CT What if Lucas directed the entire trilogy?

Discussion in 'Classic Trilogy' started by Feelicks, May 6, 2013.

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  1. Feelicks Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 7, 2012
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    What if George Lucas had decided to take the matters of directing the entire OT into his own hands? Would he have handled the two films better than Irvin Kershner did with Empire, and Richard Marquand with Return of The Jedi?
  2. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    As I understood the unconfirmed story, Richard Marquand was so pliable that George Lucas was more or less directing Return of the Jedi. He was more or less Lucas's sock puppet until he was ditched and someone else -- probably Lucas -- wound up finishing it off. I personally don't see ROTJ as other than directed by George Lucas: there's a certain 'feel' that comes out of directors' work, and it's the same feel across ROTJ and the PT.

    I like Film Threat's take on it, though for full disclosure it obviously comes from an article titled "50 reasons why Return of the Jedi sucks":

    It would be easy to put the blame for Jedi’s failure squarely on the shoulders of its director, the late Richard Marquand. But while few would argue that Marquand wasn’t the greatest choice to inherit the franchise, the fact remains that it was Executive Producer Lucas who hired him, who told him how to handle the material, and who always had the final say. So we’ll let Marquand rest in peace; chances are he did the best he could.

    What Lucas was thinking is another story. Whether Jedi’s faults are a result of his sincere artistic vision or of something more sinister (read: “marketable”) may never truly be known. But by comparing the genesis of each of the three films, we can make a pretty good educated guess. When Star Wars was conceived, no one had any idea how much money it would eventually pull in. Empire was still a risk, as successful sequels were rare at that point in time.


    Had ESB been directed by Lucas I honestly don't think it would've done as well. George Lucas is a much more 'big ideas' sort of guy, with some issues on implementation. Kershner's style was to focus relentlessly on characters; he expressed his own cinematic style as liking to fill up frames with people's faces, because there's nothing more interesting than the landscape of the human face. ESB isn't really such a wham-bang action movie as ANH is; ESB strikes me as much, much more of a character piece - as evidenced, IMHO, by the fact ESB Yoda is basically the best-realised and most believable puppet character of the modern era. Per Wikipedia, Lucas hired Kershner because of his focus on character.
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  3. Sistros Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 24, 2010
    star 6
    he practically directed them all anyway,

    the acting might have been a bit weaker, but that's about it really (actually ANH had fine acting, so take that for what it's worth)

    :
  4. I Are The Internets Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 20, 2012
    star 6
    It's a shame Kershner didn't direct a good film after ESB. Rococop 2 is "good" for all the wrong reasons.
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  5. Jedi_Ford_Prefect Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2003
    star 4
    The acting might not have been as good in ESB, but I honestly don't think it would've looked much different. Or anyway, it would've had the same level of visual quality, especially as Peter Suschitzky would've still been DP, being hired by Lucas before Kersh.
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  6. Jedi_Ford_Prefect Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2003
    star 4
    Not to speak ill of the guy, but did he ever really direct a good movie before ESB, either? I mean, the closest I can think of is Eyes of Laura Mars, and it's just kind of painful and sad to see how close it comes.
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  7. Jarren_Lee-Saber Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 16, 2008
    star 4
    Lucas said in one of the documentaries on one of the DVD editions that the reason he gave the Directors chairs to Irvin Kershner and Richard Marquand was because he was busy trying to set up LucasFilm company and beyond the basic drafts he didn't have that much to do with them.

    I believe if he had as much control over ESB & ROTJ as he did over the PT, they would have been even more complex than they already are.
  8. Samuel Vimes Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2012
    star 3
    Not sure I agree with that. ANH, which Lucas wrote and directed, is a fairly simple story with pretty simple and straight forward characters.

    Bye for now.
    Blackboard Monitor
  9. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    I don't believe that. There's an interview from the guy who played General Madine that talks about his experience on Return of the Jedi: let's remember this is a bit part who only had one scene on film, and maybe one or two others that were deleted. He says that while Marquand apparently directed the actors, George Lucas was always hanging around. The title of "Producer" on a film is not an empty phrase; from the first draft script, through all stages of production, to the final dub, success or failure of the film rests largely in the hands of the producer. Lucas served as executive producer on the films.
  10. jedizapped Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 15, 2003
    I'm sure I read in SFX recently (may have been an older Kershner interview or the recent one with Marquand's son) where George was having trouble with the unions concerning them putting the director's name at the start of the movie when he clearly wanted all credits at the end. This was something to do with the selection of directors. Not sure why, but maybe they were not part of that particular union?
  11. Samuel Vimes Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2012
    star 3
    As I understand it, the DGA (Dircetors Guild of America) used to have rules that the directors name had to be in the pre-film credits.
    Lucas was a member of the DGA and they had some complaint about ANH but didn't push the issue.
    When it came to ESB, they made a bigger fuss as Kershner was also a member and they issued a fine. Lucas paid the fine and quit the DGA. Then with RotJ, since Lucas was not a member there was some problem with hireing directors that were guild members.
    That may be part of the reason why Marquand was hired.

    Bye for now.
    Old Stoneface
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  12. Obi-Wan21 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 27, 2002
    star 4
    A New Hope is a masterpiece in the Star Wars franchise, but I feel that Empire would have been a completely different beast had Lucas taken the reins. That's not a slight, mind you, but I always preferred Irvin's Empire, it was small, intimate, and focused. Lucas drives his direction in a unique way, one that would not have benefitted the middle act of the trilogy. Attack of the Clones suffers the same fate, Lucas is not a middle act director, an act that focuses on smaller, intimate moments. It's just not his forte.

    Empire's relationships would have been weaker, and that would have hurt ROTJ.
  13. I Are The Internets Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 20, 2012
    star 6
    Forgot he did that movie which I have yet to see. He also did Never Say Never Again which besides the really awful soundtrack is a superior remake to Thunderball.
  14. Star Wars age 9 Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Nov 29, 2012
    star 1
    'The Man called Horse' - good Kirschner film.

    Simon Pegg said in his autobiography that George referred to ESB as the weakest film of the trilogy. I was stunned by that.

    I wonder what he meant by weak - and which aspects? Did he mean as a whole?
  15. Jedi_Ford_Prefect Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2003
    star 4
    Actually he directed "Return of a Man Called Horse", not the original.

    If you look at the whole 6 film arc, it's probably the most redundant entry, story-wise. Watching it 1-6 you already know Yoda, you already know Anakin is Vader, you already know the lure of the dark side. The only aspect that you couldn't glean from the other films is what happens to Han, and to be honest he's not really the most important character. It may be a fan-favorite for its drama, but you really can skip over ESB and understand the story of the saga.
    Last edited by Jedi_Ford_Prefect, May 7, 2013
  16. Star Wars age 9 Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Nov 29, 2012
    star 1
    You're right about the 'Horse film'.
    I'm not sure if George referred to ESB in the content of the eventual 6 films - or if it was way back when there were only 3.
  17. Jedi_Ford_Prefect Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2003
    star 4
    I'm pretty sure it's a more recent thing. And I honestly think it's something he's said more in jest than earnest. I'm mostly just spinning out a little of my own opinion there. ESB is great on any number of levels, especially visually, but story-wise it's actually doing a lot of wheel-spinning.
  18. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Indeed that's precisely the reason Spielberg -- who was Lucas's first choice to direct ROTJ -- was not hired, and Marquand was approached. Because Spielberg was a guild union member, and Lucas in effect wasn't running a union shop because he wasn't part of the DGA. Solidarity forever and all that.
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  19. Chainmail_Jedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 26, 2013
    star 2
    IF Lucas directed all three of the OT films - they would have been likely...held in regard by me (and many other OT-preferring fans I suspect) as much as the Prequels. Except for ANH. Lucas got lucky directing that one.
  20. Darth Dominikkus Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 5, 2013
    star 3
    I mean, Star Wars came from Lucas. There might have been different names under directors, but at the end of the day I think Lucas had a pretty tight hold on the movies directing-wise.
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  21. darth ladnar Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2013
    star 3
    I think GL's involvement in TESB was equivalent to David O Selznick's role as the producer of "Gone with the Wind." Regardless of who directed GWTW, it was Selznick's film. With TESB, GL came up with main storyline (including one of the biggest twists in history) wrote 1 version of the screenplay (pretty close to the final) and the final draft was written to suit GL's expectations. I believe GL oversaw the design of the characters (like Yoda) and sets (like the carbonite freezing room). Also, Kerschner was given very little latitude even in changing the dialogue. (Changing "I love you too" to "I know" was a big issue.) Correct me if I'm wrong, but GL even oversaw the editing of the film. Kerschner did control the cinematography, but the visual aspects of filmmaking are GL's strong suit.

    Compare that to how it is with a typical film today, like "Star Trek Into Darkness." Though he didn't write the script, director J.J. Abrams gave input on and signed off on the final script (sometimes along with the studio), Abrams can change the script while shooting and oversees the production design, and Abrams controls the editing process (though the studio sometimes will step in and make him change something if they're really unhappy with his cut of it or even make him re-shoot scenes).

    Considering how much influence GL had over TESB, TESB is arguably more GL's film than "Star Trek Into Darkness" is Abrams film since GL did a lot of screenwriting himself too, and nobody would say the new Star Trek isn't Abrams' film.

    In the end, I don't think the film would've been much different, especially ROTJ (which GL basically co-directed and I think most of ROTJ's limitations come from its script). The actor's got to know their characters in the first film. Robert Downey Jr. doesn't need a lot of guidance by Iron Man 2 or 3. Robert Downey and the director of IM1 figured out the character then. Maybe Kerschner could help noobies like Carrie Fischer and Mark Hamill (especially when he had to act with a puppet), but Harrison Ford, Frank Oz, Alec Guinness, and James Earl Jones were all seasoned actors by that point. To be honest, I think Kershner is given too much credit. He never directed a comparable film before or after.
  22. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    I think that's more the rule in filmmaking than the exception; I always understood that the most important name on the credits is "Director" in most films. In terms of a difference between a film that is driven by a director versus a film that is driven by the studio and the producer, look at Jaws as opposed to Jaws 2. Jaws is the single, unified vision of Steven Spielberg. Jaws 2 is a film made by committee.
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  23. Jedi_Ford_Prefect Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2003
    star 4
    I'm gonna disagree on the final point. Kershner had input on the cinematography being onset everyday, sure, but that was Peter Suschitzky's department. This is less a matter of Lucas vs. Kershner (though Lucas did hire him before Kersh) but rather reminding how important Suschitzky is to the movie. He's probably one of the best living cinematographers (his work with Cronenberg especially is amazing) and he always tends to be forgotten on ESB. Frankly I think he's more important to the quality of the film than Kershner.

    Considering their rate of success before and after ESB, I think it's more accurate to say that Kershner got lucky. Nothing he did before or after ESB is even in the same league.
  24. darth ladnar Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2013
    star 3
    @Jedi_Ford_Prefect, just curious, do you know if it was GL or Kerschner who supervised the editing?

    No, I basically agree with you. I think I'm not making myself clear. In modern filmmaking the director is the man. With "Star Trek Into Darkness," it's Abrams' film. With "Jaws," it's Spielberg's film. They oversee it from beginning to end, pre to post-production. However, with TESB, Kerschner had no control over pre-production and I think post-production, so it was more like the old days when the producer (GL) had the most control. Also Lucas was the one who had control of the script, dialogue, set design, special effects, and (I think) editing, so I'd say that Lucas's control over TESB is more like Spielberg's or Abrams' control over ST:ID or Jaws.
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  25. Theron Solo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2012
    star 1
    I don't know about that. I think Thunderball was the better film, but that's just me. I think Thunderball is one of the better Bond films.
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