Containing Multitudes Since 2004
THX1138 and American Graffiti are my favourite Lucas films. In an alternate universe somewhere Star Wars was a flop and Lucas went on to make a series of critically acclaimed little films...ah, who'd believe it.
I want in on that alternative universe. You know, I doubt if there's ever been a filmmaker who more grossly incinerated his promise than the pre-industrial George Lucas. I remember when the buzz started that he was going to return to directing in the late 90s with the rest of the Star Wars product line. Someone I knew opined that this could herald a reinvigoration of Lucas, seeing that it was his first full-scale bit of hands-on directing in over two decades, etc. I didn't dismiss the idea out of hand, but something told me that even if Lucas still had the sensibility to create films the likes of his earlier efforts, the film industrialist in him would never allow it more than a perfunctory license. He would never screw with a lucrative formula.And he didn't, more's the pity.
When this came out, I was convinced that Lucas was the next great adult SF director. Even after AG, I thought he'd go back to more thought-provoking sci fi, like something from If, or Analog, or modern hard-back authors that were writing ground-breaking speculative work. When I heard what was coming, something we generally derided as "space opera" - pop sci-fi from generations earlier - I was very disappointed, but consoled myself with the fact it might be fun to watch until it inevitably died an early screen death, like most other sc-fi films around then. Bits leaked out to the sc-fi fan world all the way up to the premier, and by then we were convinced it would at least be well-crafted, and possibly even a good film. Well, as good as it was as pulp sc-fi, as we all know, it pretty much gutted the investment pool for serious SF for years to come, with more and more complex and expensive FX and mostly bad acting became the rule of the day for all the slavish imitations of "Star Wars", some of them by Lucas himself, sadly. Meanwhile, a whole generation or two of important, filmable SF writing went unnoticed by H'wood. Tsk, tsk, Mr. Lucas - wasted brilliance and misplaced emphasis on technique rather than real, bold writing is a sorry memorial for great potential thrown away.
I haven't seen this film for years, it's been off British Screens for I reckon close to 15 years. There is however a 2 disc DVD out, which I'm now inspired to at least rent. When I met Brian from Hell on Frisco Bay last year he mentioned they'd used the subway in SF for this film, sadly I never made it down there to see what it was like, nor did I remember it from the fil-um.
Sue me, but neither THX nor GRAFFITI -- both of which I loved as an adolescent -- hold up for me today.
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