For one, you don’t seem to mind incredibly long titles for your blog posts.
Also, you learn a thing or two about not giving up on a creative vision.
Before any of you start feeling sorry for me, watching all six movies was actually my idea. E has a tendency to play movies like one would a new album—to have it as background noise to ignore. I have a tendency to get sucked into them (and how can you not with a theme song like this?).
He started with the original, and when that ended I was wide awake and insisted we watch The Empire Strikes Back. By the next day, when E thought I’d had my fill, I was already on a roll. Why watch two if you’re not going to watch the next? And after watching the original trilogy, why not watch the prequels leading up to it?
As we watched all the pretty neon lightsabers clashing and wooshing through the air during the fight scenes, I couldn’t help but imagine how ridiculous the actors must’ve felt as they were filming it. They basically just had these white wooden poles that made an awkward clanking sound when struck together. Those guns with the cool laser beams shooting out of them? They were glorified toys. And before the music, the sound effects, the visual effects and the editing added their magic touch to the film, being on set probably felt a lot like walking into a cheap Halloween haunted house. Except with costumes no one could make sense of.
So imagine my delight when we started watching the Making of the Trilogy documentary and got to see behind-the-scenes footage and the actors’ commentary. Did you know they shot most of the original movie in London? The English crew members thought Lucas and the cast were just shooting a silly children’s film. The actors often had no idea what their lines meant (Harrison Ford has been quoted saying, “George, you can type this shit, but you sure as hell can’t say it.“) R2D2 was constantly breaking down. The studio was threatening to close the whole production down because they were way over schedule. And the first time Lucas went to check on his visual effects team (because the VFX would tie everything together, right?!) he was less than impressed.
All signs pointed at no. No, this isn’t such a good idea after all. No, this isn’t going to magically come together. Even after all the scenes were shot and the movie was edited, that first cut was a distaster. Apparently it lacked urgency. It was boring and confusing. While most people would give up at this point and accept they’ve made a bad movie, Lucas and his team hired a new editor and started over. The movie’s release date was pushed back several months. People started suspecting it’d be a flop.
Before watching this documentary, I never thought I’d incorporate Star Wars into this blog. E and I often poke fun at George Lucas, because he has a tendency to tinker with his films so much that he makes them worse. But I have to give him credit for actually seeing his vision through. No one around him understood what he was trying to do. They couldn’t see what he saw in his mind, and what’s worse, they didn’t think he could pull it off. Every single day he worked on Star Wars, he could’ve decided to give up and no one would’ve argued with him.
But he pushed through. And then the movie came out and broke every record imaginable.
Yoda would sum up the lesson here in a very wise, oddly-structured way. But I trust you all don’t need me to point it out.
photo credit: JD Hancock