Does Lucas' vision make TPM the best Star Wars movie?

Discussion in 'The Phantom Menace' started by TheAnointedOne, Dec 11, 2002.

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  1. Green_Destiny_Sword Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2001
    star 4
    Very possible we would have Jar Jar and the midichlorians. But than in and of itself is not a bad thing. It is their presence, protrayal and role in the story that brought problems.
  2. -_-_-_-_-_- Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 28, 2002
    star 6
    Incase anyone doesn't know, the director is basically the man who is responsible for getting the resulting performances in a film out of the actors, as well as composing camera shots, and supervising almost everything else.


    It was even Kershner who colaborated with Harrison Ford, both agreeing that Han Solo wouldn't have replied "I love you too." to Leia before being dropped in the carbon freeze. Therefore Kershner and Ford improvised the legendary reply of, "I know."
  3. Son_Of_Kurtzman Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 2
    Irvin Kershner was a very good, if unoriginal director, who made some decent movies, the best of which was ESB, by far. Lucas, on the other hand, directed three movies in the '70s, all phenomenal achievments.

    In Hollywood, especially pre-1970, there were a lot of directors who could take a stock movie and get a lot out of the actors. Directors went through a breeding-like system, and they were very good at what they did. Kershner was cut from that cloth. He was very good at what he did... direct actors and concieve of shots, etc. I would hardly call him the most original director; take a look at his catalogue.
  4. hawk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 3, 2000
    star 5
    These are Lucas' films no doubt. In every instance, he was MAINLY involved over any actor, director or writer. However, I don't think this entails that 100% of the art in SW (music, interpretation, designs, costumes) is his vision. Films are a collaborative process in every instance and this includes Spielberg, Kubrick and Lucas. However, the MAIN person involved can be involved more or less. Lucas' involvement has been up and down. The PT is MORE his vision than anyone else's but he was much less involved with the OT.
  5. Son_Of_Kurtzman Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 2
    I would say that his highest level of involvement was with the original "Star Wars." It's obvious that this discussion is bringing about a lot of passionate views from people, and has gotten heated at times. I'll say this, I think Go-Mer is right in the respect that no matter who creates what portion of it, without Lucas, it ended in 1978.

    On the other hand, I agree with Hawk that Lucas is by no means the brainstorm of all good ideas in the saga. I hate the auteur theory, and I make my living as a director. I used to think it was the crux of every self-respecting director; now I think it is egotistical in nature and an inaccurate representation of the filmmaking process. Maybe the French directors in the 1950 and early '60s were auteur's, by virtue of them using small crews, a lot of hand-held shots, improvisation from actors, all under this one guide. Big budget movies are guided by the director, but so many things are out of his/her hand, and so many ideas come from elsewhere.

    I think editors deserve a lot more credit than they get, but even more so, producers. They are now considered just guys who handle the money, but they actually understand the filmmaking process quite well. Directors hate them, people love directors, "there you go."
  6. hawk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 3, 2000
    star 5
    Hey, good post. I think we can all settle on that. It is this idea that SW is ones man's "vision" that bugs me. As you pointed out, it is simply innacurate. But you must have noticed that I concede that Lucas is always the main man.
  7. The___ Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 14, 2002
    star 3
    This thread is long, so I don't know if anyone else has already said this, but here goes...

    Just because it is his "vision" doesn't mean that TPM is the best SW movie.

    Due to advancements in visual effects technology, GL had a sudden creative freedom to bring his "vision" to the big screen.

    I believe that this is a problem. For example, everyone loved the cantina scene in ANH, but GL hated it. Budget constraints and early visual effects technology forced Lucas to make his vision work in different ways.

    What I'm trying to say is that too much creative freedom isn't a good thing. It's good to have some restrictions, because that is when the real creativity is let loose.

    I liked TPM and AOTC, but it still doesn't live up to the OT's standards, IMHO.
  8. Shelley Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2001
    star 5
    Lucas wrote the intial story and screenplay, but the film was true in the style of Kershner, therefore his own. Lucas had very little input on the actual directing of the film, with him only being on the set once or twice with an occasional phone call between the two.

    More like a nightly phone call between the two.
  9. -_-_-_-_-_- Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 28, 2002
    star 6
    Actually I believe it may have been only one or two phone calls in all.
  10. Shelley Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2001
    star 5
    I heard it was nightly phone calls.
  11. DrEvazan Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2002
    star 4
    from an interview with Kershner

    "Lucas asked what I wanted to direct it and I said: "I want to do it alone". "Very well ?he said?, you shoot it, I stay here, and we talk on the phone". So George showed up just twice, to take care of bussiness stuff, to England and Norway. He´s a great producer.
    Now, George still calles Empire "your movie"

    i believe there were nightly calls between Kershner and K urtz during the making of ESB as well as weekend meetings discussing changes and additions. I'll try and find some quotes.

    here we go, this is Kurtz talking about Empire:

    " We did another scene where on a Friday night we shot the scene where Leia's waiting in a room and Han comes in and they have this talk, he says there's something wrong here, you know that scene. There's a bit of romantic sparks there, you know when he says you look great and there's some sexual tension going there. We shot that scene on a Friday night and over the weekend Kersh came out to the house. Every Sunday we played a little tennis and kind of sat around and worked on the next week's stuff. We both agreed that the scene wasn't working so on Monday we went back, I called up the production team, I said we're going to have to reshoot that part of it. We were still in the same set, so it wasn't a big deal. I said we want to reshoot that because the dramatic level of the dialogue wasn't quite right."

    not much about Lucas there... seems like they were operating without him just fine.
  12. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    I'm guessing Go-Mer meant "directed" in the sense that GL organised and co-ordinated the making of TESB and ROTJ.

    Ah, last I heard, that was called producing in the film business.
  13. Son_Of_Kurtzman Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 2
    If I remember right, from the "Skywalking" book, Lucas was pretty frustrated with Kershner because he kept wanting to reshoot or get certain scenes perfect on the set, while Lucas wanted to get just enough coverage to work with it in the editing room. I also remember the story where Lucas took the footage halfway through shooting and cut it down significantly to make it a spedious 36-minute opening part of the film.

    Lucas wanted action and story, Kershner wanted performance. Both were probably right, in some respects. Lucas's sense of pacing is amazing, but ESB is a success because of the insight we get into the characters. ANH worked so well because of it's ideaology and because of Guinness. ESB worked because Kershner made us more than "like" those charactes... we fell in love with them.

    Though, and I hate to keep bringing up "Skywalking," that book does say that Kurtz and Kershner were the ones who were afraid to leave the "I Am Your Father" cliffhanger open-ended at the end of EBS. Lucas had the faith to leave it that way, and knew going in that ESB would make or break him. Kershner would continue to direct, but Lucas put it all on the line, including his house and security.

    I think that ESB represents what both Lucas and Kershner were best at. Lucas is great at concieving ideas and worlds, but not so good at screenwriting. It was wonderful that he was the conceptual mind behind the story, but Kasdan was the writer of the script. Lucas is also weak at directing actors, but Kershner proved that he is excellent in that regard. Lucas is strong at going with his gut feeling, even when others disagree, like in the case of Kurtz not wanting to leave ESB open-ended. Lucas is also one of the finest editing directors and has impeccable sense of pacing, which probably benefitted EBS more than we can imagine. It all worked out almost to perfection, so why are we even arguing about this whole thing? The combination gave us a movie of genius proportions.
  14. Obi-Ewan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 24, 2000
    star 4
    Lucas is the main man behind these movies. However, the films would not have been the same if he had done everything himself. at some point in filmmaking, you have to allow input from others, and that's what made these films what they are. Filmmaking itself is never about one person's vision, be it Lucas's or anyone else's. The question that must be asked is not whether the director is satsified, but whether the movie is actually good.
  15. Shelley Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2001
    star 5
    Though, and I hate to keep bringing up "Skywalking," that book does say that Kurtz and Kershner were the ones who were afraid to leave the "I Am Your Father" cliffhanger open-ended at the end of EBS. Lucas had the faith to leave it that way, and knew going in that ESB would make or break him. Kershner would continue to direct, but Lucas put it all on the line, including his house and security.

    Wow, Son_Of_Kurtzman. I'm amazed to see someone actually give Lucas any credit for ESB on this board. Lucas did put a lot on the line with ESB. Everything, in fact. His associates wanted to play it safe, but he refused. Had he listened to his associates, as bashers keep insisting he should do, ESB would have lost a lot of its power.

    Of course, had he listened to his associates, the movies never would've been made in the first place, but that is often dismissed because of the determination not to give Lucas any credit for anything.

    I don't consider "Skywalking" an unimpeachable source, but I'd say your assessment is pretty much on the money. ESB is great because of the combined strengths of Lucas, Kershner and Kasdan. Kershner is good at working with actors, but not at pushing forth action or advancing story. Lucas is the opposite. Kasdan is good at writing snappy dialogue, though I think he's overrated -- his style works well with movies like ESB and "Raiders" but I don't care for his non-Lucas movies.

    Anyway...I think the acting is better, overall, in ESB than in the other SW movies (though of course it has its cringeworthy moments just like the others) because Kershner worked with the actors more than Lucas would have. However, the actors need a story, and that was Lucas. They need dialogue, and that was Lucas and Kasdan. It needed action, as it was primarily battle and chase scenes, and that was Lucas.

    So while I think it owes much to Kershner and Kasdan, it annoys me to see people say Lucas had nothing to do with it, because they are so loath to give him credit for anything or because they hate ROTJ and the prequels so much that their brand of logic leads them to say that the three SW movies they hate were "all Lucas" and the two SW movies they like had nothing to do with him. You'd think that this theory would suffer due to the fact that Lucas wrote and directed ANH (one of the two movies they like), although they find ways around that.

    It boggles my mind. Why the determination to give Lucas so little credit? I've pondered this for some time and I have yet to come up with a reason why, exactly, Lucas inspires such hatred. Yes, hatred. I don't think that's an exaggeration. Some bashers speak of him with such venom that I can't help but conclude that what they feel for him is either hatred or something close to it. Why, though? His faults are no greater or more numerous than those of other filmmakers who inspire something close to adoration in these same people. I also don't see how his "bad" movies are any worse than the "bad" movies of those other filmmakers.
  16. Et Cetera... Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 1, 2000
    star 1
    DrEvazan, provide us with a link for that Kershner interview containing those quotes. If you can't, then that makes you a liar, and you're just making them up (which is probably true anyways).
  17. Son_Of_Kurtzman Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 2
    Et Cetera,

    I don't think Evazan is lying about those Kershner/Kurtz quotes. Though, they are rather recent quotes, while the "Skywalking" book was written contemporary to the filming of ESB. I'd lend IT more credentials, as we all know that Kurtz has only grown bitter towards Lucas with time.

    In that sense, I think Shelley is right on the money, here, especially in regards to ANH. Whatever help Lucas had was insignificant to the fact that he created the universe, wrote the story, fought the pre-porduction battles, fought the propduction battles and had the scope to forsee these intricate FX shots when everyone thought him mad. My feeling is that ESB had the greatest level of collaboration, followed by ROTJ, followed by AOTC (because of the such large Clone Wars scenes entirely conceived by ILM), and lastly, ANH and TPM, which both seem to be unaltered much, though we don't know what Carrie Fisher or the Hyucks really added.

    The biggest thing to notice about Lucas is that he is bullheaded. When he wants something, no matter how many people don't understand it, he gets it done. On the other hand, when he calls something HIS "vision," he is not only taking the praise for the greatness, but shouldering any negative criticism, as well. No one is criticising Kasdan or ILM... their livlihoods are safe. The burden is on Lucas to know when his hired hands are doing right and when they are doing wrong. If they do badly, they don't get the blame, he does for not noticing the error(s).
  18. TadjiStation Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2001
    star 4
    I'd like to respond to some of Shelley's points, if I may.

    I don't consider "Skywalking" an unimpeachable source, but I'd say your assessment is pretty much on the money. ESB is great because of the combined strengths of Lucas, Kershner and Kasdan. Kershner is good at working with actors, but not at pushing forth action or advancing story. Lucas is the opposite. Kasdan is good at writing snappy dialogue, though I think he's overrated -- his style works well with movies like ESB and "Raiders" but I don't care for his non-Lucas movies.

    I agree with you, Shelley, wholeheartedly. ESB does show off the talents of these three men quite well.

    As far as Kasdan goes, he's pretty hit and miss for me too. I didn't like "The Big Chill" for example, but thought "Grand Canyon" was excellent. He also did a hell of a job with "Dreamcatcher", considering the size of that book.

    Anyway...I think the acting is better, overall, in ESB than in the other SW movies (though of course it has its cringeworthy moments just like the others) because Kershner worked with the actors more than Lucas would have. However, the actors need a story, and that was Lucas. They need dialogue, and that was Lucas and Kasdan. It needed action, as it was primarily battle and chase scenes, and that was Lucas.

    Unless Lucas effectively banned Kershner from the editing room while cutting together ESB, the flow of the movie and advancement of story are just as much a part of Kershner as they are Lucas. I agree with you regarding Lucas' action set pieces though - they're fantastic. ESB's sequences though, are not as frenetically paced as ANH, which leads me to believe the orchestration of said set pieces reflects Kershner's touch. It could also be that the story itself doesn't require that type of set piece. This is not to take anything away from Lucas, mind you, but it is meant to explain that the directorial process does not stop when the shooting wraps.

    So while I think it owes much to Kershner and Kasdan, it annoys me to see people say Lucas had nothing to do with it, because they are so loath to give him credit for anything or because they hate ROTJ and the prequels so much that their brand of logic leads them to say that the three SW movies they hate were "all Lucas" and the two SW movies they like had nothing to do with him. You'd think that this theory would suffer due to the fact that Lucas wrote and directed ANH (one of the two movies they like), although they find ways around that.

    I understand your frustration here. However, Lucas, I think, was a very different man when he made ANH. He had one commercial hit and a well regarded student film under his belt at the time. He was not a major player. He took on elements of 30's serials, westerns and Japanese action films and set them in space, and was looked upon as crazy for trying to do so. He was a tremendous risk taker and put much more than his house or his money on the line. He was inherently limited in a variety of ways, most of them technological, so he had to always think quickly on his feet.

    Contrast that with Lucas today. He risks absolutely nothing monetarily or career wise with the OT. He can essentially do whatever he wants whenever he wants. He now has children, so his time is divided, and his ideals are different. He's not touched film in 16 years, so directorially, he's rusty. He has all the time in the world, and every bit of technology at his disposal to make what he wants, to truly fulfill his vision. This also gives him ample time to second guess himself creatively, and not apply as much determined focus on set that he did with ANH. He saves too much for the editorial process, hoping to "fix it in post" - which is the death of any film, as far as I'm concerned. Further, he has a producer who essentially kisses his feet the entire time, and does not challenge him creatively.
    The resultant OT has so far suffered for this, IMHO. Filmically, they are not as strong. Character wise, they are not as strong. Acting wise, they are on par, at best, but in
  19. DrEvazan Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2002
    star 4
    http://cgi.theforce.net/theforce/tfn.cgi?storyID=20166

    there is your link Et Cetera... it was from march 11th on the front page.

    now dont you feel silly? next time think before you go calling people liars.
  20. Shelley Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2001
    star 5
    DrEvazan, provide us with a link for that Kershner interview containing those quotes. If you can't, then that makes you a liar, and you're just making them up (which is probably true anyways).

    Et Cetera, the quote DrEvazan provided is genuine, though it was translated from another language, and as such something may have been lost in the translation. But he wasn't lying about it.

    The biggest thing to notice about Lucas is that he is bullheaded. When he wants something, no matter how many people don't understand it, he gets it done. On the other hand, when he calls something HIS "vision," he is not only taking the praise for the greatness, but shouldering any negative criticism, as well. No one is criticising Kasdan or ILM... their livlihoods are safe. The burden is on Lucas to know when his hired hands are doing right and when they are doing wrong. If they do badly, they don't get the blame, he does for not noticing the error(s).

    Very true, Son_Of_Kurtzman. He takes both the credit and the blame for the SW movies, although it seems people grant him none of the credit and all of the blame.

    Bullheaded is a good way of describing him. He refused to take no for an answer when it came to making the SW movies. Some of that resulted in stuff that wasn't so great, but the majority of it resulted in stuff that was.
  21. DrEvazan Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2002
    star 4
    thanks Shelley, and i agree with you about Kasdan. i think he is much better suited for genre films, though i have heard bad things about "Dreamcatcher".
  22. Son_Of_Kurtzman Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 2
    Tadji Station wrote:

    ****I agree that some bashers here take it too far. I personally try to see the merits of every film I see. The faults come much later. I enjoyed TPM and AOTC in the theater, and give Lucas mounds of credit for entertaining me. However, in comparison to the OT, they just don't stand up.****

    I'll agree with this... I think the PT films are not as good as the OT films, though I don't think the difference in quality is as vast as some make it out to be. The dialogue is all pretty cringe-worthy throughout I, II, IV, V and VI. The thing is, in the PT, some of the dialogue just goes on too long, whereas, the cringe-worthy lines in the OT just seem to get cut short in favor of the oncoming action sequences. Take the fireplace-love confession scene of AOTC. Watch it again, and see where you could cut the dialogue. I actually watched it over four times, and felt that by cutting it in half, the message would still flow, and the goofiness could have been cut out. The PT is a bit "talky" in places.

    ****That's the source of my disappointment. This does not come from any "longing for my childhood" nonsense or that I'm trying to see the PT through OT colored glasses. I just don't think these newer films are made as well as the older ones were, for a variety of reasons. I hope that my opinion doesn't come across as hatred, because it's certainly not meant to be that way.****

    I, for one, have never told anyone that their expectations were what made them not like the PT. I think the quality is not as high, but I still love both PT films, thus far, and think they fit with the overall feel of the saga. The strengths far outweight the weaknesses. My only hope is that Lucas can use III to focus on acting and character development. That may be hoping too much.
  23. TadjiStation Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2001
    star 4
    I, for one, have never told anyone that their expectations were what made them not like the PT. I think the quality is not as high, but I still love both PT films, thus far, and think they fit with the overall feel of the saga. The strengths far outweight the weaknesses. My only hope is that Lucas can use III to focus on acting and character development. That may be hoping too much

    Son_of_Kurtzman,

    I made my statement in anticpation of the rather predictable backlash that can come from the gusher camp when comparing the OT to the PT. I meant no direct offense, and wasn't accusing you of making such statements. :)

    The fact that these issues are still being discussed FOUR YEARS after the release of TPM only keeps the rift between SW fans open. Having said that, I still think it's healthy to voice as many perspectives as possible.

    What I do believe is that Lucas' striving to make his movies his way, in an all encapsulating "vision", have resulted in two films that are of markedly inferior quality to their predecessors. Yet, IMHO, from TPM to AOTC, Lucas is getting back in stride as a director. I personally thought AOTC was a much more even keel film overall than TPM, but there's many things to recommend them both.

    Who knows, Episode III may tie us all back together, be a great movie, and make the other two films better overall. And that would be a cool thing. :)

    Best,

    Tadji
  24. Son_Of_Kurtzman Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 2
    I highly doubt III is going to bring anyone back. For me, TPM was better than AOTC. I think AOTC was just more familiar to old fans. The scope seemed so much more limited. The feeling of TPM was one of limitlessness.
  25. TadjiStation Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2001
    star 4
    I highly doubt III is going to bring anyone back. For me, TPM was better than AOTC. I think AOTC was just more familiar to old fans. The scope seemed so much more limited. The feeling of TPM was one of limitlessness.

    I agree with you regarding the scope of TPM vs. AOTC. I'd make the leap and suggest that this is because TPM was the start of a new saga - the possibilities were endless as to where the story could take you.

    After the groundwork was laid by TPM, AOTC focused on a few key elements, becoming more specific and less grand (story wise). I was fine with this, however, as TPM's lack of focus (IMHO) kept me at a distance. I wasn't really drawn into the story or characters as much.
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