The original Star Wars would have been trash if not for Marcia Lucas's editing

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/11/19/the-original-star-wars-would-have-been-trash-if-not-for-marcia-lucass-editing.html

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Not surprising. Lucas is (well, was, at least) a great idea man, a master of using special effects, and apparently a pretty good producer. But he badly needs someone to keep him in check and to tell him “No, George, that’s stupid”.

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Well-executed subtle shade is the best kind.

I wanted to quibble with the ‘journalist’ label, but if John Solomon gets to call himself one, I guess Gl*nn can, too.

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If anything, the prequels highlighted for me just how not-great Lucas’s writing was. Dialogue that seemed charming before suddenly just seemed like a joke he didn’t know he was telling. Unfortunately, the one bit of dialogue that really was impactful and withstood that test, Obi Wan’s first description of the force, is precisely what he decided to most directly unravel as soon as he had the chance.

Dear lord, why am I writing about Star Wars in 2020?

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Although I’d be willing to talk about SW each and every day for the next four years to avoid seeing fucking Glenn Greenwald continue on his way to becoming Tucker Carlson’s favorite critic of those awful liberals.

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“George, you can type this shit, but you sure can’t say it.” – Harrison Ford on the set of Star Wars.

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That makes me laugh every time. I can hear it in Ford’s voice.

And yeah, giving someone like Lucas no constraints at all and surrounding him with yes-men results in … well, look at the prequels or his re-edits of the first trilogy.

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Filmmaker’s adage: There’s the movie that is written. The movie you shoot. And the movie that you edit.

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An editor is just like any other part of movie making - they can make the final product better or worse.

My friend from HS was an editor for several of Kevin Willmott’s early indie films (co-writer of BlacKkKlansman)

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Ron Howard told a funny story about his audition for American Graffiti. He mentioned to Lucas that he also had an interest in directing. Lucas was very encouraging but then said something like, “Try animation. It’s the best. You don’t have to work with actors.” And Howard thought, “Why is he saying that to me, an actor who’s auditioning for him?”

I think that illustrates how Lucas understands a lot of things but even real life dialogue isn’t one of them.

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(Disclaimer: Haven’t watched the video yet)

I’ve been saying that for YEARS.

And when they got divorced, Lucas lost the only person that could say “No George, that’s a stupid idea” without risking their job. When she left, we got Ewoks. And “Special Editions”. And Greedo shooting first.

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Similarly, editor Verna Fields saved Jaws by patiently explaining to Steven Spielberg “I don’t care how expensive or difficult it was to get the shots with the mechanical shark, this movie is going to be much better the less we see of it.”

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In all fairness, this isn’t a world I want to live in either.

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A point acknowledged in the article below about the development of Star Wars and its prequels.

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Yet another instance of a woman creating a masterpiece out of a man’s pile of shit.
And the man accepting most or all of the credit.

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Varying levels of ‘pile’ but I believe Scorsese and Tarantino also worked with female editors. There’s always a positive to having varied points of view in any project. Always.

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Even in books with far fewer constraints and fewer people involved, you can often see the negative effect when authors become big enough that they don’t have to listen to editors. You often get bloated manuscripts that include every interesting idea and fail to focus on what is important.

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Women have traditionally had a much bigger role in editing than directing because in the early days of Hollywood the studios saw editing as a menial task akin to operating a sewing machine or a typewriter, i.e. “women’s work,” rather than an essential part of the creative process.

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cough cough George RR Martin cough cough

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I was thinking of Heinlein and Stephenson, but Martin works too…

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