George Lucas and JJ Abrams

“A special effect is a tool, a means of telling a story. A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing.”

Darth Vader. Luke Skywalker. Obi-Wan Kenobi. R2-D2. Boba Fett. Jar Jar Binks… Okay, maybe with the very notable exception of old Jar Jar, the Star Wars universe is home to some of the most beloved and most iconic characters that have ever graced the silver screen. The franchise has since greatly expanded to include multiple television shows, novels, comic books and video games, building upon the original story we were told from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Yes, it is absolutely true that some people may have their gripes about George Lucas as a personality and as a businessman, but no one can deny the indelible mark that he has left on cinematic history with the creation of Star Wars. It is through the original trilogy, along with the ensuing trilogy of prequels and the upcoming trilogy of sequels, that we were introduced to droids, lightsabers and a little green Jedi master. The special effects were far ahead of their time, but they are not why we came to love A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi.

Instead, it’s because we were treated to such a good story that was full of depth and emotion. While the pew-pewing spaceships and cute little Ewoks certainly didn’t hurt, it was because we made such a strong emotional bond with characters like Han Solo and Leia Organa that we were pulled into this wonderfully rich fictional universe. If the story isn’t there, the beauty of the special effects isn’t going to make up the deficit.

And sometimes, you need to be a little stubborn if you want your story to be told exactly the way you envision it. This was how George Lucas felt about 2005’s Episode III – Revenge of the Sith:

“Right or wrong this is my movie, this is my decision, and this is my creative vision, and if people don’t like it, they don’t have to see it.”

Considering how much money he already has and how much success he has already achieved, George Lucas can afford the luxury of this position. That being said, all artists should endeavor to stay true to their vision. Otherwise, your original story will get twisted and misrepresented behind all sorts of fancy special effects and unnecessary lens flare.

Happy Star Wars Day and May the Fourth be with you…