Star Wars is a mythological, psychological movie, not art or a demo of special effects,
said its creator, George Lucas. "It’s quite complex with several levels at work,
and especially a lot of humanity in the characters, even the robots. It’s really
conservative, even old fashioned."
"because of the pool of talented actors and crew
Lucas was describing some of the deeper aspects of Star Wars at last week’s screen
production conference, his visit coinciding with the announcement that he is shooting two
of the three star wars prequels in Australia starting next year. It’s not just
because of Fox Studios, he said ("we could shoot it in a converted warehouse like
we’ve done before") but because of the pool of talented actors and crew
available. He also likes the social atmosphere; he describes Australia as "the least
foreign place" he’s ever been outside America.
Remarking that very few people had dealt with these aspects in their response to Star
Wars (see left), Lucas said he really made it along the lines of a silent movie.
"That’s why so many very young people can connect with it. It’s visual
storytelling. It really is Eisensteinian," he said in reference to the great Russian
filmmaking pioneer, "using film grammar as music grammar; it uses sound as music. I
think the way to learn filmmaking skills is to make silent films. Words can dilute the power of the graphic storytelling process. "
"drew on history, mythology and psychology to develop
the major themes"
He drew on history, mythology and psychology to develop the major themes of Star Wars,
dealing with the nobler human attributes.
The Empire Strikes Back, he said, was written during the Vietnam war; "it is NOT a
metaphor for Hollywood, as some have suggested." He said his writing was influenced
by the times; a powerful, technologically advanced society at war with a smaller society.
Lucas says he had stepped aside from directing for a while because he needed time to do
other things – including spending time with his family- and to concentrate on other
businesses: he has five corporations to run, including the famed Industrail Light and
"Lucas...'probably' will direct the two Star Wars
But he "probably" will direct the two Star Wars prequels.
He spoke of his years at film school, at University of Southern California: "I
didn’t know anything about filmmaking before. I was interested in art and
photography. I transferred to film thinking I’d do photography. There, I learnt
things through exposure to films and filmakers – it was very powerful for me. There
was a creative competition: watch this, I’ll blow you away. But we’d be very
supportive of each other professionally."
Lucas, Saul Zaents and Steven Spielberg (pic), all based in San Fransisco, all came through
the film school system and all achieved being independent of Hollywood financially, he
said. "You can make films outside the Hollywood system but you still need them for
distribution. It’s only if they get involved in the production that things go wrong
He said the biggest problem is "the corporate culture which means a large middle
management group gets into the filmmaking process, who know very little about it. They can
only copy other people and they tend to destroy movies. Odd movies, like American Graffiti
was or even Star Wars (which was hard to get financed even then) couldn’t be made in
the Hollywood system now.
"the better movies aren’t the ones making
"Yet some of the films being made now are excellent. In aggregate, Hollywood is
making better movies – but the better movies aren’t the ones making money.
People, not the filmmakers, decide what they want to see."
Lucas stressed the importance of big movies, like Titanic, to succeed; "it enables
Hollywood to take a chance on independent films."