Lucas, Johnny and an Old Hope

by MW Cook

Last night Ruth and I snuggled up on the couch and popped in Star Wars, The Phantom Menace. I’ve been a Star Wars fan for as long as I can remember and we figured it was about time to re-watch the series.

Should’ve skipped the first one.

Might skip the second and third ones, too.

Did you ever really watch the original three? I mean really watch them? The originality, the subtle humor, the depth of characters. A space-fantasy that defined a generation. A 3-part work of art. There was nothing like it in its time. George Lucas worked and sweated and fought to have his story told the way he wanted it. And he refused to listen to critics foretelling a failure. It didn’t matter to him what others thought, it was his story and he was going to pour himself into it.

And it paid off. Star Wars became famous. He became rich. Toys, posters, video games, parodies. George Lucas became a god in the movie industry.

And then what happened? Almost twenty years later the creative genius comes out with this? Let’s be honest, if The Phantom Menace didn’t have the name of Star Wars attached to it, it would have been forgotten after a year. Full of plot holes, poor dialogue, superficial, goofy comedy and a child-like feel to the whole story, I was left wondering how the great and mighty Lucas had come up with it.

I wonder. I wonder if Lucas, in looking at his own fame, decided to create something for the audience instead of for the sake of creating. I mean, did he see how ridiculously famous he was, and decide to craft something for the kids of this generation so that they, like their parents, would get hooked and buy his toys and games and such? I wonder if the fame of Lucas did him in. I wonder if he spent too much time looking at himself and what the world and turned him into.

Johnny Depp may be my favorite actor. Every role he plays is unique and he always manages to bring something amazing to the characters. I found out recently that he never watches himself. He doesn’t watch his movies. He just does what he does, and doesn’t think about how he looks doing it.

I wonder if that is the difference between Lucas and Depp. Depp acts and creates his characters for their own sake. He doesn’t try to be original or try to look a certain way. He just does what he does, and does it well. Lucas, maybe, dropped the ball because he was too concerned with what the viewers wanted to see. Maybe I’m wrong.

But I think a point still stands, even if I’m wrong. When we create, do we ask ourselves what viewers / readers will think of us, or are we concerned with creating something true, beautiful and good? The former leads us to consumerism, I think. The later tends toward something eternal.

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