The artlessness of Lucas

Libertas on George Lucas:

From the sum total of Lucas’ remarks, I’m left with the following impression: that Lucas is dismissing Moore, simply because Moore is too obvious – too openly political and ‘of the moment’ – but that Lucas isn’t otherwise troubled by Fahrenheit, at all. In fact, the film and its reception are obviously on his mind a lot – and seem to frustrate him. Moore is clumsy, Lucas seems to be saying, because he isn’t able to explore the same issues in the more guarded language of symbolism and fiction. [For example, Lucas himself has repeatedly indicated that the origins of the ‘Star Wars’ series – however it’s subsequently developed – were in his reaction to the Vietnam War and Nixon’s corruption.] Moore says things openly – and perhaps stupidly – that we can say in other, more sophisticated and insightful ways, Lucas seems to be saying.

Now, I find all of this a bit alarming, for obvious reasons. Lucas clearly wants to “affect” people, and he doesn’t seem particularly concerned with how Moore had intended to “affect” audiences – only that it may not have worked. This is a bit like saying Goebbels was merely clumsy, but his intentions were pure. I sincerely hope I’m only misunderstanding what’s being said here by this otherwise great filmmaker. If not, then what he’s outlining is actually already what Hollywood’s elite classes (of which Moore is not really a part) already believe: film is there to be used to shape people’s values, but it can only be done effectively through popular entertainments that can’t push their politics too much. And, of course, it’s understood that those values are supposed to be left-wing.

Wired put Lucas on its cover, his face half-encased in the helmet Darth Vader. That may be more appropriate than they imagined.

What people tend to forget is that while Lucas may be think of himself as a quietly subversive storyteller, he is also a bad one. The conflict between the inherent conservativism of the original Star Wars and the ever-heavier left-oriented PC creep of the prequels – I’m going by what I’ve read here, as I noted before, I’m following the Sports Guy on Rocky V with regards to Episodes I, II and III – is potentially easy to explain. In the original, Episode IV, Lucas was reinterpreting Kurasawa’s Hidden Fortress, which necessarily drove much of the storyline. And the second two films were thereby constrained by the need to continue the plot of the first one.

Although some elements of Episode I more closely resemble the plot of Hidden Fortress, twenty years of success (wrongly) gave Lucas more confidence to depart from his influences and tell more of the story he wanted as well as adding more of the subersive elements he champions. Whatever the level of financial success the three prequels may have, they will remain a lasting tribute to the dangers of creative hubris.