Turf Marking

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Friday, September 17, 2004

I came home last night to find E watching American Graffiti. She was driven to see it by some oldies music that had been "Song Fu'd" into her head. I hadn't seen the movie in years, but I was amazed at its (relative) depth compared to Lucas's other films. I even managed to hold back my usual hate-filled rants during the viewing...

Until we watched his commentary, and he told the story about how he was forced to edit out three scenes of a total length of five minutes, and after the success of Star Wars, he had enough clout to force the studio to put those scenes back into all the subsequent video releases. Now, that scenario of itself is innocent enough -- everyone who knows me knows how I love watching people stick it to The Man. But it reminded me of what I described to E as his freaking God-complex with his compulsion to re-create Creation over and over and over again.

Lucas went on to describe all the filming techniques he had to use, and sometimes invent, to get some scenes for Graffiti done. Some of those techniques were praised by his producer, Francis Coppola. E wondered if Lucas even remembers how to do any of those techniques.

"Film To Edit" is one thing. But jeez, he edits Star Wars the way I edit a blog post. You know all those little inconsistencies that drive you crazy about Star Wars? Like how in Jedi, Obi-Wan tells Luke that when he met Anakin, he was already a great pilot -- no one was expecting a little kid! Well, damn, no wonder Luke was "too old to begin the training" in Empire -- like, by a freakin' decade or so (!!!).

It just drives me nuts! And you know where you see the beginnings of that sort of crap? More American Graffiti, which Lucas didn't direct. But he green-lit it and plastered his name on the front. At the end of the original (yeah, I'm going to spoil it -- it's been damn near 30 years already), one of the characters is said to have been killed in Viet Nam. That same character appears in the sequel, only at the end of the movie, he's listed as being M.I.A. Yes, there was a film logic to it just like there was a film logic to Obi-Wan's story and Luke's age.

But, gee, wouldn't it be great if we could revise our lives like that? Most people want to erase their blatant errors. But not me. I'd like to go all Lucas and tweak. I'd like to turn back 20someodd years and flirt with the girl down the street who flirted with me for most of grade school. Not that I'd want her now at all, or the ultimate outcome of my life to change. But, that would've been closer to how I envisioned the scene. And I could do it now in ways that I just couldn't do it 20someodd years ago.

But life can't be revised like that. Maybe that's the issue Lucas struggles with as he takes advantage of the "magic of film." I joke about him being a greedy bastard, but I really don't get that sense from watching him. Still, he's laughing all the way to the bank, isn't he?

I sure as heck wouldn't shed one single solitary tear if ILM got hit with a massive computer virus, or if the Wrath of God came raining down fire and brimstone like Sodom and Gommorrah on the freakin' place. Maybe one of our surgical, strategic air strikes in Iraq can go wrong (as they are often wont to do) and bomb ILM back to the Stone Age, and then Lucas can go back to making a decent film. The hard way. And, have to live with it -- good, bad, or ugly -- like other directors.

But that is, as Miller says, my opinion... I could be wrong.