ICONS UNEARTHED: STAR WARS featuring Marcia Lucas interview

Gregatron

Master Member
The shift came when the culture at large decided it was "cool" to be a geek. Everything had become corporatized and homogenized.

Yes, these franchises are victims of their own success. Once they go mainstream, everyone and their kid brother wants a cut, and people who have no right to it and no talent for making it get put in charge.

I’ve loved Marvel Comics my entire life, and it was always this cool niche thing for the nerds who really loved it. Then, it went mainstream, via the movies. And now I see people from all walks of life (from babies to hot teenage girls to grandparents) wearing Iron Man and Captain America and Black Panther t-shirts. People who have never read a comic in their lives think they know everything from watching a few movies, and will argue with longtime comic fans because they think they know better.

It’s no longer special, and no longer fun. The comic industry is dead, and the movies have just as quickly gone down in flames. I’ve watched this thing I love defy all odds to become insanely successful in the mainstream, and that’s also what’s completely destroyed it.


STAR WARS is a different story, of course. A phenomenal mainstream hit from Day One, but the key difference is that Lucas (always devoted to independence and pushing the limits of creative storytelling and technology) kept a tight hold on it for decades. Sure, there was the EU, with a mix of good and bad throughout, but Lucas always made it clear that the ancillaries didn’t really count (as opposed to Disney’s Explanatory Universe, which uses novels and comics to fill in major plot holes and errors in the movies after the fact), and kept things from going too far off the rails.

Personally, I think the early, disastrous one-two punch of the HOLIDAY SPECIAL (the first time Lucas loaned his baby to outsiders) and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK going off the rails (in terms of budget/schedule, and Kershner making it more of a slick, stylized, sci-fi art film than Lucas wanted) is exactly what turned him into the control-freak people now unfortunately think of him as. Which is very much why, for good and for ill, we got the prequels being run entirely by him and his chosen team, rather than his bringing in other directors and producers and whatnot.

But, the point is that Lucas kept a tight hold on it, and maintained quality and fan interest for decades. Then he sold it to a megacorporation, and it almost immediately became a disaster, with the EU being thrown away, and the counterfeit Disney Trilogy taking a wrecking ball to the characters, themes, and plot points of the six previous films. No vision, no dignity, no plan, no future. Just pure greed, stupidity, and sociopolitical agenda.

And now, STAR WARS has devolved from the most beloved and influential franchise in cinema history into a soulless, empty “content” factory farm used to push its corporate owners’ streaming service.


Victim of its own success.
 

Gregatron

Master Member
Watched the episode on RETURN OF THE JEDI. Again, pretty straightforward, although the candor was a bit shocking, with Richard Marquand essentially being called a puppet director who was incompetent (particularly by Anthony Daniels). And, of course, the underlying narrative thrust was that Marcia Lucas was the secret heart and soul of the franchise, which I’m sure is true to a degree.

Seeing Marcia tell her side of the story (and she flat-out denies having an affair) is quite fascinating.

Again, all movie clips came from the DeSpecialized Editions.


I do find myself wondering how this documentary series will treat the prequels, given the subtle anti-George slant throughout. Although it was nice to see the second rehash of the Death Star in THE FARCE AWAKENS get knocked.

And if this series moves into the Disney era, I don’t know if I can keep watching. I suppose it depends on what direction they push in. At the very least, Marcia’s thoughts on those films have been public for a few years, and they’re (rightfully) not kind. We’ll see.
 

Psab keel

Legendary Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
From what I read this series only covers the first 6 saga films and perhaps might touch briefly on the newer installments, but the main focus being the films under Lucas's tenure.

I started watching the ILM special on Disney+ (that's a streaming service that was shared freely with us) so I'm voting with my wallet on that one and they aren't getting my dime. lol But this documentary series is something I'm genuinely interested in and will likely watch it up to the end of the first 6 saga films as well. After that I'll likely have a hard time staying even remotely interested.

The thought of having to sit through JJ Abrams or Rian Johnson wax poetic about their involvement is enough to make my stomach turn.

Somehow though I will have to find a way to watch this more honest take on the Saga films with ICONs unearthed. Even if the documentary is somewhat biased against Lucas, it will still be fascinating to finally hear Marcia's take on the whole thing. She's been the missing piece of the Star Wars puzzle since the beginning and her involvment in this may finally lay to rest some theories fans have been debating for decades.
 

Gregatron

Master Member
From what I read this series only covers the first 6 saga films and perhaps might touch briefly on the newer installments, but the main focus being the films under Lucas's tenure.

I started watching the ILM special on Disney+ (that's a streaming service that was shared freely with us) so I'm voting with my wallet on that one and they aren't getting my dime. lol But this documentary series is something I'm genuinely interested in and will likely watch it up to the end of the first 6 saga films as well. After that I'll likely have a hard time staying even remotely interested.

The thought of having to sit through JJ Abrams or Rian Johnson wax poetic about their involvement is enough to make my stomach turn.

Somehow though I will have to find a way to watch this more honest take on the Saga films with ICONs unearthed. Even if the documentary is somewhat biased against Lucas, it will still be fascinating to finally hear Marcia's take on the whole thing. She's been the missing piece of the Star Wars puzzle since the beginning and her involvment in this may finally lay to rest some theories fans have been debating for decades.


I wouldn’t worry about Abrams or Johnson popping up and being self-aggrandizing—this is one of those documentary series where they could only get interviews with “B” and “C” players (no main stars, no directors or writers) with witty narration running over behind-the-footage that makes it feel more in-depth than it should.

This is by no means a series to write home about, outside of the coup they had in snagging Marcia for an interview, and a few candid insights which haven’t been heard on camera, until now.

I also have to say that I found myself getting a little choked up at the end of this latest episode when Marcia herself got choked up. There are two sides to every story, of course, but she presented herself as being quite heartbroken by George basically cutting her out of his life after they split.


And I have no interest in the ILM documentary simply BECAUSE it’s being produced by and for Disney, and I therefore don’t expect anything particularly honest or insightful.
 

Psab keel

Legendary Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
My interest in the ILM doc has more to do with the FX artists being given the opportunity to share their direct insights and the ingenuity behind their creations. Literal movie magic. I want to hear their first hand accounts of the originals and to hear about how they dealt with the transition to digital effects. I watched most of the first episode, but I fell asleep. It wasn't super impressed with it just yet but it was cool to see some of the artists early films from when they were kids. It makes sense that they would be interested in the likes of Harryhousen and other pioneers in the industry but I had no idea so many of them were making short films, many with fx, since they were kids.

I wasn't concerned with Abrams or the like showing up in the ICONS Unearthed documentary. That was more speaking to the point where I'll likely stop watching the ILM special because my interest will drop off.
 

jts1031

Sr Member
I've finished the Disney+ "Light and Magic" series, and I found it really retread on a lot of things until it got to episode 5 and 6. The push and pull within ILM about CGI and how it impacted employees, especially Phil Tippett was extremely interesting. I also just watched the 4th episode of Icons, and I too really felt for Marcia, but at the same time, for George to completely cut her out of his life shows that he was really hurt as well. The comments from Howard Kazanjian were very illuminating. On a side note, I don't think I've ever seen Anthony Daniels where he doesn't come across as an ass.
 

Treadwell

Legendary Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
And I have no interest in the ILM documentary simply BECAUSE it’s being produced by and for Disney, and I therefore don’t expect anything particularly honest or insightful.
It's spectacular and surprisingly candid, give it a shot. Directed by Lawrence Kasdan!
 

Gregatron

Master Member
Not gonna have a chance to watch this for a bit, but…I’m already sensing a narrative, here.

84B0DD4E-F443-4121-A3A7-B45318119D5B.jpeg
 

Gregatron

Master Member
Watched the episode. It skirts very, very close to being a full-on hitpiece, with a few positive bits thrown in to make it seem less so.

All of the usual prequel-bashing tropes are rolled out—George became fixated on digital effects to the exclusion of all else, made baffling and pointless changes for the Special Editions, decided to leave the older fans behind to pander to kids and push toys, was surrounded by yes-men, etc., etc.

Marcia even calls the film “racist”, and Howard Kazanjian literally says that the prequels would have been better if he had been involved in making them. Roger Christian’s supposed importance to the franchise is once again overinflated, although at least he doesn’t bash George, here.


Listen, I was there. I watched the insane anticipation for the film as it grew and grew. I was there in the theater on opening day in 1999, and felt the inevitable disappointment of it. And it was inevitable, because nothing—NOTHING—could have met those expectations. In retrospect, we all should have seen that coming.

Not that I was ever a “hater”, or anything, but, as the years have gone on, I’ve come to better appreciate the film and what Lucas was trying to do. Even when I first saw it, there were things I liked about it, and things I didn’t like, with the positive outweighing the negative. It was by no means the worst film ever made, or any of the other ridiculous, hyperbolic labels assigned to it.

And, coincidentally, just a few days ago, an 18-year-old female coworker actually blurted out “Oh, I love PHANTOM MENACE!” when the topic of STAR WARS came up. Also, a friend and former boss of mine loves Jar Jar. The movie absolutely found its target audience. Because, at the end of the day, these movies are for the young and the young at heart (like me). That is the rock-bottom reality of the situation, and anyone arguing against it needs to grow up, frankly.

In recent times, I’ve found myself more and more appalled by the aging fanboys who insist that the things they loved as kids must grow and change along with them. We actually now live in a world of dark and violent DC Comics movies and shows which I would not want young kids to see. Which is disgusting. I mean, how sick is it that parents now have to question whether or not to let their kids see a Superman or Batman movie? Come on, people. That’s absolutely crazy. Maybe even evil.

Anyway, one of the great ironies of all this is that George is right. He was always right. Digital technology was the way forward, but without a story to serve, it’s empty and useless. How many big and empty CGI blockbusters have we had in recent years that no one will remember or talk about? Whereas the prequels continue to be discussed and debated and resonate with the generation that grew up with them. Despite their excellent effects, the Disney films will never, ever have the longevity of either of Lucas’ trilogies, because the story and the characters and the ideas just aren’t there. They’re already disappearing from the cultural conversation, despite the futile attempts of the cult to insist that they’re beloved, successful movies, or that THE LAST JEDI is a artistic and deep masterpiece.

Whereas the prequels have found their audience, and are undergoing a critical reevaluation, now that they’re removed from the time and place of their release, and have a legitimate negative (the Disney movies) to be measured against.


When you strip away the baggage of unrealistic expectations, time and place, and petty jealousies, PHANTOM MENACE is a flawed, yet still very interesting and well-thought-out film with amazing worldbuilding and the seeds of compelling thematic ideas which grow later in the prequel trilogy. I almost have to laugh at notions like the Machete Order, which promote watching the films ANH-ESB-AOTC-ROTS-ROTJ and skipping TPM entirely. Which completely misses the point that the film provides vital setup for everything to come later.


Especially now, since the disaster of the Disney era has provided a perfect yardstick for people to appreciate what they had with Lucas, I’ve really become fed up with all of these know-it-all bashers like RedLetterMedia, who will attack the prequels from any (and every) angle just because they didn’t meet their fannish, immature expectations. It’s all become very, very tiresome.

In fact, as I’ve noted before, I’ve more and more developed the sneaking suspicion that a large amount of the backlash to THE PHANTOM MENACE is because the Access Media (…the mouthpiece for jealous and petty mainstream Hollywood, which has always resented Lucas for going his own way and having huge success because of it) told people that it wasn’t cool to like it, and people quickly fell into line. But, looking at the facts, all three prequels were massive financial hits, and the franchise remained both huge and healthy for years after, with STAR WARS remaining a significant pop culture touchstone in the early 00s, breeding a new generation of eager fans.

Compare this to the Disney Trilogy, with the films’ box office showing that they lost fully half the audience from the first movie to the third, merchandise sales falling off a cliff, and this once-great cinematic franchise being downgraded into a vehicle for a flood of lousy TV shows to promote a streaming service.

Lucas did not ruin STAR WARS, or anyone’s childhoods. He was the one who kept STAR WARS safe, healthy, and fresh for 40-plus years, and brought joy to countless people. And he was repaid for it by jealous, greedy, and small minds smearing him at every turn, and killing his baby after he thought he’d put it into safe hands.


On a related note, I recently came across this article, which articulates exactly the same feeling I’ve had for some time now about the media being the actual cause of the prequel backlash. And, now that the Access Media has lost its stranglehold on the hearts and minds of genre fans, it really does feel more and more like the truth is finally coming out.

 

Psab keel

Legendary Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
The excitement surrounding the release of each prequel film was palpable. Each trailer release, each image tease. They just amped up the anticipation. It was a really exciting time to enjoy this series and I'll always be grateful that I got to have that experience and all the friends I made along the way because of it.

While I have my misgivings about the writing, there is a lot to love about the prequels. The writer in me laments all the wasted potential, but the memories I have surrounding those movies, the behind the scenes features, the music, the costume and prop designs, the casting. There was a lot of stuff for me to enjoy, and still enjoy to this day, from those films, even if I'm not a fan of the story in the way I love the original three.

I don't deify Lucas, but I think the truth of his legacy lies between the extremes of his genius and his need for control/ stubborness. Like everything else the truth is always somewhere in the center.
 

The Terminator

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Not the first North American director to do so. James Cameron was going crazy with the U.K. crew and their tea break:p(y)
It's a tradition and you'll have to accept it...period! But ask any U.K. crew to do overtime to finish a scene and they'll gladly say: "Yes Gov.!"
Here in Sweden, we call it "FIKA" and it's a must. :p

On October 30, 2012, the day that the Disney buyout and the counterfeit sequel trilogy were announced, I just had a sinking feeling. Somehow, I just knew that the whole thing would be ruined completely.

Meaning the mayans weren't that far off :lol:
The shift came when the culture at large decided it was "cool" to be a geek. Everything had become corporatized and homogenized.

Basically, "shift happens"

The excitement surrounding the release of each prequel film was palpable.

Oh yes. The epic feelings, the wow-factor and frustration of trying to download the trailers using dial-up. Then trying to look at the stamp sized image. "It was better before" :unsure:
Still each trailer was an event of it's own.
Then the sequel trilogy came along. And each reaction went something like:
EP7 "Um, okay"
EP8 "The frakk?"
EP9 "Haha, NOPE"
 

Gregatron

Master Member
The excitement surrounding the release of each prequel film was palpable. Each trailer release, each image tease. They just amped up the anticipation. It was a really exciting time to enjoy this series and I'll always be grateful that I got to have that experience and all the friends I made along the way because of it.

While I have my misgivings about the writing, there is a lot to love about the prequels. The writer in me laments all the wasted potential, but the memories I have surrounding those movies, the behind the scenes features, the music, the costume and prop designs, the casting. There was a lot of stuff for me to enjoy, and still enjoy to this day, from those films, even if I'm not a fan of the story in the way I love the original three.

I don't deify Lucas, but I think the truth of his legacy lies between the extremes of his genius and his need for control/ stubborness. Like everything else the truth is always somewhere in the center.

This is a very reasonable stance to have. That whole era had its ups and downs, but I will always be grateful for the experience.
 

Gregatron

Master Member
Then the sequel trilogy came along. And each reaction went something like:
EP7 "Um, okay"
EP8 "The frakk?"
EP9 "Haha, NOPE"


I continue to find myself both darkly amused and utterly baffled by people who insist that the Disney era is better than the prequel era, when this is what we actually got:


2913E2BB-84F9-4C38-85D2-3F1CD2A9B3AB.jpeg



If you think people crucified George for the prequels, imagine if this is what he’d done for his proposed sequels. Even if he had actually gone down the route of Luke going into exile and then dying (as reports of his treatments indicate), you know it would have been infinitely more respectful, logical, and resonant than what The Mouse gave us. One of the many underhanded tactics defenders have used is holding up Kennedy and her team’s picking and choosing bits of pieces of Lucas’ outlines to use and claiming that they were just following Lucas’ story template. In reality, they threw in a few story points and basic character ideas from his treatments, then patched the rest together from rehashed OT ideas, half-baked notions of “subversion”, and a heaping helping of sociopolitical agenda. Not at all the same thing as basing their movies on his treatments.
 

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