I can’t be bothered to try and track it down, but didn’t Lucas recently say that he thought Empire the worst of the six films? Perhaps because he lost too much creative control and had his vision bastardised by someone who clearly knew what they were doing and recognised that the characters were an asset to the story.
Does anybody know the history of how Irvin Kershner came to direct Empire, or, more to the point, how George Lucas came to let somebody else direct the film?
Was he too busy? Uninterested in directing at that time? Did money people force this change on him?
Oof. What an odd statement. If you don’t need character development why do you even bother watching the whole movie? Just download a bunch of clips of kewl scenes and be done with it.
I’m hard pressed to think of a single film I like, really like, that doesn’t have strong character development. If that piece is missing, forget it. You mention reading LOTR, but the LOTR films work precisely because the character development is so strong. Just about everything else is just window dressing. When I cast back over those three films, the things that stand out for me most significantly have little to do with special effects. As I write this, just thinking about Gandalf’s look when Frodo steps forward at the council and says he will go to Mordor makes me catch my breath.
Do you remember what made you first fall in love with Star Wars? I’m sure I was wowed by the “cool space battles” and I still long to own a lightsaber, but as I lay awake at night in 1977 staring at the ceiling I was imagining I was Luke Skywalker. After Empire Strikes Back ended I was thinking about how much I hated Darth Vader, even though hatred was a non-Christian value and therefore a no-no for me. Then after Jedi I was thinking about how hate works on a person and the true nature of reconciliation (even if I couldn’t have put it in those exact words). I was thinking, what is Luke gonna do now?, not, Gee, I sure hope George Lucas gets around to putting a Praxis wave into that Death Star explosion someday! More importantly I was thinking what I was going to be doing as Luke now, in my fantasy world.
Yeah, the 'splosions made me scream real loud, but no matter the volume, it was the characters, and their dilemmas, that continued to resonate with me. Why do you think so many of us clamored for the original trilogy to be released on dvd, not just the “Special Editions” with updated effects? Because HAN SHOT FIRST GOD-FUCKING-DAMMIT and that makes a difference…in his character’s development.
And that’s why the prequels just felt so incredibly hollow.
The most plausible suggestion I’ve read was that he was simply too busy, particularly with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. He was overstretched with the original film juggling directing and overseeing special effects, and he wanted to give the directing time-sink to someone else. He definitely wasn’t happy with some of Kirshner’s decisions, though, and this fact is widely reported by those who worked on that film. Kirshner pushed hard to inject more character into the key players. Lucas wanted far greater control over Jedi as a result of this.
Lucas primarily wanted to reassert control of the franchise after Empire because Empire went way over budget – he had to personally borrow a whole bunch of cash, and ended up giving the studio a larger guaranteed cut to have them guarantee the loan so he wasn’t entirely on the hook alone.
It all worked out well anyway, since the movie was as big a hit as anyone could have reasonably hoped (although the least profitable of the films), but it stressed Lucas the hell out, and he and producer Gary Kurtz had a falling out over it which led to Kurtz not being involved in the movies after Empire.
Lucas did, apparently, completely throw out all the seeds sown for Jedi by Empire (including seeds planted by Lucas himself earlier), in order to rework it significantly, so that neither Han/Lando died (as they did in earlier drafts), throwing the Death Star back in again (which it wasn’t), substituting the Ewoks in for the Wookies, and not bringing Yoda and Obi Wan into the final fight with the Emperor and Darth (and killing Yoda earlier, while Obi Wan was supposed to come back as a “live”, non-ghost character). Pretty different from what ultimately hit the screen, that’s for sure.
Um, if you do need character development why do you bother watching disposable sci-fi junk like Star Wars? That’s like reading Penthouse (and not even Playboy) for the articles…
You mention reading LOTR, but the LOTR films work precisely because the character development is so strong. Just about everything else is just window dressing. When I cast back over those three films, the things that stand out for me most significantly have little to do with special effects. As I write this, just thinking about Gandalf’s look when Frodo steps forward at the council and says he will go to Mordor makes me catch my breath.
Couldn’t disagree more. I thought that scene was appalling in its blatant fishing for audience reactions. I can’t stand Jackson’s clumsy overuse of zoomed-in faces, heavily overacting in their quest to telegraph DEEP EPIC EMOTIONS. And Han Solo shooting first… yes, nice idea that befits the character as far as it goes, but that character is still just an action movie stereotype. Good enough for special effect orgies like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings (the Peter Jackson edition), and quite enjoyable too, don’t get me wrong. Stereotypes have a long and honorable pedigree in epics and folk tales, after all. I’m just stunned that anyone could point at these animated action figures and talk about “strong character development”.
You’re joking, right? Without a nice script and character development all you can watch of a SF movie is cool special effects, which normally constitute about <30% of the movie. The remaining screentime in such films is boredom and disgust. Why do you enjoy boredom and disgust?
Did you read what Desslock wrote? He was doing everything he could to be independent from the studios. That’s why he was self-financing the movies from Empire on. When Empire went way over budget he became more beholden to the studios, not less, and wanted to avoid that ever happening again.