If only young George Lucas could have travelled forward in time to advise his older self. Let’s flashback for a moment to 1983, when Lucas was hard at work on ‘Return Of The Jedi.’ He was on top of the world at that point, with a game-changing sci-fi franchise under his belt and seemingly every door in Hollywood open to him. Yet even then he realized “Star Wars” was only as good as the stories it told. In this excerpt from the documentary “From ‘Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga,” we see a young Lucas talking about special effects as merely a “tool,” and not the means to an end… oh how things changed!
Fast-forward to sixteen years later and ‘The Phantom Menace,’ and we wonder if Lucas really ever believed what he was saying. That film was the start of a trilogy that was nothing short of a CGI orgy, turning anything could be computerized into pixels, including Yoda himself. And that’s not to mention how the saga didn’t feel quite so epic the second time around, even with all the technical wizardry on display. And Lucas’ computer tinkering went further as, much the chagrin of fans, he kept adding digital doodles to various scenes across the first “Star Wars” trilogy where it wasn’t needed, claiming that it offered some kind of improvement on the movies fans enjoyed with no problem for decades.
Anyway, with “Star Wars: Episode 7” continuing to mount up, producer Kathleen Kennedy promises that J.J. Abrams and co. won’t be running to the green screens so quickly. “The conversation we’re having all the time now about ‘Episode VII’ is how much CGI,” Kennedy said over the weekend Star Wars Celebration Europe in Essen, Germany. “We’re looking at what the early Star Wars films did; they used real locations with special effects. So [for ‘Episode VII’] we’re going to find some very cool locations, we’re going to end up using every single tool in the toolbox.”
“I was amazed yesterday and looking at what the fans are doing,” she added. “Using model makers, using real droids, taking advantage of the artwork that you can touch and feel, we want to do that in combination with CG effects.”
Well, we certainly can’t argue with wanting to move back toward practical effects, though of course CGI will still be used. And we have no problem with digital effects as long as they don’t become the be all and end all. So, heartening words from Kennedy as we continue to grab whatever morsels we can regarding “Star Wars: Episode 7.” Check out a non-CGI Lucas below pontificating on VFX from 1983 below. [THR]