Adventures In Celluloid

Film critic Dominic Corry celebrates, clarifies and justifies his love for all things film.

Dominic Corry: The Star Wars surprise

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So who saw that one coming? I certainly didn't. The revelation yesterday that Disney has purchased Lucasfilm and new Star Wars movies are in the pipeline is sparking all sorts of thoughts, but my overall reaction is one of joy.

Ever since rumours emerged more than three decades ago that Lucas envisioned Star Wars as a nine-part saga, fans have salivated over the idea of more Star Wars movies at every stage of the game.

In the build up to the release of the first prequel in 1999, Lucas came out and said it was only ever supposed to be a six-part saga, and that with 2005's Revenge of the Sith, the saga was complete.

Numerous books and comics have been published that were set after Return of the Jedi - the "final" movie, chronologically-speaking - but the prospect of a movie set in the post-Jedi Star Wars universe has generally felt highly unlikely.

Until yesterday.

While nobody is confirming that Episode VII will pick up where Jedi left off or that it will even focus on the continuing adventures of the Skywalker family, it's difficult not to hope that this is indeed the case.

Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill might seem a little old to return to these characters at this point, but if the story has to be shaped to suit their advancing years, so be it.

And while many might recoil at the idea of re-casting the characters (Hayden Christenson as Luke!), that wouldn't bother me too much. Re-casting such iconic roles seems mellow compared to the constant digital re-jigging Lucas applies to the films - he has long-since established this world isn't sacred ground.

As Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy (whom it should be noted has produced most of Spielberg's films) points out in the video above, Lucas will maintain an advisory role in the upcoming films, although to what extent is anybody's guess.

Although he completely earned the right by coming up with the idea, Lucas' creative stranglehold on the Star Wars property has been so pervasive for so long, we'd almost been rendered unable to see beyond it. Which is why this relinquishing of control feels like such a surprise.

When the Lucas-written and directed prequels were released, it became apparent that Lucas was now surrounded by yes-men who were too afraid to challenge his ideas, unlike the creative collaborations that resulted in The Empire Strikes Back (often recognised as the best Star Wars film) and Return of the Jedi, neither of which Lucas directed himself.

And while it's probably appropriate that Lucas will get to put in his two cents on the new projects, I couldn't be happier that other people will now get a chance to tell Star Wars stories on the big screen.

Lucas apparently approves the plots of the stellar CGI Cartoon Network series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but if that show has proved nothing else, it's that fresh creative blood can result in great Star Wars stories. Now in its fifth season, the programme really is quite good, often coming across as more faithfully 'Star Wars-ian' than the prequels.

So who should make the new ones? Kennedy also mentions in the video above that they are meeting with writers now to discuss ideas for a new trilogy. Oh to be a fly on the wall of those meetings.

One person I think has earned the right be involved is Dave Filoni, the Star Wars superfan who's been running the Clone Wars TV show for all of its five seasons.

He's demonstrated time and again an ability to seamlessly integrate new elements into the Star Wars universe while remaining reverent towards what came before him.

But if I really had my way, I would hand the whole thing over to animator Genndy Tartakovsky, who was behind Star Wars: Clone Wars, the traditionally animated predecessor to Filoni's show.

Genndy's devotion to all things Star Wars comes across in much of his work (such as the cult cartoon Samurai Jack), and he's a forward-thinking creative mind with an unparalleled sense of design. It's doubtful either of these two animators will end up involved, but a guy can dream.

It's also tempting to picture big name directors (and admitted Star Wars fans) like David Fincher or Christopher Nolan becoming involved, but the cynic in me says they'll end up picking someone with less of an authorial stamp. Again, it's unlikely, but how great would it be if Spielberg directed a Star Wars film?

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a new Star Wars film is coming - the market simply wouldn't allow a brand with this much prominence to remain dormant for long.

There are many variables currently in play, but the potential for greatness is shining through at this point for me. Years after he turned into the proverbial Emperor With No Clothes, Lucas stepping away from Star Wars is the best thing that could've happened to it.

I can't wait to see what happens next.

* Are you excited to see a new Star Wars film? Who should make it? Who should star in it? Comment below!

Follow Dominic Corry on Twitter.

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