Did you think that George Lucas would simply fade off into obscurity after selling his Lucasfilm dynasty to Disney and handing the reigns of the ‘Star Wars’ franchise to J.J. Abrams? These days, the former mogul can be found lecturing film students against doing the very things he built his entire career and multi-billion-dollar empire doing. Does this make him a hypocrite, or just one of the least self-aware people in the world?
“Don’t forget the basics. Don’t get enamored with new technology, because it’s not new. Just the medium we’re working in is new, but that doesn’t change anything. The art of what we do is exactly the same. It’s beyond technology. It’s the art of movies.”
So says the man who made the technology-driven, story-lacking ‘Star Wars’ prequels, and who repeatedly defaced his older, more beloved movies to update them with the latest in whizbang CG gimmicks while tossing the original, historically significant versions in a trash can. Few filmmakers in the history of cinema have been so enamored with new technology as George Lucas.
This statement was made last week at Lucas’ alma mater, the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Last year at the same location, he and pal Steven Spielberg – pioneers of the mega-budget blockbuster – gave a speech warning Hollywood against making mega-budget blockbusters.
Ever since threatening to retire a couple of years ago, Lucas has claimed that he wants to devote the rest of his life to making “small, personal films” of greater artistic significance. The first of those, the cheesy $58 million action CG-fest ‘Red Tails‘, opened in the summer of 2012 to terrible reviews and tanked at the box office.
To give him some credit, the new speech was delivered on the occasion of George Lucas making a sizable endowment to the school. Upon closing the Lucasfilm sale to Disney, he also donated $4 billion to education. It’s kind of hard to hate a guy who would do something like that, even if he insists on desecrating the cultural legacy of the art he created.