So Star Wars is now in the hands of Disney: the franchise of the greatest film saga of all time chained to the Disney Empire’s side like a scantily-clad Tw’ilek slave-girl in Jabba’s Palace.
Alright, maybe that’s an over-reaction. While legions of fans have greeted the news with elation, my own reaction to the stunning announcement has been more mixed.
I would say there’s room in my heart for cautious enthusiasm to see new Star Wars. But also serious trepidation about the creation of a new trilogy set beyond the events of Return of the Jedi.
So, let me lay out in this article WHY I’m not jumping for joy at the prospect of a new Star Wars trilogy or of Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm.
Marvel is one thing – a virtually inexhaustible arena of comic-book fodder, with endless possibilities and leeway for reinterpretation, re-imagining or just straight adaptation.
Star Wars is another thing entirely.
And I’m not really in that anti-Disney camp either; I’ll say that Disney has done a lot of good work over the decades. Particularly in the forties, fifties and sixties, some really wonderful animations were produced; The Jungle Book, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Fantasia – really, genuinely superb films that stand the test of time.
But that was a long time ago. Since then we’ve also had The Jungle Book 2 – a travesty that should never been okay’d by anyone. There are in fact a whole host of Disney sequels and follow-ups that have been awful, doing nothing to raise the standing of their originals.
I don’t know that this equates to a track record with ‘legacy’ that would validate placing the sacred Star Wars ‘legacy’ in its hands.
And one can’t help but envision the modern Disney corporation as some kind of Borg-like corporate collective assimilating its way to mass media domination; first Marvel, now Lucasfilm, tomorrow the BBC and by next week Al Jazeera.
It’s ok for people to say “give it a chance” or “Disney did alright with Marvel, so…” or “at least we’ll have new Star Wars films”.
All of this is besides the point. The central Star Wars saga, in its current six-film form, is basically a finished, complete work – story-wise, it’s a completed circle, a perfect circle, with The Phantom Menace as the beginning and Return of the Jedi as a fitting end.
That is the key point here – Return of the Jedi is the perfect, poignant END to the Star Wars story.
Think about that ending – Luke finally confronting Vader, Anakin finally destroying Darth Sidious and being redeemed, Luke burning the Vader suit on Endor, and the appearance of Hayden Christiansen’s Anakin in ghost form alongside smiling Yoda and Obi-Wan spirits; that’s IT.
That’s the end. And it works. It works beautifully; it works how it was MEANT to.
Continuing the film canon beyond that point is FOLLY.
There can be nothing necessary left to add to Star Wars; which leads me to feel that anything added now is merely unnecessary baggage for money-making purposes.
Lucas’s vision has been fulfilled already, the story told. Thematically, Return of the Jedi stands as a perfect terminus to the saga, and creatively ‘Revenge of the Sith‘– a masterpiece in its own right – stands fittingly as the final piece of the overall puzzle.
For George to talk about wanting to ‘ensure the Star Wars legacy’ for ‘future generations’ is lost on me. The existing films ARE that legacy already.
Why does something need to be dragged out, stretched to bursting point, on and on, in order to have a ‘legacy’? The original trilogy still has a massive legacy today. I was born in 1980 – the original Star Wars came out three years before I existed. I was still shitting in a potty when Empire Strikes Back was released. But I still got into those films – on TV, on video. BIG-TIME, in fact – thus beginning the love affair with Star Wars that I’ve had to this day.
What’s wrong with kids today and in the future watching the old, existing movies and THIS being the ‘legacy’?
Hollywood has never seemed to consider that quantity doesn’t equate to quality (though it can equate to profit, which no doubt is the main point of all this). Going back to the Disney/Marvel issue; yes, the Marvel adaptations at present are of a reasonably high standard – but wait and see, ten, twenty, years down the line when Disney are still churning that stuff out, trying to milk the franchise for every last dollar, whether you still think it’s a good thing.
It seems the nature of modern mainstream cinema that reboots and re imaginings are going on all the time, sequels and prequels being spat out at a jarring rate; for example, the Spiderman franchise has been rebooted after literally only a few years – what happened to pacing? What happened to letting things age a little while?
With some things, less is very much more.
With Star Wars, I think that very much applies. Some have argued that even the prequel trilogy was a step too far; I happen to disagree with that strongly, but THIS latest assimilation may just be that step too far. It won’t work to take something as inherently self-contained and complete as the Star Wars saga and to try to expand its narrative… particularly if said undertaking it being done for profit purposes and not for inherent narrative purposes.
What’s to say there won’t be a Star Wars Episode 20 some day? Or that they won’t try to churn out SW films every year for eternity? Is that going to add to the existing SW legacy… or is it going to cheapen it?
Now I’m not saying Star Wars: Episode 7 is going to be bad or that I’m not going to watch it. Of course I’ll watch it. And a part of me is even a little excited at the prospect of new material.
What I’m saying is that – in storytelling or narrative terms – it doesn’t need to be made.
I hesitate to see Star Wars stretched too far – it’s like over-enlarging a picture that was meant to be a certain size; each enlargement makes the picture lose that little bit more quality. The Star Wars saga, as it currently exists, benefits from its limited quantity. Six films telling a measured, complete story.
I can’t help but feel it should be left at that; that quantity will undermine quality.
Of course I may be overreacting to all this and I may be proven wrong down the line. Time will tell.
I’ll probably have more to say about this. But just one more thing; if you disagree with me and the position I’ve taken, just do this one thing first – go get your Return of the Jedi DVD or VHS tape or whatever it is.
Watch the final fifteen minutes. And then tell me that this should no longer be where the Star Wars story ends…