No Minister

Thank the editor

I know we’re a political blog but even political tragics like me get tired of it sometimes.

Especially with Covid-19 in the air. Even before the latest lockdown my wife went to a little evening event with several of her friends and came home in a rather depressed mood: “All anybody talked about was Covid”.

So, in the spirit of Not-The-Virus-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, here’s something fun.

I loved the first Star Wars movie that came out in 1977. As a kid I’d watched some crappy special effects TV programs and the occasional movie that tried to portray space warfare and in the wake of 2001: A Space Odyssey, I wondered when we’d get a space war movie that looked as cool.

It took almost a decade but Star Wars was it, and based on reading newspapers (Ha!) I was more prepped than my school friends were when it arrived in NZ in the summer of 77/78, to the extent that they teased the shit out of me. But they all loved it too!

Lucas made a fortune and became a name in Hollywood, equalling his peers like Steve Spielberg. At least for a while. The sequel released in 1980, The Empire Strikes Back, is regarded correctly as the best of the entire series, but stories were already spreading that this had much to do with the cast re-writing the dialog. As Harrison Ford (Han Solo) supposedly told Lucas: “You can write this shit, George, but you can’t speak it”. Over the next fifteen years, the “prequals” would demonstrate just what an awful movie maker Lucas actually was in story, plot, and dialog.

Which thus raised the question: why was the first movie so good? As it turned out that story was already emerging in the late 80’s, and the tale was that it was actually his then wife, Marcia Lucas, who was the genius behind the scenes as the editor of the movie. Editors don’t get much coverage in any movie, even though there is an Oscar category for them to win. But Marcia was already a very well-known editor in Hollywood and much in demand.

Lucas basically dropped a whole lot of movie reels at her feet, as well as excitedly getting friends to watch his incoherent pile of shite! They hated it and it was up to Marcia to fix the mess.

She did. The following is the story of how she did it.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 23, 2021 at 4:05 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I remember when I saw it. I was 10. Civic theatre, Queen St. Afterwards my mates old man took us to McDonalds at the old ASB or BNZ Bank building further down Queen St, first time I ever had it. I always recall the opening scene with the rebels all lined up along the corridors waiting nervously for the stormtroopers to blast thru the door.

    You’re right, Empire was the best, and Lando was seriously cool. I did leave the theater a bit deflated knowing that Han was stuck inside a slab of Carbonite. I think I was already 16 by the time Return of the Jedi came out – Ewoks and another Death Star already ? C’mon.

    Porky Roebuck

    September 23, 2021 at 4:42 pm

  2. Watching that video the thing that cracks me up is that George spent the next twenty years fiddling with the theatrical version to restore his “lost” vision – only to bring back in scenes that were dumped by his wife for very good reasons, not to mention FX that’s just not necessary. I always thought the whole Solo-Jabba encounter was dumped because the FX was not good enough, but it’s because it’s not needed at all for the story – and fucking George still doesn’t get that.

    I also laughed at all the hard core fans who have re-created the theater version, which of course you can do with today’s home computer video editing power. Don’t know if they’ve saved the updated Death Star explosion; it’s the only re-done thing that works.

    Tom Hunter

    September 23, 2021 at 4:53 pm

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