ALWAYS KEEPING AN EYE ON HOLLYWOOD!!!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

THE STAR WARS LORE: THE COMPROMISE OF THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY


On a creative aspect, an artist may never feel completely satisfied with what eventually ends up on canvas or sculpted from marble. A writer may feel that characters need to be continually fleshed- out or developed entirely different from what ends up as the written form. It must be fair to say that a filmmaker has to feel the same way about what ends up on film as well. Why does the creative mind wrestle with the sense of uncompleted dissatisfaction? Maybe it’s the never- ending imagination that continually builds on the visual or the creator’s mind’s eye, the literal or the expressive side of the creator. Walt Disney said that Disneyland would never be finished… it is a place in which trees would continue to grow and flowers would blossom as well as  attractions will be constructed and created to meet the needs of the guests’ demands. Borrowing a page from Disney’s philosophy, could the same be said of how director George Lucas originally saw STAR WARS when it was released on May 25, 1977? Is it a project that will not stop growing or changing? 
Here is the first trailer seen in 1977 for STAR WARS


Director GEORGE LUCAS on the set of  STAR WARS
Initially, STAR WARS was originally budgeted at $11 million with a very limited resource of visual and special effects that literally had to be created from the ground up because of the lack of existing departments or companies in Hollywood at the time. Without realization of what was going on at the time, George Lucas and his team were seeing the birth of his visual effects company, Industrial Light and Magic. Lucas expressed regret and that sense of dissatisfaction with its original release because the visual world created by Lucas’ mind’s eye didn’t translate as he’d hoped for at the time of production: mainly due to constraints in budget, technology and time. Over the years, Lucas has created a momentum of controversy with the ever- changing additions and removals of scenes, effects and sounds with the advancements in computer- animated software and special and visual effects and the continued growth and expansion of his company. Changes that have made the original hardcore fans huff in disagreement!  

In the wake of celebrating its 36th Anniversary on May 25th this year and the ever- building news and the excitement of a new EPISODE VII installment to be directed by wunderkind J.J. Abrams with announced returns from original cast members Mark Hamil (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Lea Organa) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo)… I felt the topic needed to be brought to light… did the lore of STAR WARS go a little too far?
Early news of ABRAMS directing STAR WARS VII


The original "Early Bird Package" from Kenner Toys in 1977
This might get me in trouble with some of the hardcore fans, so let me list my personal credentials as to why I feel engaged on the subject. I consider myself to be an OG (Original Goer or Geek) of the STAR WARS trilogy! I actually got to see the original theatrical release of STAR WARS back in 1977 right before turning nine years old. Old enough to remember the anticipation and the wonderment of seeing the original cut on a big screen. I was one of the very first to send off for the first four Kenner action figures with the special “Early Bird Certificate” package, making me the first on my block to own Luke, Lea, Chewbacca and R2-D2 before anyone else could. I tried to see the original trilogy as often as I could in theaters as often as possible and catch the ‘Returning Engagements’ as well. I am not trying to bash any of the current youths’ interest and love for the saga and the various storylines and structures, I am saying that the original trilogy of STAR WARS, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RETURN OF THE JEDI is all the series really needed and without needing to be retouched!

The ‘signs of things to come’ began in 1978 when science- fiction author Alan Dean Foster penned the novel “Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye.” Neither the story or plotline were officially brought upon or masterminded by creator George Lucas and the novel was considered the first story line to retroactively make it one of the earliest Expanded Universe works. The story’s timeline apparently takes place between what is STAR WARS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and none of the events of the novel are ever referred to or mentioned in any of the films. The book is one that I avoided because it was an imaginary work of science fiction that didn’t reference the worlds Lucas had created on film. The novel, respectfully, was merely a proposed possible “what- if” of events until a captive audience of film- goers awaited the release of the true STAR WARS sequel, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

If you have noticed, I must make note that to this date I still refer to the 1977 film as STAR WARS and not the recently- dubbed and long- winded title of STAR WARS IV: A NEW HOPE! Who is with me on this?

One of my major gripes were my wrestled feelings about the long- awaited prequel trilogy of Episodes I, II and III (THE PHANTOM MENACE, ATTACK OF THE CLONES and REVENGE OF THE SITH). Here’s my gripe… a new generation of blu- ray babies will watch the prequels first before, because they are going to follow numerical suit, to only be huffing and puffing over the poorly plotted and visually- disappointing IV, V and VI. I say this only from my personal observations: a new generation notices the difference in production value (or lack of) and don’t care for them, thinking they don’t stack- up to the overly- visual effects- heavy prequel trilogy. Another gripe involves the line of plots that were carefully placed in a particular order to grow awareness and suspense between IV, V and VI. Plot surprises will now be pre- maturely given away in the first three films that originally left audiences gasping with surprise within the original trilogy! Can we name a few? WARNING: Do not read- on if you have been living under a rock and not seen the STAR WARS six- pack! 
A trailer for the Prequel STAR WARS Trilogy


Who can ever forget the theatrical showing of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and witnessing the first time Darth Vader delivered the “I am your father” line as a reply to Luke Skywalker’s thoughts that Vader had murdered his father? I can still remember a sense of disbelief… wait a minute… maybe it’s Vader’s way of deceiving Luke to believe a lie to play with his emotions or pull him to The Dark Side? Could there really be such a connection from the apprentice Jedi and the soulless Sith Lord? The suspense and surprise is now ruined do to the fact that we are not only are introduced to Anakin Skywalker (with the last name giving things away) but we also see Anakin father the twins and become the evil Sith Lord Darth Vader within Episode III: REVENGE OF THE SITH. Speaking of the twins… how about the confirmation that Luke and Lea were siblings? We caught a bit of bait when, towards that heightened moment in Episode V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK that we witness apprentice- in- training Luke prematurely leave the planet of Dagobah due to a premonitioned cry for help from Han and Lea. As Luke departs, the apparition- version of Obi- Wan Kenobi states, “That boy is our last hope” only to have Master Jedi Yoda reply, “No, there is another.” An audience was left bewildered with guesses… who are they referring to? Han? Lea? R2- D2??? Thus, we would find true confirmation within Episode VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. Well, that moment has been trampled with the premature telling of the secret shrouded within, yet again being revealed within the finale of Episode III: REVENGE OF THE SITH as it reveals mother Padme birthing the twins and literally calling them by their names,” Luke….Lea” as they are being pulled out of her! Did she really have to do that? Or…did Lucas really have to do that? Couldn’t we had been left with an unseen birth and be left to our devices whether it was one child or twins or triplets and find out later on throughout the series what significance it might have? 
A trailer for the Original STAR WARS Trilogy


Let’s talk about the Expanded Universes that have been created and embraced by the “STAR WARS fans.” This is where I have issues and problems, on a variety of different levels. To begin with, there are far too many Expanded Universes to keep track of with too many different characters and galaxies and plotlines to keep in order… there are too many novels to even mention here with the stretched- out worlds built from the original lore. To add more expansion, the world of computer technology has introduced a series of video and/ or computer games including THE FORCE UNLEASED and the recently released THE OLD REPUBLIC. Both games, respectfully, open gamers to even more newly- created worlds and characters than what some novelists have yet to touch. Some familiar characters or worlds still are very much present in the telling, for lore sake, but the stories are shaped differently with only the imagination left as a possible limitation.

One of the biggest  and most recent creations brought forth within the Expanded Universe submissions is the very popular 3D computer- animated STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS series. Like the novel, “Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye” that takes a narrative look at what might have occurred between STAR WARS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS is a series of stories that chronologically takes place between the prequel’s trilogy storylines of THE CLONE WARS and REVENGE OF THE SITH. It covers a three- year period of events never covered in the films. What makes the series ideally special is that it was produced in association with Lucasfilm Ltd. The animation is a characterization of familiar characters in itself. We are surrounded by the day- to- day threats and adventures of a young Obi- Wan Kenobi and his Padawan Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, as well other STAR WARS prequel trilogy characters like Jedi Master Mace Windu. Although never mentioned within the films’ lore, the animated series has Anakin himself taking on his won apprentice, Ahsoka Tano. The Emmy- award winning series went into five seasons before ending.
An exciting trailer for STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS


It is perfectly acceptable and welcomed to have creative people come up with imaginative ideas and express them, but fans have literally accept anything into their own perspective of the STAR WARS lore without question! Moreover, it has also been intertwined within our pop culture as well. On a recent reality series that based itself on who was considered the biggest of all geeks called KING OF THE NERDS, a challenge had been brought forth to pit two of its geek contestants in a STAR WARS trivia contest. From the ten questions asked, I could honestly recall only two of them being film lore and the rest dealt with novelizations, video games or God knows what else! I call my ruling as unfair! What the hell was all that about? I consider myself an expert on the films and trivia in general, especially when it deals with the latter trilogy, but this was out of control! I felt like I been knocked- off my A- game and that doesn't sit right for me or my ego!

Director JJ ABRAMS: STAR WARS VII
At this time, a barrage of serious geeks are rejoicing with the recent announcements within the STAR WARS universe. Only a select few can genuinely know what and where the STAR WARS lore will go next. As mentioned before, the Walt Disney Company has bought the rights to the STAR WARS name and will be producing and presenting the heavily- guarded Episode VII into the world of geekdom! What we do know is that the announcement J.J. Abrams (STAR TREK, SUPER 8) has been named as Director with a script treatment being written by Lawrence Kasdan, who penned THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK screenplay. Speculation can only predict that the new story will pick up some fifteen years after the events from which RETURN OF THE JEDI took place. One can only also guess that Han and Lea have married and possibly raising a family of some sort as well as focusing on the strengths of Luke’s Jedi abilities that have grown and matured within the years. Could we possibly see Lea embrace her Jedi heritage and learn the proper ways of the Force as well? What evil foes will our Rebel friends be presented to deal with this time? The possibilities are endless, but faith in the well- structured ensemble of a production team  and studios’ blessings can only mean that we will have not only have our expectations met, but exceeded through to the finale.

What are your thoughts of the ever- growing STAR WARS lore? Are you a follower of all or a devoted fan of the films alone? What are your thoughts of another sequel and the direction the story and plots might go?

I look forward to your comments and will post and reply to all! Keep checking back for the next blog topic installment set to be posted on SATURDAY JUNE 1st, 2013. As always, thank you for your comments and for reading!

2 comments:

  1. The original "trilogy" should have been left "as is." I agree. I never saw the prequels because of that fact. I have never understood the need to go to agonizing lengths to stretch out a "winner." Couldn't Lucas have, as you said, left much to the imagination? Here's an answer for you: today's youth, and, for that matter, adults who've bought into all this computerized pseudo-life do NOT HAVE THE IMAGINATION or PATIENCE to wait, think about it and see how it all comes out.
    Just an opinion.

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    1. Thank you for writing and your opinion is greatly appreciated. I, too, agree with a large portion of your comments and I am boggled by the lengths that technology has actually "crutched" a new generation. The attention span of an average 10-30 individual has dropped dramatically due to texting and internet use. Everything has to be visually stunning or no one shows any interest.

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