George Lucas,  The Force Awakens

Bob Iger says George Lucas was disappointed by Star Wars: The Force Awakens because “there’s nothing new”

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From Lollifroll on Reddit:

“[The Walt Disney Company CEO] Bob [Iger] released his book “The Ride of a Lifetime: LESSONS LEARNED FROM 15 YEARS AS CEO OF THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY” today and within it he openly discusses the difficult process of securing the massive acquisition deals of Pixar, Marvel, and of course Lucasfilm. He does not hold back at all and is very open about conflicts like Feige v Perlmutter, firing his ex-Film Studio Chief, the inner-workings of each deal and the relevant part for this sub, George Lucas’ involvement in the Force Awakens. It’s a very thorough look tbh and I do recommend people purchase it (ebook is $15) if they want all the details, especially about how Iger and Lucas formulated the sale.

On George sending his outlines for the Sequel Trilogy:

At some point in the process, George told me that he had completed outlines for three new movies. He agreed to send us three copies of the outlines: one for me; one for Alan Braverman; and one for Alan Horn, who’d just been hired to run our studio. Alan Horn and I read George’s outlines and decided we needed to buy them, though we made clear in the purchase agreement that we would not be contractually obligated to adhere to the plot lines he’d laid out.

On George’s new role of creative authority:

He knew that I was going to stand firm on the question of creative control, but it wasn’t an easy thing for him to accept. And so he reluctantly agreed to be available to consult with us at our request. I promised that we would be open to his ideas (this was not a hard promise to make; of course we would be open to George Lucas’s ideas), but like the outlines, we would be under no obligation.

On revealing to George they weren’t following his plot outlines:

Early on, Kathy brought J.J. and Michael Arndt up to Northern California to meet with George at his ranch and talk about their ideas for the film. George immediately got upset as they began to describe the plot and it dawned on him that we weren’t using one of the stories he submitted during the negotiations.

The truth was, Kathy, J.J., Alan, and I had discussed the direction in which the saga should go, and we all agreed that it wasn’t what George had outlined. George knew we weren’t contractually bound to anything, but he thought that our buying the story treatments was a tacit promise that we’d follow them, and he was disappointed that his story was being discarded. I’d been so careful since our first conversation not to mislead him in any way, and I didn’t think I had now, but I could have handled it better. I should have prepared him for the meeting with J.J. and Michael and told him about our conversations, that we felt it was better to go in another direction. I could have talked through this with him and possibly avoided angering him by not surprising him. Now, in the first meeting with him about the future of Star Wars, George felt betrayed, and while this whole process would never have been easy for him, we’d gotten off to an unnecessarily rocky start.

[…] On George seeing the Force Awakens for the first time:

Just prior to the global release, Kathy screened The Force Awakens for George. He didn’t hide his disappointment. “There’s nothing new,” he said. In each of the films in the original trilogy, it was important to him to present new worlds, new stories, new characters, and new technologies. In this one, he said, “There weren’t enough visual or technical leaps forward.” He wasn’t wrong, but he also wasn’t appreciating the pressure we were under to give ardent fans a film that felt quintessentially Star Wars. We’d intentionally created a world that was visually and tonally connected to the earlier films, to not stray too far from what people loved and expected, and George was criticizing us for the very thing we were trying to do. Looking back with the perspective of several years and a few more Star Wars films, I believe J.J. achieved the near-impossible, creating a perfect bridge between what had been and what was to come.

[…]”

0 Comments

  • Carlos Cuevas

    The arrogance of these people never cease to amaze me. What a disgrace, imagine thinking you can do better Star Wars than it’s creator.

  • Alexrd

    “but he also wasn’t appreciating the pressure we were under to give ardent fans a film that felt quintessentially Star Wars.”

    Oh, poor Bob. Lucas didn’t appreciate the pressure he was under. If only there was a brand new story directly from the creator of SW ready to be adapted… Oh, wait. Lucas gave you three film outlines of ‘quintessential Star Wars’, you moron. Outlines that you’ve arrogantly discarded, as you have admitted. What the heck are you complaining about? Had you adapted the outlines he gave you, you would have provided ‘quintessential Star Wars’ not only to “ardent fans”, but to everyone for generations to come. Now the franchise is bleeding to death thanks to your own hubris.

    The arrogance and hipocrisy of this guy… Seriously, this stuff gets on my nerves.

    • Cryogenic

      @ Alex:

      ““but he also wasn’t appreciating the pressure we were under to give ardent fans a film that felt quintessentially Star Wars.”

      Oh, poor Bob. Lucas didn’t appreciate the pressure he was under. If only there was a brand new story directly from the creator of SW ready to be adapted…”

      Yeah. It also reeks of a lack of awareness — almost suggesting a form of NPD. They trash his outlines, repurpose ideas from forty years ago, play to the low-hanging fruit, and essentially butcher his creation, all because they have dollar signs in their eyes; and when they show saga’s creator the shit sandwich they’ve made, Iger whines like a little snowflake that The Maker was unimpressed and deficient in his appreciation of the “pressure” (self-induced) they were under??? Like, OMG, how *dare* he not appreciate our despoiling of his creation as we serve it up in his face and aggressively pursue a naked corporate rehash agenda! Sad and hilarious.

      • maychild

        @Cryo Too true, dude! We’re supposed to think Lucas is the one who has stupendous gall. Indeed, that’s how the bashers and their representatives in the media portrayed it when Lucas gave that Charlie Rose interview. Those pholks never pass up an opportunity to demonize Lucas and blow anything he says, or does, way our of proportion so they can add fuel to their bashing engines. They aren’t above manufacturing stuff to bash him over, or use to “justify” their hatred. I needn’t go into Stephanie Zacharek’s “Jar Jar’s dreadlocks” remark for the umpteenth time, although I will bring up, one more time (not here, but on TF.N and in private convos), the bashers’ twisted fantasy about his reaction when “Return of the King” won every Oscar in the known universe: “I bet he’s at home, gnashing his teeth, eaten up with jealousy because” (Saint) “Peter” (the Great) “Jackson’s series won all those Oscars while his crappy prequels only got Razzies.” As usual, they engaged in some major projection by way of bashing Lucas and “justifying” their hatred of him: projection of their own jealousy, pettiness, and overall nastiness onto him. They are so hateful that they, as I likewise said many times elsewhere, refused to be even slightly placated when he pledged to give 50% of his wealth to charity: “He just did that for the tax breaks.” Meanwhile, no such motives were attributed to Jo Rowling’s similar pledge, because she is the author of another series they use as a paddle to spank Lucas and the prequels.

        This Bob person is, I think, also calling upon that pool of hatred to make himself look like a victim and to work up a base of bashers, on the boards and in the press, who will latch onto him as another gutsy truth-teller who Lucas doesn’t appreciate, although he knows SW better than Lucas, as demonstrated in the bashers’ precious TFA. It’s no accident that uncountable rave reviews of TFA were as much about bashing the prequels as they were about tallying the movie’s dubious “virtues.” SW is back, they crowed, and better than ever now that Lucas is no longer involved! Thank God they tossed out Lucas’s “awful” (an ad hominem attack, as they hadn’t been made public) sequel trilogy treatments. Thank God Disney, et al had gotten the series back on track by not only pretending the prequels didnt exist, but by making SW “safe for girls to like” (another thing I needn’t go into for the umpteenth time about how it infuriated me, as I’m a girl and have loved it from the beginning, as have many female SW members I have met, online and off) with Rey, who is “way cooler than Luke ever was.” And I cannot resist quoting myself (the EGO on me!) that no critic who wants to be taken seriously would use the term “cool” and its variants, unless they’re talking about the temperature of the movie theater in which they saw the movie. But anyway…a tidbit that is purposely kept very quiet is that Rey was actually created by Lucas, only with some fairly minor differences.

        The gall, whining about “being under pressure,” which was, as you rightly pointed out, self-imposed. No, it’s about Big Bad Lucas, picking on them like the bully he is, when they were just trying to make the fans happy, more than HE has ever done!

      • Cryogenic

        @ maychild:

        “Pholks”? I like the inventive typo/portmanteau! You’re right that so much of the hatred and disdain directed at Lucas over the years is projection of one form or another. One also wonders, as you’ve done before, if rival fantasy franchises like the aforementioned “Lord Of The Rings” and “Harry Potter” books/movies are so satisfying, why so many felt a need to draw a comparison between those other series and the prequels. Why spend all of one’s time hating and berating something, when there are similar things (and, in the case of LOTR, as you also pointed out, well-decorated things) which one claims to love? That’s also where I think us Disney bashers need to be careful.

        The lazy fawning over TFA when it came out — from the majority of film critics and fans/bashers alike — was highly predictable and more than a little eye-rolling. It also put the lie to the notion that people who bashed the prequels craved “quality filmmaking”, including compelling character arcs, believable plots, and solid, inventive direction. No, you people basically wanted the comfort of the familiar: watered-down Star Wars designed to momentarily take you back to your childhood, but which starts to feel empty a year or two later, once it begins dawning on you what a hollow product was served up to you, after you complained about all the fabulous toys the earlier Santa Claus bent over backwards to give you.

        Reviewing this remark of Bob Iger’s again:

        “We’d intentionally created a world that was visually and tonally connected to the earlier films, to not stray too far from what people loved and expected, and George was criticizing us for the very thing we were trying to do.”

        The first two parts of that sentence are exactly why George criticised you, Bob. You weren’t meant to create more of the same. You were meant to be developing a brand new trilogy with its own look, feel, and sensibility. Did you not see any of the man’s movies prior to setting out with VII? Do you not know what George Lucas is actually about? He not only gave you sequel outlines, but all the artwork and materials created for the former movies, including the movies themselves. Might want to take another look at what you purchased and delve a bit deeper into George Lucas’ resume. You were the Chosen One, Bob. You were meant to expand Star Wars, not rehash it. At least “The Last Jedi” and the spinoffs have been better.

      • maychild

        @Cryo
        Oh, I didn’t invent “pholks.” It’s just kind of a cute deliberate misspelling that originated on the Internet. But thanks.

        Indeed, it’s very curious that people who claim to find other series so freakin’ superior, instead spend most of not all of their free time bitching about a series they profess to hate with every fiber of their being.

        And yes, the bashers who fawned over TFA pretty much proved with their gushing (and fierce protectiveness, not just of the movie but of Abrams, Kennedy, and Disney) that all they wanted was a rehash of the OT. Although they adamantly denied that that’s what they wanted, or that TFA was a rehash of ANH. That, as you and I both know, was one of the statements that became a bannable offense on TheForce.net, along with “Rey is a Mary Sue.”

        (I will say this: Mary Sue that she is, I still like her — but it’s mostly because of Daisy Ridley, who I find to be an appealing actress.)

        Yes, we do need to be careful to not become the bashers we fight. I admit that on subjects such as the Queen of SW Legends (Expanded Universe, as it once was), Mara Jade, I have criticized her a few times. Oh, quit laughing, Cryo, I was being facetious. I’ve gotten mideval on her arse MANY times. And I’ve gotten — well, not mideval, but, say, 17th century on the arses of the aforementioned Abrams, Kennedy and Disney. It can be cathartic, but it can also become addictive.

  • R.J. LEE

    Man, this is conflicting as hell to read. I feel bad because it’s Lucas’ creation and we fucking ostracized him as a creator. Dude got lit on fire and some were so arrogant to say they owe him an apology for HIS work. It’s heartbreaking. NO ONE blamed him for not making more Star Wars because, like, everyone hated him for it.

    So, for him to come back, AT LEAST WITH AN OUTLINE, which is clearly more than what they have now, only to have them BLATANTLY ignore it is what’s troubling. Like, okay, I’ll relent and say the Prequels may have not been directed the best as lots of moments can come off as stilted, but all narrative beats for Anakin, especially in Revenge of the Sith, were there. Clear as day.

    Yeah, he sold it and got a shit ton of money for it, but what would be if he didn’t…?

      • R.J. LEE

        Plenty of line dialogues are stilted and “I don’t like sand” is a literal quote. (Sorry, I’m just not a fan of Attack of the Clones) Not to mention there’s an over abundance of CGI in all three films.

        But the point still remains, Lucas wasn’t perfect at least had a story with the central character being Sidious and his schemes threading all three films and, at the very least, a skeleton for the next trilogy. It just sucks they said…mmmmnah. And Star Wars is in pretty bad shape because of it.

      • Cryogenic

        @ SWH:

        I wouldn’t call it “BS”. It’s RJ’s opinion — and one widely held — that some aspects of the prequels are awkward and hard to reconcile with “good filmmaking” (not that RJ used that term) as people commonly think they know it. Yet it’s where the prequels depart with mainstream taste that they get really interesting for me. The Disney films, by contrast, seem all about catering to taste. Well, TFA, certainly. On the other hand, “The Last Jedi” is (in my opinion) a more artistic and visionary film, but one that has rankled the fanbase (shades of the prequels).

        Star Wars, as Lucas said a few years ago, is a complicated cultural icon. I was thinking about this the other day, but the only two films that have been strongly liked in a row are probably (and it’s arguable even then) ANH and TESB, or maybe TFA and R1. ROTJ and TPM? Nope. TPM and AOTC? Nope. AOTC and ROTS? Not really. TFA and TLJ? No again. TLJ and “Solo”? Once again, no.

        It’s really hard to consistently please fans with these films. Just when fans think they like the smell of something, along comes another entry, or another trilogy, and they start crying foul all over again. I must admit, for all my resistance and harsh words for Disney, I do have some sympathy for them, too.

        Also, RJ acknowledged that Lucas was following a well-devised story scheme, and the notion that some moments can come off as stilted, even to prequel fans, is, nothing new. But that wasn’t even the main thrust of his post. He was calling Disney out. I think the prequels are visionary in all areas, but I’d rather people be honest in their feelings than pretend they loved all three of them, top to bottom, all along.

        • R.J. LEE

          Thank you, @Cryogenic

          It wasn’t to be confrontational or a contrarian, but how I feel. Like, we’re on the same side, but somehow my opinion is “BS”?

          No film is above criticism and George knew that and still made films he wanted to make, doesn’t mean I have to like them, but I also can’t hate them. For better or worse, there’s a consistency you feel with each film whereas, even tonally, the sequel trilogy doesn’t hold as much weight.

      • Cryogenic

        @ RJ:

        You’re welcome. You weren’t being a contrarian or confrontational. Some just have a confrontational streak and get a bit overly defensive when they see these films getting marked down, unfortunately. Prequel fans have, after all, had years and years of bashing — some of it very belligerent and aggressive — to contend with.

        I agree that no film is above criticism. I also agree that there’s a more consistent tone, and a better sense of story arcing, across the prequels. On this level, I think the prequels rule the roost over the OT and the ST.

        In my case, however, I’m not writing the ST off completely. I think there are some intriguing things about it. But Disney have made it hard for many of us to love these films, and hard to trust with the direction they appear to be taking the franchise in.

        • R.J. LEE

          @Cryogenic:

          Fair enough on your comments and I can see how one could misconstrue my intentions as such.

          I think that’s what’s getting me. The Sequel Trilogy has some solid things about it, aside from artistic shots. It’s just inconsistency that bothers me.

          Like it or not, Kylo’s motion to break his helmet and let the past die was a huge statement. Now, to see it get stitched back together seems like backpedaling. (Views subject to change since Rise of Skywalker isn’t released yet)

          Or how Rey just realized she had Force powers in TFA But is lifting huge boulders in TLJ. Without a time skip and it taking place immediately where the TFA leaves off, it’s inconsistent how she made THAT big a leap. (Which kind of bothers me when she describes the Force as something that “makes things float” when, in the end, that’s exactly what she does with it.)

          The Prequels have more consistency, true, but I think that has to do more with George directing all three of those films and learning to better his craft after his OT.

          @NabooNews: Just wanna say, as this is your page, I meant no disrespect to you or your post.

      • Cryogenic

        @ RJ:

        You have your right to your opinions and don’t deserve to be chewed out for expressing them. I don’t see you waging an anti-prequel agenda, so I don’t think opposition to some casual remarks about where you think the prequels are less than great is really justified. Obviously, this is a prequel-oriented blog, so it wouldn’t make sense for someone to show up here simply to bash them, or to imply they’re a stain on the series, but other than that, opinions vary, even among fans.

        Where I personally feel irritation is when those sorts of assertions — concerning acting, writing, effects, and whatever else — come up in articles ostensibly in defence of the movies. And I think that goes for a lot of prequel fans. It’s very strange when someone sets out to defend and even praise the prequels in print (or in video), only to ritualistically remind the reader of the movies’ limitations; or the limitations everyone has agreed exist and can’t be undone, as if it’s a stone-cold fact that the films are deficient in those areas, and no alternative sensible views exist on the matter.

        There does seem to be some backpedalling at work in the upcoming Episode IX. But it’s a JJ Abrams picture, and it doesn’t really surprise me. He’s obviously not entirely happy with the way Rian Johnson handled all the pieces he inherited from TFA; and, of course, Abrams can’t have failed to take note of the backlash to TLJ. Abrams is more sensitive to audience response than Johnson; not least because Abrams is more of a producer first, and a director/filmmaker second. He’s a sly manager and manipulator. So his trying to “undo” some of RJ’s choices — for better or worse — is almost guaranteed.

        Rey is incredibly overpowered in the sequels. That said, I think Rian Johnson tried to justify it a bit when he has Luke freaking out in the first “lesson”, where he abruptly terminates the lesson (he walks off, at any rate), fearfully declaring he’s seen such strength only once before, in Kylo Ren. Then the film takes it a step further and suggests, through various mechanisms, that Rey and Kylo are essentially two “halves” of the Force; backed up by some comments Johnson makes in the making-of documentary, “The Director And The Jedi”. Does this clear the sequels of all charges where Rey is concerned? Maybe not. But it seems the new franchise holders have a more elastic conception of the Force than Lucas and decided to push things quite far in the new films.

        And you can certainly do that, but it introduces fresh problems. As many people have pointed out, the earlier films placed a good deal of emphasis on mental discipline and emotional restraint; while the sequel movies come closer to treating the Force as both a video-game trinket and an all-encompassing, narrative-bending superpower in its own right. Who has the better regard for the Force? I would say, generally speaking, Lucas does. After all, he came up with the whole thing — a distillation of religion, myth, and superstition — in the first place. Moreover, the new people appear to have canned some of Lucas’ most fundamental ideas for the sequels, like the concept of the midi-chlorians and the Whills: powerful entities (the nearest thing to advanced aliens or gods in Star Wars) driving everything. How these concepts were going to intertwine and define the sequel narrative is anyone’s guess.

        The compression of timeframes between the new movies (combined with a rehash aesthetic) has also crushed down the epic storytelling quality Star Wars previously offered, especially in the prequels. That’s not to say the sequels lack a sense of the epic. It’s there; but a bit flattened out. The fact that TFA and TLJ are taking place adjacently to one another does make some of the plot developments a touch improbable. However, Rey’s rock-lifting moment at the end can be rationalised as her having gained strength since going to the island (thick in Force energy) and Force-melding with Kylo while there, as well as her resisting Snoke for a good length of time in his chamber, fighting the red guards with Kylo, and using all her power to try and take Luke’s old saber from Kylo. But we never really see her doing much to imply she has developed the ability to quiet her mind or focus her powers in such a way.

        And yes, there is some irony to Luke scolding Rey that the Force isn’t about lifting rocks, only for her to resort to doing just that at the end to save the remaining members of the Resistance. It’s all a bit much. If she struggled more to lift them, or there was some subtle twist involved, that scene might be more convincing. All too often, Rey just breezes on through, with little true effort or mighty application of will. This is definitely a break from the Lucas films, and just one of many factors that has harmed deeper investment for many.

        I think the prequels are much more layered and thought-out than the originals. And yes, Lucas really honed his craft in the PT era. So guys (and gals)… Can we get off RJ’s case? He just paid Lucas a serious compliment few to no bashers ever would. You’re very welcome on Naboo News. To me you are, anyway.

      • Star Wars Hexalogy

        “I wouldn’t call it “BS”. It’s RJ’s opinion”

        And I expressed my opinion on his. Whether you agree or not is of course up to you.

      • Cryogenic

        @ SWH:

        The way you expressed your opinion — of *his* opinions — was pretty brusque. And you’re obviously not sorry in lacking tact. Almost like you wanted a reaction. In my opinion, that’s not very civil. But carry on.

    • maychild

      I think Lucas is a better director than he gets credit for, but as he himself has acknowledged, his strength isn’t so much in directing as it is in editing. In fact, I think his talent as an editor was pretty much the only thing he had in common with his now-ex-wife Marcia, who was, for all her not-inconsiderable faults, a very good editor. Lucas’s friend and mentor, Francis Coppola, related in his director’s commentary of “The Godfather,” that the scene where Michael is in the hospital visiting his father, and he hears footsteps, with several quick cuts between Michael, half-hidden behind the corner of a wall, and empty hallways, was Lucas’s idea. He clipped and cobbled together the ends of scenes (where a character walked around a corner in a hallway, leaving the hallway empty) and added the footsteps on the soundtrack, as a way of ratcheting up the tension: do the footsteps belong to someone sent to kill Vito? That Lucas actually did some technical work on “The Godfather” (including the musical montage with cuts between newspaper headlines about Vito’s recovery and various characters eating dinner, playing the piano, etc.) is another fact that is little known.

      That said, I think that “The Phantom Menace” is actually quite well directed, particularly considering that it was Lucas’s first time helming an entire film since the original SW movie. (He reportedly directed some scenes in ROTJ, and some pickup scenes in ESB as well. His backyard pool was turned into a makeshift Dagobah set for that purpose.) Better directed, IMO, than AOTC and to a lesser extent ROTS.

      AOTC, I think, suffers more from some poor editing than poor directing, and of course, there was the dialogue — the romantic dialogue, anyway, which was rather eye-rolling. On purpose, but still eye-rolling. (I will say, though, that Anakin grew up being trained by the Jedi. How to pick up girls isn’t part of their curriculum.) I’ve said before that the Naberrie family scenes, which feature some fine acting from both Hayden and Natalie — particularly when Padmé is unpacking in her room and relating a tragic anecdote to Anakin — should have been left in, as they would have helped balance out the much-maligned fireplace scene.

      • R.J. LEE

        And those are things I’m gonna have to check out because I am sorely lacking if they are as good as you say they are.

        I’ve seen gifs of the deleted scenes, but not it in action. I’ve heard someone say Lucas admit he isn’t great at dialogue and, admittedly, even in the original trilogy, nothing great was said /on paper/, but the performances is what made you like their delivery.

        Luke was free to be a farm boy with emotions while his father, to your and his credit, he wasn’t allowed to — much less pick up women. The only person that probably could’ve helped with that is Qui-Gon. So, touché.

        Maybe not less time with those two but, as you pointed out, different time, different scenes.

      • Cryogenic

        @ maychild:

        Ah, yes! This is a prequel blog, so let’s talk prequel…

        First off, I didn’t realise Lucas helped edit the hospital scene in “The Godfather”. I thought it was just the montage. Lucas has always considered himself more of an editor than a director. In fact, he doesn’t much like the term director or even producer-director. He once suggested he prefers the term “artisan-cameraman”. Here’s another quote that gives some insight into how Lucas sees himself:

        “Some of my friends are more concerned about art and being considered a Fellini or an Orson Welles, but I’ve never really had that problem. I just like making movies. I was at a film conference with George Cukor, and he detested the fact that everyone called us film-makers. He said, ‘I’m not a film-maker. A film-maker is like a toy-maker, and I’m a director.’ Well, I’m a film-maker. I’m very much akin to a toy-maker. If I wasn’t a film-maker, I’d probably be a toy-maker.”

        (p. 43, Sally Kline, “George Lucas: Interviews”)

        Of course, it’s just one of a thousand Lucas quotes, that if more people were aware of it, they’d surely spin out of context — but how Lucas likes to claim labels and invest them with real meaning and feeling. In a lot of ways, TPM is very toyetic; almost meta-toyetic. It has such an eye-popping sense of colour, place, and objects moving about within and shaping the world, it tends toward the avant-garde and the abstract; so resplendent is the canvas and the sense of intricate grandeur that the film is audaciously imbued with. I would argue that it also feels the most polished and perhaps the most personal of all the Star Wars movies.

        Overall, I’m torn as to whether Lucas did his best direction in I, II, or III (or, for that matter, in the original). And remember: he doesn’t really consider himself a director in the first place. So it’s almost a moot point. AOTC, to me, perhaps flows the best. There might be a somewhat jarring push-pull tension in the middle, but I love how the different pieces play off against one another, and you feel a sense of doom and darkness gradually building. AOTC not only has the deepest storyline, in my opinion, but it’s probably the “moodiest” film of the saga.

        I’ve never had a problem with the love dialogue like many. I accept that AOTC, by design, is the most melodramatic, raw-boned, sultry, and awkward of the entire set. In fact, the entire movie, while depicting ominous events and building to an enormous conflagration, has a colourful, mellow feeling that is equally epic, sexy, and relaxing. The whole film is a little like Padme’s rainbow dress. I also think it might be the best framed of all the movies. Lucas never screws up his camera placement on any of his films, but AOTC has the most spacious feel in its compositions. If in doubt, zoom out. And that soapy, experimental digital texture. What *is* that? It looks so unusual to this day.

        Then again, I’ve long had a particular fondness for TPM (even though AOTC might — *might* — be my all-time favourite). It’s such a beautiful to look at and *listen* to. Amazing cinematography, effects, sound design, set design, costuming, and world-building. It’s a visionary rush. The podrace alone is worth ten lesser movies. But even before Tatooine, I’m hooked. The opening act is tremendously sensational and memorable. Wild Jedi action? Crazy Jar Jar? Stunning city reveals? Underwater sea monsters? Rescuing a queen and blasting away in a chrome spaceship? Gimme more, more, more.

        The muted and somewhat guarded way the adult actors perform in TPM is also a wonderful counterpoint to the devastating lushness of the world they inhabit. I’m shocked that more people don’t get this or feel its brilliance. It truly feels like you’re stepping into another world: a vibrant yet repressed past. I love that scintillating aesthetic tension. Very Lucas. Of all the SW movies, TPM is probably the closest in feel to a ritualistic radio drama. The starchy intoning, the obscure lingo, the rhythm of it all…

        Perhaps Lucas had matured somewhat with his actors and his creative powers by the time he got to ROTS. It’s certainly the leanest movie with the least fat. Much less “bogged down” in exposition. But I prefer the wacky and removed cinematic worlds of I and II. More prequel than prequel. Sith is still captivating, though. Especially in its final 45 minutes. I think Lucas outdid himself at the end. Gorgeous blend of surging spectacle, operatic pathos, and a subtle sense of bittersweet hope. Love those final moments of calm after the intense storm. Faster, more intense. And then come in for a gentle landing. Perfection.

        Those prequels are pretty good, aren’t they?

  • Thulsa

    It’s a pity that Lucas never did the third Star Wars trilogy, but he still could make other movies. I’d love to see a new experimental short film by George Lucas.

  • Keith Palmer

    “Needing to buy the outlines,” but considering themselves to be under no obligation to use them, does bring unfortunate thoughts of “suppression to avoid comparisons” to mind… although I’m also stuck admitting I’ve imagined more extreme efforts than this to spin things as to just who was being unreasonable and forcing further divergences.

  • Cryogenic

    So Iger just confirmed the blatantly obvious. It was a full-blown backstab. And yet, even in these extracts, he’s more bothered by failing to prepare Lucas for the backstab, rather than the backstab itself:

    “I’d been so careful since our first conversation not to mislead him in any way, and I didn’t think I had now, but I could have handled it better.”

    This is like your best friend admitting that he could have let you know he’d been cheating on you with your wife a better way. A half-assed “mea culpa” printed in some memoirs seven years later doesn’t even begin to address the root issue:

    “Now, in the first meeting with him about the future of Star Wars, George felt betrayed, and while this whole process would never have been easy for him, we’d gotten off to an unnecessarily rocky start.”

    Deceitfully implying you’d be developing his outlines and continuing his legacy to the best of your abilities after seducing him to the Disney Side, while concealing the truth from him as long as possible, because it served *your* interests, not his, then expecting the man to be okay with everything and to still play ball, is, well… interesting. And euphemistically calling the whole thing a “rocky start”… I have no words.

    It’s also good to get confirmation of something else here:

    “Just prior to the global release, Kathy screened The Force Awakens for George. He didn’t hide his disappointment. “There’s nothing new,” he said.”

    Fascinating. Iger just exposed Kathleen Kennedy as a lying witch. That certainly wasn’t the sentiment Kennedy put across to the press originally.

    On December 4th 2015, The Hollywood Reporter quoted Kennedy as saying that Lucas “really liked” TFA, with a fuller set of quotes appearing on December 9th 2015:

    https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/lucasfilms-kathleen-kennedy-what-george-846858

    The fuller quote in the Dec 9th article (link above) is very interesting:

    “Wouldn’t it be better if he didn’t talk about the new movie?

    I don’t want to second-guess what George feels he needs to say or do. It’s up to him. If there’s one thing I’ve always known about George, he’s never held back on his opinions. Of course I want him to be happy with what we’re doing. But having him 100 percent on board is up to him. He’s said in his own words, he can’t do that unless he’s the one running everything. [But] he’s seen the movie, and he really liked it.”

    Note the attempt there at damage control. The full interview was yet to air, but a preview of Lucas speaking with Charlie Rose had just been released. Seems that Kennedy quickly sat down with a major industry publication to try and quell his complaining in advance. Of course, the interview between Lucas and Rose had already been taped, so this was obviously an attempt, by Kennedy, at saving face and muddying the waters (for commercial purposes: Disney-style realpolitik) before the full interview appeared.

    Curiously, in the full interview with Rose, Lucas not only strongly suggests that Disney/Iger/Kennedy deliberately suppressed his ideas and pandered to fans for maximum short-term financial gain, but that they went with the safe choice with J.J. Abrams, in his analogy with gambling and betting on the young, eccentric kid and how corporations manage risk. Because, obviously, Abrams is not a reckless, fearless kid, but rather, an OT fanboy and the king of rehash.

    But more than that, Lucas also flatly asserts in the Rose interview — again, contradicting Kennedy — that they “weren’t that keen to have [him] around anyway”. This is backed up by the way they later got rid of Lucas luminaries like Ben Burtt and J.W. Rinzler. Yet the callous dispensing of these major Lucasfilm employees, along with Lucas himself, was very quickly swept under the rug by everyone at Lucas’ own company, with all the emphasis placed on how “progressive” Star Wars was now going to become going forward (the implicit conflation of the latter with the former is utterly amazing to me).

    These people are beyond greedy and cynical. They are utterly conniving, ruthless, self-serving kleptocrats, who wasted no time pulling the levers of corporate capitalism and using every method at their disposal to dupe fans and disenfranchise the series’ creator. Even now, they continue to operate according to the basic premise of “business as usual” and “money talks”. Indeed, Iger’s words are dripping with mafioso-like indifference: “nothing personal, just business.” All of which further underlines the notion that, if you want to get rich in America, you may not need to be an amoral, conscience-less, duplicitous turd (Lucas would be one of the better ones who bucks the trend here), but it probably helps.

    • Alexrd

      Exactly! I didn’t even got into that, but this amoral lack of tact and self-awareness is sickening. He openly betrays George and still thinks the issue is that he didn’t prepare Lucas for the betrayal, as opposed to the betrayal itself. And good call on bringing back that quote from Kennedy. I never believed it for a second considering Lucas’s interview with Charlie Rose, but it’s never too much to be reminded of the lies and the liars currently in charge.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Alex:

        “Exactly! I didn’t even got into that, but this amoral lack of tact and self-awareness is sickening. He openly betrays George and still thinks the issue is that he didn’t prepare Lucas for the betrayal, as opposed to the betrayal itself.”

        Yes. I’m not sure if Iger is merely unwilling or truly incapable of acknowledging the core issue. It doesn’t paint him in a good light either way.

        “And good call on bringing back that quote from Kennedy. I never believed it for a second considering Lucas’s interview with Charlie Rose, but it’s never too much to be reminded of the lies and the liars currently in charge.”

        No worries. I could hardly forget that quote! Mind you, at the time, I wondered if Lucas hadn’t simply been polite at the private screening, and that maybe Kennedy was telling the truth, “from a certain point of view”. But Iger’s comments now suggest she outright lied to the press.

        However, in the words of Anakin, it’s worse…

        Not only did Kennedy apparently lie, but as I said above, she was clearly attempting to rebut and retaliate (in service of protecting herself and Disney from criticism and early backlash) against what Lucas said in his interview with Charlie Rose. Which is especially bad because she lied on two or three levels.

        Here is what was reported back on November 19th 2015, about two weeks before The Hollywood Reporter first sent out Kennedy’s claim that Lucas “really liked” TFA (on December 4th 2015), regarding Lucas’ words to Charlie Rose. This is some six weeks before the Lucas-Rose interview itself actually aired:

        https://www.cbsnews.com/news/george-lucas-on-why-he-is-done-directing-star-wars/

        So it’s those specific words and that specific reportage that Kennedy was presumably countering in her own interview, which I cited earlier, with The Hollywood Reporter, which was published on December 9th 2015 (five days after Kennedy claiming that Lucas “really liked” TFA was first reported on by the same source).

        In a way, Lucas and Kennedy were trying to out-scoop one another; but the former was telling the truth, while the latter chose to be misleading and deceitful. Kennedy not only misreported Lucas’ opinion of the film, but she advanced a false dichotomy that Lucas is an all-or-nothing guy, as a cover for Disney throwing out his treatments, while also lying — or, in fact, simply rendering an incoherent claim — that it was all on Lucas, as if he had complete choice in the matter, whether to be supportive and on-board or not.

        Let’s review her remarks again:

        “I don’t want to second-guess what George feels he needs to say or do. It’s up to him. If there’s one thing I’ve always known about George, he’s never held back on his opinions. Of course I want him to be happy with what we’re doing. But having him 100 percent on board is up to him. He’s said in his own words, he can’t do that unless he’s the one running everything. [But] he’s seen the movie, and he really liked it.”

        See what a broken, ridiculous, nonsensical splurge of faux rationalisations that paragraph contains? How can Lucas, or anybody in his position, be “100 percent on board” when he has surrendered his intellectual copyright to Disney, and when Iger and Kennedy personally betrayed him and decided to make a fan pandering soft reboot? Moreover, Lucas actually said in the full interview with Charlie Rose, as I said earlier, that Disney/Lucasfilm wasn’t that keen to even have him around.

        Now, in the interview with Rose, Lucas suggests the reason for that was because he’s dictatorial by nature, when he gets involved — he’s an intense creative individual and he likes things his way. However, Disney/LFL also showed the door to Ben Burtt and J.W. Rinzler, and other people have since spoken about a new coldness coming from Lucasfilm since it came under Disney’s control; so, if anything, Lucas himself was rationalising and being self-effacing in his interview with Rose when he said that.

        Also, in the very moment Kennedy says she doesn’t want to second-guess what Lucas feels he needs to say or do, she’s doing exactly that. By speaking about his thoughts at all, never mind misreporting his response to TFA, she is trying to box him into opinions he doesn’t have, and implicitly ascribing motives to him that paste over the truth of his entanglement with Disney; and with her, who he handpicked as his replacement, after all. In other words, she was misdirecting heavily there, and it seems to have set the tone for the whole transition.

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        I try to be reasonable, I like to be polite, but I’m just gonna say it out:

        How dare they, how f*cking dare they. How dare they stab Lucas in the back like this, with HIS creation, with that he’d risked so much to make in the 1970s. What an absolutely despicable load of corporate hacks they are, especially Iger, stretching for any convenient shield they can to deflect from their sins.

        It’s clear as daylight now that they sat back and took on board the message of the prequel bashers. There’s no denying it without resorting to some soviet-style doublethink.

        I just feel sickened right now.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        I can feeeeeel your anger (for Iger)… 😉

        This latest development upset me, too. At the same time, maybe I’ve just become accustomed to fuming against Disney, or I’m trying to see the good in the sequels, or I’m getting a tad philosophical (phlegmatic?) in my old age, but I’m also a bit “chill” about it; despite my wordy passion. Does that make sense? What they did is utterly risible, but it was done some time ago, so maybe the fury I felt several years back has faded a little. Or maybe I’ve burrowed into my chitinous shell and I’m in denial and not centering on my anger. Not sure.

        I completely hear you where the notion of soviet-style doublethink goes. Various Disney defenders have obviously embraced such a psychological manacle. At some places, it is even enforced on users, to shut them up, as a message board norm. But I’ve said enough about one place in particular. Nevertheless, it could be considered a communistic tactic: seize control of the language. Level the discussion, deliberately render people conversationally impotent, restrict certain words, and embrace weasel terms; all so that you may better narrow dissent and constrain people’s ability to think freely.

        What completely and utterly sucks in my case is knowing that me and a few other people, way back in 2015, were right — or more right than wrong. But we were being shat upon, called names, all by Disney fanatics and de facto prequel bashers; and ultimately, we were censored and banished. But look how much division and animosity toward Disney has sprung up in the last couple of years. It’s quite amazing. The attempt to control language and control conversation, while ongoing (never think evil just packs its bags and gives up), may have won the first few battles, but it is presently losing the war. The light has a way of asserting itself over time. The most Star Wars theme of all!

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        Any update on how the corporate apologists in the geek media are reacting to all this? It’ll be very interesting to see if this changes their tune any little bit.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        Not sure. I did watch this video from the Star Wars Theory guy yesterday. I think he tries to be a fan of Lucas and Disney and sees Star Wars as one giant organism. The innocent “child’s eye view” of things. Commendable, really. Maybe he’s wiser than all of us put together. In any case, he was obviously a bit cut up by the news, and he has what you might term a quietly emotional reaction:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udaKOdDdcD8

      • jpieper668

        @Cryo
        read the comments on that video while many support lucas there are some that predictably bashed the prequels and saying lucas has himself to blame for selling to disney those comments really pissed me off i cursed them out then deleted them because i’m a coward there was one comment saying he liked the prequels but then said the same old BS bad acting bad writing and saying the last jedi was a better film hown can anyone think that’s a better film with this film (and it’s predecessor)Turning a cast of Beloved Sci-Fi Icons into failures undoing the ending of ROTJ? and lucas sold because of the crap he got from ungrateful fans it’s their fault lucas sold to begin with F**K THEM!

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        I didn’t mean YouTube channels when I referred to “geek media”. In any case, Star Wars theory is very good, and is easily my favourite SW channel. I’m not surprise to see him upset, any hardcore fan would be too.

  • Star Wars Hexalogy

    Hm, I guess I could comment on how I feel about this but I´m afraid it would involve a lot of expletives and would probably get me banned from this site forever so I´ll keep it to myself.

  • archdukeofnaboo

    It’s frankly disgusting the way Lucas was treated after he sold his mythology. These words from Lord Igor himself say it all. Disney can throw has much big corporate money at sympathetic media as they want, there are a lot of angry fans out there who simply “will not be turned”.

    I’m hopeful for Episode IX, but oh my word, has it got such a mess to clean up.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Alex:

        Yep. They’re both culpable: Iger and Kennedy.

        What’s really notable in the Lucas-Kennedy clip is how demure and serene Kennedy is through most of it (and just for the record: I’ve seen the full set of clips), while she lets Lucas Lucasplain everything, with her displaying little of the tough, firebrand, “Kathy knows best” didacticism that emerged once Lucas was taken out of the picture. But with one exception I’ll come onto.

        I also find it a bit vexing and sad in that clip when Lucas asserts he is prepared to back Kennedy up and be there guiding things, “especially helping with the script and making sure the script is sort of… there’s a lot of blank spots in the story treatment that hopefully we can fill in.”

        But it seems Disney had little faith in those treatments to begin with and they were quickly cast aside. Yet George would have been there to help them through those early difficulties. What a way to bite the hand that fed them! Juxtaposing Lucas’ comments there with Iger’s comments in the released book quotes is pretty devastating.

        That said, Kennedy does somewhat testily interject at the end, right after Lucas explains the political dimension of his creation and how it links to the personal (watch before she speaks: her facial expressions and body language become remarkably stiff), and Kennedy sort of scathingly quips: “There you go: the essence of Star Wars.” While aggressively gesticulating at Lucas with her left hand! That part makes me feel really awkward.

        And you can see what it led to:

        https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/05/kathleen-kennedy-star-wars-interview

        “This is a question I’ve thought about a lot over the years and you’re the perfect person to put it to. My sense has always been that really successful popular-culture artists like Steven Spielberg or George Lucas are ultimately just making the films that they want to make and that, their talent aside, they’re kind of lucky because whatever it is that’s important to them somehow resonates with the public. Not that they don’t make commercial calculations. But fundamentally, do you think that’s true?

        I think that’s absolutely right. There’s no question. I’ve watched it with both George and Steven. That’s what I was saying about making it personal. Every frame is emanating from something that’s genuinely important to them. Authenticity inside each one of those guys is always on the screen. And whether it works or doesn’t work, that’s not what they’re thinking about. They’re literally artists in search of finding a way to communicate how they feel about things. And George, you know, his increasing need to use politics as a way to express some of his frustration with what was going on in the world is what comes through in the Star Wars [prequels]. And, you know, fans can look at that and determine whether or not they connected with that or not, but certainly George did. That was really important to him. And, you know, that was his prerogative. It was his story. He was using that in a way that was personally meaningful to him.”

        (I’m quoting an old forum post of mine for the rest of this response):

        Notice some phrasing here:

        –> “And whether it works or doesn’t”.
        –> “His increasing need to use politics”.
        –> “And, you know, fans can look at that and determine whether or not they connected with that or not”.
        –> “It was his story. He was using that in a way that was personally meaningful to him.”

        All those statements, while they look soothing and reassuring enough, also place the prequels in a box ——> the “personal” project of an artist who is now out of the frame. That’s the underlying message when carefully read. Lucas is gone; and “his story” is described in the past-tense.

        There is also an obvious muddle in Kennedy stating that Lucas had an “increasing need to use politics”, despite the fact that Lucas conceived of Star Wars as having political overtones from the get-go, and was already looking forward to the prequels being more political in nature before the release of ROTJ. She makes it sound like he went off on something of a self-indulgent, frustration-driven tangent, rather than that being the basic intent all along. And that is all a way, it seems, to me, for her to justify or patch over the fact that TFA is more commercial by definition, and that Lucas’ treatments were seemingly binned. And, of course, the First Order (Empire 2.0) simply obliterates the non-existent Republic in the film; the political conflict is shapeless and never articulated.

        So what her wording does above, much like the wording of her cohort, Abrams, is place a divide or perimeter around the prequels, symbolically quarantining them, such that they may do no further damage and in no way compromise the Disney business model. Every comment these two have ever made about the prequels has been a backhanded compliment at best. It doesn’t matter what they personally think of them. I will repeat that that is a total irrelevance. The key point is that they have publicly set about trying to distance the sequel trilogy from them. Kennedy’s wording above makes clear that she is simply putting a “vanilla” spin on the general media narrative; which is that the prequels were artistically indulgent at best, a misguided travesty at worst.

        ——————-

        Pretty sneaky stuff.

  • Stefan K

    Is it just me, or is anyone else surprised how open Iger is?
    Still, the story is (almost) as “breaking” for me as “water is wet.” Most of us already assumed that the treatments were (more or less) directly thrown out of the window.

    As for this quote:
    “… but he also wasn’t appreciating the pressure we were under to give ardent fans a film that felt quintessentially Star Wars. … We’d intentionally created a world that was visually and tonally connected to the earlier films, to not stray too far from what people loved and expected”
    To be “more neutral” here: TFA has been designed (almost) from the start to be a “safe” movie, as one commenter on SWPAS has described TFA. I can understand it – if you are in charge of a multi-billion entertainment company, the last thing you want is a controversial first entry of the franchise you have just purchased.

    You could of course argue that GL should have seen the whole development before the sale – he knows Hollywood after all. However, I also think that he trusted Disney, KK etc. (maybe a bit too much, but) enough to realistically assume that he would be a contributor to the new movies.

      • Star Wars Hexalogy

        “visually and tonally connected to the earlier films”

        Interesting then how visually and tonally disconnected and inconsistent TFA is to the earlier (SIX) films.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Joe:

        “in a way bob was saying the prequels weren’t quintessentially star wars which is bullsh*t”

        Exactly. Or put another way: there is no “quintessential” Star Wars experience. How do you even grade one component over another? The sum is greater than the parts. That statement by Iger is a non-sequitur. And yet, as you’ve just nailed, we all know what he’s driving at. Rubber-stamped Disney/LFL dogwhistle for “not like the prequels”.

        I say rubber-stamped because that was actually a term they used in 2015. I don’t have the exact source available, but this quote was circulated at the time and supposedly comes from an edition of Empire Magazine:

        “Being the temporary captain of the ship that George built is an honour but the ship is larger than the man who built it,” says Abrams, “When he created something as powerful as Star Wars, while it began with him, it became the world’s.” Lucas’ withdrawal has, in some quarters, been seen as an opportunity to put distance between the saga and those meddlesome midi-chlorians. For these fans Abrams is a lifeline — a new hope, if you will. Someone to take the saga back to its glory days. Before the dark times. Before the prequels. “I don’t take any comfort in people comparing The Force Awakens to something they might not have liked as much as something else,” counters Abrams. “I don’t think anyone is looking for anything other than the quintessential Star Wars when they get excited about The Force Awakens.”

        I’ve little reason to doubt its authenticity, as it’s in-line with a bunch of other crap Abrams spewed, and you can actually find part of the quote on the following page:

        https://www.empireonline.com/movies/features/star-wars-force-awakens-complete-history-part-v/

        (Change the Roman numeral at the end of that URL and you can read the other parts)

        To once again quote an old forum post of mine:

        Let’s look at those remarks in turn:

        1) “Being the temporary captain of the ship that George built is an honour but the ship is larger than the man who built it,” says Abrams, “When he created something as powerful as Star Wars, while it began with him, it became the world’s.”

        2) “I don’t take any comfort in people comparing The Force Awakens to something they might not have liked as much as something else,” counters Abrams.

        3) “I don’t think anyone is looking for anything other than the quintessential Star Wars when they get excited about The Force Awakens.”

        These are very interesting remarks.

        The wording is careful, cautious, euphemistic.

        “The ship is larger than the man who built it … it became the world’s.”

        “They might not have liked as much as something else.”

        “Quintessential Star Wars”.

        ——————-

        They basically went out of their way to avoid bashing the prequels directly by name, but otherwise did everything they could to insinuate they were giving fans a superior set of films and that they weren’t repeating the “mistakes” of the prequels.

        So, in a way, they rejected *two* Star Wars trilogies: the ST treatments and the PT. Make that three. By superficially rehashing the basic visual and story beats of the OT, they came close to obviating the philosophical tapestry and spiritual victories experienced by the characters in those films, as well.

        But did they actually do that in the final analysis? I don’t know. It’s subjective. And there is no final analysis. But the whole thing was undeniably crooked. The way they treated Lucas and patronised the lowest-common-denominator element of the fanbase got the new era off to a regrettably putrid start. And we are where we are.

    • jpieper668

      @Stefan K
      Empire has bashed the prequels for years in an article about the Ewok movies the actor who played Mace(no relation to Windu)said the prequels lacked Heart which The Ewok films had
      HOW DO THE PREQUELS LACK HEART?

  • Moose

    I love how Iger says that they made it clear “in the purchase agreement” that Disney was under no obligation to actually use Lucas’ outlines.

  • Michael Kelly

    Well, there it is, from the mouth of the horses ass… My first thoughts were this is vindication. Vindication from the constant disparaging comments that many of us had to endure from Disney Defenders on a certain Star Wars Forums that looked down on us as conspiracy theorists, or just plain out haters.

    All of the evidence was there that something shady went down. Now we get more information that fills in the blanks. Of course Lucas would feel betrayed! While the contract would have read this or that, it is clear that Iger and Disney were whispering sweet nothings into Lucas’s ear in order to get him to sign the deal. We now have Iger, over many years and many interviews, stating that the Lucas treatments were what enticed him to want to buy Star Wars, However we also know from Abrams that the Lucas treatments were scrapped after Lucas signed and before Abrams was brought on! We are talking 2 months times between the two events. This tells me that Iger is not being honest! You don’t put down billions of dollars on an IP, than get rid of the very thing that you were telling everyone as to why you bought the IP in the first place. That makes NO SENSE!

    Then to top it off, Iger and Kennedy don’t even have the common courtesy to inform Lucas in a decent manner that they have moved away from his stories. Instead they basically ambush him with it, trying to pass it along in a meeting as not a big deal.

    Also from Iger’s book, we get confirmation that Disney was warning Lucas not to say bad things about TFA at the premier for TFA! This again explains Lucas’s body language, his words, his tone, his vague answers:

    https://i.redd.it/2px4fxs0tfo31.jpg

    I know @cryo will love that especially!

    • archdukeofnaboo

      @Michael Kelly

      Wow, a non-disparagement clause. They sure spare no expenses at these government-sized corporations, do they not?

      I can’t believe Lucas hasn’t taken some action against Disney as a major shareholder. He’s just too soft-spoken, too gentle it seems to do something that the average American probably would do were they in his shoes. His pushover manner is a little similar to the modern Irish person (I’m Irish so I can say this)

    • Cryogenic

      @ Mike:

      Mike, you were the first person I thought of — and yes, all those engagements we had, with a certain someone on a certain message board! — as soon as I saw that extract last night. Ironically, I found it on that very same message board, in the big “sequel trilogy development” thread. I was wondering what you’d make of it!!!

      It’s hilarious that Iger says that Kennedy helped convince Lucas to attend the premiere(s) (along with his wife), when Lucas and Kennedy never even acknowledged each other at either one (Los Angeles and London). Gee, they couldn’t have been avoiding each other, could they?

      Darth Downunder defence (I pulled this out of my ass, but that makes it perfect): “They ran out of time to acknowledge each other because Lucas ate bad airline food and kept going to the men’s room.” At both premieres, too, of course! No, wait. “Lucas had something on the bottom of his shoe at the first premiere, so he disappeared to a cobbler’s to get a new pair made on the spot. Then he realised he’d left his electric shaver on charge and had to run home. Then he bust his new shoes and had to go to the cobbler’s again, and…”

      I also love how Iger says Lucas had “issues” with the film. That’s like saying the Jedi and the Sith had “issues” concerning the running of the Republic. They were basically asking Lucas to attend a gala staging of his creation being blasted to pieces by a corporate firing squad — twice.

      Interesting that Lucas’ wife also played a role in getting him to go. That piece of information helps make sense of something that previously seemed a touch bizarre: when Mellody Hobson directly defended her husband against some remarks of Kathleen Kennedy’s in this Vanity Fair article:

      https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2016/02/kathleen-kennedy-hollywood-producer

      “Referring to a notorious scene in Return of the Jedi, I asked Kennedy if she would ever have put Princess Leia in a golden bikini—the famous “slave Leia” costume that is embedded in the collective unconscious of legions of men who were adolescents in the 80s. “With a chain around her neck?,” Kennedy asked, arching an eyebrow and laughing. “I don’t think that would happen.” She quickly added that she didn’t think George Lucas would put her in that bikini today. Despite rumors, Disney is not banning the image from future Star Wars paraphernalia. Mellody Hobson, Lucas’s wife, said, “George is not apologetic about that bikini,” elaborating that he had said, “The one thing I know are boys.” Hobson went on: “He thinks that was a very important scene. He would probably do the same thing today. He is not apologetic at all.” A small statuette of the cast of Return of the Jedi, featuring Leia in her bikini, sits outside Kennedy’s office. She hasn’t taken it down.”

      Seems that Mellody was maybe feeling a bit guilty, or felt she now owed her husband, whose arm she had twisted to attend both TFA premieres, when he really didn’t want to go, a favour! Lucas had done his bit. He’d swallowed his pride and dutifully attended both premieres. It was now time for Mellody to step up and push back against Kennedy’s judgemental broadsides. Again, Lucas and Kennedy didn’t acknowledge each other at the premieres (or there is no photographic or videographic evidence that says otherwise), so one imagines Lucas was in no mood to counter Kennedy directly, but he didn’t mind firing back through his wife as his representative! That’s my little take on it, anyway.

      Iger trying to convince Lucas to sign a non-disparagement clause is another revelation in itself! Why would Lucas disparage his own creation; especially when half his $4 billion in sale money was in Disney shares?! That really gives you a good indication of how nervous they obviously were about being brought to task for their actions! Actions which, by definition, they hadn’t yet taken; but which they must have been thinking about taking early on! That must have been the first clue for Lucas — if he was being mindful — that something was “off” and that Disney (or Bob Iger, Alan Horn, and Kathleen Kennedy) were up to something. Definitely seems like they were planning to abandon those sequel treatments in a New York minute!

      It’s also heartwarming to see that the Mr-Rogers-meets-Watto Bob Iger has taken the time to slam Lucas in print, right in the middle of whinging about his unappreciative attitude toward the mutilation-for-profit of his own life’s work, and near-boasting about the success of TFA, which Iger himself admits embodies the very complaints Lucas made against it! The lacking-in-self-awareness butthurt is strong in this one.

      And you’re right about something else. Something I should have picked up on and commented on earlier. Kennedy should also take a share of the blame in failing to sufficiently inform Lucas that his treatments were being dropped in advance. It wasn’t just Iger that did the dirty on Lucas here. They both left him high and dry, believing otherwise, only to casually drop a bombshell in the middle of a story meeting. If one were being cynical, you could read their actions as their trying to avoid responsibility; as if, by incidentally letting the penny drop, they were placing the burden on Lucas. “Oh, didn’t you know?” kind of deal. Not that we’ve seen them trying to shift blame onto fans or call them sexist, racist, etc., or anything…

      Anyway, I know this’ll sound like a contradiction, but this post is actually a bit too negative by my standards; this monster I’ve just written. I think, for a sense of proportion and balance — balance to the Force, right? — I should quote the Redditor who posted Iger’s remarks. They are, to be fair, quite level-headed in their interpretation, I think:

      “Now before people jump to their keyboards, I think it’s critical to acknowledge that Kathy Kennedy and Pablo Hidalgo have both reiterated that George’s ideas evolved once JJ and Arndt began developing the script BASED on Lucas’ treatment, but that it was NOT a wholesale shift. So who is right? Kennedy or Iger? I would say both.

      Pablo has avoided discussing the overarching ideas of Lucas’ treatment (at least on IX is released), but he has acknowledged certain ideas were birthed from Lucas: main character being a female Jedi, a “Jedi-Killer,” Luke in exile, etc. That is likely the truth, THOSE ideas did come from Lucas’ treatment, but the evolution happened with HOW those puzzle pieces fit together to form a story.

      Clearly, Kennedy/Abrams/Arndt desired a different version that utilized the same ideas, but deviated from how Lucas felt the story should go. For instance, according to Pablo, Lucas’ VII would’ve featured Luke’s revitalization from his exile, but that idea was pushed to VIII in the development process. Not to mention, the involvement of the Whills/midichlorians/microbiotic world in the overarching story which were seemingly discarded.”

      So some of the notes were preserved, even if the lyrics and melody may have been significantly altered. Is that still Star Wars? I don’t know. It’s not nothing. This thing still has a hold of me. But when is a thing no longer a thing?

      • Michael Kelly

        @Cryo…

        I think it’s perfectly fine to try not to be too negative, if one chooses to do so. I guess I am not as forgiving as you. I no longer trust Pablo Hidalgo’s information, as I have seen him completely toss out things Lucas said while Lucas owned LFL, in favor of inserting the new Disney-fied history. Case in point one of the most long standing debates in Star Wars fandom, were Stormtroopers Clones? Back when ROTS was filming, Hidalgo wrote a feature for Hyperspace (the premium paid content for StarWars.com). In one of these set diaries Hidalgo came out and asked Lucas directly if Stormtroopers were clones, to which Lucas gave the answer as Yes they were, followed by some humor from Lucas where Lucas recognizes the extreme tendencies of the Star Wars fandom. Fast forward to post-sale, and Hidalgo announces via tweet that the “debate is finally over”, in which he proclaims that the OT stormtroopers are not clones at all, but, are in fact recruits. This was because the cartoon Star Wars Rebels now had stormtroopers as being recruits form the different worlds.

        Now, it isn’t the change in the lore that bothers me so much, even though I do not like the Disney lore as much as I liked the Lucas lore behind Stormtroopers. What bothers me is the revisionism of Hidalgo and his own writing/reporting/official stance on the matter where he conveniently forgets that the matter was already settled once, but, now it officially settled, but, in opposite of what Lucas originally said? Basically to me it seemed as if Hidalgo was purposefully ignoring something that was said pre-sale, in order to prop up the post-sale, Disney side.

        So when Hidalgo says that elements of Lucas’s treatments made it thru to TFA and TLJ… I take that with a tremendous grain of salt. Things like a Female Jedi I don’t even come close to counting, because that was almost a no-brainer to happen no matter who owned the franchise. I highly doubt that Abrams, Kennedy, and Iger were sitting around saying that they wanted to keep the main hero as a woman because it was part of Lucas’s treatments. Obviously Rey is Rey because it makes the most sense with our current cultural influences. Disney and Lucas just happened to agree on it.

        As for Luke in exile, lets also remember something about what Abrams and Arndt said back when TFA was released. They didn’t know what to do with Luke. That was Arndt’s biggest stumbling block. They clearly tried introducing Luke back into the fold in TFA, but, remember they said that they felt Luke took over the movie from Rey. So again, it seems what happened isn’t that Abrams and Company kept the theme of Luke in exile because it was part of Lucas’s treatments, but, more so because they made a decision based on not knowing what else to do with Luke, and to make sure Rey was front and center.

        So IMO (which is admittedly biased), it seems that anything that was left over from Lucas’s treatments was not because it was part of Lucas’s treatments, or because Abrams and company wanted to make sure some things were left over from Lucas’s treatments, but, were matters of convenience or a shared agreement about the cultural influences of this era. So for Hidalgo to say some things from Lucas’s treatments made it into the Sequel Trilogy, it seems disingenuous, because we have the quotes from others telling us that this left overs from the Lucas treatments are not there because they were Lucas’s ideas.

        Now, with that said, I am not trying to bring you down to my level of cynicism. I do think it is important to remember all the moving parts of what was going on in those months, to try and get a complete picture of the events. There was a ton of information, interviews, and quotes put out there, so it is hard to try and find the context that binds it all together. However, the track record of LFL post sale leads me to not be as trusting as some.

        I do want to point out, that as much as I do not like TFA and TLJ, there are still elements within the movies themselves that I think were well done, that I can appreciate, that I so like. In TFA I think Han Solo’s death/murder was done very well. If there is one scene so far in this whole Disney era that I think has the most Lucas like feeling to it, it is that whole scene from the point Han walks out onto the catwalk, to right after Kylo pushes him over the edge. Visually it is very Lucas like, and it fits well within the recurring themes of the Skywalkers. Anakin Skywalker wasn’t able to hold back the Dark Side, and he eventually decides to help murder his psuedo-family emember, Mace Windu. Years Later, Luke Skywalker is able to hold back the Dark Side when his choice is presented, and not follow in his Father’s path. Ben Skywalker, when his choice is presented, embraces the Dark Side and murders his Father.

        In TLJ, I thought the scenes where Luke shows up on Crait to where he reveals himself to be a force projection were very well done, and my favorite of the movie, even though I do not like how Luke’s death was handled.

        So there are elements of the ST I do like, those are just my two favorites. But, what’s actually int he movies is a lot different than the behind the scenes garbage that went on… Maybe I should exile myself to a desert… A real desert..

      • Cryogenic

        @ Mike:

        I don’t know all the ins and outs of the clone/stormtrooper issue. Truthfully, it doesn’t strike me as a big deal, because we hear stormtroopers speaking in ANH, and they sound nothing like Jango. And yet Lucas had Temuera Morrison re-do Boba Fett’s lines in TESB, so if he really wanted to make that association with the stormtroopers stronger, it’s hard to see why he wouldn’t have done so in exactly the same way when he was motivated to make such changes. I think the basic idea of the stormtroopers was a mix of clones and recruits: whatever stock was left from the Clone Wars, plus new people signing up and bringing peace down the barrel of a gun for the Empire. If Pablo was a bit dishonest in switching, or giving the impression he never said a former set of things, maybe it’s meant to be part of a protracted in-joke. Is the issue that important? Maybe not to Pablo.

        But your notes of caution are well-advised. He could well be over-simplifying and covering up for his new masters. I tend to think there’s some truth to what he’s said, though. But that could be my own bias. After all, he has presumably seen those treatments, and we haven’t. What’s more, Arndt himself has admitted (as you touched on) they had difficulty integrating Luke into the main storyline for Episode VII. It was hard working him in without Luke stealing the spotlight and overpowering the other characters. But as far as I know, the idea was always that Luke would be out of commission initially, and then spurred back into the fight by Rey/Kira.

        So what put Luke out of commission? In “The Art Of The Force Awakens”, there’s an image of Luke which the artist recently posted on Instagram and wrote was based around “Luke being described as a Col. Kurtz type hiding from the world in a cave”. In the same caption, he also states that Lucas gave him a “Fabulouso” stamp of approval, and that this was back in January 2013. Even if Disney may not have been adhering to Lucas’ treatments at that time, it’s still from early in the development process, and Lucas giving the artwork his classic stamp suggests he liked the concept. While Luke wouldn’t sport exactly the same look in the finished film, it’s notable he still has those crazed/wounded red-tipped eyes at the end of TFA and in parts of TLJ. Go look:

        https://comicbook.com/starwars/2018/11/23/star-wars-the-last-jedi-luke-skywalker-concept-art/

        Then, in “The Art Of The Last Jedi”, early paintings are provided for the site of the First Jedi Temple, one of which Lucas also gave his “Fabulouso” stamp to. The text points out that it was “a very early take on Luke’s temple, way back when there was still no director”. The image that Lucas approved is a bell structure sitting atop a plinth of rock with ancient rocky steps leading up to it. It’s certainly striking, but if you delete the bell, you basically have the same imagery in TLJ. I think this was a good while before Skellig Michael was scouted as a location. Assuming these details aren’t faked or fumbled, aspects that would eventually coalesce and become part of TLJ, even if intended for Episode VII, seemingly carried through from the earliest art made for the sequel trilogy. So Pablo can’t be lying; though bending of the truth is still possible.

        The sequels, on some level, are meant to be about legacy and the handing down of wisdom. This theme starts to build in the OT, with Obi-Wan gifting Luke Anakin’s lightsaber: a symbolic moment where a powerful totem is bequeathed to a major character. It is taken up a notch in TFA, with that same lightsaber re-entering the story under mysterious circumstances, Rey being strangely drawn to it and having a vision when she touches it, and how Kylo feels it is his to claim. Then you have Rey extending it to Luke at the end of the movie; and everything else that happens to it in TLJ. This also seems consistent with Lucas’ treatments, which seemed to focus on main characters chasing down relics. Rumours are swirling that relic-hunting forms a part of the plot of Episode IX — and they apparently consulted with Lucas for this one, remember.

        Han’s death is a high point of TFA. I think the Abrams film delivers a strong third act. I also like other pieces earlier in the film, like Rey’s introduction, including her simple line engravings on the inside of her AT-AT home, which has a follow-on in TLJ when she sees multiple copies of herself inside the mirror on Ahch-To (also: sand/water). Another part of TFA I enjoy is Maz’s castle being stormed/crumpled by the First Order, Rey going crazy on those stormtroopers and watching Kylo’s shuttle swoop in to land, and her running off into the forest and getting captured by Kylo. There’s a disarming fluidity to that passage and something more than a little fable-esque about it: the virginal nymph getting stalked and abducted by the big bad wolf. It also has my favourite rendition of Kylo’s Theme. Just a cool section.

        Luke confronting Kylo on Crait was brilliantly done. The music is terrific and the actors really sell the shit out of it. Dialogue there is appropriately minimalistic and very cutting. I replay it in my head all the time. I admit, the first time, I thought it was a cop-out, like a lot of people, that Luke was merely a projection, but I was able to appreciate the genius of it on return viewings. That part of the movie is extremely badass and poignant. And the basic themes being articulated — taking responsibility for past actions, the power of guilt and forgiveness, and the emptiness of vengeance — are bread-and-butter Star Wars.

        But it’s hardly the only part of TLJ I enjoy. I also love the red guard fight, Holdo ramming Snoke’s ship, the Canto Bight sequence (irritating/distracting on a first viewing, but again: I learned to love it), Benicio del Toro, the “Force Skype” calls between Rey and Kylo (especially the first one: perfect direction), and yes: crazy-guy Luke going sea-cow-milking and ultra-long-spear-fishing and slapping Rey with the blade of grass. Mark Hamill utterly kills it in TLJ. So does Adam Driver. Daisy, i think, has a few moments that are hit and miss, but she nails the more emotional stuff. And I love her cry of anguish when she is pulling hard on the lightsaber in her “tug of war” with Kylo right before it breaks apart.

        Did I mention how much I love the island as a location? I love its realisation on film. It genuinely has a lot of character and feels highly believable as a place loaded up on the Force. The inside of the Jedi Temple, while very spare-looking, is also inspired. I love the medallion on the floor. Just like I love the oculus in Snoke’s chamber. The two could be considered to be linked. And the way the water fizzes and shimmers when Luke puts himself back in touch with the Force and senses Leia? And the way the two mouth each other’s names? Right back to the birthing scene in ROTS where Padme sadly utters their names for the first time.

        God help me, I even like the space chase. It’s kind of interesting. Slow, but interesting. Where are they going? Where are they? This theme of nothingness and nobodies keeps coming up. And who can’t love that gorgeous shield effect around the main Resistance cruiser? Dang, that’s sweet. The Poe-Holdo stuff is a bit trickier to process, but I think it makes sense if you think along thematic lines. Neither is behaving completely appropriately, but that particular clashing of egos, like rams butting heads, and how it’s resolved with a kind of double mutiny, is pretty satisfying. The writing is probably at its most contrived there, but it’s also tough to imagine the film without that inner plot.

        Now, Luke’s arc has raised considerable ire, but I think it’s really smart and beautiful. Rian Johnson was evidently tapping into the “Fisher King” legend. It even helps explain why the conflict looks the way it does. When Luke gave into doubt, he pushed Kylo into the arms of Snoke, as if birthing the Empire-Rebels conflict all over again in a dark moment of the soul. A dark moment that becomes a dark night. And the sparing but ingenious incorporation of the flashback device. Often a cliche, but here evoking “Rashomon” and put to gripping use. And man! Do I love Kylo’s face in the “evil Luke” flashback he puts into Rey’s mind. Like: “Oh no you don’t…!!!” as those sabers lock together. And Kylo, of course, painting himself as the tragic hero.

        There’s such a sense of pathos baked into the whole storyline now. I know some people absolutely hate it, but I think Luke’s resurrection at the end, where he embraces his own “legend”, giving the light a reprieve, helps sell it. It’s too hard to break down in a couple of paragraphs. Luke’s arc. But it all kinda slots into place when Luke reminds Kylo: “Strike me down in anger and I’ll always be with you… just like your father.” That’s obviously Luke also making peace with *his* Dark Side in that moment. I think this treatment of Luke is on a deeper level to anything we’ve seen in these films before. Tragedy and triumph. It’s kind of the Skywalker family drama in a nutshell. And Rian deepened the arc of father and son considerably.

        I did have a mixed and somewhat fogged view of the film when I first saw it, but it’s impossible for me to dislike TLJ anymore. Seeing the fantastic documentary really helped. Even the videography of “The Director And The Jedi” is stunning. You can tell that Rian wasn’t just winging it, but actually put a great deal of effort into everything. I emerged with a new-found admiration. The Internet is not a good place to be when you’re trying to come across positive perspectives and bring clarity to your own feelings. The prequels are still Number One for me, but at the same time, if you were to ask me right now, what are my three favourite Star Wars movies (?), I’d say Episodes I, II, and VIII. I love sticking it to Disney and sticking up for George, but I don’t regret the sale to Disney as much as I did.

      • Michael Kelly

        @Cryo…

        As I said about the stormtrooper debate, it isn’t about the lore itself, it is about the history of the matter, should Lucas’s thoughts on the matter be totally deleted from the history because he doesn’t own it anymore? Should the evolution of the story omit Lucas’s thoughts because he sold? Or is it simply the victors get to write the history books?

        Let me take another scenario. The Chosen One. Lucas has been on record many many times as saying that Anakin Skywalker is the chosen one. There is a renewed vigor both in the fandom and even within LFL (it seems) to make Rey or even Kylo the Chosen One. And if that happens, and Hidalgo announces that this is as it always has been, even though Lucas is on record as saying something completely different, does it make it ok to ignore Lucas’s thoughts from his story? Sure, at the point Disney can do what ever it wants with the stories and lore, but, again, it seems the further away we get from Lucas, the selective memory of those that actually worked with him becomes bigger.

        Let’s also not forget that it wasn’t that long ago that a few LFL employees, Hidalgo included decided to delete their a great deal of their Social Media history, especially that of which that dealt with the fans.

        As for the picture of Luke. I have seen the picture and the tweet by Hidalgo about Luke being in exile predating TLJ and he cryptically seems to refer to it coming from Lucas. This is what I meant earlier about the context of all this information coinciding with dates etc etc etc. Remember, the sale comes on Oct. 30th 2012. Later on Abrams says that Lucas’s treatments were trashed before he arrived on the scene. In an interview, Kennedy confirms that Abrams said yes to directing TFA on Dec. 14th 2012. So between Oct 30th and Dec 14th 2012, the decision to move away from Lucas’s treatments has been made.

        The artist dates the picture of Luke at Jan 13th 2013. From other sources we know that the first meeting that Lucas attended about TFA was in January 2013. We also now know from Iger himself, the very first of these January meetings is when Lucas finds out that they trashed his treatments. So again, I don’t put much stock in Hidalgo’s comments because it has now been approx 3 months from the sale to Lucas’s first meeting about the movie, and this is when he finds out that they trashed his treatments, and he is clearly mad. Lucas giving his approval of the pic of Luke and Ach-to doesn’t mean they were from his treatments, because obviously they weren’t as when he stamps his “fabulous” on them, Disney has moved on from his treatments, have had Michael Arndt start a new script, and finally told Lucas they aren’t doing his story. The “fabulous” stamp is not proof that Lucas’s Luke in exile is the same to Disney’s Luke in exile. Or that Disney’s Luke in exile is because it was part of Lucas’s story, or because it was an easy and convenient way of kicking the can of Luke Skywalker down the road.

        This is where I get real cynical about how Hidalgo and Disney roll out the history of stuff. We know Arndt was working with Lucas and the Lucas treatments prior to the sale, that’s a fact. We know after the sale Arndt has to restart the script because Disney chooses to go in a different direction when they chose to move away from the Lucas treatments. We know that again in 2013 the story for TFA is completely trashed as Arndt steps down and Abrams and Kasdan, by their own admission, start from scratch.

        Lets say, that Lucas, in his treatments, had Luke in exile. From the time of the sale, to the time of the final movie, the story for TFA has been through so many different restarts and rewrites etc etc, that Hidalgo’s tweet about Luke in Exile coming from Lucas is dubious at best. Even if it survived every re-write, it doesn’t mean it was the same Luke in Exile for the same reasons, with the same results.

        Example;

        My grandmother gives me the decades old family recipe for chocolate chip cookies, and within a few weeks, I change every single ingredient, with the exception of one, Sugar, and even than I change the amount of sugar to use and change it from regular sugar to brown sugar. So one day my grandmother comes over and I bake her the family cookies from the family recipe, and she spits it out saying it’s completely different, and I tell her, yeah.. but I kept the Sugar (just made it brown sugar).. Can I claim some kind of righteousness that I kept part of her recipe (treatment)…?

        So when Hidalgo cryptically infers Luke in exile was a Lucas ideal, I have no reason to not believe him that in Lucas’s treatments Luke was in exile, but, I highly doubt Hidalgo’s sincerity in trying to convey that the Luke in TLJ somehow comes from Lucas. It reeks of the same thing DIsney does when it invites Lucas over to the sets of TFA, TLJ, Rogue One, Solo, The Mandalorian, the Premier for TFA etc etc. They trot Lucas out as a way to legitimize their Star Wars endeavors, even flat out lying about Lucas liking it (see Kennedy saying Lucas liked TFA and Iger saying Lucas didn’t like it). So Hidalgo trying to legitimize the handling of Luke in TLJ by trying to connect that to Lucas’s treatments does not surprise me, as it seems that’s what Disney does. That’s why Hidalgo’s handling of the stormtrooper debate is relevant.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Mike:

        This is a difficult subject for me. The foundation they laid in TFA is questionable, and certainly not what Lucas would have done, but I think Rian’s choices in TLJ helped redeem it (somewhat). But more than that, there are a ton of factors that have to be taken into account when a script is being developed; and even a script, especially on a Lucas film, is hardly the end-all, be-all. Yes, they made extremely conservative choices on TFA, and Iger has now admitted it himself, just as Abrams came clean and admitted it shortly after the film came out. Disappointing to be sure; and also, for us Disney critics, satisfying in a bittersweet way, as it also vindicates what we were saying all along.

        And yet, as you concisely put it: “It is hard to try and find the context that binds it all together.” We are outsiders looking in. We’ve tried our best to be diligent, but we are still missing essential details. We’re like Artoo with the map! There’s still a critical chunk missing. Also, at the end of the day, there may be no particular binding context. Even if we had that final piece, the map is not the territory. We then become like Rey going to the island, only to discover that “Luke S.”, this “legend”, isn’t what we thought. Or Rey looking at herself in the mirror: herself! Not what she expected or hoped to see.

        Perhaps Pablo was lying when he said it, but he claimed on Twitter to have seen the original sequel treatments, and he stated they weren’t very long. Even in that video clip posted earlier by Alex, of Lucas sat with Kennedy announcing the sale, Lucas admits “there’s a lot of blank spots”. He may have slightly inflated the “legend” of the sequel treatments because, at heart, he’s a mythologist who has a particular knack for aggrandising certain facets of the stories he crafts. He even invented a rich history for the faux-Victorian main house and surrounding structures at Skywalker Ranch. While we may blanch at everything the new copyright holders have said when so much of it has sounded crooked and underhanded, Lucas is not always such a straight-shooting guy himself. He’s a complex man who gets a kick out of embellishing some aspects of his personal mythos. It adds intrigue and mystery. Like a shield protecting the core.

        We also have to be realistic and put the sequel trilogy and its entanglement with the sale to Disney into a broader context. Lucas is part-artisan, part-businessman. And for years, he said there was no sequel trilogy, even claiming it was more of a media invention than anything else. In more recent comments, he explained that he hashed out a sequel trilogy outline to make the sale more attractive to Disney. He may, for a short time, have contemplated making the first one himself, and then handing things over. But that would have been rather messy and awkward. Apparently, Bob Iger first put the idea of selling his company in his head in May 2011, and it seems it was right around then that Lucas began developing the sequel trilogy. Kennedy was appointed as President of Lucasfilm in April 2012, and the details of the sale were hashed out around June or July 2012.

        What it seems Lucas did was to ensure the right pieces were in place for the sale to go through smoothly, and for him to get a decent price. It looks like Kennedy was installed because of her long-time association with Steven Spielberg. Lucas had, of course, collaborated with both of them on the “Indiana Jones” series, which he co-created with Spielberg, and Spielberg was one of his greatest living filmmaking heroes. Moreover, Spielberg frequently stuck up for Lucas and believed in Star Wars from the beginning when Lucas’ other filmmaking friends did not. Through the years, he was always willing to offer Lucas his support, and he even worked on some of the action sequences in ROTS, as well as offering feedback when Lucas showed him a rough cut and wanted his input on Anakin’s turn and whether it was happening too fast. The prequels, too, were incepted after Lucas got an early glimpse of ILM’s work on “Jurassic Park”, convincing him that digital technology had advanced to make fantastical creatures and cityscapes viable.

        Obviously, there was a strong element of trust there, between Lucas and Kennedy, and Lucas and Iger. Iger, too, of course, was a man Lucas had had a professional relationship with for many years, given that Lucas was always a bit soft on Disney and had licensed Star Wars characters to them, in order to create attractions like “Star Tours”. So far, so good. What I think happened is that Lucas expected Kennedy to be a strong bulwark against external pressure applied by Bob Iger and Alan Horn — his proxy, if you will. He may no longer have been in charge of his company, but he had installed the most formidable producer in Hollywood, and a person he knew well. If she couldn’t get the job done, no-one could. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out the way Lucas hoped, and Kennedy buckled to their demands; perhaps even agreeing with them and essentially siding against Lucas.

        Now, again, I want to emphasise: we are outsiders looking in. We can’t know Lucas’ precise reasons for putting Kennedy there or when he did. But the timing of Kennedy becoming President of Lucasfilm, being so close to Lucas selling, when Iger had already been courting him and letting him know Disney were interested, is a bit hard to ignore. She’s put in charge, and without blinking, the sale to Disney is a done thing. It doesn’t let Kennedy entirely off the hook (“He’s my Yoda”, she simpers in that same video material), but it might be that she felt a bit used by Lucas and more of a chess piece against Disney. She was being set up to give Lucas the best possible shot at having the films done his way, without him having to get his own hands dirty; and, at the same time, he worked the sale so that he could still extract a tidy profit from the films (in Disney shares) going forward. Lucas is many things, but one thing he is is not is stupid. He knew this was the best means of ensuring he had a reasonable chance of still getting his way, while cashing out and living off his lucrative “retirement fund”, as he has called the deal.

        That doesn’t mean Kennedy didn’t betray him, bend the truth, or outright lie. It was obviously a blow to him. But if the sequels were largely conceived by Lucas to boost the appeal of the acquisition by Disney, and give them a template to work from, so that they could instantly put a new trilogy into production, which is about the best possible money-making carrot an entertainment giant, even one as big as Disney, could possibly be given, then it could be argued that Lucas wasn’t serious enough about the sequels from an artistic standpoint. If he used them primarily to inflate the value of the sale, and never had much desire to make them himself, then we’re all upset about a billionaire’s whimsy. Yes, it’s George Lucas we’re talking about. He’s a visionary genius — no two ways about it. But part of his visionary genius is taking into account multiple variables, and doing things the right way at the right time. If the originals and prequels were made because Lucas had a hunger to tell an epic story, without outside interference, the sequels should probably be seen as more of a commercial punt: a game coin designed to initiate a new era of Star Wars, with a strange muddle of artistic and commercial elements.

        I don’t want to entirely defend Disney, of course, but Lucas *did* sell to them, and in so doing, he surrendered his intellectual hold of the franchise — forever. If the sequels were THAT important to him, he should have retained hold of his company until they were complete. He could still have made a serious amount of money selling. But he wanted to move on with his life. And also, pragmatically speaking, he clearly didn’t want to shoulder the risk of another trilogy. He wanted someone else to take on that burden. So he was expecting rather a lot from Disney. He knows how corporations operate. Yet in his case, he must have felt the normal rules would be suspended. Some claim that Disney are less “hands on” with the Marvel and Pixar franchises, and something I read last night suggested the reason for this (even if it varies movie to movie) may be because there’s a bigger movie legacy and more pots on the boil. In addition to the backlash the prequels received, there simply hadn’t been a live-action Star Wars movie since ROTS — already seven years when Lucas sold to Disney. And discounting “The Clone Wars”, which flopped theatrically, there were only six Star Wars feature films. Three of which were already thirty years old when Lucas sold.

        So I can understand Disney being nervous. There wasn’t a lot for them go on. With only some marginal development on the first installment of Lucas’ proposed sequel trilogy, and pressure to get the first film out by 2015 (you can argue the development schedule was a bit tight), I think the idea of doing a deep dive into Lucas’ esoteric concepts was too much for them. If there had been a couple of other films already on the boil, maybe they’d have been a bit more willing to take a risk. We may never know. But it really didn’t help that Lucas took a battering for the prequels. Heck, he even contemplated selling to Disney and working on the sequel trilogy outlines not long after the RedLetterMedia videos came out! I wonder if they played a role in all this? I don’t think you can fully rule any of these factors out. At the time of selling, there was also something of a remake/reboot frenzy occurring in Hollywood. Unfortunately, the deck ended up being a little stacked against Lucas. But he also stacked it against himself by selling and giving up authorial control.

        I think we’re upset, in part, because Lucas is no longer co-ordinating the Star Wars franchise. It’s not his baby anymore. It will always belong to him in more of a moral sense, and he has cemented his place in film history, but now it’s under new ownership and vulnerable to an entirely different set of dictates and priorities. On the other hand, I think it can go forward in some pretty interesting, surprising, and uplifting directions. But it all remains to be seen. There are many issues. One is how ludicrously expansive it now is. How many stories have been told since Lucas conceived it? How much artwork, fan fiction, and Wookiepedia lore now exists? It’s a lot. And this presents its own set of difficulties managing a behemoth like Star Wars going forward. One reason people idealise the Original Trilogy so much, no doubt, is because it represents a simpler time in both their own lives and the life of Star Wars itself. It was a far more contained and innocent universe back then. So much has been added to it since. When you need story groups to keep track of it all (the constituents of which have their own agendas and preferences), it loses some of its personal charm; but such micro-managing, once a certain point is reached, is perhaps inevitable.

        And yeah, I’m a little biased (as we all are)… I struggled with “The Force Awakens” (it’s still a decent movie), but I have grown to like and admire “The Last Jedi” quite recently. It’s different, but I am more apt to appreciate it than I was a year ago, when I first saw it. As I said before, my heart really lies with the prequels, especially Episodes I and II, but “The Last Jedi” has been harassing my consciousness lately, and I’m enjoying the ride. Its unique position in the canon of the saga may have something to do with it. It’s the first saga sequel of a saga sequel, the first to be made (arguably) by more of a filmmaker’s filmmaker, and one that — yikes, and I know this is the basis of our entire discussion — arguably (arguably!!!) pulls from some of Lucas’ ideas, which were loosely adapted into TFA, and maybe a bit more fully adapted, or riffed on and transposed, in TLJ. I love the artistic tension of Lucas’ initial ideas meeting the filter of TFA, meeting the filter of the Story Group and Rian Johnson. And seeing Mark Hamill on the screen again. It has a certain gravity to it. It feels a bit more of an “arthouse” take on the whole series. It’s a little grubby and dank. What *is* it? I don’t know. But it has me more invested in and intellectually puzzling over the whole series again.

        I don’t quite know what to make of Pablo’s conduct. He seems a little bit snarky sometimes. He has a wonderful job, but I’m not sure I envy him. I think he is trying to serve two or three masters at once. So, yes, when you see a tweet from him — one he hasn’t already deleted (ugh!) — you need to take it with a pinch of salt. He does seem to try and insinuate here and there that a certain character, plot point, or concept is from Lucas, when maybe it isn’t, or was heavily modified, such that it barely resembles what Lucas intended (your “brown sugar” analogy). But he is a Lucasfilm employee, after all, and while loyalty to his old boss would be welcome, he is having to tow the Disney/LFL line and preserve a certain mystique. And, sadly, misdirection accomplishes that aim. So we need to filter.

        Luke being in exile was possibly something in play from the beginning. But even if it wasn’t, it could have developed into a concept that served certain purposes, or fixed certain problems, even under Lucas. Of course, as you say, it seems they decided to trash his treatments relatively fast, so this is something lost to history, or to mystery. But it seems that Arndt was genuinely working on his original treatment for Episode VII until late November or December 2012, and he has admitted he was already struggling with the Luke issue. So it likely would have become a “fix” applied to the story at some point. Especially as Lucas wopped his “Fabulouso” stamp on that cave-hiding version of Luke in January 2013. Okay, if his treatments were more or less out of the picture at that point, you could say he was just being nice and approving a few things because he was expected to. Maybe. But Lucas only sparingly used that stamp on the prequels, suggesting he at least thought the idea wasn’t terrible.

        What I like is how seriously Rian Johnson took the concept of Luke vanishing and disappearing to that island. He didn’t half-ass this. He fleshed out the crumbs left on the table by Abrams and Co. into a fully-fledged feast of psychological and mythological complexity. He may well have gone “over the top” in some people’s eyes, but I think he did his best to imbue his film — and the sequel trilogy — with a much deeper meaning than any offered in TFA. Giving Luke such a resonant arc, and capturing Mark Hamill at his most dour and grumpy best, at a stage of his life where Hamill’s face has become extremely weathered and interesting, and Hamill himself has arguably become a better actor than ever, was something worth setting out to capture and put into this epic saga, I think. Rian Johnson literally took something that was little more than an enticing coda at the end of TFA and made a three-course meal out of it. He wasn’t even involved (as far as I know) with the island location chosen for TFA. But he did a mighty fine job shooting at Skellig Michael and other parts of Ireland, and on soundstages, and making you believe that place could be a legitimate spiritual starting point for the Jedi. I reveal my bias, but the Luke-Rey-Kylo stuff is the high-point of the film, I think, and kind of a masterstroke in general. I see it that way more recently, anyway.

        Finally, not that I want to go out of my defending Iger anymore than I do Disney as a whole, but in those book quotes we now have, this is how Iger explains it:

        “Early on, Kathy brought J.J. and Michael Arndt up to Northern California to meet with George at his ranch and talk about their ideas for the film. George immediately got upset as they began to describe the plot and it dawned on him that we weren’t using one of the stories he submitted during the negotiations.”

        Notice he says “it dawned on [Lucas]”. If you focus on that phrasing for a second, you realise that Iger’s telling leaves room for the idea that some aspects of the ideas they were proposing to Lucas may have been similar to what he came up with. Why else would it dawn on him? Something dawning on someone implies something becoming clear, preceded by a pre-dawning period in which the realisation to come isn’t so obvious. We can therefore infer — although tentatively — that some of Lucas’ concepts were probably still in play. At least back then in December 2012 or January 2013. Even Kennedy said they made some departures, but hadn’t necessarily thrown *all* his ideas out. Obviously, you could claim she isn’t completely trustworthy, and I’d agree. But we can’t just dismiss these statements outright, in my opinion.

        The other thing about this Disney transition is that everyone has a bias. As well as imperfect recall. I earlier said that Iger saying that Kennedy screened TFA for Lucas and that Lucas “didn’t hide his disappointment” meant that she must have lied about what he said to the Hollywood press. But it might be that Lucas was perfectly polite at the screening and only disclosed his real feelings/frustrations in the Charlie Rose interview. It could just be imperfect wording on Iger’s part. Iger is obviously paraphrasing Lucas in that part of his memoirs (unless we carry tape recorders around with us, you can’t remember exactly what someone said seven hours ago, much less seven years ago). And the easiest material to paraphrase would be what was recorded between Lucas and Charlie Rose, since Lucas went on at some length there and bashed Disney publicly (including the infamous “white slavers” comment). Iger no doubt felt the sting of that (as your other book extract shows). So that might be what he is remembering where Lucas complained about a lack of newness and bashed them for making a “retro movie”.

        I sound like Darth Downunder now, which is a little disturbing! But hopefully, my reasoning tracks. We can all be bit quick to seize on something that seems to confirm our innate suspicions, and what we may have some deep-seated need to be proved right about. Confirmation bias. This, of course, also applies to people who read Pablo’s tweets and eagerly see Pablo affirming Lucas’ ideas being used, even if they weren’t. It makes it hard to get to the real truth of the matter. I will take this opportunity to correct a misleading comment from earlier. I said before that relic-hunting may have been a part of Lucas’ sequel treatments. Which it may. I also gave Anakin’s lightsaber appearing in the sequels as an example. However, I didn’t mean this particular concept existed in Lucas’ treatments. This concept, in fact, seems to be something they came up with around September 2013, about the time that Arndt officially left. It was probably part of the brainstorming process between Kasdan and Abrams when they decided to focus hard on the legacy of the OT characters, shifting Episode VII into hardcore “retro” territory. It is also consistent with Maz’s non-explanation of the saber being in her possession when Han asks about it in the film. Nevertheless, I like the concept.

        And that sort of embodies my feelings toward the sequels as a whole. I may not like the fact that they essentially junked Lucas’ treatments, and I may have mixed emotions toward the films and the new owners of the franchise, but I’m still able to enjoy some of the ideas and concepts, and the interplay between them. I’m not able to write the sequels off as easily as some prequel fans. Even as I continue to struggle with it all; much as Kylo struggles against the light. Even just typing out the name “Kylo” gives me a slight tingle. I’m not even much of an EU fan, but I always liked the concept of Skywalker kids and a whole other set of mythic adventures after ROTJ. I love Lucas’ concept of the six earlier films comprising a single twelve-hour movie, but just cutting the story dead at ROTJ, when the galaxy of Star Wars is, well, enormous, never quite sat right with me. Not when you have Luke only beginning to master his powers at the end of the OT, and telling Leia she’ll go on to develop similar powers. It feels like a very abrupt cut-off. So even if the sequels are compromised, the fact that they now exist still slightly blows me away. There’s good in them, Mike. I know it.

      • Moose

        Cryogenic:

        I like your idea about Lucas coming up with more stories featuring our heroes mostly as a way to sweeten the pot. I like the finality of ROTJ – it gives significance to the previous adventures, defeats and victories.

        As for Ep. 8, I have honestly tried to like it as you do, but I just cannot make it. It seems too modern and hard-edged to me. Of course, my least favorite modern touch is this idea that Luke is “not who you thought he was.” For my money, when he redeemed his father, he surpassed Yoda and Obi-Wan and bookended himself with Qui-Gon as the wisest of the Jedi. The ideas that he is still doofus in Yoda’s eyes or that he would turn his back on everyone are nonsensical to me.

        It would have been much easier for me if Disney had gone 100 years into the future and left all of Lucas’ characters out of it. This is all a fairy tale to me so I would have preferred to let them all live happily ever after.

  • Moose

    I wonder if Disney took Lucas’ “unimaginative” critique to heart and thereby gave more free reign to the “young turk” Rian Johnson. Almost as if George baited them into blowing up their great achievement. Probably not, but I like this idea.

    • Cryogenic

      @ Moose:

      Nice thinking, Moose. But to quote you straight back, “probably not”.

      I agree that Rian Johnson is much more of a “Young Turk” than JJ Abrams, and I think he delivered an installment that was more in the vein of what Lucas imagined for the sequel trilogy years earlier (“The next trilogy will be someone else’s vision”, he said back in 1982), but even if you think that Disney are going by a seat-of-their-pants or throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach, these films still take several years to plan and pull off.

      If you read over the development of “The Last Jedi” on Wikipedia:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars:_The_Last_Jedi

      Rian Johnson had effectively been working on the eighth chapter of the Skywalker saga for approximately eighteen months before Lucas saw TFA. Indeed, Johnson basically started writing Episode VIII not long after VII started shooting; and on VII, Kasdan and Abrams were still intensively writing and revising the script as it was being shot!

      This situation obviously created some challenges for Rian (and Ram Bergman — his faithful producer), since he didn’t even have a reliable script to work from, let alone a completed movie; yet he was writing the sequel to it! Still, by the time principal photography ended on VII, in November 2014, Rian could presumably write and develop his own film with increasing confidence — although he only had a year to prepare for shooting at that point, as production began in November 2015 (though shooting did not start until February 2016 due to scripting delays), and several days shooting took place at Skellig Michael in September 2015.

      I think the plan (from Disney) was always to play it safe initially, with the first sequel, and then to push off from the shore into much bolder territory in VIII and IX. On one level, that is conveyed rather nicely by the Resistance acquiring the missing map piece and Rey journeying to the island to summon Luke at the end of TFA. The coda to TFA is a real “passing of the baton” moment, and a nod to the real story of the sequels about to be getting underway. They were prepared to risk things a good deal more in VIII, after (hopefully) winning fans round in VII. They largely achieved the latter under Abrams, even if fans then went and balked at how Rian handled the mythology in VIII.

      Mind you, you might still have a point. Not only did Rian potentially have an opportunity to push things a bit further if Disney were content with the success of TFA — which, all indications are, they were — but he may have been brought on, in part, back in 2014, because Lucas had mostly parted ways with Disney by then. So maybe Kennedy was determined to prove, even before Lucas tore into their handling of VII, that she could corral some interesting “young gun” filmmakers, and that VIII was the perfect opportunity to make a statement. After all, if they were taking a lot of their cues from the Original Trilogy, then there is clear precedent: it’s TESB, the middle installment, that people frequently cite as “the best in the series”. So if you want to take a chance anywhere, take a chance in the middle.

      It is quite fascinating to think how these little jets of wind and variations in atmospheric pressure — the “weather” of human beings performing human doings — affect everything. Can any of us escape these mutually-overlapping symbiont circles? I think, for VIII, Disney found their ideal man. Midi-chlorian Johnson. So midi-chlorians were destined to become a part of the sequel trilogy all along!

      • Moose

        Of course, you know much more of the history on this than I do (as usual). I was the one throwing stuff against the wall. I just cannot believe how much of what was set-up in 7 was torn-down by Johnson in 8. I am surprised Kennedy/Abrams/Iger allowed it. Heck, they seemingly celebrated it. Maybe after impressing the fans with 7, they set their sights on the critic-class with 8 with their upending of the expectations bit.

      • jpieper668

        @Cyro
        just read a comment on youtube from someone who said hte Prequels retconned much of the Original Trilogy WHAT RETCONS?!

      • Cryogenic

        @ Moose:

        Although certain things were seemingly set up in VII that didn’t receive a follow-through in VIII, or were actively subverted, Rian has said he didn’t consciously set out to subvert anything, per se, and he might be telling the truth: “from a certain point of view”. He may have chosen to slay a few sacred cows, but he’s also heavily into theme and I think he just went where the story took him.

        If anything, Rian gave Luke a much more adult and psychologically resonant arc than Abrams would have given him, or that Star Wars fans had any right to expect, and he worked hard to justify why Luke would have chosen to exile himself, taking the consequences of that most seriously (the very first sentence of the sequel trilogy, after all, setting the tone, is “Luke Skywalker has vanished”).

        He also inherited the weak foundation of TFA — meaning all the designs, situations, story conceits, and characters — which he was tasked to build on to the best of his ability. That movie practically gave the sequel trilogy clay feet, rendering the mythos of Star Wars dangerously close to inert and pointless, so I don’t envy Rian for the mess he was coming into. In that light, he actually did a remarkable job, in my opinion, and gave those pieces a lot of depth.

        But because Rian also wanted to make a personal film (quite remarkable in the modern age of Disney), he obviously didn’t want to be bound to where Abrams and the Story Group might have been planning to take the story next. So he was apparently given permission to tear up that outline and indulge himself. Of course, he collaborated with the Story Group, and he still needed their approval, as well as Kathleen Kennedy’s, to proceed. They had final veto on everything.

        Now, as much as I don’t like focus groups or filmmaking by committee, the way they handled VIII seems like the best and only workable approach, if Star Wars is to still be both reasonably coherent and artistically special in the wake of Lucas’ departure. Even Abrams was probably allowed similar freedom. It’s just that he was more willing to make something tailored to what he knows best: repackaging and rebranding. And because VII was the first one, he may have had more of a mandate imposed upon him, but one that he agreed with. There could even have been a feedback loop between all parties.

        The first time I watched TLJ, I was quite cynical toward it. But a few return viewings, along with reading a range of positive commentary, has helped shift my opinion. There’s a genuine artistic spark to it, and the subversion that fans dwell upon fits pretty well, in my opinion. I mean, TESB was pretty subversive compared to ANH, but people have had longer to adjust, forgetting some of the upset it originally caused. At the same time, Star Wars was less defined back then, and had hardly any lore or expectations surrounding it — other than people possibly wanting a similar light-hearted adventure to the one served to them in 1977.

        That doesn’t mean that TLJ isn’t consciously sticking its neck out the car window and chancing things. It may have a similar plot structure to the aforementioned TESB, and it may even steal a few OT touchstones, but it has a different look, tone, and feel to any Star Wars movie that has come before. It’s a looker, but it’s also clammy and boggy. Its tone is pretty austere, with lashings of wacky, fake-out comedy. And the feel of it is remarkably pinched and dour; yet there are zesty moments, too.

        Ultimately, I think, the first time you watch it, you can kinda be left with a slightly bitter taste in the mouth, and a sense of discontent: “Is that it?” It’s not unlike Luke drinking the green milk. But the movie has a compelling air about it, and I think repeat views are rewarding. It’s also just a fun movie to think about. In that regard, it definitely has something in common with the prequels, in my estimation. It’s truly the weird one of the bunch.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Joe:

        The prequels didn’t really retcon the originals. They actually deepened and justified many of the obscure plot choices and throwaway lines. For instance, in TESB, Piett casually murmurs, “Bounty hunters, we don’t need their scum”, but AOTC reveals that the clone army which enabled Palpatine to create the Galactic Empire was founded on the genetic code of a bounty hunter. Or Yoda telling Luke, “Wars not make one great” — surely a subtle chide that is a lot more poignant following Yoda plunging the Jedi Order into the Clone Wars.

        Even Vader lamenting to Luke in ROTJ that Obi-Wan once thought as he did could be retrospectively read as Vader coming close to mentioning Padme, because it was Obi-Wan who stowed on Padme’s ship and let Padme do the talking when she touched down on Mustafar, as if he was using her to get through to Anakin. So, in a way, Anakin is here admitting that he failed the test, as well as making peace with the fact that Padme wasn’t lying when she told him she loved him (he snaps “Liar!” when he spots Obi-Wan at the head of the ramp). Even though he, of course, gets angry at Luke for using his real name (“That name no longer has any meaning for me”). Pretty deep stuff.

        Of course, those examples are only scratching the surface of how the prequels utterly renewed and transformed the simply folksy coming-of-age story of the OT. On some level, people were just annoyed at how Lucas rewired their intuitions — kind of like the way Luke bawls at Vader for telling him the truth about his parentage (where Obi-Wan lied/misled him). They didn’t understand that they had received only a limited slice of the truth in the OT and were watching an epic myth gradually unfurling itself.

        We all know and agree that the prequels magnificently expanded the canvas of Star Wars, enriching plot points, characters, themes, visuals 100-fold. But try explaining that to people who *still* hold a grudge against Lucas for revisiting his story and really going to work on the scant pieces he laid out in the OT. They can’t hear you because they aren’t prepared to listen. The multi-hued symphony of intrigue that is the PT is something they shun in favour of the narrow storytelling of what came before; and what came before is what they’re addicted to, and what they’re addicted to is all that should be allowed. There’s a lesson in there for those of us mad at Disney, too.

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