Disney Owns STAR WARS: Altogether now – “I have a bad feeling about this…”

Posted: November 1, 2012 in (All Things) CULTURE, (Politics) CURRENT AFFAIRS, FILM
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So Star Wars is now Disney’s bitch, the franchise of the greatest film saga of all time chained to the Disney Empire’s side like a scantily-clad Tw’ilek slave-girl in Jabba’s Palace. Let me take a few moments to compose myself and think how I feel about this…
You know the scene in Attack of the Clones where Anakin goes nuts and slaughters all those Beduin (um, I mean Sand People)? Well that’s how I feel. And I just force-choked a bunch of innocent bystanders. Now this is what I think

So I’m innocently sitting in bed, about to take my little Jedi power-nap, when suddenly the radio breaks news to me that not only comes as an unwelcome shock to the system, but subsequently keeps me awake for the next two hours, despite counting many sheep (and even upgrading to Bantha after an hour). The news, of course, was that Uncle George had signed over our beloved Star Wars franchise to that Borg Collective otherwise known as Disney – news that then predictably shook fandom to its very foundations, eliciting as mixed a response as could be expected.

My own reaction to the thoroughly stunning news has been mixed too, but seems mostly to have planted itself rather firmly in the negative. By the way, that above image of Uncle George posing with the Disneyland entourage almost brings tears to my eyes (you can almost see his soul breaking a little bit).

I was literally laying awake on my side thinking ‘Oh, God, the thought of seeing Disney logos on Star Wars merchandise’. Gone are those innocent days of checking for the LFL lettering on the side of your Star Wars figures. Oh, God, Darth Vader is now a Disney villain. And Princess Leia is a “Disney Princess”, as some bloggers have already been commenting.

And for those of you who are avidly supporting this move, think about this: those timeless, classic openings to Star Wars films – getting goosebumps waiting for the LUCASFILM and THX logos to come up, and then that precious Long, long ago…’ screen – are going to be preceded by WALT DISNEY logos from now on. How do you like THAT?

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I was asking myself why I hated the news so much and I realised that it’s the reaction you have when something precious to you is being mishandled or violated. I’m not a father, but I imagine it’s almost what a protective Dad would feel thinking about his precious little girl being lured to bed by a wholly undeserving, inappropriate male courter. If I was that hypothetical Dad I’d probably want to get that hypothetical male courter’s neck between my Dad-hands and express my disapproval through an act of well-meaning violence.

That’s what I want to do Mickey Mouse right now – and I’d get away with it, as it would only be cartoon violence. I’d go Dark Side on that little mouse, Darth Maul style. The information got me in the gut – this is how precious I am about Star Wars.

DEFENDING THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE…

I’ve always defended Uncle George. I have been a zealous Star Wars follower since I was five years old (1985, if you’re wondering) and I’ve never had a bad word to say about Uncle George or the franchise. Even when other erstwhile Starwarsians were jumping ship and a number of my friends were turning naysayer, I always stood my ground and always spoke up for Uncle George and his saga. I got used to Jar Jar and was never a hater. I turned the other cheek at some bad scripting in Episode II and focused firmly on the positives. I went along for the ride with the Clone Wars animated series and consented to accept it for what it was and enjoy it.

But Disney? DISNEY?!

I was nonplussed enough when Disney – now essentially the Borg Collective of the entertainment industry – assimilated Marvel. To be fair, the post-Disney array of Marvel movies hasn’t fared badly, creatively speaking, most of it being just about watchable (Captain America, Thor) and some of it actually being good (the Iron Man films).

But Marvel is one thing – a virtually inexhaustible arena of comic-book fodder, with endless possibilities and leeway for reinterpretation, re-imagining or just straight adaptation. Star Wars is another thing entirely.

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And I’m not really in that anti-Disney camp either; I’ll say that Disney has done a lot of good work over the decades. Particularly in the forties, fifties and sixties, some really wonderful animations were produced; ‘The Jungle Book’, ‘Pinnochio’, ‘Dumbo’, ‘Fantasia’ – really, genuinely superb films that stand the test of time. But that was a long time ago. Since then we’ve also had ‘The Jungle Book 2′ – a travesty that should never been okay’d by anyone. There are in fact a whole host of Disney sequels and follow-ups that have been awful, doing nothing to raise the standing of their originals.

STAR WARS LEGACY…

I don’t see that this equates to a track record with ‘legacy’ that would validate placing the sacred Star Wars ‘legacy’ in its hands. Again, you’d have to go back forty years to reach a point where it could be said that Disney‘s output was mostly first-rate; do a checklist now and the sheer volume of produce put out by the company in the decades since those golden accomplishments guarantees that there’s more substandard fare than quality creation. And I can’t help but see the modern Disney corporation as some kind of villainous corporate monster assimilating its way to utter global domination; first Marvel, now Lucasfilm, tomorrow the BBC and by next week Al Jazeera.

Has Disney literally become the Empire of Star Wars mythology, with Uncle George having fallen down the Anakin Skywalker route himself, succumbing to the temptation of the real life Sith that is Mickey Mouse?

If so, the irony is painful, particularly if this deal with devil proves to cheapen rather than enhance the Star Wars legacy he’s so concerned with. There is something genuinely sinister about Mickey Mouse as a symbol of so vast an empire anyway, but that might be because I’m remembering the South Park episode in which Mickey Mouse is parodied as a violent, abusive control freak, reigning over a manipulative kingdom.

It’s ok for people to say “give it a chance” or “Disney did alright with Marvel, so…” or “at least we’ll have new Star Wars films”. All of this is besides the point. The central Star Wars saga, in its current six-film form, is basically a finished, complete work – story-wise, it’s a completed circle, a perfect circle, with The Phantom Menace as the beginning and Return of the Jedi as a fitting end.

That is the key point here – Return of the Jedi is the perfect, poignant END to the Star Wars story.

Think about that ending – Luke finally confronting Vader, Anakin finally destroying Darth Sidious and being redeemed, Luke burning the Vader suit on Endor, and the appearance of Haydn Christiansen’s Anakin in ghost form alongside smiling Yoda and Obi-Wan spirits; that’s IT. That’s the end. And it works. It works beautifully; it works how it was MEANT to.

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Return of the Jedi: Already the perfect final word on the Star Wars story.

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Continuing the film canon beyond that point is FOLLY. There can be nothing necessary left to add to Star Wars; anything added now is merely unnecessary baggage for money-making purposes.

Lucas‘s vision has been fulfilled already, the story told. Thematically, Return of the Jedi stands as a perfect terminus to the saga, and creatively ‘Revenge of the Sith’ – a masterpiece in its own right – stands fittingly as the final piece of the overall puzzle.

For George to talk about wanting to ‘ensure the Star Wars legacy’ for ‘future generations’ is lost on me. The existing films ARE that legacy already. Why does something need to be dragged out, stretched to bursting point, on and on, in order to have a ‘legacy’? The original trilogy still has a massive legacy today. People still talk about ‘Lawrence of Arabia‘ – that film was released in 1962. I was born in 1980 – the original Star Wars came out three years before I existed. I was still shitting in a potty when Empire Strikes Back was released. But I still got into those films – on TV, on video. BIG-TIME, in fact – thus beginning the love affair with Star Wars that I’ve had to this day. What’s wrong with kids today and in the future watching the old, existing movies and THIS being the ‘legacy’?

LESS IS MORE…

Unfortunately Hollywood has never seemed to consider that quantity doesn’t equate to quality (though it can equate to profit, which no doubt is the main point of all this). Going back to the Disney/Marvel issue; yes, the Marvel Comics adaptations at present are of a reasonably high standard – but wait and see, ten, twenty, years down the line when Disney are still churning that stuff out, trying to milk the franchise for every last dollar, whether you still think it’s a good thing.

It seems the nature of modern mainstream cinema that reboots and reimaginings are going on all the time, sequels and prequels being spat out at a jarring rate; for example, the Spiderman franchise has been rebooted after literally only a few years – what happened to pacing? What happened to letting things age a little while?

With some things, less is very much more. With Star Wars, I think that very much applies. Some have argued that even the prequel trilogy was a step too far; I happen to disagree with that strongly, but THIS latest assimilation may just be that step too far. What’s to stop Disney pillaging the Star Wars franchise to pieces; what’s to say there won’t be a Star Wars Episode 20 some day? What’s to stop it becoming equivalent to the James Bond franchise? Or the Star Trek franchise, for that matter, which has virtually run itself into the ground, creatively speaking, through over-saturation.

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Now I’m not saying Star Wars: Episode 7 is going to be bad or that I’m not going to watch it. What I’m saying is that it doesn’t need to be made. I don’t particularly want to see a new Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia – I’m happy with Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. I felt the same way about the recent Star Trek reinvention – it was watchable, but it meant nothing to me; and this is speaking as a long-time, long-term Trekker. Hey, I may change my opinion as time passes – I may even like the new Star Wars in three years time; but even then I’ll be going into that cinema thinking ‘this shouldn’t really be happening’.

I don’t want to see Star Wars stretched too far – it’s like over-enlarging a picture that was meant to be a certain size; each enlargement makes the picture lose that little bit more quality. The Star Wars saga, as it currently exists, benefits from its limited quantity. Six films telling a measured, complete story. I can’t help but feel it should be left at that; that quantity will undermine quality. Of course I may be overreacting  to all this and I may be proven wrong down the line. Time will tell.

I’ll probably have more to say about this; but I’m agitated right now and can’t write properly. But just one more thing; if you disagree with me and the position I’ve taken, just do this one thing first – go get your Return of the Jedi DVD or VHS tape or whatever it is.

Watch the final fifteen minutes. And then tell me that this should no longer be where the Star Wars story ends…

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The redeemed Anakin Skywalker is at one with the Force; the saga has its poignant end.

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Comments
  1. jeremy09 says:

    You have some good points, and RotJ does end on a pretty good note(although why in the WORLD you would use that stupid Hayden image to prove your point doesn’t help matters). But the Star Wars universe is so big, so vast, so interesting, that’s gotta be plenty of stories left to tell. And now with Ol’ King George gone, we might get some Star Wars movies in the 21st century with half-way decent dialog and less stilted performances! This should be celebrated, not cursed.

    Like

    • Okay, thanks for the comment. Now, I think putting the younger Anakin into the ROTJ ending was a brilliant move, as it connected the prequel trilogy more directly with the original trilogy and it created an even stronger resonance between ROTS and ROTJ specifically.

      Secondly, yes the SW universe IS vast, with plenty of stories to tell – in the expanded universe of novels, comics, games, etc, which is fine, but NOT, in my opinion, for BIG SCREEN additions to the franchise. Again, I think the six we’ve already got should stand alone at this point.

      As for George’s credentials as a director or writer, that’s another debate and one that I’m sure will go on forever. No doubt there’ll be lots of arguments and opinions for years to come now about this new Star Wars generation…

      Like

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