Recently, i attended a screening of an indie film called "5-25-77" --its a sort of coming-of-age film about an aspiring filmmaker who desperatly is trying to see Star Wars on its opening day. Anyway, whats interesting is that its Gary Kurtz first time producing a film since the 80's. Surprisingly, Kurtz himself was at the festival, and some of the star wars fans there were asking him all sorts of stuff right in the theatre lobby. Because i had my video camera that day, i was even able to capture one particularly interesting conversation on-camera (no, i was not bootlegging the movie BTW)--suffice to say, he shed some light on things, and even recommended boycotting Lucas' rereleases of the SW films since Lucas refuses to release the original original trilogy. Finally meeting him in person, i also realised that Obi Wan may very well have based on him of all people.
I dont have any webspace to upload the video (its pretty murky anyway) but here is transcription of what went down:
[taking to some other guy] Kurtz: ...but that isn't what it was supposed to be anyway.
[some fan walks up to him]fan: Gary Kurtz! You told us Lucas had plans for Episodes VII-IX! Now he says that it was a media creation.
Kurtz: You have to understand, George Lucas was seduced by retirement. He abandoned his plans after changing his story for Return of the Jedi, compressing all the remaining episodes into that one film. When that happened, the plans he had for the Sequel Trilogy were destroyed, though he never admitted this. So what i have told you is true...from a certain point of view.
fan: A certain point of view?
Kurtz: Look kid, you're going to have to realise that a great number of the "truths" we cling to depend greatly on point of view--especially when it comes to George.
[they sit down on a nearby table]
Kurtz: George was a good friend. When i first met him he was already a great director, but i was amazed at how strongly the force of creativity was with him. I took it upon myself to produce his movies. I thought i could produce them as well as Francis Ford Coppola--I was wrong. I mean, yeah, we had the first two films, and American Graffiti, but i couldnt control him after that, the success was just too much. My pride had terrible consequences for the world.
fan: There is still good in him.
Kurtz: He's more interested in CGI now than man--twisted and evil. Even the films i did with him have now been corrupted.
fan: I can't do it, Gary. I can't bash my own hero or boycott his latest re-releases in place of the original original trilogy.
Kurtz: Then Lucasfilm has already won. You--the disgruntled fans--were our only hope.
fan: Francis Coppola spoke of another.
Kurtz: The other he spoke of was Lucas'non-Star Wars projects.
fan: But Lucas has no other projects, other than that crappy Indy 4 he's been struggling to write for 10 years.
Kurtz: Hmm. To protect them from Francis, who felt that Star Wars was the worst mistake of George's life, George hid them himself after he outlined them, in that damn binder of his he is always talking about. You see, Lucas knew, as I did, that if he were to make any non-Star Wars films before he finished the prequel trilogy, they would a threat to him--since he would end up not having enough time or energy to do the next Star Wars trilogy and thus rob him of his main source of income. That is the reason why his next films remained safely anonymous.
fan: Oh, those "experimental" art films he is always talking about, like THX 1138 was! He's been talking about those since the early 80's. Maybe he'll finally return to his talented roots.
Kurtz: Your insight serves you well. But bury your feelings deep down--they do you credit, but they could be made to serve Lucasfilm. If they knew anyone was looking forward to these, it would be like the Special Editions all over again.
Later on i asked him what had happened when Lucas and him split up following Lucas decison to make ROTJ. "Do you really think we should stop buying all the new star wars re-releases and merchandise? I mean, they're not all that bad, and Lucas is a hero to so many people..."
"You should not think of that man as your hero," he replied. "When i saw what had become of him, after he said Empire was terrible and how he wanted to put Ewoks in the next film, I tried to dissuade him, to draw him back from the dark side of money-making. We fought...George eventually fell into the whole computer division of Industrial Light and Magic, where he spent most of his time before Jurassic Park arrived. When George clawed his way out Skywalker Ranch, the change had been burned in him forever--Jar Jar Binks, lots of useless aliens, Gungans, bluescreen, digital cameras and an all-digital cast. Irredeemably dark. Scarred. Kept alive only by computer machinery and his own black will to make more money and play with his tech toys."
Needless to say it was an interesting conversation. I dunno--can Lucas be redeemed???
JediRandy: They're certainly beyond any repair you're capable of making.
MeBeJedi: You aren't one of us.
Go-Mer-Tonic: I can't say I find that very disappointing.
JediRandy: I won't suck as much as a fan edit.