A discussion of the artisitic validity of Lucas' vision: The controversy of a galaxy, far, far, away

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by 1BAT4U, May 12, 2003.

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  1. 1BAT4U Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2003
    star 1
    It seems that since the release of The Phantom Menace over 3 years ago, the community of fans has split and formed factions over what is good and what is not. If these intense debates have proven one thing, it is that there is no accounting for taste, for it seems that for every person who is disapointed or opposed the the PT, there is his counterpart waiting to fight tooth-and-nail to announce his viewpoint as just as valid, if not moreso.

    It boils down to this: Is there a right answer? The answer may suprise you.

    To even begin to address these queries of whether one film is "good" or not, there must be agreements made on both side of the fence, and certain ideologies cannot be expressed for they are ideologies of impasse. "How fascist of you!," you may cry, but it is true. The terms of good and substandard (as likewise, benevolent and evil) are based on a set code of rules and ethics. To make metaphor, if there were no evil, nor the desire for evil, nor no way to express evil, what value would be represented by the word "good"? Similarly, if one does not choose to recognize the attributes of substandard, then effectly the term of substandard does not, and cannot, apply. So to sum up, the belief that some thing is valuable just because you choose not to believe in the theory of a set of rules that may devalue certain things you think to be remarkably special (whew!) is a paradox. If you say you like something just because you can without validation is simultaneously correct and false. It is correct in the fact that your position, to you, is infallible and cannot be contested. it is false in the regard that you play by no rules, and therefore you have nothing to prove your stance by.




    That said, let the discussions begin.
  2. JKBurtola Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 4, 2003
    star 4
    Whether a film is good or not is totally subjective, you can never have a definitive answer.
    There maybe similar aspects which fans like, or dislike but no one persons view is the definitive word on something like TPM or AOTC being good.

    My opinion on the Star Wars saga is that its a great story and it thoroughly entertains me, does that make my view right or wrong? The answer is my view isn't right or wrong. Its just my view.

    This thread doesn't make much sense.



  3. urgent_jedi_picnic Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 14, 2003
    star 4
    So to sum up, the belief that some thing is valuable just because you choose not to believe in the theory of a set of rules that may devalue certain things you think to be remarkably special (whew!) is a paradox.

    Whew! is right. I've read this line 5 times so far and i'm still not sure I get it. Are you saying that to argue against what seems obvious, simply because you can, is a bad reason?

    And how does your point tie into the saga, or GL's artistic validity?

    The Picnic :eek:
  4. Aunecah_Skywalker Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 25, 2002
    star 5
    Like the old adage (its variation, anyway) goes: "You can please some people all the time and all the people some time, but you can't please all the people all the time." Not only for the SW Saga, but for every other film, we're going to have people who dislike it and love it. For example, I simply love the LOTR movies, but I know there are those who hate them more than vampires hate sun. ;)

    For myself, I think the SW Saga tells a good story. However, I *do* think that the OT trilogy does a better job of telling the story than the PT story....

    Aunecah
  5. Durwood Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 5
    So this thread proposes to arrive at a definitive answer to the question, "Is STAR WARS good?". Best of luck to ya.
  6. Lars_Muul Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 2, 2000
    star 6
    My opinion is that the Star Wars Saga is the best film ever. That is all the reason I need to state that it is the best film ever, end of discussion. Your own opinion is really all that matters and we should not discuss eachother´s tastes.
  7. Scott3eyez Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 1, 2001
    star 4
    The word "good" in terms of "good and evil" is not the same as the word "good" in terms of "good and bad."

    However, both "evil" and "bad" are defined by the absence of good- respectively, in either an ethical or qualitative sense.

    So therefore... what was the question?
  8. J-Solo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 6, 1999
    star 4
    And your point is....?
  9. Aunecah_Skywalker Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 25, 2002
    star 5
    J_Solo: I think Scott3eyez is trying to ask what the actual question of this thread is - I can't say I am totally clear as to what it actually is either.

    Aunecah
  10. J-Solo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 6, 1999
    star 4
    Oh, sorry, my question was to 1BAT4U, ok? My mistake.
  11. 1BAT4U Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2003
    star 1
    To address an earlier question, I do not try to allude to a situation where "good and evil" are equivical to "good and bad," only I wish to state that they play by the same rules of logic. For there to be truly a good thing, you must fully recognize all aspects of an evil thing. Likewise, for one person to state that a thing they love and defend is "good," they must understand all which can make a thing "not good," and then ascertain whether or not the thing they love is loved deservedly.

    To say "I think this thing is great because I do and I can," is the paradox of which I spoke earlier. In essence, you are as correct as you will ever allow yourself to be. But to draw a very strange metaphor, this would be the same arguement that perhaps a mother of a repeat felon would use to describe her child; "He's my baby and I love him, no matter what the courts say." To continue the metaphor, the legal system would be the body of set, although often vague and indistinct, rules and ethics that a person must play by to be considered "good or evil." And a body of informed peers(in a perfect world) aides in deciding the judgement of the accused. The courts may reach a very different decision regarding a persons nature (benvolent or evil) than his family would. An offender's parents connot honestly concieve that their child is anything other than a wonderful gift to the world, nevertheless, that said offender will still serve time. The courts and the family do not judge by the same set of rules.


    So yes, any statement of "Star Wars is great because I say so," will be correct to the sayer. But the claim will have a difficult time being validated by any entity of recognized film validation. The claim is not irrefutable, and more evidence points toward the opposite of the claim's position.

    But it doesn't matter. The enjoyment of Star Wars (and all films) rests upon the decisions and the level of academic performance the viewer wishes to impose upon the film. It also rests upon the level of academic film knowledge the viewer possesses, for there is often a direct inverse relationship between the amount of informed people who enjoyed the film and the amount of people who actually saw the film.

    An example would be the Venn diagram: take the amount of people who enjoyed The Pianist and overlap them with the people who enjoyed TPM. The number of people within that overlapping group, the people who enjoyed both films, would be likely very small. The people who did like The Pianist have valid reasons for their decision to advocate that movie.

    And that's really the bottom line. Do you or do you not have reasons for judgement? Can you support your claims, one way or another? What is your validation other than self-claim?






    Any man can call himself wise, for that is not his judgement to make.
  12. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    As a writter and director myself, i can say with an informed opinion that the story of the Star Wars saga is the greatest ever conceived. It has taken every mythological archetype and combined them into a tragic tale of redemption that easily rivals that of Shakespeare and in my opinion greatly surpasses him.

    The problem with Star Wars is not George Lucas the writter, it is George Lucas the director.

    He is brilliant at setting up shots. His use of imagery is breathtaking--each shot of the PT is a magnificent work of art. But it the presentation of the story that faulters, and that is where everyone's complaints lie.

    The story is absolutly brilliant. Mythmaking at its finest. However, the deliberate cheesiness of the film is occasionally detrimental. Its good to have a sense of fun and adventure, but the whole "1930's serial" influence has had a few negative effects, particularly in the writting. Lucas isnt that bad a writter in terms of dialogue, but his diliberate use of 1930's serial-style augments his faults.

    I would like to see Star Wars presented as a great tragedy--dark and serious and profound, the way it deserves to be told. Its good to have humor and a sense of fun, but this shouldnt be outweighed. Peter Jackson got it right with LOTR--the story was innocent and fun in the right places, but dark and epic in scope, the way the story of Star Wars is.
    Its interesting to see this interpretation of the film that Lucas has presented but i think a much more satisfying version could be made if it was conceived as a serious epic from start to finish. The story is definitly there.
  13. DamonD Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 22, 2002
    star 6
    I would like to see Star Wars presented as a great tragedy--dark and serious and profound, the way it deserves to be told.

    That ain't Star Wars, guy. That just ain't Star Wars.
  14. 1BAT4U Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2003
    star 1
    Zombie has really hit the nail on the head.


    The entire concept of Star Wars, via George Lucas, is inarguably among the best collection of stories ever put to manifestation. However, Lucas decided long ago that one solely needed the desire and funding to be a successful director, regardless of experience or skill.

    George Lucas has his vision. That's always been the key to Star Wars' inception. But the key to its success were the people that supported Lucas and believed that everyone working and sharing ideas together will create something better than the sum of its parts. Yes, indirectly, Lucas is responsible for the founding of ILM, but does anyone honestly think that he knew very much about the technical aspects of special effects?

    Saying that Lucas should naturally direct a film about his story is comparable to saying an novelist should naturally run a typewriter factory. Just because one person is reponsible for the conception of a thing does not mean he should be in charge of the entire process. In football, does the center call the play, give the quarterback the ball, catch the pass, and score the touchdown? No, he just gets the play going.

    And the problem I have is that Lucas should know this. He learned from his experiences on ANH that directing is hard work, let alone writing and producing. So he got help. He reworked numerous drafts over the years, and got help from co-writers. On ESB, he realized his role was best suited to Executive Producer, where he could control most creative aspects, and leave the direction and photography work to others.

    Lucas has really only been responsible for 3 great films: A New Hope, Empire, and American Graffiti. Jedi, however, marked the period where Lucas lost what ever restraint he had. Due to the tension between Kershner and Lucas over creative issues, Lucas hired a puppet director, Marquand, to increase his creative control. Thanks to this show of egotism and merchandizing, the world recived a final battle between the greatest army in the galaxy and primitive koalas. And the koalas won with little effort.

    It is incontestable that Lucas now sees himself as an auteur, and a complete filmmaker. Though he has no true justification for his despotic control of the Prequel Trilogy (other than he owns everything), he offers little excuse for the poor quality of acting and direction other than "it is deliberate." If this "method" of filmmaking is deliberate, why wasn't it so in the first go-'round? Why make one set of films with genuine artistic validity and then make another so "purposefully" bad? Never forget, A New Hope was nominated for BEST PICTURE. 25 years later, AOTC was nominated for worst picture (and worst actor, worst actress, worst screenplay . . .). Talk about turnaround.



    I guess the real question raised by this thread is this: If you believe TPM and AOTC to be quality films, why? What are your reasons. I think George Lucas is a genious storyteller, but I also think Frank Herbert was, as was Arthur C. Clark, though I don't remember those men getting credit for the films. Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch are credited for the films, and so are they responsible for the films' greatness and faults. George Lucas can make whatever film he wants to, we've all seen that. Just don't tell us how great it is when we can prove it isn't.
  15. J-Solo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 6, 1999
    star 4
    I guess the real question raised by this thread is this: If you believe TPM and AOTC to be quality films, why? What are your reasons.

    Ok, let me try. (no, there is no try!)

    I think it's almost impossible to make non subjective review of a film. Unless you talk only about the technical aspects of it, you'll always bring your view of life, taste and expectations to the theatre with you. Roger Ebert himself said that about reviewing films.

    I believe TPM to be a quality film only in the technical side. It's a very beautiful movie to look at and the amount of details on the screen is amazing. But I don't believe it's a quality Star Wars film. I believe Lucas made several serious mistakes, but the main one, in my opinion, was that he chose to set aside major Star Wars characters, like Obi Wan Kenobi. I believe it would be a much better film if Obi-Wan had discovered Anakin Skywalker, sensed the Force to be strong with him and decided, personally, to train him. That would be much more consistent with the original films and would make Obi Wans character stronger. After all, he was one of the main characters in the original films, so why leave him as a sidekick (and a dull one at that) of a never mentioned before Jedi named Qui-Gon? Originally Obi-Wan's tragedy was the fact that he felt responsible for misjudging Anakin's character and losing him to the Dark Side. Now, because of Qui-Gon, OB1 is just a pawn in a strange and uninteresting game. He is clearly against training Anakin from the beginning (and he is right, that's the problem), so he doesn't have to feel guilty of anything, really.

    Apparently Lucas wanted to write about a master/apprentice relationship and plug his "simbiosis theme", and he even caused a lot of unnecessary controversy creating those midichlorians, that were completly not necessary for the film and/or the Saga. I know, they are not the Force, I know that. But why change what didn't need to be changed?

    Attack of the Clones was a much, much better Star Wars film. It's really about something, for a change, and it's about Star Wars. It's about Anakin Skywalker as a confused, arrogant kid. We can finally see the duality of him. In TPM he was just a flat, never changing kid. AOTC is about Obi Wan Kenobi. It's about Yoda. It's about the Force. It has a real villain, Count Dooku, who is not just an uggly face with no past, no present and no future (Darth Maul). Padmé is not just a japanese doll, she's really alive and, although the love scenes are way too corny, well....ok, it has its purposes.

    But I agree that Lucas should've have let his arrogance aside and chosen real directors to make the films. Even if just for the actors. He's a great producer and he should've remained that. But he's obssessed with this "digital revolution" of his and wants to be part of everything. It's his right, of course, but the saga suffers because of that.

    So, that's it. My two thousand cents.
  16. Aunecah_Skywalker Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 25, 2002
    star 5
    I think that TPM and AOTC were quality films in the sense that their special (but real) effects were fine and happy. The problem I had with TPM and AOTC is the screenplay. Seriously, my younger sister could write better dialogue than those awful scenes between Anakin and Amidala in AOTC.

    The underlying story - of Anakin's fall and redemption - is brilliant. The character Obi-Wan Kenobi is just astounding and compelling (not to mention that the actor is simply gorgeous [face_love]). Even the humor was great.

    But the screenplay was just not up to the quality. Especially in AOTC - the story seemed to be wandering around aimlessly as the writer tried to figure out how to slide in what must happen.

    Amidala comes to Naboo - goes away without voting because of an assassination attempt.

    Anakin is to escort her (despite Obi-Wan's protests) because we needed to see romance building up between them.

    Anakin and Amidala go to Tatooine - because Shmi needs to die and Anakin needs to start to turn.

    Anakin and Amidala go to Geonosis - because Obi-Wan needs to be rescued. They get captured and Jedi and Clone warriors turn up and save the day.

    That plot, in itself, has nothing wrong - but it's just hard to not fault it when we have 20 year-olds saying things like "intoxicating."

    This is all IMHO of course. I still think SW is one of the greatest films ever. :D

    Aunecah
  17. urgent_jedi_picnic Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 14, 2003
    star 4
    I must agree with Aunecah on the dialogue issue. The characters say things that people just wouldn't naturally say when speaking to one another (IMO). "I wish I could wish my feelings away" and stuff like that.

    The plot itself from AOTC is great though. There is always something interesting. My other problem with that movie though, is the Padme/Anakin chemistry. I'm one of those people who thinks there is none. It's just all very dry on Portman's side I think.

    Those things aside, the arena scene in AOTC made up for any big shortcomings for me. I'm a sucker for cool effects shots like that.

    I recently watched ROTJ after seeing Ep1 & 2. It didn't bug me as much now. The scene where Vader tosses the Emperor definately seemed more "emotionally charged."

    The Picnic :eek:
  18. The_Abstract Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2002
    star 4
    "The entire concept of Star Wars, via George Lucas, is inarguably among the best collection of stories ever put to manifestation. However, Lucas decided long ago that one solely needed the desire and funding to be a successful director, regardless of experience or skill.

    George Lucas has his vision. That's always been the key to Star Wars' inception. But the key to its success were the people that supported Lucas and believed that everyone working and sharing ideas together will create something better than the sum of its parts. Yes, indirectly, Lucas is responsible for the founding of ILM, but does anyone honestly think that he knew very much about the technical aspects of special effects?"


    No one has ever claimed Lucas is the end all and be all of special effects knowledge. He did go to film school at a respectable program, so he must know something about them. The important thing to recognize is that George Lucas decided he wanted a certain aesthetic for his film (B-Movie Serials) and hired the what he thought where the best people to advance that cause. And HIS decision led Star Wars to garner several Oscars and other technical awards for their achievements and propel ILM to the forefront of the special effects industry, a position they still hold today.

    Point for Lucas: He knows talent.


    "Saying that Lucas should naturally direct a film about his story is comparable to saying an novelist should naturally run a typewriter factory."

    This is a false analogy, or at best a misleading one. Of course George Lucas cannot be responsible for manufacturing the tools of the trade, and he's never claimed responsbility for doing that. Again, he's hired the best people to accomplish that task. And again, they garnered excellent industry recognition for those tasks. Secondly, someone who is a writer has to know how to use a type-writer. (A thousand monkeys in a thousand years...) He's proven time and time again he recognizes what tools best serve his story, whether it's using puppets, make-up effects, computer animation, props, set locations, and yes, even actors.

    And what's wrong with writer-directors. There's been many talented ones throughout the history of Hollywood. As a writer-director you insure that your specific vision gets translated on to the screen perfectly. George Lucas created an entirely new Galaxy. You can't expect him to pass that off to someone unless he has concretely laid down his vision and trusts someone to pull if off.

    And you seem to contradict yourself further down in your post.

    "Lucas has really only been responsible for 3 great films: A New Hope, Empire, and American Graffiti. Jedi, however, marked the period where Lucas lost what ever restraint he had. Due to the tension between Kershner and Lucas over creative issues, Lucas hired a puppet director, Marquand, to increase his creative control. Thanks to this show of egotism and merchandizing, the world recived a final battle between the greatest army in the galaxy and primitive koalas. And the koalas won with little effort.

    You like George Lucas written & directed ANH & American Graffiti.

    You like Lawrence Kasdan written and Irvin Kershner directed ESB.

    You obviously don't care for Lawrence Kasdan written and Richard Marquand ROTJ.

    But you blame Lucas for its shortcomings.

    You don't mention the prequels, but you said Lucas fell off after ESB, so I can see where that's headed.


    So, this argument becomes really transparent.

    You're a Gary Kurtz-phile. The timelines match up to reveal your bias.


    Here's some little known facts that might dissuade your opinion:

    ~Francis Ford Coppola also produced American Graffiti, and given his track record I feel he's more responsible for the success of that movie.

    ~Gary Kurtz was FIRED by Lucas because ESB was running over-budget and behind schedule, two big NO-NO's in the industry. And do you honestly like his version of the ROTJ better? With Han dying, Leia becoming de-facto Empress, and Luke going to find his long lo
  19. Durwood Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 5
    Personally, I don't see the gulf that supposedly seperates the prequels and the originals. It all looks like STAR WARS to me.
  20. urgent_jedi_picnic Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 14, 2003
    star 4
    For the record, I don't think the dialogue in the OT is fantastic either. I just personally find the dialogue in the PT to be even worse.

    With the exception of Palpatine.....

    The Picnic :eek:
  21. Durwood Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 5
    The love dialogue in AOTC is no worse than the campy exchanges between Han and Leia in ESB.

    "Admit it. You don't want to see me go."

    "Of course I don't. You're a good pilot. We need you."

    "We need? What about you need?"

    "I need? I don't know what you're talking about."

    "You were afraid I'd leave without giving you a goodbye kiss!"

    "I'd sooner kiss a wookie!"

    "That can be arranged! You could use a good kiss!"

    And these are supposed to be two adults talking to each other? They sound more like a couple of gradeschoolers bickering on the playground!
  22. urgent_jedi_picnic Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 14, 2003
    star 4
    Yeah, but Han and Leia had fire, especially in that scene. That helped me not notice. I don't see the fire in Anakin/Padme (which, granted, is a different relationship). I don't really see passion between them either. When they proffess their undying love for each other, I don't buy it. I don't feel it. It doesn't hit me. Sorry, that's just me.

    The Picnic :eek:

  23. DamonD Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 22, 2002
    star 6
    Great post, The_Abstract.

    I think a lot of the problems begin when people start over-analysing stuff.
  24. J-Solo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 6, 1999
    star 4
    Which is exactly what he did, by the way. ;)

    Oh, before I go, I have to say something about this:

    It took Lucas taking iniative and re-releasing the Original Trilogy, with heavy digitial restoration and clean up work, for the OT to be universally praised. Just giving some perspective on that.

    Sorry, but that's a lot of poo. The Original Trilogy was universally praised before all those "enhancements" were made by Lucas. And the proof is that the SE did well in the box offices. But they DIDN'T do it because of the "digital restoration and clean up work", not by a long shot. In fact, I think the "enhancements" came out more like an enbarassment for ILM and Lucas than as a memorable thing. And it was the top of Lucas contradictions. He'd always said that he just uses SFX to help telling his stories, and not the way around. But the SE proved exactly the opposite. The stories were fine, thank you, and didn't need a Greedo shooting first scene to be better.

    Lucas, a marketing genius, released the SE because he wanted to milk yet another time the Star Wars galactic cow, and make enough money from the theater tickets, the VHS, the new merchandising, etc so he could finance the prequels without even have to touch his fortune.

    Just my two cents.
  25. 1BAT4U Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2003
    star 1
    Submitted by The_Abstract

    So how can I PROVE that these prequels are quality films, up to the standards of the Original Trilogy?


    You're kidding me, right? You're pulling my leg, putting me on, eh? I certainly hope so, for your credibility's sake.

    Listed are:
    -The special effects

    -The sound effects

    -A script that won WORST SCREENPLAY

    -The acting of an actor with less than 15 minutes of screentime


    as criteria for making AOTC a "quality" film. I am almost dumbfounded by this.


    A film can have groundbreaking effects work and state-of-the-art sound (which ALL Star Wars films had, if you'll recall) and still be dull, uninvolving, and poorly directed. A 2-hour reel of explosions and gunfire would be technically demanding and noteworthy, but the reason for the effects (i.e., story and plot) is what gives the effects value. If the story fails to suspend my disbelief (this is a tale about space travel, lazer swords, mystical forces, and wookiees, lest ye forget), the effects are meaningless, no matter how large a benchmark they set.

    And I'll agree, the basic themes and overall plot are still interesting, but it all boils down to Lucas' failure in direction of his actors. If that one facet could have been fixed, the level of division over the issues we discuss would be trastically reduced. Well, on AOTC, anyway. If anyone wants to actually defend TPM, vis a vis citation of quality direction, acting, or writing, Lord help them, for they know not what they do.




    And I am still in disbelief that anyone feels that the SE release was for anything other monetary and technical-experience gainings. To say Lucas always meant for Greedo to shoot first, or that he always meant for Luke to scream like a poo-nanny, or that he always wanted an extended unneccessary musical routine at Jabba's palace can only be admissions of either naivetè, rufusal to admit reality, or just plain stupidity. All of those things could have been done exactly to specifications upon the original filmings, over 20 years ago.


    Now when someone actually chooses to defend to acting of Jake Lloyd, Natalie Portman, and Hayden Christensen (the latter 2, under capable direction, are phenominal actors, by the way), within the context of the PT, they have very little ground to stand on, and either feel they way they do because

    A) They will defend anything with Lucas' name attached to it,

    or

    B) They obviously have not one iota of understanding what constitutes craftsmanship in acting.

    Though, one would think that with a director who is self-admittedly unable to properly direct human beings ("I'm not really a good director of people. My two main requests are often 'faster and more intense.'"), he would at least make an effort to remedy this fault, i.e., hire a "assistant director" that would direct the actors and tell Lucas when a scene of dialogue is printworthy. But no, Lucas chooses the odd position of admitting a oft-critisized flaw in film direction, and chooses not to do anything about it. That's like saying "I think I'm dying of smallpox, but since I'm not really a doctor and not good at making diagnoses, I don't think I should do anything about it." Smallpox is a hard thing to ignore, and an impossible thing to tolerate.




    I guess I need to redefine my query. How's this:

    If you feel that the films in the PT are, in fact, viable as a effective means of telling a believeable story, what filmmaking techniques do you feel (other than "kick-ass special effects and sound! Woo Hoo!") contribute to making your position valid?
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