You and Lucas

So. You have your time machine. You could try to change major world history, prevent terrible disasters, and so forth, but let’s face it: you’d probably just futz it up. I, for one, do not want to suddenly find myself speaking Japanese and wearing a beret and kilt whilst typing on my Underwood Pentium just because you stepped on the wrong butterfly when you stopped the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. No, you’re heading for 1990, where you will advise George Lucas on the future of Star Wars.

Star Wars belongs to Lucas. He created the original and made the series possible. Anything we say here is wishful thinking and second-guessing. That said, any artist is open to criticism, and fans have railed against the perceived flaws in Episodes I and II, railed against some of the changes made in The Special Edition and have debated the changes made to the forthcoming DVD, which will be released and reviewed later this week.

Some of these criticisms reflect genuine problems; it really doesn’t make sense, in terms of character development or dramatic impact, to have Greedo shoot first. Some reflect personal preferences; didjya like Mos Eisley as a desert backwater, or as a larger, crazier port town? Some result from expectations; fans had a lot of time to think about what they wanted to see in Eps I-III, and those visions necessarily differ from Lucas’s official ones. Others reflect personal whims. Heck, if I were advising on the original films, I would’ve made Lando Calrissian female. That’s just me.

Other than maintaining cantina shot integrity and altering Jar Jar “Stepin Fetchit” Binks, what other changes would you suggest, for the Special Edition, Eps I-III, or the DVD?

Here are my top four, most of which aren’t terribly original:

1. Why, oh, why, is Anakin a kid in Episode I? He can just as easily be a wide-eyed innocent youngster, as his son Luke is in Ep IV, and still give us an effective fall into darkness. It would be even more effective, since we’d have had the chance to know him as a youth/adult who was basically good. The characters in Eps IV-VI had three films over which to develop. Remember, characters? They mattered in the original film. The audience connected with them, and they mattered as much as the look and the effects.

Also, yeah, I know Pod Racing would require considerable skill, but I cannot watch that scene without thinking that Obi-Wan’s line from A New Hope, “when I first met your father, he was already a great pilot….” will be changed on the DVD to, “when I first met your father, he was already a highly skilled go-kart racer.”

2. The Force worked as a Pagan, mystical element, possibly available to all of us. Midichlorians, “measurable force,” and the Jedi as an Aryan elite kind of wreck that.

3. I liked the idea of Artoo and C3P0 just happening into the adventures in the original film. Why give them a complex history, which will have to be erased in or after Episode III?

I’d’ve droided Eps I-III with the larger R2 units and Gonks.

4. This is a tricky one, since we won’t see Revenge of the Sith until 2005. Perhaps it will explain what happens to non-humans in the political sphere. I always watched the trilogy assuming that the Republic had been a human thing. After all, the Empire and the Rebels consist of homo sapiens (yeah, a few aliens help out here and there). Now, I suppose Episode III could show a separation of the different species, so that the Empire is a human endeavour.

So, what happens to the interspecies political entity that we see in the Eps I and II? If humans simply take over all aspects of the Empire, it rather suggests we’re inherently superior to all other species. Remember, we’re talking about all of those species in the Senate, each with roughly equal technology. And why aren’t there alien Rebels? All of those species we see in Eps I and II, combined, assisted by Rebel humans, can’t overthrow an Empire which only advances humans to its top spots? Only permits humans to become Storm Troopers?

Why not just make the old Republic, and the later Empire, the human alliance within the galaxy? It’d solve a lot of problems set up in Eps I and II.

17 replies on “You and Lucas”

  1. Boglin says:

    Slightly unfair
    I completely agree with you on the first three points (especially about Anakin being a kid – that failed on multiple levels). However, I think the mostly human empires and rebellions couldn’t be avoided in the first film. In terms of the Empire, consider if they did have a multi-species set of storm troopers; they would have needed different armor for all the different species. The uniforms added a lot to the terror and that would have been lost if they had a Storm Trooper Hutt slithering along the ground. Toss in a seven foot tall wookie trooper with fur sticking out and suddenly they go from an elite fighting squad to a ragtag group of misfits.

    As for the rebels, well, I can’t think of a good artistic reason for this. There should have been more species in the rebellion. I’m just going to blame this on the fact it probably would have been too costly to give costumes to more members of the alliance. Actually, a great ‘special edition’ alteration could have been to make some of the alience characters other species. Would any of the purists here have objected if Porkins was a Twilek?

    • peteyg says:

      Re: Slightly unfair
      YES

      GOD YES (we would have a problem with that)

    • obiwan says:

      Re: Slightly unfair

      members of the alliance. Actually, a great ‘special edition’ alteration could have been to make some of the alience characters other species. Would any of the purists here have objected if Porkins was a Twilek?

      Shhhh!!! Shssshhsh! Don’t give George any ideas, dammit!

      • Timeshredder says:

        Re: Slightly unfair : )

        Well, thanks to one of those butterfly-stepping incidents, the copy of the new DVD features a “Darth Porkins!”

        Which one of you guys is responsible for this???

  2. is says:

    I wouldn’t change a thing
    It’s so easy to second guess… when the fact is, I’m not a writer and I couldn’t have come up with this story or the movies in any successful format. I think the movies are great for what they are. They’re not perfect, but they don’t suck at all. I can respect Lucas for making his story. He’s the one with the money and the rights.

    That being said, the only overall change that would help the movies in general except ‘IV’ would be if they were darker. I loved VI, but the ewoks were too cutesy, Jar-Jar was too cutesy… But I also think that Lucas was/is smart for making the movies more palatable for younger people. He’s making money and when making money, a wider audience is a big help. If he had made it perfect for me, it would have been unfit for kids.

    Even the best movie IMO can’t please everyone.

    • y42 says:

      Re: I wouldn’t change a thing

      That being said, the only overall change that would help the movies in
      general except ‘IV’ would be if they were darker. I loved VI, but the ewoks
      were too cutesy

      I was 8 the first time I saw Jedi, I loved the Ewoks.

      I was 5 when I saw Empire, the ice monster scared the HELL out of me and I
      hid for the rest of the movie.

      Jar Jar by himself didn’t bother me that much. Comic relief characters are
      acceptable, but…the constant toilet humour, the sheer amount of screen time
      he gets, the fact that he doesn’t have an amphibian morphology (where are
      the muscles that drive his swimming ears?). All of that bothered me. Its not
      the comic relief that bothered me, its the half-assed, overused, not-that-
      comic charater. And the fact that he refuses to admit he was wrong.

      Also, I was extremely annoyed at hearing Lucas constantly tout his technical
      prowess horns while every single alien species he shown us was humanoid.
      Or mostly humanoid (humanoid with a slug instead of legs, big deal.
      Humanoid that walks on his hands and manipulates with his feet, big deal,
      etc.) in some cases. Jar Jar, with all his leather-coat rendering breakthroughs,
      is still just a guy in a rubber suit, with pixels instead of makeup.

      I think the one change that is truly required is that Lucas stops thinking he’s a
      genius. He’s got to admit he was a bright kid with a good idea, and he has
      great business sense, but he’s not infaillible, nor a genius.

  3. Eldhrin says:

    Human Empire
    This is explained in the authorised books, which are by and large the interpretation of Star Wars which fit my idea of the series, rather than the conflicting bits in the prequels… the Old Republic was apparently a multispecies organisation in the truest sense – more or less as we see in the prequels actually.

    When it came to the Empire though, the Emperor was prejudiced against nonhumans. Remember how the Empire enslaved the Wookies? They did the same to the Mon Calamari and others as well. Nonhumans were generally not allowed to achieve very much – Grand Admiral Thrawn being a noteable exception. The same holds for human women (another exception being Admiral Daala, but it’s possible that the Emperor didn’t know about her).

    So somewhere in Episode III, Palpatine has to become Emperor and start the purging of the remaining Jedi and the nonhumans in powerful positions. He’s got a busy time ahead…

    I’ll have some comments on advice to 1990-Lucas after I’ve seen Episode IV DVD tonight, as my disks arrived today thanks to some impressive deadline promises by Amazon UK.

  4. dgswensen says:

    Me..
    …I would go back in time and chemically lobotomize him before he could make the Special Editions, let alone the prequels.

    I think the Special Editions were a big step down, and the prequels have consistently been disappointing in comparison to the originals. At first, I thought that I’d just grown up or grown old, until I watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy and learned that you don’t have to be a child to have a sense of childlike wonder. All of a sudden that argument didn’t hold water anymore, and I had to re-evaluate what I was putting up with from Lucasfilm.

    With the new DVD release that changes even more of the film I used to love, Star Wars is like a bad joke to me now. This comes after years of me staunchly defending Lucas to other people I regarded as “haters,” but this latest round of changes finally cracked me as a fan. I wish the prequels had never come out, and if I could go back and change something, I’d leave Star Wars right where it was before the SEs came out, because it was just fine that way. But that’s just me.

  5. Icehouseman says:

    I would do nothing.
    Instead I’d head in my directions and give me some advice. But really, they’re
    his movies he can do whatever he wants. I thought the Special Editions where
    ok. I liked the improvements in some of the fx. I thought TPM wasn’t terrible,
    but it’s not on the same level as the first three movies. TPM didn’t even feel
    like Star Wars. It just felt like a random sci-fi movie. AOTC was a lot better
    than TPM. It felt like Star Wars again, the action scenes seemed to have a
    point and what have ya. The dialog was terrible and the acting was equally
    bad, but that was true about the first trilogy too. But it still wasn’t original
    trilogy level. I’m interested in seeing what he does what SW3:ROTS. True, I
    hate Jar-Jar and TPM Anakin, but overall, I can’t complain.

  6. GrimSean says:

    The Special Editions
    Some of the changes that were made in the special editions I rather enjoyed: seeing the pilots in the X-Wings, not being able to see through the Snow Speeders on Hoth – basically, fixing what special effects couldn’t do then. The things I hated – and I mean hated were the use of Computer Animation where there had been a Muppet previously and the reprisal of classic scenes to fit the kinder, gentler Lucasfilm world of today.

    I don’t care what you say George, but in my world, Han Shoots First!

    I’m still not sure if I’m going to buy the DVD set – I really don’t understand why Lucas won’t include the option to watch the original cuts on the discs (my theory, however, is that once all the films are done, he’ll release a super-box set with all the different cuts of all the movies, including the pirate Episode 1 that had all the Jar Jar scenes removed).

    As to what I would have done with Star Wars? Well, if I could go back to circa 1989, I’d look up Lucas and say “Hey George, have you seen what they’re doing with Animation in Japan lately? No? I think they could really do a number on a Star Wars story set after Return of the Jedi.” I think I’d even be happy if he let Genndy Tartakovsky do something in that era, as what I’ve seen of Clone Wars has been spectacular.

  7. dram says:

    I couldn’t disagree more on point 3
    All of the movies are told from the eyes of the droids, more or less. They are the only thing that really ties the stories together, they are the only people IN all nine movies. (Because let’s all admit to ourselves, Lucas is going to make 7, 8 and 9.) I think the plan all along has been for R2 and 3PO to have their memorys wiped, and I don’t think that is a bad thing. But of course we will have to see how it is handled in the movie.

    • Gaewyn says:

      Re: I couldn’t disagree more on point 3

      All of the movies are told from the eyes of the droids, more or less. They are the only thing that really ties the stories together, they are the only people IN all nine movies. (Because let’s all admit to ourselves, Lucas is going to make 7, 8 and 9.) I think the plan all along has been for R2 and 3PO to have their memorys wiped, and I don’t think that is a bad thing. But of course we will have to see how it is handled in the movie.

      Ahhh yes… only problem with that is… when does Obiwan get his mind wiped? Not remembering 2 droids that he spent a good chunk of years around?

      Lucas has some serious continuity issues going on even after redoing the special editions to fit the actors in.

      In fact there have been a couple essays on the only way that Lucas can successfully tie up all the loose ends. What’s funnny is that the 3 I have read so far all conclude that Anakin goes to the dark side voluntarily to be a spy or some such…. They wipe the droids minds so they don’t rat him out and Obi-wan is specifically avoiding the subject when he claims not to know the droids.

      Fact is… no matter what he does Lucas is screwed. We all have our idea of what the story should be and unlike LotR, where most of us agreed with the film makers, we don’t already have a base script for our minds to work from.

      • UncleJam says:

        Re: I couldn’t disagree more on point 3

        Ahhh yes… only problem with that is… when does Obiwan get his mind wiped? Not remembering 2 droids that he spent a good chunk of years around?

        I don’t know. If Obi-Wan didn’t see the droids as anything but talking (or chirping) furniture, basically, I could easily see him not remembering those two specific droids. Judging by the attitudes of other characters in the series, not everyone thinks of droids as anything more than fancy equipment.

        And remember, we only have Obi-Wan’s word that he doesn’t remember them. Perhaps he recognized them and knew what they meant for Luke but was hesitant to reveal that info for whatever reason. Just because he says he doesn’t know them, doesn’t actually mean he doesn’t.

        Or maybe being all alone in the desert for so many years has fried his mind by the time ANH opens.

        • obi says:

          Re: I couldn’t disagree more on point 3

          And remember, we only have Obi-Wan’s word that he doesn’t remember them. Perhaps he recognized them and knew what they meant for Luke but was hesitant to reveal that info for whatever reason. Just because he says he doesn’t know them, doesn’t actually mean he doesn’t.

          That’s it exactly. Remember Luke and Leia were intentionally separated at birth, and never told about their father. Obi most likely had a hand in wiping the droids memory to keep the kids safe from Vader, and to make sure Luke and Leia would never find out. That being the case, Obi would have no reason to say ‘Yeah, these were your fathers droids, we wiped their memory.’

          It only seems like an incongruity on the surface, but I think Lucas has already thought this out.

      • Icehouseman says:

        Re: I couldn’t disagree more on point 3

        Ahhh yes… only problem with that is… when does Obiwan get his mind
        wiped? Not remembering 2 droids that he spent a good chunk of years
        around?

        Is it also possible that the droids look like millions of other driods in the Star
        Wars universe. For example in TPM the Queen has a whole deck worth of R2’s.
        The Federation had their own protocol droid. It seems like a tool most people
        in that galaxy have. Like an stove or a lamp.

        • Gaewyn says:

          Re: I couldn’t disagree more on point 3

          Is it also possible that the droids look like millions of other driods in the Star
          Wars universe. For example in TPM the Queen has a whole deck worth of R2’s.
          The Federation had their own protocol droid. It seems like a tool most people
          in that galaxy have. Like an stove or a lamp.

          But if you get a stove or lamp that says “Hi… I’m steve!” and you were around it for a couple years if in the future you had a stove that says “Hi… I’m Steve” you would most likely do a double take and remember.

          This would be especially true if this happened to a specific pair of stove and lamp that called themselves the same thing that another specific pairing of stove and lamp had called themselves years ago.

          Obi-wan isn’t that daft…

Comments are closed.