redefined the term ‘blockbuster’. So I think that gives Lucas the excuse to play around with it a little, realise his dreams of the backstory and all. Plus I’ll have you know that I know at least… *counts frantically*… NINE people who really enjoyed Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it!
Ooh, I’m Kayleigh and I enjoy things. Rubbish things. Ooooooh. This just in, Lucas-groupie – making a few films which appeal to CGI-hungry eight-year-olds does not a career nosedive redeem, mm’kay? Nobody’s contesting the importance of the original Star Wars trilogy (seriously, seven Oscars? AMAZE), but A New Hope came out before Elvis died! That’s approximately a REALLY LONG TIME ago, and Lucas has been getting increasingly comfortable on his supersized laurels ever since. I’ll give him up to 1989 – everyone loves The Last Crusade, after all – but since then he hasn’t produced a single original idea, let alone anything that could even come close to his earlier achievements. It’s time to give it up.
I’m choosing to ignore the childish mimicry there (incidentally, did you know that imitation as a form of defence is a trait commonly displayed by chimpanzees?). Are we really saying that an excellent director need to be defined by his ability to LIVE FOREVER? Ooh, remember Hitchcock? He hasn’t made anything brilliant since, I dunno, the bloody 70s. And, quite honestly, he went for the same thing every single time he whacked out a movie, going primarily for moody lighting and suspense. I mean, I’m not questioning the genius that is Hitchcock (or am I?) but at least Lucas ventured into animation (remember Land Before Time? AND LABYRINTH?). If he died tomorrow, he’d be remembered as a brilliant artist. One that invented the beauty that is the LIGHTSABRE for crying out loud. The lightsabre. The most elegant weapon of all moviedom. One swish of that and you go from standing at a bar, possibly wailing on some sissy farmer kid, to lying on the floor. In two pieces.
You’ve won at least ten points there for spelling ‘lightsabre’ as God intended, even if George doesn’t agree. I’d be totally fine with him retiring and leaving us with his actual achievements – things like the aforesaid lightsabre, Indy’s hat and Carrie Fisher pre-crazy – but why does he insist on returning to time-honoured classics and violating them so cruelly? The CGI-heavy Star Wars prequels irrevocably devalued the distinctly homemade originals, and the planned 3D rerelease of all six films will make a mockery of the endearingly unpolished effects which represented the pinnacle of visual fantasy in 1977. And let’s not even get on to the Indy reboot. Nicole Kidman as a KGB spy chief? Give me strength. Why can’t George retire – die, even – and leave his legacy alone?
Erm, what about Lego Star Wars though? Or Lego Indiana Jones, for that matter? If that LEGEND stopped cooking up ideas in his crazy hut, we wouldn’t be able to enter the worlds he’s created and, you know, cause mayhem with CGI lego bricks and stuff. And you do know that Indy’s hat (brace yourself for this…) made it into the final cut of Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, right? By that account, you should be singing that movie’s praises right now. Plus, what on GOD’S EARTH are you talking about? Nicole Kidman wasn’t the KGB Spy Chief, Cate Blanchett was. Did you even go and SEE the film? Because, should the answer be a resounding ‘no’, I really don’t think you have any high ground left to stand on. You’d probably be about waste deep in stinking swamp mud. Which incidentally brings me to my next point. Wanna hear something good about swamp mud? It’s the habitat of YODA, another little creation of Lucas’ that just keeps on giving. Hmm, an artist Lucas is. Keep creating he must!
Well, that makes a bit more sense – I did think Nicole Kidman was a particularly odd casting choice, even from the man who thought Hayden Christiansen could be trusted to do anything except possibly have coats hung on him. Teach me to eschew the IMDb, won’t it? Anyway, your Lego Star Wars point is well made (if infantile). The only good Star Wars these days is in the Expanded Universe – there have been great games and even some decent books, but we’ll never see a watchable film from George Lucas again. He’s produced some of the most engaging sagas of modern times, and they’re clearly up to growing and evolving on their own – I just wish he’d step back and stop trying to wring more half-arsed ‘reimaginings’ out of the mighty originals! For every Yoda, dearie, there’s a Jar Jar. QED.
That’s true. I do really hate Jar Jar “Why Did Qui’Gon Save This Idiot?” Binks. But we can’t possibly condone fascism now, can we? And surely preventing an artist from exploring his own work would be just that. Did anyone tell J.K.Rowling that announcing a possible 8th book was a bad idea? No. We all thought it, but nobody actually leapt up and pressed their hand over her mouth to stop her saying the words, did they? Nope. And that’s probably because we’re all secretly scared that we might repeat that shoddy Van Gogh situation. Who knows, after Lucas dies being dubbed a miserable destroyer of his own worlds, we might look a little bit closer at his crappy modern take on the Empire and go… hey, if you stand back a bit, all those splodges look like frikkin sunflowers! Amazing. If only we’d noticed that stroke of genius while he was ALIVE!
Wow, did you really just invoke fascism to make your point? This is the Internet, Kayleigh, and Godwin’s Law is… well, law. I think that means I win.
*John runs off before Kayleigh can offer a rejoinder – this is amazing, he NEVER wins. Have a good weekend!*