Tuesday, January 24, 2012

S.O.S Message to George Lucas

I'm writing this as sort of a public display. In writing my thesis, George Lucas has been a huge inspiration toward it. Although consistently criticized for his approach on the craft and release of multiple editions of the Star Wars franchise, his storytelling techniques have rendered some of the most timeless classics of the 20th century and while I don't consider myself a diehard fanboy who debates the minutia of his stories, I have the utmost respect for him as a filmmaker both in his bold choices and willingness to take risks.

I was saddened to hear last week that he has announced his retirement from the film industry. Whether or not that was a true statement or just a public outcry to stop nitpicking the details of his films, it's obvious he's worn down and lacking the passion to continue, so I've prepared a letter to him asking to reevaluate his decision. Please read and help spread the word.

Dear George Lucas,

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, you created an independent filmmaker's empire. It was a ragtag group of filmmakers who wanted to tell stories the way they wanted to tell them. Your stories captivated audiences, not just of your generation, but of future generations. Somewhere along the way though, you lost the magic that shot you to the top in the first place. I think harsh criticism from fans, opposition and shunning from other studios, and an over ambitious scope of stories (resulting in churning out only a few directed films over your career) has left you disenchanted with the film business... but I strongly suggest you to reconsider retiring from your once-ambitious passion.

With your creations of American Graffiti, Star Wars and Indiana Jones you cracked the code on creating a timeless classic. American Graffiti used the culture of the 1960's as a sandbox to tell a simple tale of kids on the cusp of growing up. The plot is a nice sweet story, but where it really shines is the setting in which the story takes place and the very reason you wanted to make it in the first place; the hotrod lifestyle. For the generations that were there during that time, you captured the essence of it so well that they were immediately transported to that era. And for those of us that weren't around during the 60's and never got to experience that culture, you left us with the bittersweet taste of nostalgia on our tongues, yearning for a lost era of innocence, rebellion and youth. The film romanticizes a time period and puts it in a time capsule to revisit and yearn for over and over again.

And again, with Star Wars, you created the coveted timeless classic. With this, rather than using American culture as your sandbox, you used religion and mythology- something the masses are quite familiar in some form or another. You created a world with subliminal undertones to our own, but made it magical enough that we'd rather be there instead. Your space opera hit the right chords in every way and made them so re-watchable.

And finally you did it a third time with your story writing on the Indiana Jones series. Instead of religion, mythology and American culture, you used the culture of cinema itself to tell this story. By this, I mean you took the existing mold of cliches, stunts and formulaic archs of adventure serials from the 40s and 50s and built it up into this timeless entity that bottles the spirit of adventure and instantly brings any adult back to childhood courtesy of the wonderment that radiates from these films. They're truly timeless.

Where I think you went wrong in all of this was that you let your self-doubt get to you. You added the computer junk and the remastering of already-remastered material to Star Wars to cover up the dated technical mistakes out of fear of losing your film's timelessness; to keep it fresh and youthful. You did it to preserve your magnum opus. But timelessness isn't about the actual technique feeling dated, it's about your story sticking throughout the ages. It does.

I'm writing this as a message in a bottle to send it out to sea to float from blog to blog, in hopes of it somehow drifting to the shores of Skywalker Ranch (which I've stayed at and is quite beautiful to say the least). I hope this letter at the very least causes you to re-evaluate your thoughts on retiring and inspires you to refocus your passions and to continue to make films the way you want to make them, how you used to long ago. Forget the flack from critics and fans. If you have a story to tell, tell it and make it how you want to make it.

To anyone who may read this, let the bottle float a little further and repost it so it can get to its rightful destination.

Thanks for everything,