During the rounds for his Kennedy Center Honors in December, Star Wars mastermind/grandfather George Lucas gave the backhanded compliment of a lifetime when asked if he liked director J.J. Abrams’ new installment of the saga, The Force Awakens. Instead of offering his support for Abrams and new Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy’s stewardship of the saga, Lucas said of the movie, “I think the fans are going to love it,” and, “It’s very much the kind of movie they’ve been looking for.” Uh … thanks? It was a telling moment, but Lucas gracefully didn’t elaborate publicly. Till now.
During an interview with Charlie Rose that aired on Christmas day, Lucas opined about The Force Awakens as if selling Star Wars for $4 billion was something akin to divorce. “When you break up with somebody the first rule is no phone calls. The second rule is you don’t go over to their house and drive by to see what they’re doing. The third rule is you don’t show up at their coffee shop or their thing, you just say, ‘Nope, gone, history. I’m moving forward.’” Without sensing the irony of what he’s saying, Lucas then likened Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars to “white slavers” before trailing off, probably because he realized he’d just used the phrase “white slavers.”
Lucas then goes on to say he decided to sell his company mostly because his cinematic interests changed and that he wanted to focus on making experimental films, something he’s promised for nearly 40 years but still hasn’t done.
He also criticized the filmmakers behind The Force Awakens for basically ripping off what he did with the original 1977 Star Wars movie. “They wanted to do a retro movie,” he explained. “I don’t like that. Every movie, I worked very hard to make them different, make them completely different with different planets, different spaceships, to make it new.”
What started as a sort of playful passing of the torch has devolved into something more bitter. The clues were there. Check out Lucas’ reaction when Jurassic World producer (and Kathleen Kennedy’s husband) Frank Marshall tried to joke about the new Star Wars movie dethroning JW’s box office supremacy:
Despite the soft reboot idea being a fairly true and understandable critique, the entire interview just seems like sour grapes on Lucas’ part; a kind of backwards postpartum depression. Make no bones about it, George Lucas is a genius, but lashing out like this is video proof of a rich old man learning Star Wars is humming right along without him. That ex he doesn’t call is, in fact, loving life.
Lucas may not get it, but the fans do.
Should we really care what George Lucas thinks about Star Wars anymore? It belongs to a new generation of filmmakers, and yet we wouldn’t be here without him and his soap opera in space. The influence of George Lucas to contemporary blockbuster filmmaking is immeasurable, but for now he should at least admit that the Force isn’t strong with him anymore. If you love a thing, George, do it a favor and let it go.