The fall of cinema


Vae O’Neil, A&E Editor

We all know Star Wars, right? Originally a vision of George Lucas, with the Force, Light versus Dark, Jedi versus Sith, all centered around the Skywalkers: good boy turns into a bad boy, kills all the Jedi and has an unknown son and daughter who end up saving the galaxy from him and his master? A “Prequel” trilogy about the good boy turned bad, and a so-called “Original” trilogy about the son and daughter’s escapades? Yeah that one.
Even though the prequels have always been controversial for their overall quality, there’s no denying the flowing continuity of these first six movies’ narrative. It was the vision of George Lucas, a director with an unusual amount of control over each of his movies, led by his own passions. But people *really* hated the prequels, so much so that he sold the rights to Star Wars to Disney. And what a job they’ve done.
Since their acquisition of all things Lucas, Disney has shown little preparedness for their resolving trilogy of the Skywalker Saga, not because they are maligned toward viewers or creators, but because of a mass cultural shift in the entertainment industry within the last few decades.
Things have become less like artists creating beautiful things for people’s enjoyment, and more like the sterile manufacturing of a shiny product to sell to consumers. The age of the so-called “Original Trilogy” is a more expressive climate than the one we live in now.
Disney has seemingly perfected their cinematic money-making formula since acquiring not only Lucas film but other studios as well. Unlike the times of old, where all creative types had quite a few artistic liberties, in the current age Disney has every decision run through the world’s largest bureaucratic Brita Filter; whatever the people up top don’t like must be changed, and vice versa. All of the creatives are simply tools to be used, factory workers crafting one great, million-dollar product.
Don’t worry, Disney isn’t the only one to use this method. DC has been a prime example of this tight leash on creators from the very beginning.
“Justice League” is a famous case, where Zach Snyder was booted from directing the movie after filming, giving Joss Whedon the helm for post-production. The resulting movie was an odd Frankenstein’s Monster of creative visionary signatures, one that didn’t sit well with critics and moviegoers alike. The movie was plagued with disorienting pacing, shallow characters and preposterous plot. It was the kind of increasingly popular movie that suffers from the same sort of postproduction manglement by the order of some executive.
The latest Star Wars movies suffer the same sort of symptoms. Lucas’ films were part of a grand plan, a broad and tangled saga, yes, but one with an endgame in mind from the very beginning. With these recent movies being tossed from director to director and back again, and from how unoriginal the films are when weighed against their predecessors, I can’t help but think that there was little to no instruction on the part of Disney beyond “throw it at a director and see what happens.”
I stated before that movie making is akin to making a product, but even making a product like a Rey action figure requires more forethought than was ever put into the movies Disney has built, on the part of those at the top.