MovieBob - Intermission
It's Time To Forgive George Lucas

Bob Chipman | 26 Mar 2010 12:00
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There's a documentary making the pre-release and festival-circuit rounds now called "The People vs. George Lucas." No, really. Check it out.

I haven't seen it. For the purposes of this piece, I don't need to. Because I'm not here to talk about it, but the circumstances that led to its existence: My "people," my generation of "my people" in particular, and something I think the lot of us are overdue to hear:

Guys... This has gone far enough. It's time for us to forgive George Lucas.

Except that "forgive" isn't the right term (though it makes for a catchy title, yes?) for the type of moving on we're due for. "Forgive" implies that some horrible wrong has been committed, and that we - movie fans, Star Wars fans, geeks of a certain age - are in the position to be magnanimous about letting it slide.

Before I go any further, let's lay it out there: I am a confirmed apostate of all the same Lucas output that everyone else has been railing against for over a decade now. The Star Wars Prequels are awful films, top to bottom. The Special Editions are an artistic disgrace, and Lucas' recurring fixation on erasing the original versions of those films from record is - morally, anyway - an act of criminality against culture, art and cinema history akin to burning original Shakespeare manuscripts. Jar-Jar Binks. Jake Lloyd. Greedo shooting first. Midichlorians. Romantic sand talk, redundant link to Red Letter Media's "Phantom Menace review, blah blah blah, etc. etc. etc.

And yeah, since this has all been going on since about 1999 or so, I'm sure if you dig through the Googles deep enough you'll probably find me having joined in on the "Lucas raped my childhood" stuff at one point or another. Yes. Fine. Guilty. And I'm certainly not here to suggest that the SEs/Prequels ought be reevaluated. They've been evaluated plenty. They suck.

And I'm also not looking to help Lucas gloss over what seems to be the pretty grim trajectory of his own legacy. As it stands now, Lucas has easily supplanted his friend and mentor Francis Ford Coppola as the "Movie Brat" generation's ultimate cautionary tale of a fiercely-independent artist who half-stumbles into mainstream mega-success and then can't cope with it. His general behavior suggests a growing love/hate relationship with his own creations and fans (to say nothing of his own being) as though George Lucas, college-age tech-tinkerer and indie-auteur had shut his eyes just for moment, but when he opened them found himself as George Lucas, 50 year-old toy/videogame/cartoon billionaire held in regard chiefly for a film that had re-energized and rescued the very blockbuster studio system he'd always railed against. The last movie he'd directed. Two decades ago.

But for Rao's sake, guys... some perspective has to be in order, at this point. It's gotten ridiculous.

C.S. Lewis, in describing his gradual personal transition from staunch atheist to Christian philosopher (and author of the Narnia books) described his period of unbelief as a state of being "angry with God for not existing." Lately, I'm thinking that's a decent descriptive for the peculiar ire my generation of geeks and Star Wars fans in particular have developed toward Lucas. In terms of what the franchise was before and after, the 1999 release of The Phantom Menace was akin to The Pope - or maybe even a messiah Himself - appearing before a congregation with a thunderous declaration of "Just kidding!"

Something that was "supposed" (or, maybe, simply hoped) to return us if only for a moment to what had been defining moments of our youth instead became a public renunciation of cinematic divinity. "The Holy Trilogy" - always assumed to be all-but perfect, all-but fail-proof - was finally just another series of movies, as capable of producing a dud as any other. "God," for lack of a better word, was dead, and we were mad at him for revealing that such a thing was possible.

What the hell were we supposed to do now?

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