Review 2008: George Lucas

Suggested by my friend Chris.

Dear George,

It’s been quite a year for the Star Wars franchise. Between Robot Chicken and Family Guy and YouTube, the parodies have come thick and fast. There was also The Clone Wars film and series which look very exciting though I’ve not watched neither, since it seemed a bit pointless seeing a pilot for a tv show on the big screen only to not be able to watch rest of it since Sky as usual have sewn up the domestic rights. I await the probable fifteen or so dvd releases with great interest.

The live action series seems to be moving on apace, as scripts are written, sets designed and not a public clue of what they’re going to be about, other than bridging the chronological gap between the two trilogies. Thinking big in terms of talent and asking the likes of Russell T Davies to write episodes is smart (even if he turned you down) and I’d like to think you’ve already also had Kevin Smith or Joss Whedon on the phone (even though they too may be busy).

This is all very exciting of course, but some of us Star Wars fans, the ones whose appreciation of the franchise begins and ends with the films would like something else. Something new. Something which completes the story you began in 1976, rather than filling in the gaps best covered by our imagination.

We want episodes VII, VIII and IX.

As early as 1983 you were talking about seeing the Star Wars saga as three trilogies. A Time Magazine article describes the narrative road map for the prequels which you followed very closely (though there’s funnily enough, no mention of Jar-Jar) and a vague notion for these films. Time paraphrases what you must have said to them thus:

“Their main theme will be the necessity for moral choices and the wisdom needed to distinguish right from wrong. There was never any doubt in the films already made; in those the lines were sharply drawn, comic-book-style. Luke, who will then be the age Obi-Wan Kenobi is now, some place in his 60s, will reappear, and so will his friends, assuming that the creator decides to carry the epic further.”

Now I know that in May this year you told the LA Times that you now didn’t have any intention to extend the story, because “(the) movies were the story of Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker, and when Luke saves the galaxy and redeems his father, that's where that story ends” but that doesn’t really explain the so called Expanded Universe, which does exactly that and which you’re so in favour of you’ve hired a guy to make sure that it’s all consistent and which began with Timothy Zahn’s trilogy of books which at the time were sold as the official trilogy to the films, even though ironically bits of them have become inconsistent (I read).

The Expanded Universe and your adherence to it could be a millstone. It’s certainly proving as much with this new animated series I hear, with the talk of setting up of various levels of canonicity and whatnot so that you can still make some things up as you go along, even if it doesn’t quite match a sentence written by an author on a deadline at three in the morning six years ago. With the films about as canon as Star Wars can be (even though you effectively changed the plot during the Darth calls the Emperor scene dvd version of Empire) there’s nothing to stop you making up some new story.

It’d be a narrative apocalypse of course and you’d certain piss off your base, who would suddenly discover that all those books and comics they’ve invested in have nothing to do with the film series. Talk about dividing loyalties. It’d be like a macrocosm of the Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye controversy after you’d decided that Luke and Leia were siblings, despite the palpable if a bit inappropriate sexual tension. No wonder you hired a guy. Then again, speaking as someone who’s fairly monogamous when it comes to sci-fi fandom, reading the online discussion would be fairly entertaining as the likes of MaceWindu421 finds themselves trying to get their head around hating a new big screen addition to their favourite franchise. It certainly was in 1999.

Such was the sigh of relief amongst Trekk(ers/ies) when the new writers of the new Star Trek prequel are explaining away the differences by creating an alternative timeline even though there’s been about five different first mission stories for the Enterprise across the books and comics. Transformers just keeps remaking itself, becoming consistently more rubbish as it goes along. Of course, the best model is Doctor Who were everything is canon no matter how inconsistent or rubbish it is, explained away by a pick and mix of the Time War, timey-wimey, or if you’re really old school the Faction Paradox (who eat continuity for lunch). Even when the new series destroyed Gallifrey for a second time having only just brought it back into existence in the books, some of us decided it was the same event viewed from different points of view.

Except none of that has to matter (pointless previous paragraph really) because the above quote from Time Magazine is consistent with what’s happening in that Expanded Universe as described in the Legacy of the Force books. My impression, based on a glance through a rather scary timeline at the Wookiepedia, is that having beaten the empire, the rebels, now a New Republic are put in the position of ruling the galaxy and find themselves in much the same position as their old enemy, having to make difficult choices which from a certain point of view could be considered evil and of the dark side, which ultimately becomes conceptually divisive as members of the Skywalker-Solo clan begin infighting.

In other words, it’s still about the warring family played out against an intergalactic backdrop. It’s not an appalling model. There’s a frightening amount of continuity to pull back, yet there’s still room for the original favourites to reappear and nothing to stop you reconfiguring the tale to their point of view. You’d keep your base happy with first official live action appearances for the likes of Mara Jade and the Solo-Skywalker clan and more importantly, with these progeny in the frame, you can keep the story at least as entertaining for teenagers or kids, with loads of action sequences and story beats for them to identify with as siblings go to war.

About the only potential Toydarian in the metachlorian is whether the original cast would even be interested, but that’s looked better than it has in years. Time said: “Hamill and the others will get first crack at the roles—if they look old enough.” And now they really do. You managed to talk Harrison into being Indiana Jones again, something which seemed highly unlikely for years. I think Mark would be up for it having consistently appeared in genre series since the original series and voice Luke in Robot Chicken and done Wing Commander in the past. You might even get Carrie – she’s still acting and has been back in the world lately with a new biography. And I assume everyone else is available – certainly they were for the prequels.

So what’s stopping you?


[Why am I doing this?]

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