Opinion

The Madness Of King George

Perfection is the willingness to be imperfect. This is a lesson that George Lucas should have learned 41 years ago when he wrapped up the original Star Wars trilogy.

Episodes 4 through 6 of Star Wars are the gold standard of modern storytelling. All of the elements needed to make up a good story are there. They are woven into a beautiful symphony of action, adventure and everything else a viewer could ask for. George Lucas was a God among men.

Then 1999 came.

The Phantom Menace Hit Theaters In 1999. Fans Have Been Debating About Its Quality Ever Since.

The Phantom Menace zoomed into theaters and was met with mixed reviews from fans and critics alike. While Roger Ebert gave it 3 1/2 stars, The Guardian maintains its disdain for the film even 25 years later. Fans still debate over the necessity of midichlorians.

It didn’t start with the prequels though. Being the quintessential mad genius that he is, George Lucas had a constant need to fix things that were never broken.

The Special Editions Should Not Exist

In 1997, fans rejoiced when it was announced that the original Star Wars trilogy would be re-released in theaters. For the first time in 14 years, fans would be able to see these visual masterpieces the way that they were intended to be seen. There was one caveat though. They were not the original prints.

George Lucas being the insecure genius that he is, couldn’t help himself and had to repeatedly tinker with what was already sci-fi perfection.

While the scenes with Jabba the Hutt in Star Wars were unnecessary, they did provide context in regard to Han Solo’s back story. However, I still have nightmares about Sy Snootles. That sequence in Return of the Jedi was far more obnoxious than anything Jar Jar Binks has ever done throughout his tenure in the franchise.

Sy Snootles Is Nightmare Fuel.

As a purist, what upsets me is that the original prints are gone. Of course, if you have a VCR and some extra cash, it’s possible to get them. However, if you’re looking forward to a Blu-Ray copy, or a release on Disney Plus, it’s not going to happen. George Lucas himself has said stated that the original prints don’t exist anymore.  This should upset cinephiles. The original prints should exist. If for nothing else, contrast should be a reason.

If Francis Ford Coppola remastered and added scenes to The Godfather and abandoned the original prints, that would be a cinematic travesty. The same goes for Star Wars. 

There will soon be an entire generation that has never seen these landmark films the way they were intended to be seen. As both a Star Wars Fan and a cinephile, that brings a tear to my eye.

The Prequel Trilogy Relied Too Much On CGI

At face value, one could call the prequel trilogy subpar. The midichlorian angle is ridiculous. Qui Gonn Jinn was underused as a character. The dialogue came off like it was being recited by a corpse. Anakin trying to woo Padme with his dissertation on the downside of sand is cringeworthy.

All of that aside, upon rewatching the prequel trilogy, the stories do age well. The visuals do not. George Lucas was always keen on using the cutting edge of technology. What nobody at the time realized is that technology evolves. As a result, the effects in the Prequel Trilogy look like a cut scene from a Playstation 2 game.

Would Jar Jar Binks Have Been Better Received If He Was Created Using Traditional Makeup Effects?

The heavy use on CGI also takes away from the charm of the original trilogy. Part of the charm of the original trilogy was the craftmanship. The construction of the sets and the puppetry were components that made the trilogy special.

Looking at it 25 years later, one has to wonder… Would the prequel trilogy be as ill received if the ships looked more realistic? Would Jar Jar Binks be shown in a better light if puppetry and craftsmanship as opposed to being created by a computer?

Had the prequel trilogy used the same craftmanship that was used in the original trilogy, it would probably have a better legacy.

This Is Why You Can’t Blame Disney.

There are many reasons to blame Disney for their handling of Star Wars. In my opinion, the sequel trilogy is a hodge podge of ‘member berries and indiscernible sludge. However, you can’t blame Disney for trying new things and introducing new aspects of the force when George Lucas himself did that constantly throughout his tenure with the series.

Lucas repeatedly retconned and introduced new elements. Phantom Menace gave us force speed (which was used once and then never mentioned again.) and midichlorians. Why are fans so up in arms when Disney tries to introduce new elements? Because the fans look back on George Lucas with rose colored glasses.

While The Sequel Trilogy Films Aren’t Necessarily Good, You Can’t Blame Disney For Altering The Lore. George Lucas Often Altered The Lore On A Wim.

George Lucas tarnished his legacy with the Prequel Trilogy and later on by greenlighting Indiana Jones: And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. Never have I seen a man so revered, yet so maligned at the same time. We love George, yet feel compelled to make a documentary film about how terrible his decision making skills are.

Starn Wars fans are to blame for the sale to Disney. George Lucas claims to have sold Star Wars off because it was taxing on his family. I am more than willing to speculate that we as fans are responsible for George relinquishing the rights to his magnus opus. We harangued him. He never got relief after the flaws of the prequel trilogy were exposed. The fans drove him to the point where he was willing to give up his most prized possession.

Final Takeaway

Star Wars will continue to be a cultural phenomenon for years to come. The mark it has left on pop culture history can never be erased. The franchise has inspired and delighted fans. Whenever it appears on our television screen, we are enamored. We are taken back to a special place in time when we still believed that anything was possible.

George Lucas created that feeling for us. He had a gift. Lucas created something that united millions of people. Not just geeks. Everyone loved Star Wars. Then the rift came. George Lucas had a misfire with the Prequel Trilogy and we vilified him. We drove him to a state of disenfranchisement. He walked away and never got a chance to redeem himself.

He deserved more from us.

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Thank You for reading! When I am not writing I enjoy skiing, video games, spending time with my four year old daughter Frances, and my loyal hound Marbles.  For more hot takes, follow me here.  You can also check out more of my content on my author’s page.

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