The bad luck that made Empire Strikes Back the best Star Wars sequel..?
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In our new podcast, we wonder whether George Lucas directed every Star Wars movie (including Return Of The Jedi) except 'the good one' (The Empire Strikes Back) for reasons other than those he prefers to attribute..?
In the first of Shadowlocked's new Podcast feed, I chat with one of the site's most outspoken and opinionated writers about his love/hate relationship with the Star Wars franchise and his (pretty much hate/hate) relationship with creator George Lucas. Admitting to the label of 'optimistic masochist', Aaron Knier's frustration with the prequels is only matched by his inability to leave any of the Star Wars main franchise movies behind. For some reason, for Star Wars fans/semi-fans/haters it's not like trying tuna and deciding that since you don't like it, you simply won't order it again. And perhaps the brilliance of 1980's The Empire Strikes Back is that reason...
Possibly the most interesting part of my chat with Aaron is the discussion (from roughly 12 minutes in) as to the strange events that conspired to make 1978's hottest Hollywood property unable to direct the sequel to Star Wars, even though Fox execs were in the rare disposition to offer Lucas absolute Carte blanche to make a sequel to A New Hope any way he liked.
No-one could easily have predicted that Lucas would end up with half of his wealth from A New Hope (along with all of his time) tied up in the creation of a strange new film studio uncomfortably far from Los Angeles, whilst the other half of his lucre was unexpectedly siphoned over to his wife in a divorce settlement. Hugely successful, but with hardly any liquid assets left, even from the world-wide phenomenon of A New Hope (and his famous stroke of luck in getting the entire marketing rights to Star Wars from 20th Century Fox), Lucas apparently found himself stranded Stateside, building Skywalker ranch, whilst his old film professor Irvin Kirshner was in Norway driving him up the wall by sending back Empire Strikes Back footage that Lucas hated...
...but that fans were destined to love when it was assembled together into the film that most of them have long admitted to be the best of the six - and the only one with the decent characterisation, performances and dialogue which comes from a seasoned director at the helm - and Irvin Kirshner certainly knew how to deal with actors, DPs and script-editors (the first of which traits Lucas has always publicly admitted he lacks, whilst Aaron espouses that Hollywood's biggest SF mogul also lacks the others).
We go on to discuss why Richard Marquand's apparent helming of the second sequel, 1983's Return Of The Jedi, arguably did not in any way re-create the same set of unintentionally 'independent' circumstances under which Kirshner created Empire - effectively declaring that the only Star Wars film of the entire six that Lucas didn't direct, either overtly or tacitly, was 'the good one'.
These are Aaron's opinions, but his knowledge of the Star Wars universe, expanded or otherwise, is comprehensive and backed by years of reading and scrutinising material related to the franchise, both official and obscure - which sources you'll hear him cite. Additionally, as he mentions in our chat, Aaron's commitment even manifests physically (which he discusses 41m.46s into the chat) on his body in the form of a rather racy B/W adaptation of artist Adam Hughes' convention sketch depicting Yoda dreaming of Jedi warrior Aayla Secura in a seductive pose (click the pic on the right for a larger version - NSFW).
And in Aaron's defence, whether you agree with his views on Lucas and the Star Wars prequels or not, I'm impressed by the fact that he had this tattoo done (yes, he sent pictures!) after he had realised how many problems he had with the prequels and with Lucas. His love of the franchise is as undiminished and as unending, I suspect, as his criticism. Aaron will be back in future podcasts, no doubt talking Star Wars, amongst other subjects, so add this link to your feed reader to subscribe to the Shadowlocked Podcast, check the Podcast out via iTunes. or take a look at our new Podcast page.
Having had success with my rant against increasingly linear web-content (unindexed videos and podcasts Vs. traditional text articles), I'd be a bit of a hypocrite not to provide you with an index of this podcast (embedded below, via YouTube, for ease of use in this article). So scroll down below the video-embed and choose any section you want to jump to...
What Glen Garry Glen Ross does better than Phantom Menace. 0.23
More than 3D needed to 'unflatten' the prequels. 1.30
Yoda, better-rendered he is. 1.51
Star Wars: The Musical Journey. 1.57
Empire or A New Hope the essential 3D ticket? 3.09
Can A New Hope's opening shot be 3D-ised? 3.20
West End's D6 Star Wars Roleplaying Game. 5.30
Aaron's first reaction to TPM. 6.40
The 'expectations' excuse. 8.47
A theory about Palpatine's role in the saga 8.49
From emperor to 'P**is Monster'. 10.00
Why Jedi's glitch won't be fixed even in 3D. 11.00
The Secret History Of Star Wars. 11.30
Marcia Lucas strikes back at a critical moment for TESB. 12.25
Lucas as bad with DPs as actors? 15.42
The poor cinematography in the prequels. 16.30
Lucas's prior success as an 'actor's director'. 17.27
Aaron's tirade on the prequels' casting. 18.15
The lost promise of Ewan MacGregor. 20.31
Guinness and Shatner impersonated. Briefly. 22.18
It's not a movie, it's a box of Meccano. 23.21
Star Wars Revisited fan edit (2009). 25.45
The horror of expanded Mos Eisley. 27.30
The good revisions. 28.30
The three missing Star Wars movies. 29.25
Why Richard Marquand if Lucas was free to direct RotJ? 30.36
The love-story - worse in Clones or Sith? 32.12
The other thing Lucas shares with James Cameron. 34.05
Aaron's two favourite scenes in A New Hope. 35.34
What most annoys Aaron about the Star Wars movies. 37.54
Breaking Rick McCallum's legs. 38.16
'And yet you love these movies..?'. 39.11
Hayden Christenson and other missing characters. 40.31
The 'Optimistic Masochism' of loving Star Wars. 41.29
About Aaron's smutty Star Wars tattoo. 41.45
Encouraging bad behaviour. 43.15
The ever-expanding Expanded Universe novels. 43.54
Han shooting first again in 3D..? 46.12
Dirty Harry, Popeye Doyle, Han Solo and revisionism. 47.38
Exactly why Han has to shoot first. 48.43
George Lucas's hypocrisy in Congress..? 49.39
The Dambusters, Huckleberry Finn and disappearing 'history'. 50.23
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