Posts Tagged ‘George Lucas’

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[Note: This was originally written at the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but never published.]

Star Wars seems to be everywhere you turn. It’s on the major news outlets – CNN, Fox, & NBC. It’s on endless magazine covers. It was on your children’s Christmas lists (and possibly some adult’s lists as well).   It’s even on theological websites.

The release of Star Wars: Episode 7 was historic and Rogue One continues to reign at the box office. It’s impossible to measure the impact this franchise has had on the cinema. Notable directors and actors state that their initial viewing of this film was a watershed moment in their life. The science fiction genre was not a money-maker at the box office until the release of Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977. Thus, all the hype.

Iconic characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, & Han Solo returned to the silver screen for the first time in decades. Even the beloved Millennium Falcon was back in action. While Rogue One gave us a list of new characters, familiar sights and sounds from the previous installments were present. Almost everyone’s back…except for the originator of the aforementioned Star Wars world, George Lucas.

The Original Creator

Last year there was an interview with George Lucas stating that those in charge of The Force Awakens didn’t want to involve him. For those who are unaware, Disney bought the rights to the Star Wars franchise for $4 billion. Box office records show that it was a wise investment.

However, the very man who invented Luke Skywalker (initially called Starkiller), wasn’t even consulted. The man who wrote A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…sat back and wondered what was happening to the galaxy he thought up. George Lucas, who avoided major studio influence on his initial films by funding them with his own money, placed his creation in the hands of another.

Some may dismiss this thought and say, Well, Lucas did sell the rights. After all, why should we feel sorry for a man who’s counting his billions. However, there would be no hype, there would be no Force Awakens or Rogue One, had there been no George Lucas. One could even argue that there would be no Harry Potter, Hunger Games or film adaptation of Lord of the Rings literature had there been no George Lucas.

After the release of Episodes I-III, fans were ready for a change. Most despise these installments of the franchise, so it was clear that there had to be a marked difference with Episode VII and the ensuing Star Wars films. Here’s where I feel sorry for Lucas, however. It’s his story. It’s his world. It’s his cinematic vision. Yet, the movie-goers feel like they own the Star Wars universe. How dare George Lucas take this story in this direction! What was he thinking when he created Jar Jar Binks?! Why in the world did he cast Hayden Christensen as Anikan? So, I feel a bit sorry for all the criticism and down-right anger Lucas has endured from fans.

If it wasn’t for him, we would never have Episodes IV, V, & VI! He created them for movie-goers to enjoy – and enjoy they did. Yet now, we are ready for him to get out of the way and let us enjoy our Star Wars the way that we want it!

Don’t get me wrong, I was envisioning ways Jar Jar could be killed off in each ensuing episode. I was disappointed in all of the previous episodes, but I think in critiquing films sometimes we miss the humanity of the people we’re critiquing. We critique Star Wars as this thing that’s out there and forget there’s an image-bearer attached to it. I really wonder how Lucas feels.

Think about it. You can’t turn a television on right now or get on the Internet without seeing something about Rogue One. You can’t go anywhere without hearing how much critics and fans love this one immensely more than the prequels. Yet, somewhere is George Lucas hearing all this. Somewhere George Lucas must be thinking, I gave fans so much. I gave them Luke, Leia, Obi-Wan, Chewbacca, & Han. I created one of the greatest villains the cinema has ever seen in Darth Vader. I collaborated with John Williams to create a musical score that would transcend time.

What is the man, George Lucas thinking about all this?

It was this thought that got me thinking about the human condition. We are so selfish. We are so spoiled. We are so self-centered. Everything is about us and for us. We wake up looking in the mirror at a god we can’t wait to serve. Everything revolves around the person we see in the mirror and it better serve us.

The True Creator

As much as I appreciate George Lucas’ work, I am not imparting god-like status to him. Yet, he is a “creator” that has now witnessed his “creatures” rebelling against him. He did a great deal for those who are a fan of his Star Wars universe. They loved and worshipped him and now they’ve rebelled. There are definite parallels here to fallen mankind.

The true Creator gives and gives so much to this fallen race. In the beginning, God gave Adam and Eve anything they could want or imagine.   Yet, Adam and Eve rebelled against their Creator. The One who gave them the very hands that reached for the forbidden fruit wasn’t enough. The One who blessed them with the very taste buds that tasted the fruit witnessed those bestowed gifts being abused.

The Creator of all these great graces witnesses his creatures’ disdain towards those graces on a daily basis. We complain about the weather. We’re dissatisfied with our job. The body we see in the mirror isn’t what we want it to be. We take the creation that was graciously given to us and complain. It’s not what we think it should be. In short, we think we deserve better.

This parallel breaks down, however, in terms of ownership. Lucas is the creator of Star Wars, but he sold the ownership. Part of his reasoning is that he wants this story to go on after he’s gone – he’s not eternal.

For the Christian, we have a Creator who is eternal and will not leave or forsake his creatures because of their rebellion, no matter how much they complain. This Creator did not sell his rights to his creation, rather he entered into it in order to ensure this rebellious race could enjoy life everlasting. And, we can rest assured that the next chapter in that installment won’t be a disappointment…especially if Jar Jar isn’t there.

 

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star-wars-one-sheet-style-aWhat could possibly be said about this movie?  It’s a classic?  It changed my life?  It’s the greatest movie ever?  All of those things are nonetheless true about George Lucas’s ground-breaking, trail-blazingin, sci-fi classic, but there was something truly special about watching it again this past weekend.  Let me back up a bit…

I grew up on Star Wars and Indiana Jones.  I had these movies memorized and, as far as I knew, these were the only series of movies that existed.  When I was younger I would dress up like Indiana Jones and I would quote these films to my fellow classmates on the playground…which explains why I didn’t have any friends (not true).  However, I remember (on more than one occasion) waking up my parents at night because I was traumatized by the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark – what kid witnessing Nazis melting wouldn’t?  All of this to say, I was a big fan of these series of films.

Therefore, showing any of these films to my children was going to be a momentous occasion.  My oldest children are 7 and 4, and they have asked a good bit about Star Wars.  We’ve checked out some SW books at the library and they have some cousins that are pretty obsessed (in a healthy way) with the SW franchise.  While I felt that they were too young for the Indiana Jones franchise (remember the melting Nazis), I felt that they could handle the adventures of Luke and Han with my edits (earmuffs) along the way.  And, since there were so many classic films on TV for the Fourth of July, I thought we would have our own classic celebration in the Perritt household.

So, the iconic title and John Williams’ score exploded on the small screen in our living room and my children will never be the same.  We cheered, we clapped, we were excited to see Darth Vader, as well as, the good guys appear in a story that continues to prove itself as a classic.  All of that to say, it was special.

I enjoyed Sarah holding on to my arm with concern for the rebel alliance.  I loved seeing Samuel smile to see storm troopers and Darth for the first time (not sure if I should be concerned that he likes the bad guys…I like them too).  What was really unique about this experience of Lucas’ classic was that I sort of experienced it for the first time again.

At every moment of concern for the good guys, or each victory of Luke and Han over the villains, I would watch my children witness it without prior knowledge.  I loved waiting in eager anticipation with Sarah, I applauded with Samuel as the Millennium Falcon dominated starships twice its speed.  To put it simply, I shared in a timeless piece of art with my children.

Why is that such a joy?  Why has SW hung on for so long?  Why do countless adults and children still turn to this story for pleasure?  Well, there are many elements we could point to.  Good vs. Evil.  Darth vs. Obi-Wan.  Luke vs. Han.  Whatever it is, this film will continue to live on from generation to generation.  And, I guess the only reason I’m turning this into a post is simply to highlight God’s grace.  I know I could make some parallels, but I just want to be thankful.  God doesn’t owe us anything.  Yes, the gift of his Son is paramount to all gifts.  But, a dimly-lit living room playing a classic sci-fi film with my kids is pretty good too.

Death is making his way back into the theater for his popular role in Final Destination 5.  He has been popular enough to make his way into five installments of a film, more than most Hollywood actors, so give him credit where credit is due.  Although the Grim Reaper deserves a pat on the back, does he deserve a purchased ticket at the box office?

The last FD film I saw was the first one [2000], which gave me an idea of what the ensuing films would consist of, even with some nuances promised in this film.  However, is unoriginality a good enough reason for someone to say ‘no’ to a film?  Although Christians should approach a film like this with caution, I will follow up with a post tomorrow discussing some good things about the Final Destination franchise…that’s right…good.

Here are a few negative things to consider while wading through the grey:

The first thing to consider is the artistic value of this film.  Christians should strive for good art and appreciate good art when they see it.  The FD films have an interesting concept (this will be discussed in part 2), but the interesting/original concept is now gone.  Money is now driving this machine.  These movies employ bad acting and low budget special effects.  By today’s standards, these films are fairly low budget, but they make a decent amount of money.  Almost everything about these movies scream ‘Poor!’  Therefore, you are merely padding the budget of New Line Cinema when you go see this film, which is something to think about.

Something else to consider is the fact that it’s #5.  Let’s be honest, how many number 5’s have been all that great?  Rocky V?  Saw V? Maybe you’ll argue that You Only Live Twice or Star Wars: Episode II (which is 5) are great fifth installments of films.  But let’s not forget what film series we’re talking about here.  This is Final Destination, not some timeless series such as Ian Fleming’s Bond or Lucas’ epic space saga.  This goes back to Christians appreciating good art, and the fifth installment of a gross-out violent film is anything but timeless.  Which leads me to my last point…violence.

The exploitation of violence is the most obvious caution for the discerning Christian.  While some of the films have nudity (which is also something to be cautious of since it’s typically exploitative in these films), they all have violence…lots and lots of gruesome violence.  Decapitations, bodies ripped apart, intestines spilled, and a lasik operation gone bad in the most recent – at least that’s what is assumed from the trailer.  Now, if you’re the guy or girl who says, “But that kind of thing doesn’t bother me.”  You’re a liar.  The entire reason you go to movies like these is to be impacted.  You go to films like these to be grossed out, so if you claim that you aren’t impacted by that movie than you might as well not go.  But if you’re persistent and say, “These movies don’t bother me.  I really just go to be entertained.”  My question to you would be, “Shouldn’t they bother you?”  Shouldn’t depictions of gruesome deaths of fellow image-bearers upset us.  We are all created in God’s image [Gen. 1:26 & 27] and the death of a human being should rattle us when it’s graphically depicted on screen.

These are just a few reasons (I’m sure there’s more) why I think Christians should approach a film like FD5 with great caution.  These films will soon be forgotten, but the gruesome images will have a lasting impact.  Therefore, truly examine your heart and see that there may be less grey area than you might think.  Be sure and check back tomorrow as I do point out some positive, biblical insights from the film.