Monday, November 30, 2015

George Lucas Talks Greedo Shooting First, New Era of Star Wars, and More

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By: Dominic Jones

Although he's not involved in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as we race towards the film's December 18th release everyone wants to talk to Star Wars creator George Lucas.  The Washington Post sat down with Lucas recently and talked to him about a variety of topics including his relationship with the new films, the status of The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, and the controversial "Who shot first" debate.

“I call it like a divorce,” Lucas says candidly. He always knew that at some point he’d have to part with “Star Wars” in order for the franchise to go on living.

“There is no such thing as working over someone’s shoulder,” he says. “You’re either the dictator or you’re not. And to do that would never work, so I said ‘I’m going to get divorced.’ . . . I knew that I couldn’t be involved. All I’d do is make them miserable. I’d make myself miserable. It would probably ruin a vision — J.J. has a vision, and it’s his vision.”

As recently as a couple weeks ago, with fans going ape over tidbits and new trailers for “The Force Awakens,” Lucas had still not seen the film. Not a frame.

He expected that he would soon see it here at the ranch (“I’ve got the best theater in the world,” he notes), perhaps even with Abrams and Lucasfilm Ltd. President Kathleen Kennedy (a longtime Lucas collaborator) in the room, watching him watch it. What then?

“Now I’m faced with this awkward reality, which is fine,” Lucas says. Extending the metaphor, he says it’s like when a grown child gets married. “I gotta go to the wedding. My ex will be there, my new wife will be there, but I’m going to have to take a very deep breath and be a good person and sit through it and just enjoy the moment, because it is what it is and it’s a conscious decision that I made.”

About The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which Lucas is working on opening in Chicago, Lucas said,
“The great thing about art is that you get a feeling about something, you get knowledge about something, but you don’t know why. Describe the Sistine Chapel — it’s very hard. ‘It made me feel spiritual feelings and thoughts I’d never had before.’ Well, what do you mean? ‘I don’t know what I mean — you’ll have to just go and see it.’ ‘Star Wars’ was like that. People couldn’t describe it; they just kept saying, you gotta go see it, you gotta go see it, you gotta go see it. Now we’re like that with [the Broadway hit musical] ‘Hamilton’ — you gotta go see it. Why? . . . To try to describe these things is very hard.”

Lucas also addressed Greedo shooting first in the 1997 Special Edition of Star Wars: A New Hope.  He explained the change, saying,
“Han Solo was going to marry Leia, and you look back and say, ‘Should he be a cold-blooded killer?’  Because I was thinking mythologically — should he be a cowboy, should he be John Wayne? And I said, ‘Yeah, he should be John Wayne.’ And when you’re John Wayne, you don’t shoot people [first] — you let them have the first shot. It’s a mythological reality that we hope our society pays attention to.”

I think that's a very interesting response from Lucas.  For the record, I've never had a problem with Lucas' changes.  Some I like, some I don't, but I firmly believe that Lucas had the right to do what he wanted to do with his film.  Greedo shooting first never bothered me, but I understand why it did some people.  But I like Lucas' thinking on this, it makes sense.  Han's still a killer, he shows no remorse.  Having Greedo shoot first doesn't put him "on the side of the angels", but it does give him a bit a code.  And again, that code doesn't make him a good guy, he's not doing a good thing because he waits to kill Greedo until Greedo shoots first.  He's still killing people without thinking twice about it and was ready to kill Greedo the moment he took blaster out of its holster.  

I really think the rage about Han shooting first and the changes in general has been way overblown, because they have so little effect on the films themselves.  Star Wars has remained popular since the changes, with many new fans joining the club, so to speak, since 1997.  Even if you say this is in spite of the changes, it just goes to show how unimportant they really are.  They don't affect the overall mythology in a significant way and they don't affect the enjoyment of new viewers.  It's a real shame that these debates have become such a feature of Star Wars fandom, because they really don't matter.

Source: The Washington Post

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