30 October 2012

Star Wars Rights Sold (It's a Good Thing)

I should be catching up on a boat load of grading, but this news is too big, and too close to my heart to not rant about it somewhere. I just heard from multiple sources (fellow nerds) about this news that, for all intensive purposes, means Star Wars can be expanded, remade, rewritten, and more.

I'm no George Lucas basher nor adorer, but I think this is fantastic news for three reasons.

Reason #1: New Interpretations
I was seriously worried that George Lucas would make sure no one could ever get their hands on the Star Wars franchise. Not that I hate Lucas' versions, but that I want the universe to be explored through other visions.

I used to feel like there had to be a single definitive version of every story. That was it. If a movie was ever remade, they either had to do it better or not do it at all, because there's no room for two. But, thanks to Christopher Nolan, I've changed my mind. When I was young, the definitive version of Batman was the one with Val Kilmer. It's fairly laughable now, but I loved it back then. When Batman Begins came out, I thought it was a prequel to that series. I didn't realize it was a completely separate vision. Christopher Nolan looked at characters and stories from a modern perspective, cleverly adapting them to more realistic roles. It doesn't mean it's the new definitive version (even though it is), it's just a contemporary one. 20 years or fewer down the road maybe another director will interpret the story, and it could be better or worse or just different. And that's ok.

George Lucas might be to blame for my original philosophy of "one definitive version" because he kept tweaking the original series rather than just remaking them. And if and when they are remade, they need to completely remake them. Re-imagine the characters, motives, origins, while still maintaining their identity. Star Wars was the space opera of the late 20th century. The prequels were the space opera of the early 21st century. Now it's perfectly alright for a new version to come out.

Reason #2: The Universe Is Just Too Good
Regardless of how I feel about the movies themselves, I'm going to plainly state as fact that the Star Wars universe is the best space universe of all time. It IS the definitive space universe. Star Wars is better than Star Trek, Alien, Battlestar Galactica, and all the others. It's accessible, and it has the ideal blend of science fiction and fantasy.

This universe cannot and should not be limited to those six movies. Sure, there are plenty of books out there, video games, and cartoons, but movies are the prime art of the present day and this universe needs more movies to explore it.

Reason #3: George Lucas: Creator
George Lucas is the creator of this universe that I could gush about for hours, and the six movies he made are pretty good. But he just needs to let them go. The creator can rarely be the perfecter, if that makes any sense. Xerox came up with the Graphical User Interface; Apple put it to better use. Ford didn't invent the internal combustion engine or the car, but he came up with a way to manufacture it efficiently. Christopher Nolan didn't create the Batman character or world, but he sure made it a lot better.

There are probably three whole generations of Star Wars fans out there, and among them is a director or writer that will stand on the shoulders of George Lucas and create something even better using this glorious universe.

As I originally said, I'm no George Lucas hater. But I would have been had he locked up his universe for no one to ever touch.

I suppose all three of my reasons are really the same reason. But to conclude this rabid fan rant, let me use the example of David. The story of David and Goliath is one of the most powerful stories in the Bible because it's almost like the original underdog story. We all, at some point in our lives, feel like small, young David going up against the gigantic, powerful, professional soldier Goliath.

Donatello's, Michelangelo's, and Bernini's versions of David.
Donatello, Michelangelo, and Bernini each sculpted David in his own time, and the artist's time was reflected in his sculpture. As my Humanities professor said, Donatello's David doesn't look like he could really kill Goliath, Michelangelo's David could kill Goliath, but is only considering it, and Bernini's David is currently in the act of killing Goliath. Each sculpture is great in its own interpretation, and neither detracts from the other. Had Bernini simply carved David in the same pose as Michelangelo, it would have been a total failure, but Bernini took a totally different approach to the same character.

This is what I'm hoping with Star Wars. George Lucas' Star Wars is like Michelangelo's David. Many will consider it the definitive version. But someone else will be Star Wars' Bernini (what's Christopher Nolan doing these days? Superman? Robin?), and approach the universe and story in a totally different way, and both versions will exist in harmony.

And, there are probably thousands of David sculptures elsewhere that simply aren't memorable. That has happened with the Star Wars universe before, and probably will happen again. No worries. They'll be ignored and eventually forgotten. I'll just wait patiently.

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