Participating in a Star Wars movie seems to be quite the liberating experience — after the fact. If there is one actor associated with any portion of this enormous franchise who has not, once all the receipts have been tallied, talked trash about their installation into the franchise firmament I’ve yet to make their acquaintance.1
And I don’t mean to make that sound like a bad thing — it’s just remarkable, is all. Any of these principals walking off any other project will smile and deliver the Entertainment Tonight talking points: “Such an incredible experience!” “I think what we did here was unique.” “It was a dream to work with these people!” etc. With Star Wars we get Carrie Fisher saying things like, “George Lucas ruined my life,” and we still feel like she’s holding back.2
Over at Mel Magazine Tim Grierson surveys the post-production fallout and flat-out declares what seems to be the niggling thought in the brain of every Star Wars fan: The New ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy Wasn’t Worth It.
He makes a compelling case — and I am 100% in that group of viewers disappointed by the sidelining of every single POC character, putting the emphasis on a Rey and Ren storyline of dubious value. But does it render the entire exercise null and void?
Here’s an alternative possibility — since we’re still talking about it four years later, maybe people will come around on The Last Jedi. And maybe that will generate storylines people want to see.
Though, honestly, what do I know? At this point I am forced to admit I am completely out-of-step with what Kids These Days expect from the SWU. For instance, it seems universally accepted that Solo was a well-deserved failure. I disagree. It had its weaknesses — binning the entire first act would have improved the film immeasurably — but to my eyes it still rates as the most entertaining SWU flick since The Empire Strikes Back. But I repeat myself.
In other SWU related reveries, I bought J.W. Rinzler’s The Making Of The Empire Strikes Back.
Why, you wonder? And why so late? Well ... the Kindle version had been on my Amazon wishlist since its release. (Long pause.) If I had had the remotest inkling that the window would close on the Kindle purchase ... well, I now have my regrets.
I don’t exactly regret purchasing the book, however. It is a pleasure to read, narratively taut, gossipy where it needs to be, and super-informative. Lovely pictures, of course. But wow it’s a monster. And I don’t need that.
Anyway, it will be a snap to finish. And already it has disabused me of a conviction I’ve held for decades: that pulp writer extraordinaire Leigh Brackett was almost solely responsible for what worked in the story. Rinzler makes it very clear, with physical evidence, that Brackett’s influence on the final script of TESB could best be quantified in the negative. She wrote the first draft, which Lucas then utterly covered with red ink. Lucas definitely knew what he did not want to see, and this script was largely it. Indeed, reading the pages provided I wondered if she’d even seen the earlier movie. An unlikely possibility — and an uncharitable thought. Unbeknownst to the Lucasfilm bunch Brackett was in an advanced state of Stage 4. That she was able to hammer out a cogent script at all indicates a heroic intensity of focus.
When she died before rewrite, Lucas took over. And what we see is a remarkable convergence of his script with director Irvin Kershner’s invitational attitude toward his actors’ ideas — aided by uncountable others who threw in their best to make the film be what Lucas, and we, needed it to be.
1 Although, now that I think of it, Ewan McGregor has been a remarkably magnanimous statesman for the SWU.↩
2 My favourite response from the current principals is Oscar Isaac, saying the only way he’ll ever re-enter the SWU is “if I need to buy another house or something.”↩