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Old 04-14-2017, 11:40 AM   #22
Nebby. Back into the bag.
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I suppose this is the best place for this: Disney hosted a 40th anniversary panel this week, and George Lucas is a prominent part of it. I'd recommend that anyone interested in Star Wars check it out, at least through the first fifteen minutes or so. It's a nice chance to see the white, the black, and the oceans of gray complexity that are George Lucas and his legacy.

One of the things which Lucas's fans celebrate him for is his vision. One of the things which most prequel critics will point to is that Lucas had no one to rein him in. This paradox is brought to the fore when one of Lucas's students, a young man who directed Star Wars Rebels, shares a story that goes something like this, greatly paraphrased:
"George shared many valuable lessons with me. But perhaps the most important lesson of all was, he taught me, 'Don't be afraid.' When you're working on something as big as Star Wars, it's easy to get afraid of messing it up. And what George taught me was, don't be afraid. Do what it is that you're thinking would be great to do."
And then George joins in with, again paraphrased:
"Yes, I think it's important that no decision be made out of fear. When people would tell me that I couldn't do something, I would tell them, "We're going to do that thing." It would fire me up. I welcomed the challenge. I wouldn't take "No" for an answer. Don't be afraid."
And like ... I think this is a really fascinating window into the complexity that is the situation with Lucas and the prequels. Because on the one hand, you have a message here that sounds really wholesome and productive, a philosophy which celebrates innovation and imagination. But then on the other hand, you can see the shadows in every whisper that leaves George's lips here -- the shadow of the spectre that is unfettered creation, the spectre which many blame for the prequels' numerous faults. "Lucas surrounded himself with yesmen," says one person. "What made the original Star Wars films great was that Lucas had people in positions to be able to tell him 'No' and who did tell him 'No'," says another person.

It's easy to imagine a Fox executive telling Lucas in 1975 that light swords were a stupid idea and that he should ditch them from his script. Lightsabers! Our beloved lightsabers. But then at the same time, on the other hand, it's so easy to imagine someone on the Episode I team telling him that midichlorians were a bad idea. Or that it was dumb to have C-3PO be created by Anakin. Or that perhaps Darth Maul should have been kept around, at least through the second film. Or that maybe, just maybe, Original Episode I Yoda looked disastrously bad.


If nothing else, this dialogue illustrates the dangers in black-and-white thinking when it comes to art and creativity. Is it always for the best to never take a "No" from somebody? Well no, clearly not. But at the same time, every time you take a "No" and abandon some crazy idea you had is a chance, a possibility, that you were about to make the next Star Wars.
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