Looking forward to Star Wars Episode XX

Commenting on the Critics with Simon Columb

David Mitchell writes for The Guardian about Star Wars and the Disney take-over. I know, I know. Old news really – but more interestingly, Mitchell compares the take over with the future of the franchise becoming more akin to the 50-year long stretch of 007 before highlighting how the most recent ‘trilogy’ was what destroyed the credibility of the series:

The prospect of a Disneyfied Star Wars would have appalled me 15 years ago. The thought of that corporate giant getting its weird three-fingered hands on the beloved space stories of my childhood would have seemed like sacrilege. Since then, of course, Jesus has desecrated his own altar and then set up as a money-changer in his own temple. And if you think that’s a hyperbolic way of describing the fact that George Lucas made three disappointing sci-fi films, you need to get online more.

Read the full article here.

Mitchell continues to describe how, creatively, Lucas held onto the franchise for an exceptionally long time before passing it to Disney. Who knows what the consequences would’ve been if Disney took the franchise in the eighties…

The James Bond comparison is apt and perfect – and what an exciting prospect. Despite David Mitchell’s opinion on Skyfall, I would like to add how fascinating a franchise that spans five decades truly is. My own fascination with James Bond is due to how the series equally manages to adapt and change depending on the current climate in action films. Moonraker liberally borrowing from the sci-fi craze of the late 70s and the recent ‘revamp’ owes a huge amount to the seriousness of Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity. The same social context surrounds the Star Wars films too – The Searchers inspiring A New Hope, whilst Raiders of the Lost Ark inspired Return of the Jedi. In the recent films, The Fifth Element, Gladiator and The Matrix inspired Attack of the Clones. I can only imagine how science fiction films such as Looper and Inception could inspire a new Star Wars trilogy.

The one element I think is completely ridiculous is the assumption that the series should be placed on a shelf and remain untouched. As if the Star Wars series was ever in some holy, hallowed place that rarely sold out. You could argue that the foundations of the series itself, even in 1977, was built upon George Lucas’ genius of maintaining all rights to the toys and merchandise. There is a side to me which would like to imagine that films are left alone, but when so much money is involved (and, to some extent, a series has already sold itself out by the creation of sequels and remakes) there is no surprise that Hollywood – especially now – will milk a series for all its worth. That’s not to say that Star Wars shouldn’t be milked for all its worth – I believe it should be! As long as it is properly cared for and, like 007 and any other long-running series, the series can then continue until our appetite is gone. The reality is, we’re not talking about Casablanca 2 or a CGI-version of Charlie Chaplin. We are talking about a sequel to Avatar. We are talking about the next Marvel film and the new Batman film. It is inevitable – and I feel foolish for even thinking that it was all over in 2005.

But I did think it was all over. I bought the Blu-ray ‘Complete Saga’, assuming that was all I needed to buy (but Lucas knew at the time it wasn’t the complete saga – he discussed this at least a year ago before the release. That was probably the only reason he agreed to it!) I will obviously justify that it is a ‘Complete Saga’ – but only charting Lucas’ involvement. But, in terms of the new trilogy, I am excited as the people who will be hired to write the script, direct the film and create the films will be fans like me. As we all have, they have discussed at great length where the characters will go and they have fantasized about how beloved characters can be resurrected in an effective fashion. It’s sci-fi after all and stories can go anywhere – indeed, the current trend of nostalgia may introduce time-travel? Who knows. If there is any way to bring back Darth Maul, I’m supporting it (yes, I know he is in The Clone Wars … but I want to see him in live-action!).

On the plus side, there is no need for CGI versions of Luke. We can set Episodes VII, VIII and IX ’40 years  since the end of Return of the Jedi. Harrison Ford is old Han Solo, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher can return. We can have a new band of troops to lead the series. I’m glad it’s not over – and I’ll be in line to watch the ‘new series’. Imagine in 50 years, when we are all old and grey, and we talk about the highs-and-lows of the series? “I preferred the fourth trilogy – Episodes X, XI and XII” or “My Top 10 Sith Lords are…” and “My favourite lightsaber was the triple-rimmed one the Jedi had in Episode XIII“. Just imagine when the films creatively reference the previous films – talking mythically about the ‘history’ of Han Solo at his funeral in Episode XIV: Starfall. I simply cannot wait!

Simon Columb