Tuesday, April 26, 2005

"A special effect without a story..."

"...is a pretty boring thing." George Lucas said that more than two decades ago, and you can watch him say it on the documentary From Star Wars to Jedi: the Making of a Saga. That clip also appeared in the blurb for Star Wars to Jedi that appeared on the old VHS tapes of the Star Wars movies, so I expect that it's familiar to most Star Wars fans.

"Fate, it seems, has a sense of irony." Morpheus said that in The Matrix. Turns out he was talking about Star Wars.

In a Q&A at the recent Star Wars Celebration III [1], Lucas reportedly said (according to an attendee) that the original story for the prequels came to 20 pages, and that each of the prequels released so far used up about 20% of that material, with 60% left for the upcoming Revenge of the Sith. He reportedly called the rest of Episode 1 a "jazz riff" on the main plot (or, in the words of the spelling-challenged fan who posted the story, a "jazz rift"), and the rest of Episode II "filler" [2].

So no wonder they sucked! Twenty percent of 20 pages is, yep, 4 pages. I'd rather he'd only made two movies, or one really long one, and called the separate chapters "episodes" (no one ever said that each episode had to be a whole movie). But no. Lucas was committed to making three movies. He didn't have much story to go on, but he did have a vision. A vision of a floppy-eared dumbass, an elected child queen, midichlorians, battle droids that look about as menacing as a really hot bowl of oatmeal, and loads of other shit that we really don't care about, because, as it turns out, he really didn't care much about them either.

Holy crap. I just realized that Lucas has been denying that he'll make Episodes 7-9 because he never really had any story ideas for them. I figured he was just blowing smoke, but it's true. He doesn't even have enough story ideas for these movies. If he ever does get around to making the later episodes, they'll probably just be long sequences of stuff blowing up, punctuated with agonizing stretches of stilted line readings. More of the same, in other words.

As a long-time GM [3], I'm appalled that Lucas's big problem with the prequels has been an inability to come up with interesting stories. I often think up interesting Star Wars stories without even trying, like when I'm driving, or taking a grumpy. Which I'm going to go do now.

What a tool.


[1] For non-geeks: a big Star Wars convention, where people dress up like Ponda Boba or Lobot and no one punches them in the colon.

[2] Full story here: http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=20021

[3] For non-geeks: GM stands for gamemaster, one who moderates roleplaying games, such as the excellent Star Wars RPG from the late West End Games. Most of the time without being punched in the colon.