I used to love Star Wars. Born in 1975, I was only 2 when the first one was released, but I was 5 in time for The Empire Strikes Back, plus my brother, being 8 years older, was the real target demographic and became a collector of the toys. His bedroom was a shrine and so by familial osmosis I caught the fever.
Sixteen years after the trilogy wrapped, The Phantom Menace came out and I had mixed feelings about it. It felt very kiddie-oriented, but then again, so were the originals. The key difference is that I was a kid when I discovered them, and thus, lacking perspective, I thought they were the greatest movies ever made. I was unable to reconcile the child-friendly feel of the prequels with my reverence for the originals because I was by then an adult with different perspectives and appetites.
Fast forward to 2012 and Lucasfilm being acquired by Disney. Of all the studios Lucas could have sold it to, he chose the one that least needed another mega-franchise. Besides, the greatest charm of the Star Wars movies, for me, was the fact that they were more-or-less independent movies; creative control was in a human being’s hands, not a corporation’s.
The original trilogy always held a special place in my heart because it was not the product of Hollywood demographic focus-testing. Real people were in charge of making creative decisions, not committees. As such, I felt confident that the quality of those movies was because they were from the heart and not from the marketing department. The irony is that George Lucas set out to make a celebration of the little guy against the Empire, only to become the Empire himself in the wake of its success. The Star Wars prequels, though imperfect films, I think are George’s attempt to address that shift. At the time he made the original films, he was Luke Skywalker. By the time he got to the prequels, he was Anakin Skywalker, doomed to be imprisoned in that iconic mask and suit.
It’s funny that it has come to this. I’m not sure when exactly my love died, but it was almost certainly on hearing the news of Disney taking over. I appreciate independent filmmakers, even when they fail, because they are artists with a point of view and something to say. Corporations exist solely to make money, and they usually do it by cynically exploiting our nostalgia rather than challenging us with anything new or different.
The real reason I can’t resent Lucas for his choice of studios to sell to is that he took half of the four billion he made and put it into philanthropic endeavours like education and housing. That’s taking two billion dollars from an evil corporation and doing something good with it, and that, to me, is really the spirit of Star Wars.