I’ll never forget my summer vacation in 1992. I was 17, and every afternoon that summer, I watched “Star Wars” on VHS and ate pizza. “Star Wars” and pizza, every day. Oh, and my crush on Princess Leia… I’ll never forget it. Sure, I was too young to watch the first two in the theaters, but I understood their greatness; and even after watching each 100 times, I would not tire of them. I can’t really say that about many new movies today. Yet, with “Star Wars,” I know I wasn’t alone. I knew others were doing the same, watching over and over — absorbing and escaping into this one man’s dream.
The man? George Lucas. He is a visionary and a dreamer, and he made his dream come true. Against all odds, he created this spectacular universe with whatever was available to him at the time. “Star Wars” was a journey, a journey for various characters. George Lucas found himself in a journey too, one of discovery, success, and upgrade. Upgrade, you ask? Yes. With each new movie, the technology would advance further, and the special effects would be greater. Who would guess “Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back” was just three years after “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope?” Only three years…yet the special effects were monstrously greater. Perhaps Lucas would look back at times and say, “If I would’ve had then the technology I have now, certain scenes would have looked better.”
I also remember those rumors that Lucas had actually written nine drafts for “Star Wars,” and that meant that six other stories were out there, just floating around. It has since been said this was bogus, but … what if? I mean, the first “Star Wars” was, after all, “Episode IV.” What new stories would those extra chapters tell? How would it expand the already gigantic universe of “Star Wars?”
Then, I believe it was around 1996, the news broke: George Lucas was, in fact, going to make a new trilogy. This trilogy would be a prequel to the originals. They would concentrate on the origin of Darth Vader, Anakin Skywalker and even C-3PO. I remember being ecstatic, and with great reason. My childhood movies would now expand, and long-time questions would be answered. Yes, more “Star Wars!”
I wanted space battles. I wanted spaceships with names, spaceships that were not just props but were characters in the movie (like the beloved Millennium Falcon). But most of all, I would get to see my favorite villain, Darth Vader, in action once again.
Then came 1999, and the first of the prequels was released: “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.” My friends and I could not have been more excited. It was very exciting to see a young Obi-Wan and an unfinished C-3PO. It was nice to see a young, a very young, Anakin Skywalker (future Darth Vader). The spaceships were cool, although they weren’t the Millennium Falcon. I thought the planetary land wars were impressive, but where were the space battles? Well, there was a brief space battle, but it was nothing in the realm of the original ‘Star Wars.” Still, I was happy. The light-saber duel of Darth Maul vs. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn was superior to any other Jedi fight I had ever seen. It was fun, and although I didn’t get to see Darth Vader in this first movie, I knew everything was in motion for his return. Perhaps in the next movie. My friends and I looked forward to the movie being available on DVD and rewatched it over and over when we got our hands on it.
Three years later, “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones” was released. I thought it was phenomenal. The action was greater, and the space battle was too. It was so exciting to see Yoda, the warrior, fight for the first time! I remember walking to my car after the movie and feeling my eyes water with excitement. It made me realize that, perhaps, this should have been the first movie. Why? Because there was only one movie in the trilogy left, and still there was no sign of Darth Vader. That meant that we would only get to see him in the final movie. Obi-wan was a true hero and the personification of a Jedi in every way. He made Jedi knights more like secret agents. Yes, he was the James Bond of the Jedi order. It seemed to take forever for this one to make it to DVD, but once I got my hands on it, there were scenes that I couldn’t stop watching over and over!
With “Star Wars: Episode III — The Revenge of the Sith,” I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, it was the most action-packed and exciting of the series. It had so much going on that I actually watched it about three or four times in the theater to absorb it all. But, after nine years of waiting to see Darth Vader, we only got about 10 minutes or less worth of him. It was disappointing in this aspect, but it had others that I enjoyed. Again, they made Obi-Wan’s character stand out, and they set the playing field for the events that occurred in the original movies. He was again like a Jedi spy, witty and ready for anything, who would go on solo missions. I would have loved a spin-off movie of just his character, but I doubt that they will expand in that direction now.
Over the years since these movies, I have had my own ideas of how things could have been done differently with the “Star Wars” prequels. I do this with many movies, and I feel it is OK. But one thing that really bothers me is the hate and bashing that George Lucas constantly gets from many for his work. Some of the directions the films took didn’t match other novelists’ works. Some disagreed with the restoration project with his original trilogy. Or they said that Jar-Jar was horrible, or so-and-so was a bad actor.
I feel people need to realize these were his movies. The man is a visionary and a dreamer; he is one of us. It seems that he also learned something early on in his career. He cannot please everyone. So, he stuck to his story or idea. He did this the first time around, and look how well things turned out when he did! I can only imagine all the advice he must have gotten about the first trilogy. But, he did not steer away from his original intent. And why should he have? “Star Wars” is his vision, his dream, his baby. I respect him for making his dream come true. Also, no matter what anyone says, there is a ton of heart in all his movies. He took three long, hardworking years to create each movie. The special effects are flawless, as are the music, the style, and colors. Every little detail is there and cannot be ignored.
Sure, if it would have been up to me, “Attack of the Clones” would have been first, followed by “Revenge of the Sith.” This way, there would have been an entire movie with the newly-born character of Darth Vader. That’s right, I mean another separate movie — one with him, being the greatest villain ever once again, and Obi-wan trying his best to stop him, or save him.
But they aren’t my movies. They are George Lucas’ movies. And what he did was expand on an already extraordinary universe that he brought to us. I believe we should all be grateful that someone had the heart, the money, and the time to delve into these worlds that were in his head and brought them to life. Lucas is an artist. He made his story come to life through his artistic talent with film and special effects. He probably fills fulfilled at night when he goes to sleep, while those that criticize him go to bed feeling empty. Oh, and let’s not mention all the money the films made. No matter what, they are in no way a failure.
Luckily, “Star Wars” isn’t over yet. “The Clone Wars” CG animated cartoons on TV are setting things right. Most of the fandom that watch are very satisfied with these. I am, without a doubt, highly impressed by these and feel they are truly in tune with what the fans want now. There are various other “Star Wars” projects in the works, varying from a live action TV show to a comedy show. Even another cartoon series is in the works.
All in all, it is great that the “Star Wars” universe continues to expand. Its reach is beyond our imagination. But it all started with someone else’s imagination, someone else’s dream. The man? George Lucas.
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