|George Lucas: The man responsible for the death of |
grown-up cinema, according to some commentators
The backlash against Star Wars
|Chinatown: The kind of film Star Wars |
was accused of eclipsing
Syllbert was not blaming Lucas and Spielberg personally, and
But this argument was rapidly gaining credence.
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and Star Wars
It’s plainly true that the studios were much less interested in taking a punt on mature or offbeat movies following Star Wars. But we shouldn’t get carried away with the idea that prior to Star Wars, one masterpiece was following another out of Hollywood, because that’s not how many people remember that period. I mentioned in an earlier post the uninspiring list of films that were on release at the same time. Who has fond memories of The Dirty Half Dozen or Young Lady Chatterley?
In fact, Biskind’s own book points to plenty of other reasons for big name directors having their autonomy taken away towards the end of the 1970s, apart from the success of Star Wars. Chief among these were inflated pretensions, box office failure (Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate being the epitome of this) and the fact that a lot of the time, many of these gifted directors were off their faces on cocaine.
In 2004, a book came along that was as entertainingly written as Biskind’s but demolished some of his more pious arguments. Tom Shone’s Blockbuster: How the Jaws and Jedi Generation Turned Hollywood Into a Boom-Town took issue with “the conviction, shared by almost everyone … that all it took was a single shot from Lucas’s laser cannons to bring down the Camelot that was American film in the seventies”. He warned that “if you spend your movie-watching life according to Biskind’s fierce ideological strictures, you’re going to be spending an awful amount of time in the company of Dennis Hopper”. Shone told us in amusing prose what many of us had long wanted to hear: Liking Star Wars or Jaws did not make us bad people.
Tom Shone and Star Wars: the case for the defence
It’s unfortunate that the success of Star Wars was to send
search of the next big fantasy blockbuster. But George Lucas did not have an
evil plan to conquer the entertainment industry – and we should try not to let
the intervening 37 years of summer blockbusters blind us to how fresh and
exciting Star Wars originally was. Hollywood
What's more, those who wax nostalgic for the more personal work of
directors in the early 1970s surely miss one thing: Star Wars really was George
Lucas's personal vision, as surely as Mean
Streets was Martin Scorsese's. What's more, he had gone through plenty of
battles with the studios to get American
Graffiti and Star Wars made the
way he wanted.
If the 1970s were indeed the golden age of exciting, director-led cinema, I don’t think Star Wars was the end of it. I think it was one of that era’s finest moments.