Posts Tagged ‘George Lucas’

Star Wars

December 12, 2018

Not long ago, I saw the original Star Wars for the first time in many years. What I found most interesting about this movie is how well it stands up after all these years. The plot is a little silly with holes you can drive an X-Wing Fighter through, but so what? Star Wars is still a lot of fun to watch. The special effects still look impressive, not even a little dated or cheesy, as one might expect after forty years. George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic was truly a master of producing special effects in that primitive pre-computer generated effects era. For this reason, I really wish that George Lucas had not decided to enhance the original Star Wars trilogy with digital effects.

The digital additions didn’t really advance the plot and weren’t much of an improvement on the original. It was interesting to watch the scene with the confrontation between Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt, which was cut from the original. The scene did help to establish Han Solo’s mercenary character and his motive for taking Ben and Luke’s commission to transport them to Alderaan, but it wasn’t essential. The computer generated Jabba the Hutt somehow didn’t look very realistic. Jabba didn’t seem to fit in the scene.

Changing the confrontation between Han and Greedo so that Greedo shot first ruined the scene. Han Solo was supposed to be somewhat amoral, in the beginning, growing more altruistic as the trilogy progressed. Changing the scene changed the arc of Solo’s character development.

However, even if the changes and additions had been an improvement, I still would have preferred that George Lucas had not made them. The special effects of the original Star Wars movies were truly ground breaking. Before Star Wars, science fiction movies had always looked rather cheap, no matter how much money was spent on the special effects, they never really looked good. 2001: A Space Odyssey was an exception, but it had Stanley Kubrick as director. It didn’t help that science fiction was not taken very seriously as either literature or as cinema. Science fiction movies were all too often relegated to a low budget ghetto to be enjoyed by children and nerds. Star Wars changed that. Yes, the plot was thin and it was kind of a kids’ movie, but the awesome special effects showed what could be done. Star Wars made science fiction a mainstream genre. When George Lucas went back and added in the digital enhancements, it was as if he was denigrating his accomplishments. It is as if D. W. Griffith had gone back and put a sound track in Birth of a Nation.

Watching Star Wars as an adult for the nth time can never be the same as the first time I saw it as a child, particularly after seeing the sequels and prequels. It is harder to fear Darth Vader as an evil villain when you know that behind the mask is a weary old man who hates what he has become. Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi seems to be less of a noble mentor and more of a cunning manipulator when you know he lied to Luke Skywalker about his father. (Yes Ben, that was a lie, not a truth from a certain point of view.) Even the whole premise of the movie can be called into question. Was the destruction of the Jedi by Darth Vader and the Emperor really such a bad thing? The prequels show the Jedi as being more than a little arrogant and narrow-minded. Maybe it is not such a good idea to rely on a small elite of people who happen to be blessed with a high midi-chlorian count. Is the rule of Emperor Palpatine really a bad thing? The Republic that preceded his rule was shown to be corrupt and ineffective. Maybe, from a certain point of view, the Empire stands for law and order and the Rebellion is a terrorist organization. After all, George Lucas said the Ewoks were inspired by the Viet-Cong, meaning perhaps that they were genocidal fanatics just as the real life Viet Cong were. That would make the Stormtroopers the Americans, the good guys.

Then there is the similarity between the award scene at the end and the Nazi rally depicted in Triumph of the Will

But now, I am overthinking it. Star Wars has never born close examination, either of its politics or its science, and George Lucas is not as profound a thinker as he would like to pretend. Star Wars is flashy, mindless fun. This is, by no means, a criticism. There is certainly a place for flashy, mindless entertainment. In fact, I think one of the problems with Hollywood these days is that they are taking themselves too seriously. They are more intent on preaching left-wing politics than with making movies people actually want to see. Even the Star Wars franchise has fallen victim to this plague of political correctness. We need more of the original Star Wars.

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Tax Hollywood

August 4, 2012

Here is an interesting idea on how to decrease the deficit, raise taxes on Hollywood. This seems appropriate since entertainers are always talking about the need to make the 1% pay their fair share. Since many actors are part of the 1% it’s only fair that they pay more, right? No doubt they will be happy to do so.

Today, Hollywood is a playground for Democratic fundraisers and Obama has found that Hollywood remains loyal to his vision and re-election. While those on Wall Street are having second thought about the guy they helped put in the White House, there are no second thoughts among Hollywood elites.

Instapundit Glen Reynolds made the suggestion that if we are going to raise taxes to cut the deficits, why not start with a 20% excise tax on the film industry? Since many of these Hollywood stars and producers are forever telling us how we need tax increases to help close the deficits, why not let Hollywood lead the way? The tax, which was imposed on the gross income and not the net, took a 20% hit off any Hollywood bottom line and can you imagine how much a major star can contribute with a 20% tax on a gross income on one of those 10 to 20 million dollar salaries for a single movie?

Let face it, much of Hollywood may talk of the down trodden, but the reality is Hollywood is the home of the 1%. So if the Hollywood 1% are going to help elect the most leftist President, then let them lead by sacrificing the first 20% of their gross income!. As Glen Reynolds argued, tax the Hollywood 1%. Or at least let them squirm. Who knows, maybe George Lucas or Steven Spielberg might just produce their own film defending supply side economics if they are faced with the idea that the first 20% of their income will go to the government even before they even cash that big eight or nine figure check!

Well, Jon Lovitz criticized Obama over his plans to raise taxes on the rich. He is even not so sure he is a Liberal. Maybe an excise tax might turn some of the people in Hollywood into Conservatives, or at least Libertarians.


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