Opinion: Death Of A Star (Wars)
After the news on 30 October 2012 announcing the sale of LucasFilm to Disney, what does this mean to one of the biggest series of films ever made?
I sit here writing this having allowed myself a few days to digest the news. The tragic, disheartening news that George Lucas has sold LucasFilm to Disney for a total of $4 billion, that’s roughly £2 billion of the Queen’s finest currency. It is reported that Lucas will donate the majority of his funds to charity as stated by the Hollywood Reporter here. So at least some good is coming from this. Now no-one is shocked by the fact that George Lucas has cashed in on Star Wars, I mean he basically invented cashing in on movies in the first place. With those very films none the less…(as a note I refuse to refer to the films as a “franchise” because they’re not, they’re films, pieces of art if you will).
What does hurt is that the rights to the films were sold to Disney, the money grabbing, greedy, profit hungry conglomerate hell bent on domination. Sound familiar? Lucas and LucasFilm have always had a likeness to the rebel alliance, building their ranch far away from the reaches of the Hollywood machine allowing their films to be made on their terms and founding one of the most innovative effects companies in business in the process. This has been how Lucas has operated forever, never a fan of the corporate machine and that comes across in the films. Now though, he’s sold the Alliance to the Empire. A new independent arm for the emperor. Disney with a soul. We all know how Disney operate and in my opinion no-one has epitomised it better than South Park in their hilarious episode The Ring. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend checking it out.
Coincidentally, the same day the acquisition was announced three new films have also been pencilled in, Episodes VII, VIII & IX to be released 2015, 2017 & 2019 respectively. Funny that, isn’t it? A spooky matter of chance eerily befitting of its closeness in proximity to Halloween.
Now it can be argued that Star Wars was already broken. Pushed to its limits now ready “to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers” to quote the man himself. Nonsense. Star Wars is six films. Three great, one mediocre and two awful, I’ll leave you to work out in your minds which is which. Of course there is the off-shoots The Clone Wars series and film, books, computer games, comics etc. But the basis upon which they are all built are six films. Now I know how everyone feels about the Prequel Trilogy, I feel pretty much the same. I’m not pleased about them but I accept them, they’re set up for the originals, they don’t take anything away particularly, except perhaps the mystery of Darth Vader, which I always felt made him much scarier, but alas. They don’t necessarily defer either and I include them in my annual Star Wars day, all six films in the flashback method of viewing totalling just over 13 hours, so I think we can agree the prequels are a necessary evil. What we don’t need are any more.
Would an artist go back to a painting that had been hanging in a gallery for years? Leonardo Da Vinci giving the Mona Lisa a moustache, just for a laugh? Of course they wouldn’t, Star Wars is out there, some could argue the prequel trilogy done enough damage but the scene was always set for them ever since A New Hope was released as Episode IV. These films, the new films were never actually in the plan. People say there was speculation and there was hints from George Lucas as far back as the seventies that there could be episodes beyond Return of The Jedi but that’s just half-ideas floating around, half-mentioned in conversation. No-one generates a fully formed idea instantly, it has to be worked out, constructed piece by piece. Rome wasn’t built in a day. So yes, he may have mentioned the idea previously but Lucas had also stated, in far more recent times, that there would be no more films. This appears to have changed somewhat. I wonder what’s caused that? The thing with the prequels were that they didn’t take away from what we already knew, they only added. Not much but they did add. These new films are set after Return of The Jedi so there potentially could be a reunion of old characters, how much is that going to destroy the happily ever after idea we had? An old married Han Solo and Princess Leia arguing about who left the downstairs light on all night isn’t really my idea of a promising venture.
To summarise, really, I’m just hurt, annoyed that the films which have meant so much throughout my life are slowly having their value drained. Becoming a franchise to feed the profits of an already evil empire who see them as no more than a commercial commodity, not the great pieces of story telling left to be preserved for future generations to enjoy. It saddens me that I might never sit with my children and watch all six films because there could be countless more, that of course I could omit, but it’s going to be all very messy. So in these sad days where integrity means nothing all that’s left to say is, rise Lord Mickey.