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1997-1998 - 1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002+

Uncle George and Episode 1

As we get closer to the premiere of Episode 1, we continue to learn more about the film. And one thing that is very apparent is that George Lucas is doing this his way. And that way is not always exactly how you might expect. Here?s a few examples.

One of the most obvious examples is the title. THE PHANTOM MENACE. Who among us was expecting that? I don?t think anyone. We were all expecting "something OF THE FORCE" or another more glamorous title. But "The Phantom Menace"?? Definitely from left field.

Or how about that cool trailer? NOBODY expected it to show so much of the film. What a cool surprise. In a time where most trailers are vague or don?t show much, this one was long, exciting, and in-your-face. In fact, when rumors first started leaking about the length and content of the trailer, many didn?t even believe it was possible. Why would it show so much so early? Again, Lucas surprises.

How about the release of the trailer? After all the debate and speculation on the film it would first appear with, it ended up showing up in special sneak previews and on MANY different films from MANY different studios. At TheForce.Net, we had multiple people write us telling us we were stupid for even suggesting that the trailer would first appear on a non-Twentieth Century Fox film. Film school and movie marketing convention might tell you it?s bad business not to attach the trailer to one of your own studio?s films, but Lucas again disregards the norm for the benefit of the fans.

How about some of these character?s names? Qui-Gon Jinn? Padme? Naboo? Or the all time favorite, Jar Jar? Even when I heard the name "Jar Jar" for the first time (from Harry Knowles in a chat), I didn?t believe it at all. No way, no how. I started making jokes about it. Yet, in the end, it was true. In fact, I think I read on some website (I can?t recall right now where) that Lucas? son named the character. Who in their right mind would give character?s these names, much less let their young son name it?

We could also get into some of the hair styles like Queen Amidala?s geisha look. Or the Gungan?s strange Jamaican/Italian speech. Again, all things that make you say "Huh?"

But you know what? This is exactly the way it should be. It?s not our place to tell the painter how to paint, and it?s not our place to tell Lucas how to do things. Obviously, it?s working out that way, too. Lucas is not letting Fox, Hollywood, "common sense", the public, or even the fans tell him how to do things. I think the above examples illustrate that. And so far, despite the weirdness, I really love what I?ve seen. I even like the name "Jar Jar" now. J Can you imagine what would have happened if Lucas didn?t have his way the first time around? Who would have given a character the name "Obi-Wan" or "Chewie"? Who would have created a movie with a big hairy dog thing in it? Who would have called the sequel "The Empire Strikes Back"? We have the films we love because Lucas did it his way, and that sometimes means taking the good with the Ewoks?er?bad. J

I bring this up so you?ll remember to keep an open mind as Episode 1 gets closer. You?re going to hear about things that you might not care for. Things like "midichlorians", or "Wizard!", or Anakin being called "Annie". But remember that this is what you get for having Lucas in the driver?s seat, and in the end that?s what you really want. That means you?ll get stuff that?s not so great (in your opinion), but you?ll also get all the 10 times greater stuff that makes Star Wars what it is. So don?t fire off with a knee jerk reaction and blast something when you first hear about it, but wait till you see the big picture in it?s completed state to render judgment. We owe it to Uncle George to give him a chance.

Scott Chitwood
January 1st, 1999

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