Star Wars is changing hands but my childhood lives on.

So, you probably heard the news yesterday that George Lucas sold Star Wars, otherwise known as LucasFilm to Disney yesterday for an impressive $4.05 billion. With that came news that Disney was already beginning work on an Episode 7, due for release in 2015.

Let me start by saying how enormous of a Star Wars fan I am. Aside from the toys, the customizable card game, the novels, and yes, the now famous Darth Vader cardboard cutout that sits in my living room, Star Wars has always been an important anchor for me. The stories provide a valuable connection back to my childhood, reminding me of what it feels like to be completely immersed in my own imagination.

In my (more) adult years, the stories themselves have served as introductions into the wisdom of comparative mythologist, Joseph Campbell and his work on the hero archetype and the hero’s journey, from which many believe the Star Wars trilogy is derived. In a sense, I’ve aged with them, growing up to pull intellectual and (try not to laugh) even spiritual wisdom from the stories.

But, the sadness I felt yesterday upon hearing the news of Lucas’ sale, was, in part, due to the assumption that Star Wars would now be exploited without any thought of restraint. But, those are the feelings of a crotchety old-timer. I had every toy imaginable as a child, why should today’s kids be denied the same thing, because I hold Star Wars in some sacred regard?

But, that was just part of the remorse.  The other part came from a feeling that purists, not unlike myself, who had criticized Lucas so heavily, going as far as to create documentaries devoted to exposing his shortcomings, had driven him to part ways with his child.

While I’m sure that Lucas would disagree with this statement, I can’t help feeling there may be some truth to it. In fact, Lucas’ departure was all but spelled out in a NYT interview released 10 months ago alongside his latest film Red Tails, a project that provided even more insight into his beliefs as a man and as a filmmaker. When asked about the fans’ distaste spawned by his merchandising of the franchise and re-release of the films, the columnist wrote this:

“I think there are a lot more important things in the world” than feuds with fanboys, Lucas says with a kind of weary diffidence. But then he gets serious, even a little wounded…“On the Internet, all those same guys that are complaining I made a change are completely changing the movie,” Lucas says, referring to fans who, like the dreaded studios, have done their own forcible re-edits. “I’m saying: ‘Fine. But my movie, with my name on it, that says I did it, needs to be the way I want it.’ ”

Lucas seized control of his movies from the studios only to discover that the fanboys could still give him script notes. “Why would I make any more,” Lucas says of the “Star Wars” movies, “when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?”

It’s sad. But the reality, as often described by those who worked closely with George over the years, was that his passion and sage-like wisdom lied in editing, not writing, not directing…editing. The man loved to tinker, loved to see how technology could change the face of his beloved films and no one acknowledges this.

I mean, the man founded Industrial Light & Magic, the world’s first special effects studio, invented simply because he had no other way to create the expansive space shots he dreamed up while filming A New Hope. And then he founded Skywalker Sound, because he needed audio to match visuals.

All those who love and appreciate cinema, as most fanboys do, love to complain about how the movie industry is driven by corporate greed, and that true works of art are increasingly more difficult to discover and produce. Well, George Lucas broke free of that in 1978, ensuring that no movie studio would have the final editing rights over his works of art. The result was the greatest trilogy our world has ever seen.

I will never be able to fully grasp the impact that Star Wars has had on my life, my career choices, the intellectuals whom I now study and look up to, the importance I place on my own imagination and creativity, the way I will raise my own children and who I’ve grown into as a person.

I owe that to George Lucas and his vision as a filmmaker.

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Comments

  1. Gret blog post.

  2. Great post and tribute paid to George Lucas and Star Wars! I’m curious to see what influence Disney will have on Star Wars. Sometimes when another company takes over a successful show (or the particular person who is integral to its success leaves), the direction or vision of that show changes. (I’m thinking of The Simpsons here where certain writers left the show and it kinda went downhill after that)….only time will tell in the case of Star Wars! Congrats on being FP! :)

  3. FWIW, apparently Lucas just decided that the entire astronomically enormous cr*pload of money he got — all $4 billion of it — is going to be used to start a pro-education foundation.

    Jar Jar sucks, but that’s pretty awesome.

  4. So true, my friend, thank you!

  5. I’m just hoping that at this point we don’t have a repeat of the prequels…or that any returning characters will be playing by teen idols in order to get tweens and preteens in the theaters.

  6. As long as somebody blows up a Death Star that looks like Mickey Mouse, I’m OK with this.

  7. I am amazed how George Lucas has influenced so many. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next, how about you?

  8. im not happy whith starwars takeover by disney either

  9. well I can’t wait can they really make a worse job than the last three….

  10. I could express my sentimentality about the trilogy, but when I read that “Star Wars VII” will be released, in 3D no less, in 2015… my only thought was “Why wasn’t it predicted in Back to the Future II?!”

    I mean, c’mon…. I’m still waiting for the 15 additional Jaws films! This time it’s really, really personal. :P

  11. Great blog post, I totally agree…
    I don’t think he would have ever made episode seven, even though there is a dearth of novels, etc, to draw from. I’m just hoping the cast from the original trilogy at least makes an appearance, to hand off the newest trilogy to a new generation…

  12. matthewcro says:

    I have been a huge fan of Star Wars the day I got A New Hope on VHS in the 90s. And to be honest, the news that really struck me, and the only bit I actually cared about wasn’t that he sold Luasarts, or that it was to Disney, it was that Episode VII is going to be released in 2015. A continuation into the future. I have only really been interested in the originals the EU after RotJ, so I can only hope that the new trilogy will be set beyond that (I don’t care when really!).

    Hopefully there will be a 6 year old there who will be given A New Hope on Blu-ray, and hopefully end up craving more.

  13. someday i need to rewatch these films. you make a good point about coming out with a new film… the kids of today will probably love it, and not see it through such a critical lens.

  14. Excellent blog.

  15. I don’t know about YOU guys, but I think Leia is looking oh so BADASS in front of the other Disney princesses. Let’s give our girls a (metaphorically) REAL woman role model, eh?

    However, I am a bit sad about the sale.

    Great post!

  16. great read. :)

  17. williamca says:

    I totally agree with you. Fanboys are the cause of Lucas selling his creation.

  18. You have to feel sorry for George. If you’ve never seen it, check out the documentary ‘The People Vs. George Lucas’. This is the dark side of the creative process, that you create a huge, global cultural phenomenon and the ‘fans’ give you nothing but grief about it. I’m not a huge Star Wars fan, and I don’t necessarily agree with some of the decisions Lucas has made concerning his creation, particularly in recent years, but better or worse, he had his vision, and a lesser man would’ve completely exploited the property for all it was worth (and I believe we’ll start to see that shortly, now that there’s new captains at the helm and a four billion dollar line item to justify).

    Yeah, he made a fortune, but that had to be a heavy weight on his shoulders, that no matter what he did it was going to be criticized to the nth degree. I doubt he ever really wanted all the fame and fortune, just to create something people enjoyed consuming as much as he did making it. It’s no wonder that he didn’t make more films than he did, and that’s sad that we might have been deprived of something as fun and exciting as another Star Wars or Indiana Jones because of a bunch of arrogant obsessive-compulsive man-children swinging plastic lightsabers, equating Lucas to the devil, claiming ownership of something that was never theirs to begin with.

    Lucas didn’t destroy your childhood, if you grew up post 1977, he gave you a better one. This is how he ultimately gets repaid, just cashing out and walking away disgusted. Bravo, padawans.

  19. Wow! Great Post! I have always liked the original Star Wars trilogy.

  20. I hope you mean the Decipher CCG; if so, right on, if not, I do not acknowledge your game’s existence.

    • Yes, I meant the Decipher CCG. :)

      • I was a playtester for them for a while, but Star Wars CCG was a hard gig to break into. I was a lot more active with Young Jedi and LOTR, the latter of which I am still teaching people how to play. Sadly, I lost a couple grand worth of stuff in a flooded storage unit, so I lost all my SWCCG stuff. Costs too much to replace now. :/

  21. smblooding says:

    I just hope they don’t make Princess Leia into a Disney Princess. I will be very upset if they do.

    I’m a little torn. I love Star Wars. I love Disney. I want more Star Wars, but I just don’t know if I want Disney to take it and run with it. However, I know that once Episode 7 comes out, I’ll be happy watching it and will have next to nothing bad to say about it. So…yay! We’re getting more Star Wars!

  22. George Lucas had a dream. His dream became reality and in the process became an obsession for so many more. I was under impressed by the second trilogy of movies, but see the interest is very strong for the continuation. Disney is well suited to continue in the way Lucas would dictate. I think the franchise is in very capable hands. You have given this subject a nice treatment.

  23. This is one of the first times I’ve heard someone else say something positive about Lucas. I mean, ILM is still in existence today, and there’s a reason for it. So I say, rock on fellow blogger, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  24. Evidently, the impending tax increases due to obama’s tenure may have also “forced” mr. Lucas’ hand to sell now. As for the quality of some of the movie stories and characters mr. Lucas has created, well, it was his creation to begin with. There have been a number of stories I’ve read or watched, liking overall, but upset with particular ways the creator has taken the direction of the story or character, but oh we’ll, it’s their work, and if I don’t like it that much, I have a choice, to keep with that creator’s work, to ignore them henceforth, and/or to create my own vision. So, buck up geeks and get a grip. Star Wars isn’t a religion, though evidently many of you have turned it into that. Welcome to denominationalism.

  25. What annoys me is that now all the money will go to Disney, that vast corporation with so many branches. Rather than dear old Lucasfilm, which I look nostalgically on.

  26. Reblogged this on antonioltp and commented:
    Worth a minute or two :)

  27. troismommy says:

    We are a whole family that loves Star Wars. I posted photos of our Halloweens over the years, and a friend joke that our Halloweens were sponsored by Lucasfilms. (I even carry a Star Wars purse.) I’m a little saddened by this, as well, but my 11 year old nearly leapt with joy at the prospect of Episode VII. (Partly because he’s imagined it himself for years.)

    I have no idea what Disney will or won’t do to the films. I just hope that they do the Star Wars Universe justice.

  28. You said what was on my mind all my life but I never had the skills to express it so well. Superb blog post!

    • Oh, and I forgot to mention that I believe when criticizing new episodes of Star Wars (1, 2 and 3) people forget that original ones were made for children of the 70ies. The new ones were made for the children of the 90ies. Not the adults of the 70ies.

  29. Great read!

  30. A beautifully written post.

    Lucas recreated modern cinema, created the modern block buster. He gave us THX and he gave us ILM. Still, we can only moan about some changes that amount to what, ten minutes of screen time in six hours? We can only moan about a series of Prequel movies that don’t match up to our expectations, yet we still enjoy? I’ve been a fan and collector of Star Wars for 35 years. Only my parents outlast what George has given me. How many people can boast that? Don’t get me wrong, this deal has given Star Wars back to us, the fans, yet I can’t help thinking that we’ve wronged Lucas, not the other way round.

    Thanks George, I for one will miss you. Disney, remember, you have the wealth and the power to bring Star Wars to every age. Don’t neglect those that grew up on it.

  31. Did you really mean “lay.”

    Great blog!

  32. I love how your dad was the first to comment! Cute…anyway, I agree with a lot of what you said. My whole blog is devoted to Star Wars, so I understand and have been through the crazy emotions of all the fans these past few days. I had a comment on mine by someone named “Nathan” who summed it up perfectly for me: “And whether the new stuff is great or terrible, which over the years this franchise has experienced both, when you drop in the original ANH DVD (or Blu-Ray?), Luke and the gang will still be there fighting the Dark Side in all the awesomeness we remember.” It’s a good way to think about everything. It’s not like he took the original Star Wars that we love and know away from us.

  33. I feel like Lucas sent everything to the dark side… or not?

  34. Game Delver says:

    Great post. One part really stuck out to me, though: “But, the sadness I felt yesterday upon hearing the news of Lucas’ sale, was, in part, due to the assumption that Star Wars would now be exploited without any thought of restraint.”

    I think you can rest assured that it is impossible to exploit Star Wars any more than it already has been, not even by the almighty House of Mouse.

  35. peterjames1001 says:

    Reblogged this on peterjames1001's Blog.

  36. I was about to comment on this but if you like you could read my thoughts on the link below. I am a huge Star Wars fan and when I heard the news I was horrified, just horrified. I think most people are.

    What really gets me is though is why? Why would he sell his baby?!

    http://140reviews.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/disney-episode-vii-the-rebels-new-hope-or-the-empires-last-laugh/

  37. Glad to see someone else giving George Lucas his props.
    I was really surprised by how emotional my reaction was to the acquisition. I think there’s the potential for goodness and terribleness. I can understand Lucas being done and wanting to move on with his life.
    What’s tricky about stories is that once the audience has them, the audience takes ownership of it and is invested. Does the author still have power, or the audience? It’s a tricky balance.

  38. Great post. I really enjoyed your viewpoint of the sale and the tribute to Lucas.

  39. This has made me feel so much better about the whole situation. I have to admit that I’ve been whining incessantly with the worst of them. But you’re absolutely right: he was more than justified to sell Star Wars. Thanks for putting things in perspective.

    That being said, if Jar Jar makes an appearance I’m done forever.

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