Dear George Lucas,
I remember when I first came across “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.” My friend Alex had a bunch of VHS tapes in his den where his father had recorded movies from the rental store onto VHS tape. We constantly looked through these tapes for something to watch and one day we saw a tape that had the words “Star Wars” scrawled in blue pen across the label. As I was a young boy, the word “war” was interesting, as was the possibility that it could happen in space. So we popped it in.
I was hooked. There was nothing like it. The ships, the stormtroopers, the laser blasters, the battle high above the Death Star. But perhaps most of all, I was amazed by the creatures. The aliens in the cantina on Tatooine, the characters in Jabba’s palace. They were amazing. And most importantly, they were REAL. Yoda was touchable. The pit of the sarlacc had real teeth, they were gross and intimidating. As someone who later became obsessed with all sorts of creature effects like Stan Winston’s creations in “Aliens” and “Jurassic Park” this was a great moment of movie magic in my life. Your original trilogy, before the computer generated special editions, was MAGIC.
Then you had to ruin it. You went back and added new effects. Some of them were good, such as the snow monster in “Empire”, I liked seeing more of him. But I didn’t enjoy seeing Jabba in the hanger of Episode IV and I didn’t enjoy the addition of the Venus Flytrap beak to the Sarlacc in “Jedi”. You ruined something that was good, you ruined something that was tangible.
Then you went ahead and made Episode I, and you included the misguided character of Jar Jar Binks. I think I know what you were trying to do, put in some comic relief, test your your computer generated technology, maybe appeal to a wider fan base. But Jar Jar was horrible and this was the first indication that you’ve lost your magic. The magic that got me hooked on “Star Wars” when I first watched it as a kid.
But what REALLY made me see how much you’ve screwed up, how horribly WRONG you went, was not another science fiction film, but a movie about a creator like yourself, someone who made magic out of creatures. This film was “Being Elmo” which chronicles the journey of Elmo’s puppeteer, Kevin Clash.
Seeing Elmo, seeing the love put into this character, seeing Elmo in action, the way people can touch him, the way he can dance and adjust his eyes because someone is controlling him, it’s magic. It’s the magic you once had, when you used real puppets, tangible creatures, when you didn’t even know about computer generated creatures. I cried when I saw Elmo hugging a girl whose DYING WISH was to meet Elmo. Tell me the last time someone requested to meet Jar Jar Binks?
So let me close by saying it’s really sad to see what has happened to you. You started off with so much promise. You made magic and then you took it away. Your first films had the imagination of someone who truly cared, now it just seems like you’re going through the motions, making creatures just for the hell of it. My kids will love Elmo, they won’t love Jar Jar Binks.
A disappointed former fan.