This article was published in the New York Times in May 1976. Thus, it was written and researched prior to George Lucas becoming famous primarily for his Star Wars projects. The first paragraph of the article states, "[he is] in the middle of shooting Star Wars, a 6.5 million dollar space adventure spectacular for Twentieth Century Fox." It is astounding to think that the original Star Wars was budgeted at 6.5 million. This article provides a view - at a moment in time - of the director of one of the industry's most successful movie concepts.
In the article, Lucas states that his intent following the success of American Graffiti was to retire. This is an interesting statement given Lucas' even greater success with Star Wars, post American Graffiti. Since American Graffiti, Lucas has gone on two make a two part trilogy of the Star Wars films (six films), becoming one of the most successful directors and producers of all time. George Lucas has earned millions from the Star Wars films and all their merchandising. As a result of the phenomenal Star Wars success George Lucas created his own production and special effects company on his own compound. It is amazing to think that midway through the first installment of Star Wars, Lucas was ready to throw in the towel.
I suppose it is admirable that George Lucas wanted to retire and do a lot of experimental work that no one would ever see. His love of film is for the sake of the art, not the business or the money. That is why he proclaims that he has no desire to make eighty films or any more "big studio pictures." All of this is admirable, but the bottom line is that he went on to make five more Star Wars movies.
After producing American Graffiti, which Lucas targeted to a sixteen year old audience, he made Star Wars, which he saw as "pure fun" and targeted a fourteen year old audience. He sought to produce a film of pure fantasy that audiences would enjoy at a relatively superficial level.
I believe that this article was used to generate publicity for Star Wars. The article gives a concise summary of the film and its characters. It provides a preview of the film with the intention of peaking the reader's interest and leading him to the theater. An inside look at the movie making process is another aspect of this article. It also provides insight into the mind of a developing filmmaker. In the aftermath of American Graffiti's success, people wanted understand the director and his thought process. They wanted to get closer to the source. This article accomplishes that for its readership and provides the insight that will bring people in to see the next George Lucas movie - Star Wars.
This article, by Clive Thompson, argues that the new film, Star Wars Revelations, a forty minute $20,000 budget film made by Star Wars fans, is better than any film made by George Lucas. Thompson's view is that, despite the impressive size of Lucas' budget for the Star Wars franchise or his aptitude for special effects, the creative minds of the fans turn out a better product time after time. Star Wars Revelations is just one example.
Lucas is no longer making new Star Wars films for his ravenous fans to enjoy. As a result, the numerous fans around the world have taken to making their own sequels/prequels. These fans are doing more than just filling the void; they are doing a better job than the Star Wars creator. The special effects are comparable to those developed by George Lucas. Additionally, these are not small films only accessible to a relatively small audience. It is estimated that in one week, one million people will see Star Wars Revelations - without any promotion or marketing effort. The widespread success of the film is based solely on the devotion of the Star Wars fans and the widespread reach of the internet.
Lucas has always encouraged fan produced films. However, he has stipulated one condition: these fan filmmakers cannot attempt to make a profit from their creations based on Lucas' genius idea. While films such as Star Wars Revolutions are widely circulated and astonishingly high-tech, there are still two major problems with all fan films - the second rate scriptwriting and acting. Thus, even with all of the success of fan films, there will always be an opening for George Lucas to return with one of his professionally made additions to the Star Wars series. Some might suggest that the fan films are better than the authentic Star Wars. However, with two significant problems plaguing fan films, fans can attempt to fill the void, but their productions will never compare to those of the irreplaceable George Lucas.
This article was published in the New York Times in 1977, the year that Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was released. It is interesting to read and undertand this article in light of its timing which coincides with the film's release. As the article states, "the movie was released yesterday" and Vincent Canby, the author of the article, refers to Star Wars as the "most elaborate, most expensive, and most beautiful movie serial ever made." However, even given the magnitude of the film, Canby warns not to expect anything too significant. "It is fun and funny." The article paints a vivid picture of Star Wars, generating a fabulously positive review of the film and revealing what critics thought at the time of the film's release. As a critic, Canby depicts aspects of the film in a trite and somewhat mocking tone. He reviews all of the characters and major plot lines finding each one funny and amusing in its own way. Canby recognizes that George Lucas has recognized a particular achievement in the manner in which he is "able to recall the tackiness of the old comic strips and serials he loves without making a movie, that is, itself, tacky." However, directly following this complement, he closes his review by stating "Star Wars is good enough to convince the most skeptical eight year old sci-fi buff, who is the toughest critic."
This article reveals that although Star Wars is one of the most financially successful films of all time and has a significant fan base, there are still those who mock the film. One can never make everyone happy and this article exemplifies that fact. It is satisfying to know that Vincent Canby's criticisms did not derail George Lucas from going on to make five other immensely successful films in the Star Wars series. While Canby probably felt the same way about each of Lucas' successive films, his views did not dissuade millions of other people from seeing and supporting the Star Wars adventures.
The Star Wars empire that George Lucas created has millions of fans anxiously awaiting Lucas' next move. What lies in store for the shaky future of Star Wars? An article published in Variety in April 2005, attempts to answer this question.
George Lucas currently has plans for two television series. The first is a three dimensional, animated half hour that would make use of the new CGI animation facility in Singapore. The second is a spin-off live action series. It will center around some of the supporting characters from each of the original Star Wars films. While both of these are interesting concepts, don't expect to see them on television next year. Neither idea is close to production nor does either have a network on which to broadcast. Some networks, such as Sci Fi, USA and the Cartoon Network have expressed interest in Lucas's ideas; however, nothing is close to being finalized.
This article is extremely significant when considering the next move of the successful Star Wars franchise whose fans are constantly demanding new material. George Lucas is one of the most influential filmmakers of our time. Every decision he makes impacts a wide array of people throughout the entire industry. As such, his ideas will likely be imitated and repeated for many years to come. Furthermore, Star Wars is a money making machine. Over the past thirty years, Lucas has built an empire from his six films, making a huge profit not only from the films themselves, but also through product tie-ins, endorsements and copyrights. George Lucas has created a billion dollar industry out of Star Wars. If Lucas' plan to continue the saga on television is successful it will be revolutionary, generating even more money in the transition from big screen to small. This business move will serve as a blueprint for future filmmakers.
In recent years, the sequel genre has become one of - if not the - only successful type of film. Interesting original story lines have become increasingly unique in an environment where risk-taking can mean financial suicide. Thus, the safe and profitable route is to capitalize on already established films. George Lucas has done this arguably better than anyone else. With the move to television, Lucas will attempt to make another valuable addition to the Star Wars empire. Successful or not, the Star Wars tradition will live on forever in the phenomenally successful films.
When George Lucas made the original Star Wars, Epidsode IV-A New Hope, he could not begin to imagine the impact that his film would have. Six Star Wars films and almost thirty years later, the original film has been named the best movie of all time by British film fans. (The entire list of rankings can be seen on the BBC's website.) Star Wars received more than a third of all of the votes in a survey conducted by the British Sky Premiere Channel, landing it in the number one spot.
This poll was taken just prior to the release of The Phantom Menace, the second Star Wars movie. Participants in the survey had the release of the next Star Wars adventure on the top of their minds (as it was released shortly after this poll was taken). Undoubdetly, this had some influence on the survey's results. While no one can detract from the astounding creativity that produced the film's empire, there is also no doubt that this list is missing several influential and key filmmakers. One of the commentators in the article expressed his surprise at some of the titles which appear on the list. This top 100 is uniquely different from many other film polls. Nonetheless, it is a definite representation of those films deemed significant by current film devotees. Star Wars has been viewed and enjoyed by an astounding number of people across generation lines. This fact helped to land it in the number one spot. Furthermore, Star Wars is known for having some of the most devoted and fanatical fans of any film. Therefore, it is no surprise that is would appear in the number one spot of a survey.
We certainly do not need a survey to prove the popularity and influence that George Lucas has had on both the film industry and his fans. However, the article and the "Best Film" designation verify the fact that there are millions of people all over the world who have seen Star Wars and feel that it is a most significant film.
The first installment of the six part Star Wars film series was released in 1977. Twenty five years later, in September 2004, the DVD's of the first trilogy ( Episode IV: A New Hope, EpisodeV, The Empire Strikes Back and Episode VI, and Return of the Jedi) were released. These DVD's were not comprised of the "classic" film trilogy, but rather the "Special Edition" versions that Fox, Lucas Film and George Lucas released in 1997 (which were originally available only on VHS). Fortunately for fans who can never get enough of everything and anything Star Wars related, the DVD set is loaded with extra features. The four disc set includes a bonus disc highlighting an extraordinary documentary and never before seen footage from the making of the films. Each of the films included in the set has been digitally restored and remastered by THX. In addition to significantly enhanced picture quality, the three films are mastered in Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 EX, yielding amazing sound quality. The Star Wars trilogy can also be viewed by the deaf and non-English speaking as it is subtitled in English, French, and Spanish. All of these additions to the original films not only make the DVD's a worthwhile purchase for viewing enjoyment, but also an important addition to any serious film buff's collection.
The DVD release of the original trilogy (Episodes IV, V, and VI) represents a significant marker in the Star Wars franchise. The groundbreaking films have become an industry unto themselves and the DVD's are one more outlet through which to generate more profit. DVD's are the future of all film. The fact that one of the biggest money-making movies of all time is now distributed on DVD, with added special features, validates the importance of the DVD release. The release of films in DVD format allows the audience to watch movies multiple times. The format also introduces an entirely new audience to a film that may have been produced at a much earlier time. The possibilities for film enhancement, viewing pleasure, and portability all contribute to the significance of the DVD as it relate to the Star Wars franchise.