The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, May 20, 2005

Revenge of the Sith (2005)

It's late.  I have to get up early, and I'll be gone all weekend. But I wanted to get my basic thoughts down now.  My thought is this: George Lucas is one of the most phenomenal storytellers in human history.  Yes, the films are often stilted in dialogue, and there seems an adolescent aura around his character's sexuality, and an over-enthusiasm for pretty visuals at the expense of genuine character development.  Offhand, know a dozen writers who could have done a better job with the script, especially if Lucas had handed them an outline to work from.  But you know what?  None of that matters.  I don't know of another human being who could have done what he did.  Peter Jackson, making the superior "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, did not produce an equivilent creative act--he did not create the story. This act of creativity, carried out over almost 30 years, is almost unprecedented, and I think people should chill out and realize that this guy didn't create, say, six novels over thirty years--he also directed, produced, and created a special effects studio that could bring the images to life.  For anyone who has worked even tangentially in the industry, to understand the amount of work, the wide variety of skills, the ability to organize people, to manage a multi-billion dollar empire that was necessary to, in essence, make these the largest independant films ever made, to direct four of them himself (it is easily arguable that the best of all of them was directed and written by someone else, yes) but exactly who in film history do you compare him to?  And what original dramatic and visual composition do you compare it to?  This was the great original myth cycle of the last half of the 20th century.   It opened the door to entirely new ways to conceptualize entertainment...not always to the positive, to be sure.  It might have been the first truly international myth, embracing more human archtypes than any other single myth I can think of.  For all of its flaws, Revenge of the Sith links all of this together.  Lucas, and Star Wars, have my respect.  A perfect movie?  Hell, no.  Was it as good as it might have been?  Probably not--if Lucas had let other writers and directors in there to do their stuff.  But people, let me tell you--the mind that can create something like this would have a very hard time letting go.  This man is the real deal.  Don't for a second think he created this out of greed.  No one can sustain greed as a motivation over this period of time.  Lotsa people have tried to use the Star Wars "formula".   They have all disappeared.  This was a labor of love in the very realest sense.  Lucas is an extraordinarily impressive human being, and we need to acknowledge that. 
When I get back, maybe I'll criticize some stuff, or at least look at it more closely.  Right now I'm grinning.  Imperfect, yes, but still a B+, (I'd give PHANTOM MENACE a C, and ATTACK OF THE CLONES a B-) but I'd give the six STAR WARS films, as a whole, a resounding A.  We won't see something like this again in our lifetimes.  Thirty years.  Damn.

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