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Friday, August 29, 2008

Star Wars: A Letter to George Lucas

Dear Mr. Lucas,
This letter is in conjunction with many posts across the web--the World Wide Web, if you will, since you seem somewhat out of touch with popular culture as of late--at places like SF Signal. These posts have been about the fate of Star Wars and what could very well save it from what could be an assured painful death.
We were all relatively ecstatic about the original Star Wars movies. The first film was a fantastic romp, a space opera that gave us the adventure we all wanted and didn't take itself too seriously. Then there came The Empire Strikes Back, which took us somewhere darker than A New Hope and showed us just how complex the Star Wars universe could be while maintaining it's fun, high-flying adventurous side. Finally we were shown Return of the Jedi, which tried to go backwards to the not-too-serious feel of A New Hope with it's epic battle of furry teddy bears and comical Wookie nonsense. I will likely be stabbed for saying this, but Return of the Jedi is by far my favorite movie set in the Star Wars universe--as a child I was more interested in the amazing space battles than I was the lightsaber fights, and I'm still amazed by those same space battles to this day.And then you brought us the prequels. Not only was this a generally stupid idea--prequels to movies that already provided us the answers aren't generally good ideas anyway, considering your prequels only offered us the "how did Vader become Vader" stuffs--but it didn't exactly work. No offense to you or the people you chose to play your characters, but the original trilogy had better acting and writing than these three did, with the third prequel--Revenge of the Sith--being a possible exception. Okay, perhaps that is a lie, but most fans of your work, and even non-fans, are willing to admit that Revenge of the Sith is the best of the prequels hands down. The problems with the prequels are too many to list here, and you are probably either completely ignorant of them due to some sort of intention to ignore the critics of your work or you just don't care. I lean towards the former because I do believe that you think your work is of excellent quality and simply don't pay attention to the folks who are pleading with you to do what you need to do. This means you won't read what I am writing here.
Star Wars is in desperate need of an overhaul, but you, Mr. Lucas, are using your power of control to kill it. Is this intentional? Do you want your beloved universe to die? Would you deprive millions of fans and millions of would-be fans from the wealth of stories that are still left to be told in visual form?
Well, that's why I'm writing this letter: to tell you want you need to do to save Star Wars, to make it better than it is today, to make it wanted and desirable by more than just your obsessed, die-hard fans--the kinds who have bought all your toys since the beginning, who drool whenever Star Wars is mentioned, and name their adopted foreign children after your characters. And, to make it convenient for you, I am going to put it in a list:
  1. Don't direct.
    I know, you want control, but remember what made your previous films so much better? You didn't direct them all and sometimes OTHER people can see the mistakes that you don't. Any creative writer will know this, which is why there are critique groups and the like out there to help us get better at writing. You are not impervious to mistakes. You have vision. I won't take that away from you. But you also have flaws, and they are apparent on all levels.
  2. Let someone else have the reins.
    Seriously, this isn't a bad thing. You can still have veto power, but you should definitely leave some of the decisions to someone else. There's nothing wrong with that. You've already opened up the Star Wars universe to other writers, why not open up other aspects of it to other people? You can still be involved, but perhaps you should take an executive or producer position instead of being in the hot seat.
  3. Stop with the prequel or between-trilogies crap.
    I don't care what happened between The Attack of the Clones and The Revenge of the Sith. There was a short mini-cartoon that covered that and that was all I needed. Why? Because it wasn't an after-thought. It was a teaser, a little bit of Star Wars to tide me over while I waited for you to hurry up and get the last movie out. Now I just don't care. I know Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader. I know how. I know what happens after that too. Every time you try to cram stuff between the movies you strain my patience.
  4. Start digging into the world that follows Return of the Jedi.
    Let's face it, if you were to look into the things that immediately followed the last of the Star Wars movies--chronologically speaking--there would be a plethora of stories that could be told. What happens to the empire after the second Death Star is destroyed? It doesn't just crumble and the rebellion doesn't win right then and there without any more fighting. Far from it. What are the ramifications of the rebellion's actions? Hmm? Surely there are a lot of innocent people who are affected by Luke Skywalker and his pals, right? And there are all sorts of stories worth telling visually in the expanded universe novels. What about making a trilogy that follows the New Republic or Mara Jade or the myriad of other equally interesting tales?
    Why am I saying this? Because WE, the people who make it possible for you to keep making movies, want something new. Prequel crap isn't new to us anymore and wasn't really all that new to begin with. In fact, it might be a smart idea to latch onto the stuff that follows ROTJ because Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, etc. aren't exactly going to live forever. If you can use those actors for a good set of movies, then do so now before it's too late. We want the see Luke Skywalker come back, and Han Solo and Princess Leia and what not.
  5. Stop with the animated crap.
    Short miniseries to tide us over is fine, but Star Wars really doesn't fit in the animated world, especially not CG. Why? Because CG is hard to take seriously, and unfortunately you've gone and made Star Wars serious, or tried to. Not to mention there's really nothing all that fascinating about CG Star Wars. I haven't seen the new film and probably won't. I don't really care about Anakin Skywalker to begin with (not anymore anyway).
  6. Don't do a special edition release of any of the movies when they go to new formats unless we can turn the special edition stuff off.
    We don't want you to edit the movies we love. We like them for what they are. I haven't watched my DVD versions of Star Wars since I bought them. Why? Because I hate that you put Hayden Christensen in the end of ROTJ. I hated a lot of the things you did. If wouldn't have been so bad if there had been an on/off switch for that stuff, but there wasn't. You just expected we'd like it...except we didn't.
  7. Do something good.
    We want the gosh-wow again. Give it to us. It's not there in the prequels and won't be.
  8. Listen to the fans.
    The fans are telling you what they want. Give it to them. Seriously.
So, Mr. Lucas, I think these are some very simple demands. Don't kill Star Wars. I grew up on it. My mother gave me the trilogy on tape and I gobbled it up...over and over again. I still love them.

Thank you for your time,
Shaun, Star Wars Nut

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  1. You watched the first film with me on DVD. :p

  2. Anonymous11:57 AM

    The original Star Wars had character and characters actually acting and speaking. The next three movies were great but the action over rode any personal content and emotional deveolpment aside from Sith.
    Too much action and go go go is not a good movie. Special effects should be effects and not the whole movie. I dont like to see just effects and sounds. I like to see a great epic movie that I can live by and want to emulate. That makes a good movie.
    Like Empire was the best movie ever. It had character development and great slowed down scenes where everybody could sink their imaginations into. It felt real and alive and you could loose yourself in there somewhere. Thats a movie, not the go go go where you get a headache!
    Star Wars expert!

  3. See, that was my issue with the new Star Wars movies: there was too much action and the characters weren't as fascinating...that and there were too many characters we were supposed to care about, whereas in the original Star Wars it was pretty centralized (Han Solo, Leia, Luke, Chewie, R2, and 3PO were our heroes, with Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin as the bad guys). The prequels started off with R2, Anakin, Obi-wan, Jar Jar, that security guy whose name i can't remember, Queen Amidal and Padme (since they were two people at that point), 3PO, and then Palpatine (since he wasn't "evil" to us at that point...he seemed like the hero to the characters). The bad guys were Darth Maul, Darth Sidious, Sebulba, and maybe Watto counts as a semi-bad person, then the guys from the Trade Federation (the main leader, the secondary leader, and then the robots themselves). It was just overload on characters. It needed focus.

    But that's me.

    I like Empire more now that I'm an adult, but I hated that one as a kid. I loved ROJ as a kid, though, because I loved the space battles (I hate them in the prequels...they're too...CG...they should have used models again, imo).