My coursemates and I expected the next essay topic to be coming from World Cinema, one more time. Andrei Tarkovsky's deliberate shots were a challenging one, where I almost missed the deadline. Stanley Kubrick's early works turned out not to be a walk in a park. And then the political messages behind Charlie Chaplin's comedies. (It wasn't hard to figure out the Communist-leaning themes, as Chaplin's background was a giveaway.) Professor Hutton asked us to write about the Star Wars franchise, which surprised us. Did it change filmmaking?
George Lucas wasn't a prolific filmmaker, so it was hard to tell if he was in favor of sequels, remakes, and reboots. He created Indiana Jones, which became one of the most successful franchises in the history of cinema. He wanted to do "Flash Gordon" back then, but it didn't happen at all. I could imagine his disappointment, even suspect bitterness. And Akira Kurosawa's popularity wasn't a coincidence at all. The Japanese auteur admired the Westerns, which turned John Ford into a legend. Medieval samurai epics like "Seven Samurai" were remade into Hollywood classics. Lucas chose "Hidden Fortress" as his template for "Star Wars". As a matter of fact, some of the supporting characters in this space opera would resemble inhabitants from Edo.
Moviegoers who haven't seen Kurosawa's works were overwhelmed by the visuals of "Star Wars". Lucas and his team didn't flash a message before the opening credits, which could have acknowledged "The Hidden Fortress". I imagined the smugness in their faces, as they were certain that they were witnessing history. In this regard, Lucas was aware that filmmaking won't be the same (after the release of "Star Wars").
There were sequels and remakes during the studio days, but there haven't been too many as what the audience had seen during the last ten years or so. There was a rise in the cost of film production, and producers would need to make a profit. What could be better than a sequel to "Lethal Weapon"? On the other hand, Lucas might not have foreseen the merchandise that would result from the popularity of "Star Wars" and the other film franchises. He might have wished that he made a deal with Lego, but it may have happened not long ago. Last but not the least, trending would never been so apparent as the last few decades or so.
Kevin Feige's inspiration behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was the Star Wars franchise, and I could imagine Lucas wincing at it. He would have known that someone would think of a prequel to "Star Wars", as well as spin-offs. Fans loved it, but the most discerning ones wished it didn't pass the pre-production stage. But filmmaking is still a business.
The Star Wars prompted several filmmakers to launch the indie film cinema, and I would be surprised if I was mistaken on this one. Moreover, the popularity of Princess Leia would lead producers to consider young actresses on the driver's seat. They were the female counterparts of Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford. George Lucas showed that a saga would guarantee billions in the box-office, which left a hole in my paper. I wouldn't know how to conclude my argument. It had to wait another day.