In praise of Star Wars Rebels

I'm changing the name of this blog, and #WeWantLeia is why

I spoil it for Siri

Guest Post: How I came back to Star Wars action figures by YASWB

Beatrice and I watch Star Wars together

[Review] William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher 

Star Wars oil painting exhibit "Sandstorm" opens

Breakneck boredom: an old time Star Wars fan's thoughts on Star Trek Into Darkness

They put me on the news to talk about Star Wars

More from Steve Sansweet on Star Wars and gay marriage

Carmine Infantio has died

I can die happy: I've been interviewed by Dungeons & Dragons

Star Wars Episode 7: All My Children?

What JJ Abrams needs to really succeed with Star Wars 7

Star Wars: The Old Republic is gay--on one planet at least

Tongal and Pringles bring us DYI desecration of Star Wars

Reminiscences about West End Games' Star Wars Roleplaying Game

Here's the biggest Star Wars news of 2012

Stephen Quinn interviews me about Star Wars on CBC Vancouver

Star Wars: modern myth or global franchise?

Parents turn child's 1st birthday into extended Lucasfilm/Hasbro advert

Me reading from A Long Time Ago

Highlights and lowlights of the upcoming Star Wars Celebration VI

Grown men (mostly) dressed up as Lando Calrissian

Beggar's Canyon Toys offer Star Wars toy "restoration" service

Blog's t-shirts banned by Zazzle

Will the real David Prowse please stand up?

LaserSaber: Unlicensed, dangerous and yours for only $99

Is this the future of Star Wars?

Is Star Wars link bait?

Dissent not tolerated at the Prequel Appreciation Society

TSOT discovers its nemesis

Comme des idiots: Star Wars teams up with poncy fashion house

US Christian activist attacks SWTOR for being gay

Yodaphone--the latest product pitch from Star Wars Inc.

Attention tortoise-fanciers: do you like Star Wars?

History of Star Wars as related by a bot

Is Star Wars a travesty of science fiction?

Luke Skywalker and company on the Muppet Show

Yoda now shilling instant soup in Japan

Commander who?

$6000 for a toy you can't even play with

Star Wars underwear

Retro Star Wars decor in my son's bedroom

Phantom Menace 3D: Now With Plot

Star Wars and disco: the forgotten love affair

Will Muschamp: What a guy!

Oi, fanboy: grow up! A reply to Darren Franich


aaction figures aboriginal action figures admiral ackbar Advertising Afghanistan ai alderaan Alec Guiness amazon Apple Architecture artoo Arts and crafts atari AT-AT a-team AT-ST auction Australia AV Club bad feeling bar mitzvah Beatrice bedding beeb Ben Affleck bib fortuna birds birthdays blogs bloopers blu-ray Boba Fett Boing Boing Bonnie Burton Books boxing Bryzgalov bullying Burger King burlesque c-3po calgary herald Canada candles candy cantina Carmine Infantino carrie fisher cars cartoon cell phones Chewbacca China Chris Woods christmas Clone Wars Clothing & Fashion cocktails coffee cold war Colin Mochrie Collectibles Comics comics conspiracy copy red leader copyright corrupting youth Cory Doctorow costumes Crime cufflinks Culture Cyndi Lauper D&D dark horse Darth Vader darwin Dave Banks david prowse ddark horse death star deathstarpr diapers diary Dick Cheney dinosaur comics Disco Disney diy documentaries doll Dr Seuss dr. who dresses droids early bird easter egg eBay eepisode 7 effects elstree Empire Empire Uncut Endor episode 7 etsy Events ewoks expanded universe extras Ezra fanboys father first viewing Food food football Frozen Furnishings Games gamorrean guard Gary Gygax Gary Kurtz gawthrok geekdad geeks gene siskel George Lucas gifts graffiti Grand Moff Tarkin Greedo Grenadier growing up Halloween han solo Han Solo harmonica harrison ford Hasbro helmet high definition hockey holidays hologram homophobia honeymoon Hot Problems humour Humour Hygiene Ian Doescher iron-on transfers izzard jabba james last Jamie Benning jar jar jawas jaxxon jedi Jefferson Starship Jesus jewellery JJ Abrams john booth john williams Joseph Campbell judaism jumping the shark Kanan kari maaren kdp Kelowna Kenner kids Kobo Lando Calrissian language laundry Law Lawrence Kasdan Lego leigh brackett Life Day lightsabers lincoln little free library lollipops Los Angeles Times louvre luke Malaysia mark hamill marvel masers may the fourth Mayfair Theatre Meco memes michael arndt middle ages midichlorians millennium falcon miniatures Minnesota mMy book Mona Lisa money montreal canadiens Movies Music My book myth nasa Navajo needlecraft nelson mandela New York New York Times New Zealand nostalgia obama Obi-Wan Kenobi Ottawa paedophilia pants Parenting pee Pen-Mar Penticton Peter Cushing pets Pets physics plasticine please stop Politics porkins porn posters pranks prequelitis Prequels prequels Princess Leia princess leia pringles prop psa pulp novels puppetry purim pussy riot quotes R2-D2 radio ralph mcquarrie ratherchildish reddit Relationships Religion reviews Rick McCallum right on brother Rob Lang roger ebert RPGs rumours Sam Witwer san francisco sandcrawler Sandstorm Science & Tech science fiction Scribd sculpture sellout shakespeare shoes silence sillof siri smells snowspeeder sorry Spaceballs special editions speeder bike sperm Sports star trek Star Wars Celebration star wars detours Star Wars Holiday Special star wars logo Star Wars Rebels star wars rebels Star Wars Uncut Star Wars Uncut Starlog starwarsremix steve nash Steven Sansweet stormtroopers stupidity tattoo tauntaun Tel Aviv Television terrariums The Board of Education The Emperor the force The Muppets thermal detonator Threepio Threepio TIE fighter toilet Topps tortoises Toys tractor beam trading cards trailer tuna tupac Turkey twitter underwear USSR vader valentine's day vancouver violin Volkswagen wales wampa Warwick Davis watermelon wedding West End westerns Whedon William Wordsworth wired women and girls wtf wygant xkcd x-wing yaswb yoda yoga zazzle

Entries in George Lucas (21)


John Stark describes the first screening of Star Wars

On 1 May 1977, John Stark attended a preliminary screening of a new "sci-fi" film called Star Wars. He sat behind the director, George Lucas. Stark retells the story wonderfully on Business Insider: 

At the end of the film the audience went ballistic. They couldn't stop applauding. I watched Lucas slump in his seat, overwhelmed, as if he’d just outrun the Death Star’s super laser. Attendants tried to collect the preview cards, but nobody was filling them out. There was no need.

(I later read that Fox President Alan Ladd Jr. had flown in from Hollywood for the screening and that he was moved to tears. He had green-lighted the film two years earlier and his reputation was on the line.)

The next day at work I tried to describe to my colleagues what I had just seen. I told them about The Force, Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, the cantina on Tatooine. “Star Wars is going to be The Wizard of Oz of our generation,” I proclaimed. They thought I had lost my mind. I shut up.

Follow the link for more. It's a great read.

Business Insider: What It Was Like To Watch The First Screening of 'Star Wars' With George Lucas


Terrific Businessweek article on how Disney bought Star Wars

Here's a taste but follow the link for more--including Lucas's confirmation of what we already knew about Ford, Hamill and Fisher:

Lucas released Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 1999. Combined, the three films in the second trilogy would gross $2.5 billion, but many fans thought they were a mess. They were particularly appalled by the bumbling Jar Jar Binks from the planet Naboo, a creature with an inexplicable Jamaican accent who became the butt of jokes on South Park and The Simpsons.

The criticism got to Lucas. He found it difficult to be creative when people were calling him a jerk. “It was fine before the Internet,” he says. “But now with the Internet, it’s gotten very vicious and very personal. You just say, ‘Why do I need to do this?’ ” At the same time, Lucas was reluctant to entrust his universe to anyone else. “I think he felt like he was a prisoner of Star Wars, and that only intensified over the years,” says Dale Pollock, author of Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas.

Meanwhile, Iger continued to rise at ABC. After Disney bought the network in 1996, Iger became Disney Chairman Michael Eisner’s heir apparent. For nearly a decade, Iger remained in the shadow of his overbearing mentor. But, by 2005, Disney was in trouble. Its once-powerful animation department hadn’t had a hit in years, and the combative Eisner had alienated many shareholders. Disney’s board asked Iger to take over. He was widely underestimated at the time—including by this magazine, which described him as a “bland, scripted CEO” whom no one would call “a big strategic thinker."

Bloomberg Businessweek: How Disney Bought Lucasfilm--and Its Plans for 'Star Wars'


George Lucas in Love

Wikipedia says this short film was made in 1999 and won an Official Star Wars Fan Film award in 2004, so it will no doubt be old news to many of you. But I had never seen it before. It's an amusing homage to both Star Wars and Shakespeare in Love, with a funny twist at the end. 


Star Wars: modern myth or global franchise? 

Yesterday's announcement that Disney had acquired Lucasfilm and was preparing at least three more Star Wars films (episodes 7, 8 and 9) surprised me only for one reason: it was so soon. Let me explain. 

I started writing my Star Wars memoir, A Long TIme Ago, about two years ago. Before that time, Star Wars was not something I spent much time thinking about anymore. I had fond memories of the old Star Wars and bitter recollections of the prequels, but by 2010 the last prequel was five years back and my Star Wars days were well behind me. Then, in July of last year, I started this blog, partly as a way to gather my thoughts for the book and partly as a means of building an audience for it. 

If writing immersed me in the Star Wars of my childhood, blogging flooded me with the Star Wars of today--the Star Wars of the prequels, the Clone Wars, the video games I don't play, the Expanded Universe I don't follow--a kind of Star Wars I was largely unfamiliar with and totally unimpressed by. The sheer volume of this new sort of Star Wars was a revelation to me. Every day, or at least every weekday, there seemed to be some new book published or game released or toy launched or licensing agreement inked. Most of these announcements left me cold, for this is mainly a blog about Star Wars's youth (and my own). But though Star Wars was a nostalgic indulgence for me, it became starkly obvious that for a large--and increasing?--number of fans, Star Wars was not three movies that came out 30 years ago. It was the prequels, the Clone Wars TV show, the Dark Horse comics, the dozens of video games, the Expanded Universe novels, the tasteless merchandising and more. 

This discovery was not a happy one for me. The fantasy world I felt so at home in as a ten-year-old felt foreign today. But as I got over the initial shock, I had a realization: Star Wars was far from over. It would likely go on for that part of forever that I can hope to pay any attention to, say until about 2060, and quite possibly beyond. In particular, I realized that more Star Wars films were inevitable.

What surprised me about yesterday's announcement, then, was not that more Star Wars films are coming. I felt certain of that already. What surprised me was how soon the new films were coming. I had not expected any more films in George Lucas's lifetime. But here comes the next one, only three short years away.

Does that sound familiar? Of course it does. But there is a world of difference between today and 1977 or 1980. This time around, we cannot expect an Empire Strikes Back or even a Return of the Jedi, because Star Wars is no longer a single story told in three parts by a single (if heavily supported) storyteller. Star Wars is no longer a story at all, but a $4 billion asset of a publicly traded company. Star Wars today is not a story but a brand, and new on-brand content will be generated as predictably as Coca-Cola is bottled or Olympic games are held or Nike shoes are manufactured. Yesterday's announcement was very clear that Episodes 7-9 are only the beginning of this latest Star Wars relaunch:

Backed by the global reach and brand stewardship strengths of Disney, the future of Star Wars is now under the direction of acclaimed film producer and studio executive Kathleen Kennedy, co-chairman of Lucasfilm. Kennedy and Disney plan a slate of new Star Wars feature films, beginning with the long-awaited Star Wars: Episode VII, targeted for release in 2015, followed by Episodes VIII and IX. Additional feature films are expected to continue the saga and grow the franchise well into the future.


The acquisition combines two highly compatible family entertainment brands, and strengthens the long-standing beneficial relationship between them that includes successful integration of Star Wars content into Disney theme parks in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris and Tokyo.

Does this mean there will never be another good Star Wars film? Not necessarily. There are a lot of talented filmmakers in the world today who grew up as mad about Star Wars as I did. (Joss Whedon Joss Whedon oh please Joss Whedon.) And there is a lot of room in the original Star Wars story for further development. Lando Calrissian, Han Solo and Grand Moff Tarkin all come to mind as characters--real characters, not extras in costumes like Boba Fett--about whom more could be told. If Star Wars's new owners are brave enough to ignore the prequels, the Expanded Universe and all the canonicity nonsense of Lucasfilm nerds, some wonderful creations could be on the horizon. 

But there are bound to be missteps along the way. Probably even complete flops. And even if Disney produces nothing but brilliant Star Wars films for the rest of my days, something will have been lost. If, before yesterday, there was any doubt that Star Wars was now merely a content reservoir from which to dip when marketing new products, that doubt has been removed. For all his frailties, George Lucas was the creative genius behind the modern myth that was the original Star Wars trilogy. Starting now, Disney's Lucasfilm division is headed not by a creative genius but by a "brand manager" who (to quote again from the press release) will work "directly with Disney's global lines of business to build, further integrate, and maximize the value of this global franchise." 

People don't write loving memoirs about global franchises, do they?


If George Lucas planned the prequels on Facebook

There's more, and it's good. Follow the link to read the rest.

Dorkly: If George Lucas planned the Star Wars prequesl on Facebook


The decline of genius: this is what happened to the Star Wars you used to know

This Teddie Films parody of the Gotye hit "Somebody That I Used To Know" reprises themes taken up by critics, bloggers and moviegoers constantly since the release of the first Star Wars prequel in 1999. The song is catchy, the video is well-done, and the sentiment is the premise of this whole blog. So why do I feel so ambivalent towards it? 

When, nearly two years ago now, I decided to write a book about Star Wars (out now), the outline I prepared followed the six films: 1977, 1980, 1983, 1999, 2002, 2005. I imagined that I would tackle each of the prequels separately, explaining in detail my objections to them and the disappointment they engendered in me. Being of an especially linear turn of mind, I started writing from the beginning. I spent months reflecting and reminiscing on the original three films. I watched them again. I watched documentaries featuring Lucas in his prime: a thoughtful, well-spoken young man--younger than I am now--who had accomplished so much so soon. I came to regard him as something more than a wildly successful filmmaker. I realized he was a genius.

A genius, in case we have all forgotten, is not the guy you take your Macbook to when the trackpad fails. The dictionary will tell you that a genius is a person of exceptional intellectual or creative power, but I do not find that definition very satisfying. There are, in my experience, a surprisingly large number of exceptionally powerful intellects and artists in the world. What is missing from this definition of genius is the element of synchronicity: the pairing of the genius's natural ability with the period he or she lives in. Historically significant geniuses match their talent to their time, catching it like a surfer riding a wave.

But time can also be the genius's enemy. A typical pattern of genius, it seems, is to flower in youth then decay for years after, unless preempted by a young death. The English romantic poet William Wordsworth is one of the more famous examples of an artist widely considered to have outlived the apex of his abilities by decades, dying a much diminished figure. 

When I came to the part of my manuscript which, according to the outline I had prepared a year earlier, called for an extensive treatment of each of the three prequels, I had lost all appetite for the work. I no longer had any wish to vent my fury at George Lucas for three chapters. The year I had spent writing about the original trilogy and its effect on my boyhood had reawakened my respect for Lucas, even my gratitude towards him. Besides, heaping more criticism on the prequels felt like pouring water on a drowning man.

Lucas, I concluded, is a Wordsworthian figure: a genius who exhaused his talent in youth and went on to outlive it by decades. The answer to Teddie Films' question, "What happened to the Star Wars that I used to know?" is that the genius that fired it in the 1970s flamed out long ago. George Lucas remains, but the moment in which his prodigious talent matched his time has passed. 

Outliving one's genius must have been rather easier in nineteenth century Britain than it is in twenty-first century America. Wordsworth retired with the title of poet laureate and a state pension. He did not have to contend with near-constant reminders of his decline generated by YouTube, bloggers and other internet-enabled critics. Lucas does. As frustrating as I find him now, with his seeming determination to undermine his own masterpieces by ill-conceived corrections and additions (what Steve Martin calls 'deprovements'), I cannot help but feel for him. 

I abandoned my outline. There was little to be gained by arguing at length for a proposition that was obviously true, namely that the prequels represented George Lucas's decline. Now the prequels form a single chapter in my book, together with the special editions which were the canary in Lucas's coal mine. Frustration and disappointment are the inevitable themes of this chapter, but I have tried not to dwell on them more than necessary to be faithful to the story. 

When, nearly a week ago, I had a chance to post the Teddie Films parody on this blog--about two days before every other blog on the internet had it--I couldn't bring myself to do it. I thought of Wordsworth, reduced but dignified with his title and pension. Then I thought of Lucas, beseiged by bloggers and viral videos, being called a sell-out by people who are themselves trying to make money off the accusation through YouTube advertising. George Lucas's genius was real, and now it is gone. Instead of bemoaning its death (which I have certainly done on this blog before), I prefer now to celebrate its life.


Hero Complex interview with Lucas aged 39

The Hero Complex blog has pulled a 1983 interview with George Lucas out of the LA Times's archives. From the article:

Fans today can’t get enough of the imaginative universe George Lucas created, but in May of 1983, with “Jedi” finished and in theaters, a reflective Lucas seemed eager to put “Star Wars” behind him.

“There hasn’t really been one day in the last 10 years that I haven’t had to wake up in the morning and say, ‘God, I’ve got to worry about this movie,’ ” Lucas said in a 1983 story by Los Angeles Times reporter Dale Pollock, who interviewed  the filmmaker at his Marin County office. “Now I feel as if this huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders …. If I had to do it all over again, I’d have to think about it, especially if I knew what I was going to have to give up in order to get it.”

In the interview, pulled from Times archives, Lucas compared his “Star Wars” success (which amounted to some $70 million at the time) to being stuck on a speeder bike for 15 years, and he longed to touch ground, his films “finished and perfect,” and take some time off.

“The movie sort of grabbed me and threw me down and stomped on me,” said Lucas, then 39 (he turns 68 this month). “It’s like walking into the ring with Muhammad Ali without realizing what you’re doing. ‘Boxing? Sure, I punched around in college.’ But suddenly Ali is up against you. ‘Star Wars’ was the first punch — it knocked me across the ring and out the door and into the next field. I was stunned and knocked out cold and I still had to go 15 rounds. Well, now those 15 rounds are over, and I feel great. It’s like ‘Rocky’ — I survived it, but Muhammad is still the champion.”

LA Times Hero Complex: Star Wars Day memory: When George Lucas wasn't feeling the Force


Lucas confirms we were all greatly mistaken: Han *never* shot first

From an interview in The Hollywood Reporter:

THR: People can get fanatical about the movies — how does that make you feel? The puppet vs. CGI Yoda ruckus, and the who-shot-first, Han Solo or Greedo furor come to mind.

Lucas: Well, it’s not a religious event. I hate to tell people that. It’s a movie, just a movie. The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo [who seemed to be the one who shot first in the original] to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down.

Well, our mistake. Everyone who saw the movie, i.e. most people living in the free world in 1977, understood that Han had shot Greedo without provocation. But we were confused. In fact, though the film Lucas made showed us one thing that we all saw and understood the same way, something else altogether actually happened.

What Lucas seems to be saying is that a film is not the images and sound presented by the filmmaker to the public. Rather, a film is what the filmmaker later claims to have intended to have shown the public, whether he did in fact show it to the public or not. That is to say that the film has no independent existence; it lives only in George Lucas's mind.

The Hollywood Reporter: 5 Questions with George Lucas


Lucas letdown: southern Oregon's news source calls out the Phantom Menance

Perusing my copy of the Mail Tribune this morning ("Southern Oregon's News Source", in case you haven't heard), I came across Chris Conrad's take on the retirement of George Lucas and the re-release of the Phantom Menace. While it does not in any way qualify as news, it's nevertheless worth sharing:

I don't remember much about "Phantom Menace" the film. My recollections of that night veer toward the tactile experience of sitting in that packed theater with hundreds of "Star Wars" fans who were about to get their hearts burned right out of their chests, as if shot point-blank by a Clone Trooper's blaster.

I remember my heart soaring as the traditional "Star Wars" plot crawl began inching its way up the screen and into the firmament.

"Oh, man, this is gonna be good," I thought. "It's just how I remembered it as a kid."

My mouth broke into a dopey smile as John Williams' bombastic score pounded our ears.

That smile started its long, slow fade, and the initial rush subsided as I read the crawl, which included such information as:

"The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute.

"Hoping to resolve the matter with a blockade of deadly battleships, the greedy Trade Federation has stopped all shipping to the small planet of Naboo.

"While the congress of the Republic endlessly debates this alarming chain of events ... "

Trade Federation? Taxation? Congressional debates? When the hell did "Star Wars" take plot cues from C-SPAN, I thought?

I remember that moment so well: opening night, first showing, queued up for an hour to get in, waiting forever for the trailers to run and the show to start. Then the crash of Williams' score, the howl of joy from the crowd. The Star Wars logo appears again, for the first time in sixteen years. Excitement could not be higher. And then...the opening crawl. Trade routes? Taxes? I began to sink in my chair. Or was the chair sinking? It occurs to me, not for the first time but in a profound, unsettling way, that this film could be horrible.

Follow the link for Conrad's full piece. 'Star Wars' prequels are a Lucas letdown


Long NY Times piece on George Lucas

Head over to the New York Times for a long article on George Lucas. Mostly the story focuses on his new film, Red Tails, but there are some interesting comments from Lucas about Star Wars:

In the last decade and a half, Lucas has given “Star Wars” several “final” cuts. For the 1997 special edition, he made Greedo, a green-skinned alien, fire his blaster at Han Solo because Han’s murdering Greedo in cold blood — as the 1977 version had it — struck him as a violation of his own naïve style. For the new Blu-ray version of “Return of the Jedi,” Lucas added Darth Vader shouting, “Nooo!” as he seizes the evil emperor in the movie’s climactic scene. Lucas made the Ewoks blink. And so forth.

When fanboys wailed, Lucas did not just hear the scream of young Jedis; he heard something like the voice of the studio. The dumb, uncomprehending voice in his Socratic dialogues — a voice telling him how to make a blockbuster. “On the Internet, all those same guys that are complaining I made a change are completely changing the movie,” Lucas says, referring to fans who, like the dreaded studios, have done their own forcible re-edits. “I’m saying: ‘Fine. But my movie, with my name on it, that says I did it, needs to be the way I want it.’ ”

Lucas seized control of his movies from the studios only to discover that the fanboys could still give him script notes. “Why would I make any more,” Lucas says of the “Star Wars” movies, “when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?”

New York Times: George Lucas Is Ready to Roll the Credits