Image from seller Devil Olive on Redbubble.com. Yes, you can buy stuff with that image.
After TFA’s release there has been some articles here and there that have been encouraging yet maddening; wistful pieces that dare I say miss Lucas’s influence on Star Wars (and kinda sorta show some grudging respect for the prequels if not outright appreciation). Right now I’ve noticed most of these pieces are in higher-brow publications or sites that are more aimed at cinephiles than nerds, but I’ve seen more or less similar sentiments in the New York Post’s and GQ’s websites.
A couple of examples dropped in The New Yorker within the past week. The latter piece is interesting because here’s a Serious Film Guy who hadn’t seen any of the films until recently and didn’t really care for them…except for AOTC and ROTS. It’s as though the acid didn’t finally kick in until five films into the series. However, I’ll agree ROTS is Lucas firing on all cylinders and it’s great to see for a change somebody else notice how AOTC is a beautiful, complex film.
Of course I didn’t need TFA or anything else to recognize Lucas’s value as an artist and a visionary. I already know! That’s one reason why I’m bothering with this site. I just wonder to these guys, where the heck were you when we needed you? They certainly were not around during the prequel years. Back then it was cool to beat up on Lucas and his work and portray him as something worse than serial killer or a pedophile, a sentiment that unfortunately carried over to how TFA was reviewed. Oh sure there were a few people here and there who broke the trend but kicking Lucas around became a pop culture/media thing for a long, long time that got us to where we are now. As Jett Lucas tweeted around Christmas, think of all of the movies we would’ve seen already had it not been for all of the prequel bashing.
I think it’s widely acknowledged what George Lucas has done for entertainment and advancing cinema. There’s a reason why he got the Kennedy Center Honors after all. But he’s horribly undervalued and unappreciated as an artist. He seems to have shared the same fate as his mentor Francis Ford Coppola. In the ‘70s, Coppola could do no wrong. By the ‘80s and ‘90s everybody was throwing tomatoes at him and now he’s making his own weird experimental movies that occasionally get released to even more terrible reviews. (At least people like the wine.) Now Lucas is in his own exile, cut from the popular entertainment stage because frankly, nobody understood what the hell he was trying to do all along. Especially not Star Wars fans. Had there been more prominent voices who did understand Lucas’s oeuvre and if we had a culture more receptive to those voices, things would be very different today. Lucas might be still with the saga he created.
However, I suppose it is nice a few people are starting to recognize Lucas’s artistic strengths now instead of waiting for him to die. Maybe if we’re all lucky, this might kick off a reappraisal of his films, including the prequels, and at last a genuine understanding of the saga.