Firstly, if people enjoy the Prequel films then all power to them. It is pleasing that some people enjoyed these films. A younger generation of fans have now come through online: and the young kids who enjoyed them at the time are now grown up and want to talk about them and why they enjoyed them. Good for them.
But for those of us that didn’t enjoy them:
George seemed to forget the golden rule of making movies with the Prequels:
Show. Don’t tell.
Show: George should have done was delivered on what he promised - the story of a great man and his fall into darkness. Although The Phantom Menace is probably the best of the three films, but it served little purpose in the greater narrative. He could have centered the first two films on an intelligent, thoughtful but conflicted Jedi who was lured to the Dark Side. The third film would have then chronicled the crusade of a tortured, Vader who traveled the galaxy hunting down the remaining Jedi.
But instead George gave us something very different - the adventures of an annoying hot-shot child who got lucky in a repeat of a space battle seen twice before in previous Star Wars movies, who then started a toxic controlling relationship with the mother of Luke and Leia, and somehow inexplicably morphed into Vader. George also gave the audience countless contradictions to what had already been explained and established in the previous Original films.
When you consider what could have been, and probably should have been, it is difficult not to feel letdown. Disappointed. Frustrated. In need of a good Fan Edit or 50! 😃
Don’t Tell: Since the backlash on the Prequel films George, Lucasfilm and many Prequel fans has spent considerable time and effort to explain why the Prequel films were what they were, and that people who didn’t like them just didn’t understand them, or that in not liking the films they were being mean to him. Mental gymnastics is required to take George at his word, And that is a problem in itself - George had the opportunity to show us the films he later espoused about, but he didn’t. The quality, the heart, the thrill, the story, the talent, all in abundance in the Originals, just wasn’t there for the Prequels. The later explanations and attempts at reasoning why the Prequels weren’t widely liked mean little to the people who paid their ticket money on these much hyped and publicized films at the time, sat down to watch them, and left disappointed. Or people who just plain didn’t like them or thought they were “merely okay”. Or just don’t want to watch them again.
Licensed books, animated and live actions series trying to explain the contradictions and plot holes between the two trilogies really only serve to remind people how poor, lazy and incoherent the Prequel films were. Selective interviews from George with friendly journalists and pre-approved questions, more retcons, extensive PR campaigns, videos, blogs, articles - all trying to justify, explain, or give some reason why the Prequels were better than we think or remember, or that we just didn’t understand them - all fail in their purpose: to get more people to watch, like and appreciate these films.
Why would George and others who champion the Prequels think people who didn’t enjoy these films want to read articles and watch videos and so on, or have it explained to them they were somehow wrong not to like these films? Or that they didn’t understand them? It seems a waste of time and effort to me, and yes, we understood them perfectly fine, thank you. George would probably have more respect from fans if he was more honest, about his own shortcomings in approaching the Prequels and the films themselves. Answer the tough and hard questions, not avoid them. Sometimes films don’t work out - not every film is going to be a smash and that is okay. It is also okay to say you “got it wrong” or could have done it differently. Many of us would rather find other Star Wars content to enjoy, whether new games, books, comics series and films.
Enjoy what you like. Leave what you don’t enjoy behind.
There’s a great documentary about this from History Channel. It’s just the Prequels tend to get more unfairly treated because the media tended to propel the backlash to continue as they attacked Ahmed Best, Jake Lloyd, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, and Rick McCallum. They attacked George too. Why would they want to listen to people who are going to accuse them of being racists, poor actors, yes men, or out of touch mainly deprived from not giving fans what they want? You get nothing from attacking people personally. Instead that’s exactly what happened and still does with a different group. George did listen to critics but he also recognised most were circlejerking around the ideas of things that just weren’t true about him or his colleagues. Most critics tend to view the films from the view of what they wish had happened in the films versus the actual stories and understanding them for what they are. An artist is equally not obligated to tell you their intentions. Andrei Tarkovsky or even Stanley Kubrick never explained themselves. George doesn’t need to either.
“Many don’t understand the Prequels and even Original Trilogy for that matter.”
“racists, poor actors, yes men, or out of touch mainly deprived from not giving fans what they want? You get nothing from attacking people personally”, and “most critics were circlejerking”
WTF? I just don’t like the films. Like I said before many people just don’t like them too, and has nothing to do with what you listed above.
“Most critics tend to view the films from the view of what they wish had happened in the films versus the actual stories and understanding them for what they are.”
No, they don’t. Critics may offer possibilities and alternative scenarios sometime after - but they can also understand the actual films for what they are.
“Andrei Tarkovsky or even Stanley Kubrick never explained themselves. George doesn’t need to either.”
I completely agree, and said before George “doesn’t need to”, yet George continues to attempt to explain them, retcon them, and bridge them so many years afterwards? Again, show - don’t tell.
"What matters I think though is you try understanding the author’s intentions and how successfully they achieved what they set out to do." and “at least give things a chance from the filmmaker’s prospective instead of brushing them off off and thinking only about what you thought could’ve been better”
No. What matters is people making their own mind up if they enjoyed watching a series of films or not. Again, show - don’t tell.
If people decided they did not enjoy them, they do not need to be labelled or associated with, as you did above, as being inferior minded people, accusers of others being racist, people who personally attack others, or are people who don’t understand the Prequels, or other films. Yes, a minority of those toxic fans exist, but they do not speak for the vast majority of those who simply did not enjoy the Prequel Films. A running theme with your posts is that if people critique the Prequel films (or George) then they somehow do not understand them. So there is no point in continuing this discussion with you.
I am happy you and others do enjoy these films, but the many that didn’t enjoy the Prequels certainly don’t need lectures on how we just “don’t understand them”.
Firstly, I’m not calling you or anyone who dislikes the films these things. I’m calling out the critics who labeled George and the creatives as such as an excuse to not view the films for what they are or trying to understand them. It’s okay to dislike a film but going to the extreme most critics did is completely unacceptable and frankly contributed to the inability of people to take the films for what they are. It’s the difference between an intelligent critic like Roger Ebert and someone who doesn’t understand Star Wars like Red Light Media. They understand certain pop culture but not Star Wars.
He has a right to show and tell. He gives cookie cutter explanations of things. It’s not like he’s going minute by minute to tell you his intentions with everything. He leaves a lot of room for people to take in what they want to. This isn’t contradictory. He’s been doing it since the beginning when he explained how the original film was meant to convey the Saturday matinee serial. It’s much more than that though and he’s only now been trying to get that out there. I could see it being motivated by the fact Disney doesn’t understand Star Wars. He’s trying to put out there what it actually means so that it’s at least known to serve as help towards making more meaningful stories going forward. However it’s equally refreshing to hear what inspires a creative but they’re not obligated to show you everything. George seems to be doing both.
Not to sound condescending but that’s the difference between a creative mindset and one of taking what is given to you. As a creative like George I find you want people to understand your intentions and what the story means to you but you also understand that isn’t always the case. Star Wars is the perfect example of this. So few actually understand it the way he intended. There’s nothing inherently good or bad about that as people take in information how they choose but that’s why things like visual literacy and the like are super important as you end up getting stories that dumb themselves down for the audience and create unlikable characters who can’t have flaws. It’s the domino effect in a way. Coincidentally George dealt with this issue in a matter of speaking in THX 1138. You can’t please everyone. So why do studios continue to cater? Because that’s what the consumer wants and as long as they do and don’t fight back against it or Twitter mobs with checklists for that matter it will continue to make films worse. I guess that’s subjective though. Some just want the stories to remain like they were when growing up and to capture that feeling. That’s okay I suppose sometimes but it’s not healthy to want the same thing all the time. It’s not okay though to listen to the mobs.
It’s true many don’t understand Star Wars. I don’t mean it as a slight against anyone personally but it’s true. Many people don’t take the time to actually truly delve into and spend time with a film before they move onto the next one. They see what they want to within a film and when there’s someone that reinforces what they already know it’s like a bond is automatically formed. It’s a cycle of consume and move onto next product. Some are very easily amused by seeing X-Wings and TIE Fighters again or hearing Duel of the Fates in the latest Obi-Wan trailer. I’m not. I was happy to see X-Wings at first again. I even got the Lego set of Poe’s X-Wing. However in time I realised why they’re there. Nostalgia is like a powerful drug. It’s not a bad thing if kept in check per say but when it’s the only thing you have to show versus an actual story you’re in a real danger. It’s like what Alec Guiness spoke of to that kid he told to never watch Star Wars again. It can be unhealthy. It’s very important to continue to grow a story and not let it grow stagnant. George, Marcia Lucas, Howard Kazanjian, and many creatives agree.
It’s not meant to lecture but merely to say there’s always another side to the story. You can like and dislike what you want. Our prospectives change as we grow older and evolve but sometimes there’s a greater danger in not trying to grow with something or understand it for what it is. It’s like a relationship in that way. You can either grow together and evolve or stay the same and have momentary pleasure.
Life is one contradiction after another in a way but it’s a beautiful thing if we remain open to all that it has to offer instead of only seeing it from the lenses of what we wish it to be and those that reinforce beliefs we already have.