Betrayed by George Lucas

Lucas - SW Trading Card

George Lucas was the first filmmaker I had ever heard of.  I was six years old when Star Wars was released in 1977.  The movie became a year-long quest for my young self.  While every kid I knew was seeing Star Wars over and over again, I had to make due with the reflected glory of the merchandise.  Everything I knew about Star Wars came from cheap packs of trading cards.  The kind that used to come with pink, cardboard like “gum”.  The cards included behind the scenes pictures and stories which were my introduction to the making of movies.

When I finally saw the movie at a drive-in movie theater in 1978, well, it blew my mind.  Despite the fact I already knew the entire story in various other forms, finally seeing Star Wars made a huge impression on me.  It was then that I became a movie fan.  Without Star Wars, who knows, this blog may not even exist.

Between creating Star Wars and Indiana Jones, George Lucas had a tremendous influence on my childhood.  Those characters and movies were incredibly personal to me.  So I was understandably excited when Lucas decided to revisit those stories decades later.  Like a lot of people my age, I saw that excitement turn to disappointment when the new offerings didn’t live up to my childhood memories.

I’m not going to say that George Lucas destroyed my childhood or anything so melodramatic.  But I’m not going to lie.  I have felt betrayed by George Lucas more than once.

Star Wars Holiday Special

The first betrayal came just in time for the holidays in 1978.  I had just seen the movie earlier that year and I was excited to see a new Star Wars TV show that I could watch along with everyone else.  It was going to be great!  I could find out what happened to all my favorite characters after the Death Star was destroyed.

What I didn’t know was that the program was less of a continuation of Star Wars and more of a variety show hoping to capitalize on the movie’s success.  Lucas wasn’t directly involved.  Instead, he handed over notebooks full of material on Wookie culture.  So the TV movie ended up focusing a lot of attention on characters who spoke only in grunts and snarls.  In between, C-list celebrities from the seventies like Bea Arthur and Art Carney made appearances and sang songs.  It really has to be seen to be believed, but I wouldn’t recommend watching it all at once.  It’s unbearable.

Truth is, in 1978 I didn’t feel the least bit betrayed by this weird ass special.  I didn’t know what to make of it, but it had Star Wars characters in it and I was seven.  I didn’t actually get to watch the show all the way to the end.  We had to go pick up my dad at the airport, so I reluctantly left without knowing whether or not Chewie made it home to celebrate Life Day with his family.  Back in those dark days, you couldn’t just DVR a program and watch it later.

In this instance, it was Lucas who felt betrayed.  In the early days of Star Wars, its creator envisioned the series as a loose anthology.  Lucas planned to concentrate on telling the story of Luke Skywalker.  But he also intended to allow other directors to tell stories in his universe.  The mangling of his creation in the Holiday Special convinced Lucas that he needed to maintain control of his creation.

Lucas spent the next several decades covering up the existence of the holiday special.  There was no internet back then and most people didn’t have recording devices.  Bootleg copies would show up at conventions, but most people didn’t even know of their existence.  The Holiday Special took on this weird urban legend status where a lot of kids who watched it weren’t sure if it had actually happened or not.  That is, until it became widely available on YouTube.  Thanks, Al Gore!

Luke V. Darth

After the brief misstep of the largely forgotten Holiday Special, George Lucas and Star Wars recovered with the superior sequel, The Empire Strikes Back.  Empire is generally considered to be the best movie in the series.  Arguably that can be attributed at least in part to Lucas’ reduced involvement.  Lucas wrote and directed the first Star Wars himself.  But Empire was written by Lawrence Kasdan and directed by Irvin Kershner.  Which isn’t to say Lucas wasn’t involved.  He was definitely the idea man behind the sequel.  But when the movie was actually being made, he had his hands full with Empire.

Reportedly, Lucas wasn’t all that pleased with the final movie.  He felt like Star Wars movies should be fast-paced and superficial like the serials that inspired them.  This put the producer at odds with his writer and director who felt that the story should be more character-driven.  With Lucas away working on Raiders of the Lost Ark, Kasdan and Kershner had a little more leeway to make Empire into the movie they felt it should be.

Once again, Lucas felt like control of his creation had been taken away from him.  He decided to be more involved in the third movie.

karen allen - raiders of the lost ark

But you have to hand it to Lucas.  As a producer, he was on a winning streak.  He followed up The Empire Strikes Back with another great piece of escapist entertainment, Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Once again, Lucas looked to movie serials for inspiration.  He and his buddy, Steven Spielberg, ended up creating a character that rivaled James Bond.

As a kid growing up in the late seventies and early eighties, Star Wars and Indy were huge parts of my childhood.  This put George Lucas in a unique position.  He was in the driver’s seat of two of the most beloved elements of my youth.  Most of my peers felt the same way.  We would gladly pay for quality Star Wars and Indiana Jones products.  But we are also very protective of our childhood memories.  If Lucas abused our trust, we would feel betrayed.  I dare say no other filmmaker had the potential to delight or disappoint my generation so thoroughly as George Lucas.

Return of the Jedi - Ewok

In 1983, George Lucas wrapped up his Star Wars saga with Return of the Jedi.  Having felt like he was frozen out of Empire, Lucas made himself more present for the final chapter of his saga.  According to Star Wars producer, Gary Kurtz, Lucas was being seduced by the Dark Side.  Or more specifically, the big money of selling merchandise:

I could see where things were headed.  The toy business began to drive the empire. It’s a shame. They make three times as much on toys as they do on films. It’s natural to make decisions that protect the toy business, but that’s not the best thing for making quality films.

Return of the Jedi introduced the teddy bear-like Ewoks to the series.  Many saw the Ewoks as a blatant attempt to appeal to kids and sell them Star Wars stuffed animals.  It was a sign of things to come.  But for the most part, Star Wars fans were satisfied with the conclusion of the Star Wars saga despite Lucas’ shifting priorities.

Next: The Dark Days


Posted on December 11, 2015, in Betrayed, Star Wars and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 36 Comments.

  1. Yes, “betrayed” may not be quite the way to describe what happened. “Started to outright suck” is probably more accurate.

    I stand in the minority that believes the added Jabba scene is even worse than Greedo shooting first and missing. Don’t get me wrong- that was a terrible decision that mars both characters involved, but in screen time it takes up just a second. The Jabba scene lasts much longer, still manages to mar a character irrevocably, and displays poor writing, poor decision-making, and poor special effects. Jabba is no longer a figure to be feared, but one to be stepped on. The repeated dialogue is evidence of a filmmaker with extraordinarily shoddy instincts and no respect for his audience.


    • Both scenes were changes for the worse. The Jabba scene is just kind of dull and ends with a groaner of a joke. By the time we get to Han stepping on Jabba’s tail, I have zoned out. So it doesn’t get my blood boiling. It’s just bad. Just thinking about Greedo, I don’t even have to be watching it to get up in arms over that decision. It’s the one Lucas has spend the most time defending and his rationalizayions are so weak it just angers me further.

      The obvious solution is to give fans a choice of the original versions or the special editions. I figure if Disney can do this, they will. But supposedly those original prints are in really bad shape. Maybe unsalvageable.


      • Regarding the original prints, I have on my other computer bookmarked an article I read several years ago on Slashdot that examined if an original version could be brought to market. The article made a convincing argument that with modern film restoration using new technologies, quality prints held by private collectors, etc. that an original version is very possible.


  2. The question that comes up is: Is George Lucas a director/screenwriter/producer or is he a businessman? I think he started out as the former. But once he realized how much could be made from more than just the movies he made themselves that he became the latter more and more and eventually that overtook his creative instincts.

    I’ve seen it suggested that the prequels may have been better than they ultimately were if Lucas had handed them off to someone else or made some more movies in between Jedi n 83 and Phantom Menace in 99. I think there is some merit to that. I wonder what would’ve happened if he’d brought in a visionary director like Alex Proyas for instance or Alfonso Cuaron to take on the prequels and what they could’ve brought to it.

    I tend to compare Lucas to his friend and frequent collaborator Steven Spielberg. The prime difference between the two is that Spielberg has always been first and foremost a filmmaker. Plus Spielberg was able to successfully branch out of the tropes he made his name with. He moved on to serious dramatic films (Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Munich), small-scale character driven films (Catch me If You Can, Bridge Of Spies) and films that combine those tropes with the tropes of sci-fi and action (Minority Report still 2002’s best film). While not everything he’s touched has turned to gold, he’s managed to maintain more of his artistic integrity than Lucas.

    Lucas on the other hand kind of painted himself into a corner with Star Wars. Recall that before SW he wrote and directed American Graffiti. That showed he could do character based movies of that type. Maybe not the same way a Coppola or Altman would. But he still could do so. But when SW became the phenomenon it did, that set him on the path from being a filmmaker to being a businessman, The desperate desire to make stuff that would play for elementary school kids in Peoria overtook his better creative judgment.

    Re: Captain EO. I loved that when I saw it as a kid. That was primarily because at the time i was a big Michael Jackson fan. I still am Jackson fan today. But yeah Eo doesn’t hold up.


    • He’s more business man than director now.

      If we are asking why George Lucas today isn’t as good of a writer/director as he seemed to be in his youth, I think there are a few factors at play. One is age. Most filmmakers reach a point where they have run out of things to say or have grown too far out of touch to speak to the common folk. But additionally, Lucas was never really that good. He was always a terrible writer and he knew that. The script for Star Wars had a lot of uncredited contributors. Back then, Lucas actively sought out collaborators. When Lucas sent to make the prequels, he tried to enlist help from some of his former collaborators and they all turned him down. They said, “George, this is very personal. You should do it yourself.” But I suspect what they were thinking was “George, you are a pain in the ass! I’m not going to have you ride me for the next 6 years.”


  3. “Unless you were a fan of the kiddie shows of the mid-to-late-80’s, there hadn’t been much activity on the Star Wars front since Return of the Jedi in 1983.”


    West End Games Brought out two editions (1987 and 1992) of a Star Wars RPG that were seriously big beasts in the roleplaying games world. Timothy Zahn wrote three best selling novels set after RotJ (1991 to 1993). The computer games X-Wing and TIE Fighter came out in 1993 and 1994.

    It’s fair to say none of these captured the zeitgeist in the way the films did, but between them had a significant fanbases made a lot of money and saw original Star Wars material being produced continuously from the late 80s on.


    • I think you just made my point. 😉


      • Hey, whether you like them or not dozens of roleplaying game books, novels and computer games that came out before the Special Editions were a gleam in anyone’s eye count as activity for me. 😉

        I’ve said before but there is a underestimated group of Star Wars fans who were teens in the mid-1990s who became fans because of the books or games that built on the house Lucas built. I read ‘Heir to the Empire’ as a 13 year old in 1994 when the films were a fading memory I’d seen on TV, the specials were years away and no could concieve of the Prequels. I don’t think i’m entirely alone there. 🙂


        • It’s like a tree falling in the woods when no one is around to hear it. To the vast majority of people, an RPG and computer games didn’t register. To most Star Wars fans, the franchise had gone dormant.

          I’m sure you’re not alone in discovering Star Wars during a period of relatively little activity. 1994 was when the movies were rereleased on video and that brought them back into the spotlight a little bit. The thing is, you have to appreciate that from 1977-1983, Star Wars was the biggest thing in pop culture with the possible exceptions of ET and Michael Jackson. So to go from that level of mania to the relative quiet that followed from 1984-1994, a lot of people moved on. It kind of looked like Star Wars was over. It sounds like you got into it just as George was starting up the hype machine again. But even now, the new Star Wars isn’t anywhere near as big as the movies were back in the day.


        • ‘Heir to the Empire’ came out in 1991 actually – but that is part of my point. There was a whole Star Wars thing going on in the late 1980s and early 1990s that had almost nothing to do with George Lucas.

          I fully understand what you are saying, that interest was diminised for most, that Star Wars mania was well and truly over. But I do think you seriously underestimate the degree of interest and creation that was going on there. The Zahn books sold 15 million copies and throughout the 1990s that miniboom was going on, often with only the thinnest of links with the movies. We got comics and computer games set centuries before the films and decades after, stories with no mention of Luke, Leia, etc..

          It was and is more than just a few kiddie films btetween 1983 and 1995.


        • I actually read the Zahn books when they came out. But only the nerdiest of my friends knew of their existence. I do credit those books with showing that there was indeed some interest left in Star Wars. They certainly set off the huge book market for Star Wars. But you see my point. In the late eighties, Star Wars turned into kiddie programs and in the early 90’s it was for hardcore geeks. It had stopped being a mainstream thing.


        • Bah, who needs the mainstream? I wear my hardcore geek hat with pride 😉


        • We should have a parade.

          I have always considered myself pretty geeky. But I have come to realize that on the geek spectrum, I am closer to mainstream than I ever realized. One trip to Disney’s Star Wars Weekend opened my eyes on that one real fast.


        • As Kasdan said in the commencement speech (well worth 15 minutes of anyone’s time) “Question everything you’re told.”


  4. You pretty much hit it on the head with this. One exception: Temple of Doom is great!

    For years, I had vague memories of something Star Wars having to do with Christmas. I was only 2 when the first movie came out, but as early as I can remember, I’ve loved Star Wars. So, that vague Christmas memory seemed so real. Eventually, I discovered that I had not imagined it, but it might have been better had I only imagined it.

    I still like RotJ. I’ve never understood the hatred of the Ewoks, and was surprised to learn so many years after the fact that this was an attitude that people shared. I watched (and own) both Ewoks movies and I watched the Ewoks and Droids cartoons. C-3POs was also a really good cereal. I didn’t mind the commercialization as long as there was Star Wars entertainment that I liked. So, if I end up loving the new movies, then I probably won’t mind the new wave of commercialization.


    • I did rank Temple as the best Indy sequel in my Worst to First article. But it sure pissed me off as a kid because it wasn’t Raiders. I won’t say it’s great because a lot of it is terrible. But it has some great stuff in it.

      I was too old for the Ewoks and Droids cartoons, but I didn’t mind them. My younger brothers were the right age, but they had no interest. They were into other things. Which is probably why neither show lasted very long. I do recall eating C-3POs for breakfast. But my favorite were the Pepperidge Farm Star Wars cookies that came out in 1983:

      Vanilla were the heroes. Chocolate, the villains. And peanut butter (the best flavor) were the sidekicks.

      We ate these things like they were going out of style. Which they actually were.


    • I’m with Rob on this one: I understand that Temple of Doom is probably the most divisive of the Indy sequels; some think it sucks and some think it’s great. Me, personally, I unabashedly love the darned film. I was 12 when I first saw Temple of Doom on opening day and in my youthful enthusiasm I briefly thought it was even better than Raiders. Well, no, I quickly wised up and realized Temple of Doom is really fun and exciting but it’s no Raiders (but then again, what is? I mean really, what is??). But even if it must live in Raiders’ superior shadow it’s still a rollicking, dark adventure film. That’s just the way I feel, I’m not trying to convince anybody else otherwise. We all have films we love that others don’t.

      Lucas can be called out on having played it safer with Return of the Jedi after Empire, but Lucas and Spielberg were definately not playing it safe with the Raiders follow up Temple of Doom. So many parents complained about it’s darker, more violent subject matter that Temple of Doom was responsible (along with Gremlins) for creating the more age appropriate PG-13 rating. When a film is responsible for creating a new MPAA film rating, trust me, that’s saying something.


      • I give Temple a lot of credit for daring to be different. Then I take a lot of that credit back for racist and sexist stereotypes not to mention Willie Scott just being the worst character ever.


  5. You will not be betrayed by Lawrence Kasdan.


    • Lawrence Kasdan betrayed me in the 90’s. I remember falling out of love with the writer-director while watching Wyatt Earp. He has done nothing to win me back since then.


      • I have now watched that commencement speech 3 times – including once this morning before coffee – and it touches me deeply each time. I don’t normally experience emotions of any kind before coffee.


  6. George Lucas on the Star Wars Franchise

    Post by YAK MAN, Attorney at Law on Nov 19, 2015 at 6:26am
    It seems pretty clear at this point that Star Wars only became what it is due to other people limiting his more idiotic ideas, much like Russo’s ideas were tempered in the Attitude Era in WWE.

    If he wants to do experimental films, nothing is stopping him. He can surely finance that hobby himself.

    Post by mizerable on Nov 19, 2015 at 7:15am
    God, what a whiny man child.

    People try to make decisions before you do anything? Uh yeah…it’s called noticing that not all of your ideas are good and trying to still make sure you don’t fall flat on your face.

    If those people didn’t help make decisions, then George personally wouldn’t have reaped the profits that made him a billionaire today. When he fired his editor for Star Wars and edited the movie himself, EVERYONE hated it because he’s not an editor.

    People who were more mature, more efficient, and more reasonable looked at what he had and realized that they could help him. His ex wife busted her ass enough to edit the film so much so that she won an Academy Award for it, and I think that still stings George to this day.

    George could’ve easily done art house and experimental movies after his initial Star Wars success, but he didn’t. He stuck with a franchise that he apparently was disenfranchised with creatively, probably because it was going to make him more money. Everything seems to everyone elses’ fault if you listen to George. Bitter toward everyone who helped him along the way.

    Edit: he was likely talking about the fan complaints, but I still find it to be yet another excuse he makes because he can’t handle criticism of any kind. Again if it was such a f***ing issue, he should have handed the reigns off a long time ago. The same people who complained were the same ones that fed his ego and his wallet when it came time for him to make the prequels. Apparently, the fans are only valid when they like what you give them and they pay for it. Film making will be much better off without George Lucas.

    Post by Kenny Powers on Nov 19, 2015 at 7:20am
    Nov 19, 2015 at 6:00am kidglov3s said:
    Too bad Lucas didn’t love THX 1138 as originally released enough to allow it on Blu-ray.

    or American Graffiti.

    or Star Wars.


    I see Lucas as a rabid perfectionist. He’s never happy with his creations, hence the constant re-invention of the wheel. He did it with the editing of the first 3 films and he also did it (in a lesser way) with the last 3 films (midichlorians).

    I don’t think that George Lucas will ever be happy with his work and I think the internet was the last nail in the coffin for his involvement with Star Wars. If not for the internet, who knows how many more films he would have made and re-made and re-booted?

    Post by All Hail King Booker on Nov 19, 2015 at 11:50am
    Nov 19, 2015 at 6:26am YAK MAN, Attorney at Law said:
    It seems pretty clear at this point that Star Wars only became what it is due to other people limiting his more idiotic ideas, much like Russo’s ideas were tempered in the Attitude Era in WWE.

    If he wants to do experimental films, nothing is stopping him. He can surely finance that hobby himself.

    I equate it more to a Metallica in the sense that they were a groundbreaking band when they came out, but millions of dollars, and a wife with kids later it’s very hard to sustain that same creative juice. They both also married themselves to a genre that harbors a pretty hardcore fan-base who get quite ornery when what their given doesn’t suit their particular tastes. From an artistic standpoint I don’t envy a guy like Lucas who struck gold with a sci fi film and is expected to carry that flag the rest of his life. Not that it’s completely black and white, Lucas could stand to have thicker skin and try these experimental movies regardless of what people say about him, but there’s truth to the fact that his critics can be completely over the top and almost seem to take it as a personal attack that Lucas put out some Star Wars movies they didn’t like. He didn’t have to remaster the original trilogy, he didn’t have to make the prequels, and they are definitely bad movies, but that’s really all they are is bad movies that are easy to cast aside, and you can’t take the original trilogy from him either.

    Post by Death to Analog on Nov 19, 2015 at 3:34pm
    The writing was on the wall way back in the pre-production phase of Return of the Jedi, when Gary Kurtz was forced out as producer over his objections to Lucas’ assertion that people cared more about the spectacle than the story.

    So when we got a prequel trilogy that was all spectacle and horseshit story, nobody should’ve been surprised, and Lucas shouldn’t have been surprised that people hated them.

    Post by Goldenbane on Nov 19, 2015 at 4:33pm
    Nov 19, 2015 at 7:15am mizerable said:
    God, what a whiny man child.

    People try to make decisions before you do anything? Uh yeah…it’s called noticing that not all of your ideas are good and trying to still make sure you don’t fall flat on your face.

    If those people didn’t help make decisions, then George personally wouldn’t have reaped the profits that made him a billionaire today. When he fired his editor for Star Wars and edited the movie himself, EVERYONE hated it because he’s not an editor.

    People who were more mature, more efficient, and more reasonable looked at what he had and realized that they could help him. His ex wife busted her ass enough to edit the film so much so that she won an Academy Award for it, and I think that still stings George to this day.

    George could’ve easily done art house and experimental movies after his initial Star Wars success, but he didn’t. He stuck with a franchise that he apparently was disenfranchised with creatively, probably because it was going to make him more money. Everything seems to everyone elses’ fault if you listen to George. Bitter toward everyone who helped him along the way.

    Edit: he was likely talking about the fan complaints, but I still find it to be yet another excuse he makes because he can’t handle criticism of any kind. Again if it was such a f***ing issue, he should have handed the reigns off a long time ago. The same people who complained were the same ones that fed his ego and his wallet when it came time for him to make the prequels. Apparently, the fans are only valid when they like what you give them and they pay for it. Film making will be much better off without George Lucas.

    Absolutely spot on. George Lucas has gone on record in recent years stating that he hates Empire Strikes Back with a passion. Which of the Star Wars movies is always hailed as the best? Empire. Which, of all of them, did Lucas have the least amount of say on? Empire. I think he holds a grudge against Irvin Kirshner for showing him up.

    Post by Hit Girl on Nov 19, 2015 at 5:07pm
    I don’t have much problem with ROTJ being reworked from the original idea, because Lucas still had decent people around him and it turned out to be a good film.

    The real issue began with the changes to the originals. They weren’t necessary and he was changing parts of movies he didn’t even direct, which was disrespectful to Irvin Kershner and Richard Marquand. Then came the prequels when he was completely unchallenged. The end result was inevitable.

    Post by mizerable on Nov 19, 2015 at 5:34pm
    Nov 19, 2015 at 5:10pm Crappler said:
    THX 1138 is interesting, but I wouldn’t call it good. You can see the talent in its filmmaker.

    Outside of ANH, I wouldn’t consider any of his movies very good, at least in terms of direction.

    It became evident that George’s ideas were far better off in the hands in others.

    Post by Hit Girl on Nov 19, 2015 at 7:47pm
    He has to expect a bad reaction. Look at the “making of” documentaries for the prequels. He’ll say s*** like “Jar Jar is the key to all of this” and spends so much time focusing on irrelevant details like how many tentacles Pod Racer Alien #6 will have. Meanwhile the scripts sound like they were written in just a few days with no thought put into them. It backs up what Gary Kurtz said about Lucas believing that Star Wars fans no longer cared about story, but just SFX. The financial success of the prequels suggest he might have been right. From a business point of view, it’s great. Creatively however, there was a massive decline.

    Post by BorneAgain on Nov 19, 2015 at 7:54pm
    Lucas after ROTJ (and especially after his divorce to his wife Marcia) suffered from the same thing that happened to Gene Roddenbery in the 70s. The press and fans constant hype of his vision and genius got to him and without the the same crew/collaborators to work with, ended up getting too much free reign creatively, with the product suffering as a result.

    The difference is that Roddenberry was a stronger and consistent writer in the past whose skills were eventually hampered by his tunnel vision regarding Trek while Lucas never stood out much in writing, especially dialogue. The funny thing is that Gene being kicked upstairs with the movies and his ailing health causing him to step away from TNG allowed him to still largely keep his creative reputation intact to the casual fan, while George’s decisions with the Special Editions and prequels have left him a much more mixed legacy as a storyteller.

    Post by StormanReigns on Nov 19, 2015 at 10:21pm
    Being experiential?

    You called Phantom Menace a ‘kids movie’, yet filled it with dialogue about tariffs and trade disputes. I have a political science degree and even I found all that boring.

    Post by corndog on Dec 10, 2015 at 10:10am
    Bert Schnick Avatar
    Nov 20, 2015 at 4:21pm Bert Schnick said:
    To be honest IF he just released the Theatrical versions on DVD properly (NOT laserdisc rips) &/or Blu Ray then I’d be happy and wouldn’t give a crap what he did to it then (As I’m sure most fans would be the same way).

    The fact that I have to resort to bootlegs to enjoy “Star Wars” is annoying

    Exactly, his defense was they were unfinished and it would be too expensive. The second part is inexcusable as he would easily recover that money in the re-release of the originals. Fact is, he has played God with the re-releases and has to constantly tinker with them, as we all know he is never satisfied.

    Obviously many of the changes made in the 2004/2011 editions were made to keep continuity with the prequels. The emperor in The Empire Strikes Back, changing Boba Fett’s voice, removing Sebastian Shaw’s eyebrows in Return of the Jedi and bringing Hayden Christensen in at the end of Jedi. Unless of course they just didn’t have the technology in 1982 to shave Shaw’s eyebrows. I understand why he did this(except for Christensen at the end of ROTJ), but at the same time it is frustrating for people that watched the originals.

    I also believe the changes to the originals are why many older fans don’t like the prequels. Heck, I actually thought Revenge of the Sith was pretty good, as it gave us most of what we wanted to see. I do believe Lucas was only thinking with his wallet in marketing Episodes 1 and 2 heavily towards children. While the original 3, especially Return of the Jedi, definitely were geared towards children and adults, the happy ending in the series made that very acceptable and it wasn’t geared as heavily towards children as Episodes 1 and 2. The fact that we all knew that Anakin would be turning into Vader and Episode 3 would have a very dark ending, made it a bad film for children. I remember watching the film in the theater, a kid yelled ” Go Anakin!” and everyone kind of groaned, then of course an hour and half later several children were crying in the theater.

    As far as the movies being unfinished, they will never be finished as far as Lucas is concerned. He has tinkered with every version since the ’97 special edition. The man just can’t help himself and it’s probably a good thing Disney took the franchise away before the movies were unrecognizable to the original fans.

    Post by Hit Girl on Dec 10, 2015 at 10:22am
    Lucas is full of s***. Yes, some SFX here and there needed to be cleaned up perhaps, but the core of the original trilogy was rock solid. Did he really think that Vader’s silent dilemma at the end of Jedi really needed a “Noooooooo” in order to be complete? Did R2D2 need a rock placed in front of him? Did Jabba the Hutt need to be shoved into the first film to give the exact same information Han gets when he talks to Greedo? Why didn’t Lucas script Han to duck Greedo’s shot? He could have done it. Lucas just likes to change things to conform to his ever shittier ideas. He even undermines good work he himself directed.


  7. I have to admit Lebeau that when I first read that you’re working on an article titled Betrayed By George Lucas, I immediately rolled my eyes. I understand criticism but I’ve gotten tired of what has grown into rampant vitriol spewed at him these past several years on the internet, “Lucas raped my childhood”, “Lucas sucks”, and all that. I went into this article with some hesitation.

    After having read the article I shouldn’t have worried, I should have known better that you wouldn’t delve into such nasty vitriol like others do. I have no problem with people criticising Lucas’ work or his choices at all its only the level of nastiness that has become commonplace that bothers me, and here you expressed your criticisms articulately with valid points and arguments. A fair amount of your complaints are accurate. Even as someone who finds enjoyment in the prequels (how many people will admit that these days?) I readily admit that Lucas made a mistake by surrounding himself strictly by yes men. There was no sense of collaboration anymore on those films, it was all Lucas’ vision, both with his pluses and negatives as a filmmaker. That’s certainly a valid criticism, for example.

    Anyway good work on the article Lebeau, and thanks for showing how to criticise Lucas without punching below the belt.


    • Glad you liked. I of course knew all along what the tone of the article was going to be. But I did enjoy teasing you with the promise/threat of an anti-Lucas tirade. There have been times when I have been legitimately mad about some of Lucas’ choices, but in the end he will always come out on the plus side of the equation. If Disney ever releases the unaltered versions of the original films, the slate will be wiped clean.

      And please, don’t let George near Indy again.


  8. Just because it’s “Star Wars” and it’s called the special edition doesn’t mean it’s special! Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Worst Star Wars Special Edition Changes.


  9. 10 Polarizing Filmmakers Whom No One Can Agree On

    George Lucas

    How could anyone else top this list? George Lucas, the director of Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, is perhaps the most polarizing filmmaker of all time. He’s made three of the most beloved, cultural significant films, perhaps ever, and three of the worst, vomit-inducing travesties to have ever seen the light of day.

    Honestly, watching early interviews with Lucas, it can feel like you’re listening to the words of an entirely different person. In the documentary From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga, he talks about his passion for storytelling and his tentative relationship with special effects; he talks with passion about the magic of movies, his writing process and the way he approaches directing a scene.

    Flash-forward twenty years and Lucas has become unrecognizable to some people, people who see him as a corporate stooge with an over-reliance on special effects, convoluted stories and flat characters. When Lucas sold the rights to Star Wars to Disney, there were some who were generally excited; in their minds, Lucas was an incapable creator who no longer understood the significance of his own creations.


  10. 10 Underrated Movies Everyone Loved At First (But Now Dislikes)

    Return Of The Jedi

    The Awesome Movie: It’s Star Wars. And really good Star Wars. The opening sequence is an excellent honoring of the saga’s Flash Gordon origins with stellar creature design to boot, while the multi-layered final conflict between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire, with constant twists and battles of varying levels of intensity playing out concurrently, is a tour de force. Culminating in the end of Darth Vader’s surprisingly-effecting redemption arc, Return Of The Jedi is a great trilogy ender and a great movie.

    Is it the best Star Wars movie? No, but when you’re stacking up against giants of cinema that isn’t a slight. In fact, in comparison to the previous movies, Episode VI actually had a pretty positive reaction, its outside financial success not cheapening the accolades. Return Of The Jedi is Star Wars. And really good Star Wars at that.

    What Happened? I really don’t know here, but in the three decades since release, while love for The Empire Strikes Back has only increased, the second sequel has deeply fallen in estimation. When The Force Awakens hit, some overzealous fans even placed Episode VII well above Jedi, as if it had at some point been decided the movie Randall Graves declared was “Blasphemy” to not call the best sequel was actually a bad movie.

    You can lay some of the blame at the stubby feet of the ewoks, and it must be said that Episode VI is the most commercially minded of the original trilogy, but the teddy bears and what they represent in the transformation of George Lucas from desperate auteur to shrewd business tyrant is hardly ruinous to the film; the ewoks make up a slight part of the run-time and do, in isolation, provide an expansion of the galaxy. There, I said it.


  11. A look at how the success of Star Wars launched a franchise, and slowly drove a well-intentioned George Lucas to his own dark side.


  12. 5 Ways Ridley Scott Is The New George Lucas

    With striking technical inventiveness and a rich, varying filmography, Ridley Scott is undoubtedly a true giant of the cinema. Through 24 films, some of which are culturally significant, he has garnered the respect and admiration of both his peers and audience, and to this day is in high demand as a filmmaker.

    But with recent sub-par movies like The Counselor and Exodus: Gods and Kings, or his foray back into the properties he helped create (Alien and Blade Runner), some have expressed concern that Scott is showing several dwindling signs that hinder his creative talent.

    By this point, there is nothing new to be said about George Lucas or his Star Wars prequels, but Scott has recently displayed similar traits that have aggravated and alienated fans and general audiences alike. Specifically, Scott continues to tease several more Alien sequels, pursuing asinine ideas that would give Jar Jar Binks a run for his money, including young CG Ripley and an expanded cinematic universe.

    The two are worlds apart in terms of their style and quantity of films, but Lucas’ problems as an artist can be likened with Scott’s current (albeit relatively mild) tendencies. This list squarely regards the undying fascination each has with their already overexposed franchises, as well as the kindred issues that obstruct their potential.

    Relentless Attachment To Their Successes

    With both directors, it’s simply a case of not letting go.

    For whatever reason, the once avant-garde George Lucas stopped directing original movies after Star Wars, opting instead to exploit the franchise through merchandise and countless re-releases. He ultimately returned to directing in the 90s for the long-awaited prequel trilogy, before going into semi-retirement yet again.

    When looking at THX-1138 or his early student work, it’s clear that Lucas is an interesting director with some far-out ideas. Where the immense success of Star Wars should have given him the freedom to flourish as a filmmaker, it instead gripped him in a creative vice and never let go.

    While Lucas’ case is far more tragic, Scott’s growing obsession with serialization rings similar bells. Inexplicably hell-bent on directing endless entries to the Alien series, as well as threatening a Blade Runner franchise and a shared universe between the two, it’s unfortunate that he will have less time for other ventures in the foreseeable future.

    The prospect of franchising also devalues them in a way. Words that we would once use to describe Lucas and Scott (innovative, unique, intriguing, good) do not necessarily come to mind when we hear them hawking elaborate plans for unnecessary sequels. This maybe the name of the game in Hollywood these days, but in terms of potential, these two filmmakers are far above and beyond that.

    General Egotism

    There are numerous theories as to what reason George Lucas has for withholding a home release of the original Star Wars trilogy. They range from the alteration of the original negative, internal spite for his fandom, and his ex-wife still having partial stake in the films.

    Lucas’ own argument seems that it’s strictly for the sake of his creative integrity. Having a vision is fine, but that shouldn’t stop multiple versions of a film from co-existing. The forced hindrance upon the Star Wars trilogy is arguably detrimental to film culture, and ultimately just kind of selfish.

    Ridley Scott could also be considered self-centered in his ideas. While there are conflicting reports, some allege he had a hand in halting Neill Blomkamp’s Alien 5 for the sake of continuing his prequel series without the attention being stolen.

    Also, a point of contention surrounding Blade Runner is Scott’s forceful insistence that Harrison Ford’s character, Deckard, is a replicant. This is an idea that is generally preferred unexplored, and apparently caused some heated altercations between Ford and Scott during development of the sequel. In one recent interview (to IGN) in fact, he warns the naysayers to not question his creative judgment, emphasizing that he’ll “be the best f**king judge of that… It’s what it’s gonna be”.

    Like any artist, Scott has a right to create how he likes, but a little modesty suits everyone.

    Souring Their Great Works

    Specifically when making prequels, there is always the potential risk of severely overdosing on the backstory, or worse, ruining it completely. When that happens, our perception of the original film is often irreparably altered, as the mystery or intrigue of everything we liked is effectively sucked out.

    This feeling is all too relatable to those who dislike the Star Wars prequels, feeling they differed to or flat-out contradicted things in the original trilogy. Thus upon every subsequent re-watch, the fans’ minds were polluted with several distracting inconsistencies. For example, it is now harder for many people to accept Darth Vader as a fallen hero, when Anakin was clearly a violent psychopath almost from the get-go.

    Scott’s folly however, comes with his baffling fixation on the finer details of his original Alien film. In both Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, there is specific and elaborate attention to the origins of the surreal space jockey, and the menacing Xenomorph – two things that were initially effective because of their eerie mystique.

    The space jockey scene, in fact, is definitely one of the film’s best. But unless you’re one of those who can contently pluck things out of canon, you’ll just be thinking of a convoluted jumble involving squid monsters and eight-foot tall blue men.

    The upcoming Blade Runner 2049 presents a similar concern. Scott has already touted to the media that the film will answer one famous question surrounding the original, yet this will only be harmful to the film’s ambiguous nature.

    Their Films Are Emotionally Cold

    Even outside of the prequels, George Lucas has attracted criticism that his characters feel icy and two-dimensional. Indeed, actors who have worked with him note his lack of direction and general articulation with them. Particularly with the prequels, his mind was more focused on the CG worlds he was creating, rather than on the inhabitants themselves.

    Also a very technically minded director, Scott has admitted that he does not spend time “spoon-feeding” his actors, preferring to stay behind the camera and devote attention to the visuals. To some, this has also given credence to the accusation that his films have bland performances and/or characterization, and are generally emotionally cold.

    It’s not a ubiquitous problem in Scott’s filmography, but the criticism has repeatedly surfaced in various reviews of his more recent work. Robin Hood, Prometheus and Exodus: Gods & Kings all arguably shared similar uses of stony characters and rare instances of levity.

    To a degree of course, it depends heavily on the screenwriter (Lucas writes all of his movies) and Scott’s films are probably only as emotionally rich as the scripts he adapts. This ties in with criticism of his working director mentality: his filmography lacks much sense of a personal stamp.

    Inflated Importance To The Movies

    This is the one case where Scott actually proves worse, trumping Lucas’ political allegory in place of a fun space adventure.

    With the two Alien prequels, there was certainly a determined effort to form something much larger and grandiose than any of the previous films, both in terms of world building and thematic content. Ridley Scott attempted to create a rich and viable mythology for his films, despite having no sufficient narrative ground to support it.

    Effectively a high-class slasher movie, the first Alien is a nice, simple story that leaves almost zero space for expansion. Dramatically, the series’ universe was never important and the point of interest came from Ripley’s rivalry with the aliens.

    A major criticism for the recent films was that they lacked anything like that. Covenant in particular, highlighted Scott’s unwarranted desire to bring more substance to the franchise, doubling down on the literary references and philosophical speeches, as well as letting the story spill over for future sequels to take advantage of.

    It’s quite amazing that this all sprung from what initiated as a B-movie. The simple idea of a monster running around a spaceship now feels needlessly inflated by quasi-existential ideas and convoluted backstory.

    Unless Ridley can miraculously reel us back with those sequels he’s planning, it’ll be an exhaustive journey from here on out.


  13. How Star Wars’ infamous 1978 holiday TV special helped shape the movie franchise’s universe


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