To say that Disney’s $4-billion acquisition of Lucasfilm back in 2012 was huge news is an understatement. We’re just now starting to see the critical and financial results of that decision with the box office record-breaking performance of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a decision that should make Disney shareholders very happy for years to come. One person who’s not too happy with this turn of events, however, is the man who created the entire Star Wars universe: George Lucas.
Sure, in hindsight Lucas could easily have asked for more than $4 billion for the acquisition of his beloved property, but it’s not the monetary aspect of the deal that left him with a sour taste. (In fact, most of that $4 billion is going to charity anyway.) In a new interview with Charlie Rose, Lucas delved into all sorts of personal details on his life and career, with much of the conversation turning to his reaction to the latest blockbuster Star Wars film. You can listen to the whole interview below, followed by a few choice quotes from Lucas himself.
Watch the entire 54-minute interview with Charlie Rose here (via The Playlist):
In case you didn’t make it all the way through Lucas’ sometimes-humble, sometimes-pompous chat with Mr. Rose, here are a few highlights from their talk. First up is a decent summary, at least from Lucas’ point of view, of the eventual split between Disney and Lucas over their vision for the future of Star Wars:
“They looked at the stories, and they said, ‘We want to make something for the fans’….They decided they didn’t want to use those stories, they decided they were going to do their own thing….They weren’t that keen to have me involved anyway — but if I get in there, I’m just going to cause trouble, because they’re not going to do what I want them to do. And I don’t have the control to do that anymore, and all I would do is muck everything up,” he said. “And so I said, ‘Okay, I will go my way, and I’ll let them go their way.'”
“They wanted to do a retro movie. I don’t like that. Every movie I work very hard to make them completely different, with different planets, with different spaceships, make it new,”
If you had any doubt about how Lucas feels about his Star Wars films, he goes on to call them his “kids” and then says, “I sold them to the white slavers that takes these things, and [laughs]”, before wisely choosing to stop following that line of thought.
In spite of creating the entire Star Wars franchise and profiting considerably from it both financially and creatively for years, Lucas blames Hollywood for relying too much on existing intellectual property and not exploring the new and unusual nearly enough:
“Of course, the only way you could really do that [make money] is not take chances. Only do something that’s proven,” Lucas added. “You gotta remember, ‘Star Wars’ came from nowhere. ‘American Graffiti‘ came from nowhere. There was nothing like it. Now, if you do anything that’s not a sequel or not a TV series or doesn’t look like one, they won’t do it!”
“These are little tiny movies…I’m going back to where ‘American Graffiti’ or ’THX ,’ where I can completely change the way you tell a story in using cinema. I produced a few films that were like this, but they weren’t like what I would do.
“I’ve been fascinated with the true nature of the medium — it’s been used more as a recording medium, than as a art form unto itself. They call them tone poems — in the beginning in Russia, this was a whole movement of: how do you tell visual stories, basically without dialogue, without all the things you use to tell a story, and you just use the film itself. It’s kind of esoteric, it hasn’t come much further in one hundred years. I’m going to try and take it into something that is more emotionally powerful than most of the stuff we’ve done up to this point.”
Personally, I’d love to see what Lucas can do without the inherent pressure or expectations of something like Star Wars. He’s proven to have a very creative mind, so even if he’s not the best director out there, he deserves the opportunity to get back to his roots. While the Disney machine rolls on with their own version of his creation over the next few years (at least), Lucas would be well within his rights to hold a bit of a grudge until his dying day, but hopefully the lure of new creative pursuits will help to give him new focus and peace of mind. I only hope the fans will be open-minded and welcoming if and when he decides to step back into the spotlight.
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