should be doing.‘
Star Wars and its sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi represent not just the most valuable film property of all time, but the product of an extraordinary vision. Together, the three movies form the middle trilogy of a planned nine-part cycle of movies which Lucas has always said he hoped to finish. After years of speculation, he is finally coming good on his word with the first prequel due to go into production next month.
The main reason for the delay relates to the technology gap between Lucas’s vision and the special effects which were possible at the time. Using revenues from Star Wars, Lucas expanded his fledgling company, Industrial Light and Magic, into Hollywood’s best- known special effects studio. He was effectively ensuring he could make the movies he wanted by investing in the future of special effects.
lLM has now caught up with his imagination and the re-release of Star Wars features around four minutes of new footage, with cleaned-up sound and effects sequences. Lucas always said that budgetary constraints meant the film was released half-finished, and he evidently couldn’t resist the opportunity for a bit of retrospective tinkering. Some of the techniques applied to Star Wars were also treated as a dry-run for the prequels.
However, the three prequels are unlikely to be SFX movies any more than Star Wars was. ‘The idea that computers make movies by themselves is not true,’ says Lucas. ‘It is just not true any more than it is the camera making it or an editing system making it. They are tools used by creative people. To think that machines are taking over is completely wrong.’
At lLM there is mounting excitement as the first prequel prepares to go into production in a disused aircraft hangar outside London. However much of the real work will be done on PCs in lLM’s California headquarters, with many of the computer- generated backdrops digitally mixed with the live-action sequences. It’s not overstating the case to say that lLM was created eventually to make the prequels, and according to Barry Armour, head of the technical directors, there is a feeling at the studio that a favourite son has returned home.
‘There are a tremendous number of people who are here because they saw Star Wars, but many of them have only ever seen it on video,’ he says. ‘There are some real fans, though not everyone is willing to admit it. We have all got caught up in the excitement of the re-release. The whole point of building lLM was to make [Lucas’s] movies, and everybody here knew that.’
A billionaire film producer with the over- active imagination of a child and a box of tricks like lLM make a very powerful combination. George Lucas’s myth-making machine is back in business.
Star Wars: Special Edition goes on general release on Fri 21 Mar. Omnibus: The Life And Times Of George Lucas is to be screened on Sun 23 Mar on BBC1. Barry Armour is at the Glasgow Film Theatre, Thurs 13 Mar as part of Robotix 97. See Scanner.
the next generation
If you are too young to remember the delights of Princess Leia's Chelsea bun hairstyle, or Harrison Ford's heroic space cowboy performance, here's a hint of why the Star Wars characters refuse to die. Classic, or what?
played Luke as
corn-fed sap — a
kind of Milky Bar
Kid in space.
Naturally he falls in
love with the Princess
and even manages a quick
snog before discovering in a later
episode that she is his sister. Hamill’s
acting career didn’t exactly prosper and
he is now reduced to appearing in CD- Rom games.
Princess Leia Notable for her dual-Danish pastry hairstyle, the Princess was a kind of ethereal ﬁlm noir dame who leads the rebellion forces. As a result of the role, actress Carrie Fisher went one better than Hamill’s slide into obscurity — she acquired a serious drug habit which kept rehab clinics and tabloid journalists occupied through most of the 805. She later reinvented herself as an acidic writer about Hollywood’s excesses on which she was uniquely qualified to - comment.
. Captain Han Solo
Harrison Ford looked like he was having a a lot of fun . playing the space cowboy with a blaster holstered at his hip,
but maybe he was just laughing at the Princess’s hair.
Han Solo was the ultimate price-is-right mercenary who hired out his starship but ended up fighting on the side of right. While Clint Eastwood had an orang-utan called Clyde as a sidekick, Ford got a wookie which Princess Leia’s memorably described as a ‘walking carpet’.
Plain old Ben was the funny old hermit who lived in a cave, but turned out to be a Jedi Knight
all along. The Princess sends him an SOS encoded in a ‘droid’ and he is persuaded to come out of retirement for one
last twirl of the light sabre. He meets his Nemesis in a duel with Darth Vader and sacrifices his life so the Force will flow into Luke. Alec Guinness reportedly earned $10 million after deferring his fee in return for percentage points in the box office take.
Asthmatic with an attitude problem pretty much describes DV’s outlook on life. He was a Jedi Knight who was taught to wield a light sabre by Kenobi, but was seduced by the Dark Side and the chance to wear a
fetching shiny black number. In another g surprise ' relative ‘ revelation, . g . ' 'i,:;g “.3 Luke learns ‘ ‘ ' that Darth
is his father 3 l \ _;g "*9; but the ' . .. 3 3?: father/son “ bond proves strong enough to haul Darth’s soul back from the Dark Side.
7-20 Mar 1997 THE U913