‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’: What Does George Lucas Really Think?
Well, we’re almost a week away from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and still we don’t know what to expect. With Disney opting not to screen the movie for critics, we don’t even have a sense for the basic story elements, relying instead on brief clips, teasers, and rumors. One person who has gotten to see The Force Awakens ahead of the release date though, is none other than the creator himself, George Lucas. While he hasn’t minced any words about Disney’s direction for the franchise, his own opinions are worth consideration, if for no other reason than to get a general sense of quality.
The verdict? “I think the fans are going to love it,” he told Vulture on the red carpet for the Kennedy Center Honors, going on to note, “it’s very much the kind of movie they’ve been looking for.” So we can all pack up and go home now, right? Bygones are bygones, George Lucas gave it his blessing, and we can all move on with our lives. Or not. Let’s not forget, he’s made it abundantly clear that he never wanted the new Star Wars trilogy to be the kind of movie Disney wanted. It’s safe to say the backlash from the prequel trilogy pretty much swore him off of fan service, making “the fans are going to love it” seem far more like a backhanded dig at the movie than a ringing endorsement.
As fans, we’re left asking whether this is the kind of Star Wars film we want. There’s a fine line between doing your due diligence on keeping audiences happy, and straight up winking at fans in every other scene. It’s a tough balance to strike, and much of The Force Awakens‘s quality will ride on how well J.J. Abrams and Disney ride that line. For a franchise as iconic as Star Wars, you always want to make sure the fans are happy, but you also don’t want to do that at the expense of good storytelling.
Therein seems to be the problem Lucas has with Disney’s “fans first” approach. In his mind, he had a story that he wanted to tell, independent of whether or not it would resonate with the fandom. When he approached Disney with that story following the sale of Lucasfilm, what he saw was a planned movie that compromised quality for fan service. As a director who was run ragged by the wants and needs of his audience with the prequels, you certainly can’t blame him for throwing his hands up and running in the other direction.
That being said, it takes a skilled hand to delicately balance the wants of the fans with the needs of the story, something that J.J. Abrams has already shown a talent for with his Star Trek reboot. Star Wars boasts the biggest fandom of any franchise in history, and you can’t exclude them from the equation entirely when it comes to making new films. You certainly can’t let them dictate every creative move you make, but if you’re not considering the needs of your audience, you’re missing the point entirely.
We can break down George Lucas’s opinions on The Force Awakens all we want, but at the very least, he’s gone through the motions as well as anyone could expect. Hell, his initial reaction was to admit that he “really liked it.” Even that though seems like a gritted-teeth admission to appear polite and not ruffle feathers, especially with Disney making him one of the few non-cast/crew members to see it ahead of the premiere. Whatever Lucas’s true thoughts are, soon we’ll be able to form our own critique, laying this debate to rest once and for all.
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