Does anybody still think that George Lucas is a genius?

Discussion in 'The Phantom Menace' started by TheAnointedOne, Jan 14, 2003.

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  1. JohnWilliams00 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 29, 2002
    star 4
    Yeah, that was the one. Those are great pics too, better than what I would have taken. :D
  2. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    I posted the following in another thread (warning? link takes you to the spoilers forum) but thought that it might be appropriate in this thread too:



    As promised, here is a breakdown, with screen comparisons, of similarities between The Empire Strike Back and some of Kurosawa?s films:

    Dersu Uzala

    In 1975, Akira Kurosawa?s film Dersu Uzala won an Oscar for best Foreign Language Film. Just four years earlier Akira Kurosawa had attempted suicide.

    Try to imagine someone that you idolize, someone that you have a profound respect for, someone that you?ve built up in your mind as being your ultimate model for success. Now imagine that person trying to kill himself, and perhaps you can get an inkling of how George Lucas might have felt about his hero, Akira Kurosawa.

    Although Kurosawa never said why he attempted suicide, people have come up with their own guesses as to what might have drove him to that end. Having come from a samurai family and because of his Buddhist (Zen) sensibilities, some perceived it as Kurosawa?s homage to his art. As Donald Richie said, it was Kurosawa?s ?acknowledgement that with the diminution of his creative gifts, life should end as well since his art and his existence have been all but inseparable.? Others saw Kurosawa?s attempted suicide as a result of the hardships he endured with his involvement with the movie Tora! Tora! Tora!, with his failed film company startup, and with his film Dodesukaden bombing at the box office. These three events made it hard, if not absolutely impossible for Kurosawa to make films in Japan?no Japanese film company wanted to hire Kurosawa to make his movies. This had to be pretty devastating for Kurosawa since he lived to make films and is credited with introducing Japanese Cinema to the rest of the world, and here he couldn?t even make a film in his own country anymore. But by August 1975, Kurosawa?s attempted suicide and all the events leading up to that were in the past.

    Kurosawa went outside of his country to Russia and made Dersu Uzala. When it was released it was an absolute success by any measurable standard. I mention all this because George Lucas really took notice of this film?his mentor that had reached the ultimate low had come back to prove everybody wrong. Accordingly, much of Empire takes its inspiration from Dersu Uzala. The most glaring similarity is the character of Dersu Uzala himself, and his relationship with the Russian soldier-explorer Vladimir Arseniev. It seems Dersu was the inspiration for Yoda and many of Arseniev?s characteristics were transferred down to Luke.

    [image=http://members.cox.net/badradio/DER005.JPG] [image=http://members.cox.net/badradio/DER032.JPG]
    [image=http://members.cox.net/badradio/ESB013.JPG] [image=http://members.cox.net/badradio/ESB025.JPG]

    Here?s what Donald Richie had to about Dersu:

    />
  3. -_-_-_-_-_- Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 28, 2002
    star 6
    Impressive post radio, I've always heard of Lucas taking many influences from Akira Kurosawa and his films. So many Kurosawa interpretations are apparent in TESB thanks to your wonderful research and posting. The one thing that struck me the most was this part you mentioned:

    The voice of a man, then, suddenly comes from the source of the noises. He says, ?Away put your weapons. I am man. I mean you no harm.?

    This almost makes you wonder if Yoda's speech patterns are yet another influence of Akira Kurosawa, I myself believe it is.
  4. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    >>>> This almost makes you wonder if Yoda's speech patterns are yet another influence of Akira Kurosawa, I myself believe it is.

    The way Yoda speaks definitely comes from the character of Dersu. Throughout the film Dersu talks in his own crazy inverted speech. (Someone who doesn?t speak fluent Russian might wonder how anyone would know this considering that the film is in Russian. The proof is in the subtitles, which for Dersu are inverted, while Arseniev?s subtitles use correct grammatical sentence structure.)

    Also, George?s characters are often times inspired by real people. This is interesting because many say that Akira Kurosawa is represented in SW by Yoda?the quintessential ?master? ostracized from his own country but still carrying on with his work.
  5. -_-_-_-_-_- Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 28, 2002
    star 6
    Are there any websites out there specifically devoted to the Kurosawa-Star Wars connection? I'd really be interested in learning more on this, and on Kurosawa in general.
  6. DrEvazan Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2002
    star 4
    i doubt you will find a better source on this than bad radio... but i do suggest you watch the films as they are fantastic works of cinema.
  7. Heavenly_Angel Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2003
    star 1
    he probably isn't a real genius, but definitely very talented and creative. it would probably take me 10 years to come up w/ something close to everything in SW! he thought of this when he was still a teen, and i thought that was amazing. this whole SW seems so real, so life relating, too. it takes a good brain to get everything so planned out and make the movies so good. :)
  8. Strilo Manager Emeritus

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    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
  9. Punisher Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 20, 1998
    star 4
    Why?! :confused:

    This thread hasn't seen any action since May of last year! [face_shocked]
  10. anidanami124 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 24, 2002
    star 6
    After looking at all those pics all I can say is none are the same. GL was not copying much of any of those.
  11. JohnWilliams00 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 29, 2002
    star 4
    Actually, the similarities are very striking, but that does not mean Lucas is any less talented because of that. (I'm not talking about verbatim shots, I'm talking about the moments that share similarities) I have not seen Drunken Angel but I have seen Dersu Uzala and bad radio is spot on about the whole introduction of Dersu and his inverted speech patterns. I find the parallels very interesting, and Lucas was obviously influenced by Kurosawa a great deal. He was probably his single greatest influence. Lucas even named a section of his home "Kurosawa" (It's one of the buildings in Skywalker Ranch).
  12. SkottASkywalker Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 3, 2002
    star 4
    Does anybody still think that George Lucas is a genius?

    Absolutely. [face_mischief]
  13. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    Why?!

    This thread hasn't seen any action since May of last year!


    Because it has an interesting Kurosawa discussion that newer users might not have seen, it poses a good topic of debate and because it's a thread I remember well from the past of this forum and I would like to see some of these preserved and continued.

  14. anidanami124 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 24, 2002
    star 6
    Actually, the similarities are very striking, but that does not mean Lucas is any less talented because of that. (I'm not talking about verbatim shots, I'm talking about the moments that share similarities)

    And there are many other movie besides SW that use those. So this whole GL copyed this movie and this one. No I don't see not only do I can see it a lot of those scenses are not the same.
  15. JohnWilliams00 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 29, 2002
    star 4
    And there are many other movie besides SW that use those. So this whole GL copyed this movie and this one. No I don't see not only do I can see it a lot of those scenses are not the same.

    George has said so himself he has copied many moments from Kurosawa. Watch The Hidden Fortress anidanami. "Copied" does not mean it is bad all the time. And it does not mean Lucas is always bankrupt with ideas. I think these parallels are kind of cool. Btw, you say many movies have those same moments. Can you give me an example of a movie that has a wise old man appear in a forest and use inverted speech patterns? You are just looking at small pictures, where I say that it is the characters and the moments that are similar, not so much the shots. In ANH, when Luke finds his home burned to the ground, Lucas said it was an homage to The Searchers, when John Wayne returns home to find his relatives killed. But the shot is not exactly identical, but the moment is.

    George Lucas was executive producer of Kurosawa's Kagemusha, so it was not like Lucas, by coincidence, somehow had similar moments in his films that are in Akira's films too. I remember a quote where Lucas said he watched almost all of Kurosawa's films back in college. If you need more evidence that Lucas was inspired by "The Master", the only next logical step is to go out and rent these Kurosawa movies before you make your final decisions.
  16. Durwood Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 5
    Actually, the similarities are very striking...

    Not really. I think people are having to stretch themselves to find similiarities where none exist. It's sort of like backmasking on old rock albums. You don't hear the backmasked "message" until someone tells you specifically what to listen for.

    At the same time, it's really hard to get a feel for the different films from still images. What may appear vaguely similiar in a single frame may (and most probably does) look wholly different in motion.

    Finally, Lucas has always been the first to admit that Kurosawa has been a primary influence on him as a filmmaker, so any passing resembelences in his work are hardly surprising or even noteworthy.

    But genius or not, Lucas knows how to make a great film and tell one hell of a story.
  17. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I agree with that. Anyone who describes ANH as merely the sum of scenes cut and pasted from other films just hasn't really understood what made it the most popular movie of the second half of the twentieth century. Regardless of influence, everything came together perfectly for Star Wars in 1977. ESB was another collaborative effort that came within a stone's throw of the greatness of the original.

    But after that, Lucas slowly lost his vision. His films became more and more a pastiche of borrowed cinematic references, with less and less emotional resonance and appeal.

    I think he just ran out of good ideas, something that can happen to any genius. Mozart never ran out of ideas, but he died young.
  18. JohnWilliams00 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 29, 2002
    star 4
    "Not really. I think people are having to stretch themselves to find similiarities where none exist."

    While I'l agree that fans do stretch themselves sometimes to find deeper connections or "symbolic meaning", I do not feel it is simply a coincidence regarding those examples listed above. (and I doubt bad radio would spend all that time in making those captures if he felt the connection was "weak") You and I both agree that George Lucas drew inspiration from Kurosawa's films. So has screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan:

    Lawrence Kasdan presented "Yojimbo", the 1961 Japanese samurai classic that showcased some of the most highly visual and kinetic filmmaking ever realized. Kasdan praised Kurosawa as the greatest director who ever lived (the "Shakespeare" of cinema), and pointed out that underneath all the action and broad performances, lies a "mature philosophy that enriches our lives".
    />


    Yes, it was a big night for me. Kurosawa said: "I'm just beginning to understand what movies are." He's the greatest director that ever lived, and here he's 80 years old, and I thought, 'Yeah, yeah. That makes sense.' It wasn't just smoke. It wasn't false humility. It was real humility. The medium is so plastic. So amazing. We don't have any idea yet what it can be.
    />

    />

    To cite someone as your single greatest influence, I'd be very surprised if he didn't draw upon moments from films such as Derzu Uzala (a very spiritual film about humility and nature -- I can see much of Yoda's ESB dialogue originating from here).

    "At the same time, it's really hard to get a feel for the different films from still images. What may appear vaguely similiar in a single frame may (and most probably does) look wholly different in motion."

    I agree with you. I even explained this to anidanami124. It is not so much how exact or precise the compostion is, but the moment in that film. Spaceballs unabashedly rips off of Star Wars a great deal, of course, but I'd be hard pressed to give a many screen captures showing the similarities between the two. (since the shots are not exactly the same) But for anyone who has seen both, they would obviously know they exist -- it's the characters, dialogue, and moments in the films that share likenesses.

    "Finally, Lucas has always been the first to admit that Kurosawa has been a primary influence on him as a filmmaker, so any passing resembelences in his work are hardly surprising or even noteworthy."

    That is what I've been saying. So those moments that bad radio described above to us are probably not "reaching" but have most likely crossed the minds of Kasdan and Lucas. This does not mean they are less talented because of that. We all have our own personal influences in life, and when we make a piece of "art" we will put those influences into our work.

    I also agree with Jabbadabbado that ANH or ESB isn't simply just a collection of homages or parallels. Lucas and his collaborators did a fabulous job of not only taking the best ideas from other sources, but in putting in their own ideas. I do not doubt Lucas, Kasdan, our Kershner put a little of themselves into their work as well./>/>/>/>/>/>
  19. Go-Mer-Tonic Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 1999
    star 6
    The way I see it, SW is Lucas' original story that is told in the prose of film. He uses memorably sucessful cinematic phrases to tell it.
  20. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    In terms of popular entertainment, ANH is one of the most beloved films of all time.

    In terms of motion picture arts, Lucas never managed to come out from under the shadow of Kurosawa's influence. He was content merely to copy Kurosawa's style by borrowing any image he thought would help him tell his story.

    Lucas does this so extensively that I have to wonder whether Lucas really even understands, or has internalized, what it is Kurosawa is doing. He merely says: I liked that shot, I'll use it. I liked that scene, I'll use it. I like that transition, I'll use it, etc.

    Ultimately Lucas was a weak imitator who was able to parlay his exposure to Kurosawa and other influences into a few really fun movies. Consequently he made some lasting contributions to popular culture, but his only real contributions to the art of cinema were in his dedication to effects technology.
  21. Lars_Muul Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 2, 2000
    star 6
    The fact that Lucas´ films are entertaining is proof that he is a good filmmaker. If he had just copied Kurosawa without knowing how to put it together to form an entertaining piece of art, Star Wars wouldn´t have been successful.
  22. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Yeah, I overstated a bit. I think Lucas knows what he likes about Kurosawa, and what he thinks is effective about Kurosawa.

    What I was getting at, is although a skilled director could make a movie in the "style of Hitchcock" without lifting scenes directly from any Hitchcock films, I doubt Lucas could make a film "in the style of Kurosawa" without doing it.

    What made ANH unique was that it brought big budget Hollywood production values to a space opera. Kurosawa, innovative visual effects, and John Williams musical score were Lucas's mechanisms for achieving that goal. If any of those elements had been missing, the film would not have been one of the two most successful movies in history.

    The music, the Kurosawa framing and the big effects are what gave Star Wars its epic grandeur.
  23. Go-Mer-Tonic Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 1999
    star 6
    To me, this is no different than all of us using the same words to construct our sentances. He is saying something different from what Kurosawa was saying, but they are both using the same visual language.
  24. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    If you mean they are both using the visual language that Kurosawa created, I agree.
  25. Go-Mer-Tonic Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 1999
    star 6
    Not to take anything away from Kurosawa, but I don't think he created the entire visual language Lucas was using. Lucas drew upon many sources.
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