George Lucas: Star Wars stood on the shoulders of Star Trek

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies XI+' started by serenitytrek1, Jul 12, 2013.

  1. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    Derp.

    With the exception of maybe Griffith, the others are not applicable to the conversation. And Porter is probably more deserving.

    They others' influence has primarily been artistic in nature. Artistic choices and changes never become ubiquitous (otherwise they wouldn't be artistic), so, by definition, they can't be considered absolute forward progression.

    That's like saying Barack Obama had the good fortune and luck (if you want to be redundant) of being elected the first black American president.

    Whether you like it or not, Lucas was the driving force behind all that. And he has had his hand in so many different cookie jars over the years, it is impossible to know just how far and wide his reach goes. The fact of the matter is, remove him from the equation and the current face of the industry is a lot different than it is. There isn't anyone else--save for maybe a studio person, which is impossible to know--that you can say that about.

    Please indicate where I said this or even implied it.
     
  2. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Of course they do, that's why we have a definite grammar of shot editing used in the vast majority of movies. The form of cinema was shaped by the men I mentioned, along with many notable others (Hitchcock included!).

    What!?

    I disagree. Certainly the most influential to big budget American blockbuster action/adventure cinema but cinema in general? Most movies don't even have the budget to allow for Star Wars influence.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's a very insular viewpoint. It's one of the most influential movies on American cinema in the past 40 years, certainly, but there's more to the world than our narrow slice of it.

    Not to mention that Star Wars is also one of the most influenced movies ever made. It was only innovative in the sense that it was a fresh and irreverent take on very familiar, hoary action-adventure tropes. Pretty much everything Lucas does is a smorgasbord of homages to the work of earlier filmmakers. He's a distiller, packager, and popularizer of cultural influence, not a generator of it. He'd be nothing without the many, many other filmmakers he's made a career of pastiching.
     
  4. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    Still not applicable.

    With all those notable others--and we can add Leone, Ford, Ozu, Kurosawa, Dreyer, Murnau, Lang, Riefenstahl, De Sica, Kazan, Polanski, Coppola, Kubrick, Spielberg, Cameron, Stone, Tarantino, or the freaking Wachaowskis--any one of them could be removed from the blue prints, and the house of film, as it is in 2013, looks pretty much the same. Because, with all those people, it was ultimately a community effort. Remove Lucas, and it's a completely different style of house.

    Never mind the fact you seem so set on limiting your scope to direction. That completely misses the point.

    Lucas's impact goes well beyond that of any job title, not "director," "producer," or even "special effects maven." It's simply a matter of his total influence on the medium, as an art form and a business, as an individual.
     
  5. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    What? Why?

    The majority of movies don't even use special effects. The majority of movies do use the editing grammar laid down by the likes of Eisenstein and Griffith. The Birth of a Nation changed cinema on a technical level much more than Star Wars did. Without it, cinema might look completely different. Instead of just uh... cheaper?
     
  6. Kinokima

    Kinokima Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    It was very different, films targeted to adults not teenagers was the rule not the exception. Of course all films back then were "family friendly" because of the production code (well post 1934 that is).

    I am not saying every film back then was good or every film now is bad but there is definitely a difference in how film is marketed & what audience the marketers are trying to reach. I don't think it is a positive thing overall. Of course TV changed things too.

    But anyways I definitely feel there is way too much praise for Lucas. Star Wars was great but what he did for film overall, meh!
     
  7. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    :sigh:

    You still miss the point completely.

    Also, no where in this thread did I mention Star Wars specifically. Nor was I making a point to point comparison.
     
  8. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Well, I assumed you meant Star Wars as it is easily Lucas's most influential movie? Were you talking about American Graffiti?
     
  9. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    I was never talking about any movie specifically. Where did I say or even imply that?
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Actually most of them do use special and/or visual effects to some extent. First off, technically the term "special effects" is used in the industry to refer to live stage effects. Any movie with gunshots, fake blood, breakaway windows or tables, rain and lightning, building or vehicle fires, or the like employs special effects. Special visual effects, formerly optical and now digital, are also used invisibly in many movies. Historical films have often used matte paintings or miniatures to depict locations, and sometimes even films in modern-day settings have done so when no suitable real-life location was available or practical to shoot in (for instance, the matte paintings used in Vertigo to depict the bell tower that didn't exist in real life). In the past, and to some extent in the present, any shot showing a character onscreen watching a movie or TV screen is a composite shot with the screen image superimposed in. Optical/digital effects can also be used to create artsy shots of characters being reflected in mirrored surfaces (e.g. Neo in Morpheus's glasses in The Matrix -- that film had plenty of obvious FX, but many viewers would overlook that one). Digital wire/support removal is routinely used for stunts that would've been performed more dangerously in the past. And in this day and age, digital effects are routinely used to tweak actors' appearances in subtle ways, removing blemishes or unwanted eyeblinks, or even altering their mouth movements to fit a redubbed line. There are all sorts of ways that movies use special or visual effects without the audience ever noticing.

    And not to put too fine a point on it, but technically even onscreen titles or dissolves between shots are visual effects, since they entail using photographic or digital techniques to alter, add to, or combine images.
     
  11. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    If we were to list every piece of visual trickery as a "special" effect then we'd have a ridiculously large criteria as cinema is visual trickery. It's a picture that looks like it's moving.

    A composite shot with a screen image, or a composited sign above a shop or bar, doesn't really count as a special effect these days. No more than editing does. Cutting from one scene to another is a visual effect. It is hardly a "special" effect in 2013.

    Well, when you say Lucas has changed cinema more than any other, then I assume you mean because of Star Wars as that is the only movie of his people care about? Not me mind, I love American Graffiti and THX.

    I just.. don't buy he's made as much of an impact as the men I listed. I'm a film historian. If I look at a film from 1915, and a film from 1976, the year before Star Wars, then they'll be hugely different. An average drama film from 1976... compared to one that came out in 2013? Nothing of note will have changed.
     
  12. I am not Spock

    I am not Spock Commodore Commodore

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    Star Wars vs Star Trek is similar to The Rolling Stones vs the Beatles. Or to use another genre example, Superman vs Batman.

    Star Wars/The Beatles/Batman are more 'cool', and popular.

    Star Trek/The Rolling Stones/Superman as great as they are, will never be as popular as their closest rivals.

    I personally prefer Star Trek. But I like Wars as well.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    In vernacular usage, maybe, but that's frankly rather insulting to the talented visual artists who put a lot of effort into creating effects that, if they do their jobs well, we'll never even realize they did at all.

    Whether it's literally "special" or routine is completely beside the point and completely disingenuous. Formally, as I explained, they aren't even called special effects; those are live stage effects. What we're discussing are correctly called visual effects. And what's under discussion is whether the majority of movies use those techniques at all -- which, in fact, most of them do.
     
  14. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    I still fail to see how you equate any of that with this:

    This:
    And, well, this:
    But I'll make it even simpler: Lucas never did one big thing to change the industry. He has, however, made lots and lots and lots of smaller contributions over the last 40 years. If you smash them all up into a giant blob of celluloid, it's influential mass exceeds anything anyone else has done.

    He's dabbled in EVERYTHING. Hell, his monetary promotion and execution of ideas and technologies alone is really significant.

    All those little side projects that have lead to 'digital age' probably wouldn't exists today in the same form (if at all) if it weren't for him. This includes everything from camera types to sound recording to effects shooting.

    There's other various minutia: things like the way studios interact and putting the freaking length (completeness) of the end-credit crawl.

    And to top it all off, yes, Star Wars is probably the most momentous film of the modern era. Titanic can make a case for itself.

    In any case, you've got me quoting myself in length which means it's time to hang it up.
     
  15. Belz...

    Belz... Commodore Commodore

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    Granted, and you'll notice I didn't specify which country: I said "movie". It's had a huge impact worldwide as well.



    Movies and theatre have been selling tickets on action, sex and violence for thousands of years. This isn't new at all. And yes, younger people tend to go for that more than older ones.
     
  16. Locutus of Bored

    Locutus of Bored The Mod Awakens Moderator

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    Yep. Say what you will about the man, but he has been HUGELY influential and innovative in the film industry --both onscreen and behind the scenes with VFX and sound, in gaming, in other technological fields, and by launching the careers of, assisting, or working with countless big names in the movie industry today.

    (click to enlarge)
    [​IMG]

    http://articles.latimes.com/2005/may/24/business/fi-starwars24

    http://herocomplex.latimes.com/movies/did-george-lucas-change-cinema-with-star-wars-prequels/

    http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/George_Lucas#Innovations_in_film

    I think he's referring to it influencing movies around the world. Agree or disagree with the assertion, but that doesn't make the viewpoint itself insular.

    Also, and he can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Belz is American. Which, if true, would make the insular comment rather ironic.

    I believe the majority of films released in theaters do use some sort of VFX these days to enhance the film itself (not talking about title screens or wipes or any of that stuff). Even many low-budget films these days digitally remove wires and use digital mattes and so forth.
     
  17. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think it's unfair to give George Lucas credit for inventions and innovations in visual/digital effects done by so many other different people or companies he'd invested in. That isn't a trail of one man's vision, it's just a trail of money.

    He was lucky to work with some amazing special effects during Star Wars which led to him gaining a huge amount of money. He then put this money in to special effects companies as his own movie's success showed him that was the future.

    I don't view that as a hugely impressive accomplishment. If we look at stuff George Lucas has done when he's actually forced to contribute and add ideas to the table, we're stuck with a man who has directed a mere 3 movies since 1977. None of which are good.

    In said last 3 movies, Lucas shows no skill at visual style at all. Scenes are directed as flatly as possible, with conversations largely in shot-reverse-shot. The tech whizzes he has working for him then clutter the frame with as much pointless shit as possible, while George kinda nods or tuts. The prequels are barely directed. I think Abrams is a hack director, but he's obviously highly competent. Lucas hasn't even shown that since 1977.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2013
  18. Kinokima

    Kinokima Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I wasn't talking about sex, action and violence just who movies were marketed too and it was most definitely not teenagers.

    In the 30's and 40's adult women were considered one of the most lucrative markets for film. Do you think that is still considered true today?

    All you have to do is look at the biggest films and stars of that time and you can see it was very different. I am not sure what movies you watched from the period but things have definitely changed significantly. Whether that change is better or worse is up to personal opinion.

    edit: Although this is getting off topic because I don't actually blame Lucas for all this.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2013
  19. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Moreover, there's a serious amount of serendipity involved in SW hitting the way it did when it did, in large part due to things going almost opposite from GL's intent.

    For example: he wanted the film to look extremely diffused, even hiring Geoff Unsworth fresh from LUCKY LADY (the movie makes Susannah York's and Margot Kidder's closeups in SUPERMAN 2 look SHARP by comparison), but the studio told the cinematographer to ignore him and shoot it more conventionally. They were at war throughout shooting, and Lucas was extremely dissatisfied with the results, but if things had gone his way, it'd've had a look that not only was bad aesthetically, but would never have been able to cut properly with the visual effects.

    He was extremely unhappy with ILM (think Wise reacting to Abel on TMP for a similar viewpoint, though in GL's case with a lot more chest pains and vitriol.) He had wanted more lengthy shots some of the time, which is problematic when you don't have 2001's budget and skillset and extended timeframe. GL had to live with what he got from ILM, and to his credit very skillfully cut around the effects with his editors as needed, in so doing creating a sense of excitement they simply wouldn't have gotten otherwise.

    So without all of those errors and missteps (from GL's POV), I don't think you have a phenomena, and then you don't have the GL empire or merchandising or all the rest. So you have to look at it in a bigger view in terms of the digital wave he brought on (which to me has not been great cinematically, and has created its own boondoggle with digitally acquired & stored product decaying and having huge preservation issues.)

    In a more perfect world, Douglas Trumbull would have been the guy who had the biggest influence on filmmaking in the latter half of the 20th century technologically speaking.
     
  20. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    Except most of it was HIS money. What wasn't, he was the one with the wherewithal to lobby and arrange for its use.

    What a ridiculous thing to say.

    You could also say that Bill Gates was lucky enough to have a friend who knew a guy who was willing to sell an OS for cheap.

    Or that Steve Jobs was lucky enough to have a friend who liked to tinker with stuff.

    While Allen and Woz were clearly the "geniuses" behind the core work, it was Gates and Jobs who promoted and pushed the technology. And use the money they earned to further the process. Such that, anyone who might suggest Gates and Jobs weren't the two most important people in the history of personal computing would just come off looking like a bumpkin.

    Both computers and film are ultimately businesses. The money isn't the important part. It's the people who take chances and have the vision to spend the money in the right places at the right times.

    And even, for the sake of argument, what if it all does come down to luck? That doesn't change the fact that it was him and not someone else involved in all that shit in LoB pic.

    How do you know?

    A matter of opinion non relevant to the point.

    Another opinion also not relevant--or grounded in reality for that matter.

    The prequels may have had epic script and plot woes, and Lucas probably couldn't direct an actor out of a room full of lollipops, but the camerawork is as good as anything filmed in the last 25 years.

    A lot of it is by the numbers. But a lot of it isn't. To say it was "barely directed" only shows your bias and lack of originality.

    Also, there's nothing wrong with keeping it simple. The vast majority of all conversational frames in film are shot-reverse-shots. So the fuck what? Flair doesn't always beget quality.

    What you call pointless clutter, I call the prequels' one redeeming quality. Because all that stuff isn't "pointless." It's world building on a scale that had never been seen in film before. The subtle use of moving depth of field he used in some cityscapes was sometimes breathtaking.

    Also, a lot of what was goes on in the background in many key scenes have HUGE thematic implications. The one thing Lucas has always been really good at (going back to THX) is thematic visual cues. He loves them, and the prequels are loaded with them.

    Most importantly, some shots just look down right awesome, and there are a handful that I wouldn't mind blowing up and hanging on my mantle (provided I had a mantle).