Lucas, May 25 1977

I've bumped into a very fascinating Rolling Stones interview with Lucas from 1977. It's actually quite interesting to see how some things have changed but others have stayed the same. A brief rundown of the parts I found noteworthy:

1. Lucas seems to identify Star Wars as being intended as a kid's movie, circa 10-12 year olds.

2. More on the idea that Star Wars is space fantasy and not sci-fi:

"You firmly establish that at the beginning of Star Wars with the words: "A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away . . .""

"Well, I had a real problem because I was afraid that science-fiction buffs and everybody would say things like, "You know there's no sound in outer space." I just wanted to forget science. That would take care of itself. Stanley Kubrick made the ultimate science-fiction movie and it is going to be very hard for somebody to come along and make a better movie, as far as I'm concerned. I didn't want to make a 2001, 1 wanted to make a space fantasy that was more in the genre of Edgar Rice Burroughs; that whole other end of space fantasy that was there before science took it over in the Fifties. Once the atomic bomb came, everybody got into monsters and science and what would happen with this and what would happen with that. I think speculative fiction is very valid but they forgot the fairy tales and the dragons and Tolkien and all the real heroes."

3. A lot of the self-beating and disappointment Lucas expressed in the OT films around the time the Special Editions came out appears.

4. Unless Lucas was bullshitting profoundly, he had absolutely no idea what the hell was going on with Star Wars. That claim of this being worked out well in advance was completely bogus. For instance:

"Why does Darth Vader breathe so heavily?"

"I had wanted to do that and tie it in with the dialogue."

"It was a nice touch, because it adds to the bogyman quality of the character."

" [...] It was a whole part of the plot that essentially got cut out. It may be in one of the sequels."

"What's the story?"

"It's about Ben and Luke's father and Vader when they are young Jedi knights. But Vader kills Luke's father, then Ben and Vader have a confrontation, just like they have in Star Wars, and Ben almost kills Vader. As a matter of fact, he falls into a volcanic pit and gets fried and is one destroyed being."

5. Now that Lucas is finished with Star Wars, he's been saying he wants to go do little films that are experimental, avant-garde sorts of things. Looks like this dream has been in his head for a long time:

"The film's success should guarantee some success in the merchandising program you've launched."

"One of my motivating factors for doing the film, along with all the other ones, was that I love toys and games. And so I figured, gee, I could start a kind of a store that sold comic art, and sold sevety-eight records, or old rock 'n' roll records that I like, and antique toys and a lot of things that I am really into; stuff that you can't buy in regular stores. I also like to create games and things, so that was part of the movie, to be able to generate toys and things. Also, I figured the merchandising along with the sequels would give me enough income over a period of time so that I could retire from professional filmmaking and go into making my own kind of movies, my own sort of abstract, weird, experimental stuff."

Of course, those people who claim Lucas said he never thinks of possible toys while making films would be sadly mistaken, given the above.

There's a lot more to the interview, and it's an interesting read. Go give it a look-see.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting, and nice timing on posting this.
I was just arguing with some people about whether or not Lucas has had the grand six-movie-plan in mind from the beginning.
(I was on the "Hell no" side). Thanks!

Author said...

Well, I think he knew he had more story to tell in the Star Wars universe . . . he just didn't have a firm grip on what it was. As a result, he wasn't sure how much story there was . . . hence the original claims of a trilogy of trilogies, which he now claims to have been just a joke despite his repeated statements to that effect.

But yeah, if at any point he's suggested that Vader was always Anakin and hence the father of Luke . . . well, that's just not so. Even a read-through of the early script versions (with the Starkiller family) make that plain.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it was mainly the trilogy of trilogies thing that I was arguing, not that Lucass had no ideas for Star Wars after ANH.
This was my (half joking, half serious, half incorrect) timeline of "How Many Star Wars Movies?":

Pre-Pre-Star Wars: The plan all along has been 1 movie, called "Flash Gordon".
Pre-Star Wars: The plan all along has been 1 movie. (Bah. Can't get rights to Flash Gordon, and this probably isn't gonna sell.)
After Star Wars: The plan all along has been 9 movies!!!! (HOLY CRAP THIS IS POPULAR BETTER GO BACK AND STICK IN "EPISODE 4")
During the first trilogy: The plan all along has been 6 movies. (That 9 movies was a bit of overexcitement over the success of Episode 4, sorry.)
After the first trilogy: The plan all along has been 3 movies. (The technology isn't up to my GRAND VISION (tm) of any more movies)
Pre-Prequel trilogy: The plan all along has been 6 movies.(Tech=Here. I'm just going to do the prequel trilogy, then no more Star Wars)
Post-Prequel: The plan all along has been 6 movies, and some TV SHOWS! (The movies are done, but I wanna do a Star Wars TV show.)