George Lucas Built My Hot Rod

Making Wagner Look Like Some Victorian Opium Dream

…han and leia’s kids grow into bigger bastards than a gus van sant cast…lando macks on leia at bingo…in defense of jar jar and george george…scoundrelous privateer han solo synonymous with drag racer bob falfa…not 1977, linear narrative not required…a princess and her pureheart twinling, the moptop duke of skywalker reclaim amadala’s throne with le force and a tart tongue…check out those buns, laser brain!

 

The summer of my eleventh year I typed a ten-page sequel to The Empire Strikes Back, then pilfered my mother’s purse and went down to 7-11 to buy what they had left of the film’s trading cards, maybe twenty packs. When Return of the Jedi came out I saw the first showing, the first day, in a nearly empty theater. I listened endlessly to the soundtracks on LP and played light sabers with whiffle ball bats in the front yard. My friends and I had all the films memorized by the time we reached high school. We remain invested to this day, and if you’re reading this so do you.

The Star Wars franchise is an interstellar hot rod much like the Millennium Falcon. You know the ship I mean. She’s the fastest hunk o’ junk in the galaxy, the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. With its diesel whine and baling wire construction the Falcon is one of many hot rods in the Star Wars universe. She’s got it where it counts, kid, but sometimes just needs a good rap on the dash. Last month the franchise got such a persuasion.

The surprise announcement that George Lucas had sold Lucasfilm to Disney elicited the typical fanboy and girl responses of loathing and profound giddiness that accompany any major news from Skywalker Ranch. The four-billion-plus sale was the headline, but the real story was that there would be more feature Star Wars films.

One certainty is that George will not be in the director’s chair for anything but a board meeting. Creative consultant, fine. It’s his baby. Lucas understands two things well: Storytelling and car culture (see American Graffiti), and Star Wars is, and always will be, his hot rod.

If you aren’t adapting and improvising, you’re dead or fighting decay. Just ask Darwin or the Dude. New shit may come to light. Star Wars is the Sistine Chapel brought to life.

While we may be shareholders in the Lucasian dream, George or Disney can trick them out as much as they damn well please. The tauntaun-like cries of agony still echo about the Special Editions of the original trilogy. Episodes IV, V and VI in Disney’s hands will certainly continue to be stroked up even more than a Grateful Dead show.

We may argue for sentimental protection of a sacred work of art, but these films are alive, and life means change. If you aren’t adapting and improvising, you’re dead or fighting decay. Just ask Darwin or the Dude. New shit may come to light. Star Wars is the Sistine Chapel brought to life.

Quite a literate precedent would be Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Leaves existed in perpetual beta as Whitman’s singular life work, and he took the liberty to continually issue and reissue the same poems with edits and revisions until the final Deathbed Edition that unified the masterpiece. This dominion also gives a remarkable glimpse into the creative process of the poet, or in Lucas’ case, the filmmaker. Perhaps once the final films are complete there will be issued a sort of deathbed edition of the Star Wars cycle, a final, consistent telling of the tale.

The tease of new films opens a blast door of possibilities, the most titillating of which is that prominent members of the original cast could reprise their roles. One of disconcerts of Episodes I, II & III were the new faces and digital production stepping all over the fond memories of the original. The next installment of films, be it a third trilogy or a sextet, would undoubtedly bookend the originals with their overproduced look, but what if Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher returned as Han, Luke and Leia? Seeing the same faces that originally entranced (most of) us, yet older, wiser and battle-scarred, set against some post-Endor, high-def, 48fps, digital 3D, CGI is enough to make my light saber hard.

… the news of this cinematic peacock means Disney has a chance to expand Star Wars from its postmodern-astrophysical-dogfight iterations to a more Pulp Fictionist-deconstructionist-hypertextualist space opera …

There is the hope (a new one…har) we could see Han as a grizzled rogue-king, getting a chance to shoot Greedo’s offspring first, just wasting the plug-headed greenie without honor or negotiation the way Indiana Jones dispatched the market swordsman in Raiders. Perhaps Lucas had it in mind all along to have Greedo shoot first in the Mos Eisley cantina, only to have Han’s destiny fulfilled when Greedo’s offspring returns for revenge.

My mythological crystal ball and Lucas’ penchant for repeating lines in different contexts predicts Han will die in Episode VII, committing a selfless act, in Leia’s arms, uttering the immortal words as he gazes one last time into her eyes: “I love you,” to which she will reply…wait for it…”I know.” Not a dry eye in the house.

Some will prophesy another Jar Jar Binks fiasco, but get real; the hapless Binks was guilty of being nothing more than a poor Roger Rabbit imitation. Now he is Roger’s Disney brotha from anotha drutha, and the true space junk of the first trilogy is surely now accepted to be Hayden Christensen. You could dose a bantha with midi-chlorians and get more emotion.

Lucas himself may have the personality of water, but the man is not stupid, nor is he immortal. Not yet, anyway, but the news of this cinematic peacock means Disney has a chance to expand Star Wars from its postmodern-astrophysical-dogfight iterations to a more Pulp Fictionist-deconstructionist-hypertextualist space opera, and make Wagner look like some Victorian opium dream.

We need only reference Tolkien or Wagner’s oft-cited Ring Cycle to clue in to new plot points, but search your feelings, you know it to be true: Lucas and the Disney Empire will continue to soup up, trick out, beef up and rag out our collective hot rod as a work in progress until the moisture evaporators run dry. It is the only way.

That said, who the hell got to keep the Millennium Falcon?

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