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War Has Changed
The biggest misconception, in my mind, about Star Wars was that it was the beginning of New Hollywood deliberately moving away from the engaged, socially-conscious films that had defined it and toward the simple-minded blockbuster pop mythology that would come to rule in the looming Reagan years. What this reading ignores is that, thematically, Star Wars was every bit the personal expression of the Baby Boom generation's conflicted feelings of admiration for the "good war" fought by their fathers and the "bad war" slogging to a close in Vietnam as depicted in fellow late 70s smash Apocalypse Now.
But whereas Apocalypse had reconciled that inner conflict by descending into madness, Star Wars did so by slipping into fantasy. The War of the title is very much like World War II (I wonder if it's reasonable to extrapolate that Luke, Leia and Han can be read as personifications of The U.S., Western Europe and the USSR respectively ...) but fought by the Boomers' idealized vision of themselves: plucky, rebellious and empowered not by nationalistic zeal but by an Eastern-inflected philosophy of personal enlightenment, capped off by the Space Nazis being blasted out of the sky by a Guthrie-esque wide-eyed farm boy who guides his missile via Zen meditation.
But if Luke Skywalker is the quintessential would-be war hero of the 70's, what does the Luke of the 21st Century - the Luke of the post-9/11 world, really - look like? Heck, what does the nightmare of The Empire look like to a world whose young men and women of soldiering age are increasingly of a generation that never knew a world under authentic "evil empires" like The Nazis or Soviet Union?
Finding that out, and seeing what kind of new themes it brings to the material, might be worth it right there.
It Might Protect The Originals
Unless he is no longer among the living or the lucid when it gets underway, the one sure prediction about a hypothetical Star Wars remake is that George Lucas would be in charge. He may not insist upon directing it himself, as Red Tails seemed to indicate that he's again comfortable with someone else at least sitting in the chair, but make no mistake - he'd be calling the shots.
Here's why that might be a good thing.
It's no secret by now that, whatever he may or may not have felt about them originally, Lucas remains less than thrilled with the original Trilogy and has with each successive revisitation sought to bring it more in line with the newer sensibilities of the prequels over which he exercised more complete control. If nothing else, would the prospect of simply making A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi all over again from the ground up not sound like something he'd be interested in doing? And maybe, just maybe, if he was finally able to make Star Wars in what he considers the right way ... might he not be more inclined to finally just leave the originals unmolested?
...Probably not, no.
Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.