One of the tenets I hold to is that creative genius is often transformative. Yes, creating a new axiom is amazing, but as much as Shakespeare created new forms and idioms in English that have lasted for centuries he also plagiarized existing work. The two may not be unrelated. But in our current culture of the monetization of small differences (what is the difference between yBA art and German art of the 1960s and 1970s, or between Britney and Christina?) they have a restraining order on each other.
This brings us, as Crosbie has already guessed, to Star Wars (the title is an improvised exchange from “The Empire Strikes Back”, the work in the series that transformed the initial impact of the first film into a lasting cultural touchpoint. Harrison Ford was also present when Rutger Hauer improvised the climactic “tears in the rain” speech of Bladerunner, but I digress…).
The book “The Secret History Of Star Wars” carefully destroys George Lucas’s claims of a creative immaculate conception for the series, leaving a story of creative desperation, appropriation, and lucky escapes that presents each film in the Star Wars series as a destructive digression from the one that precedes it. It takes the claims of a mythology for our times and shows that it is based on the dross of popular culture. “I am your father” was a fix for a creative problem, as was “she is your sister”. The plot of Star Wars was taken from a classic Japanese film, The Empire Strikes Back escaped George Lucas’s control while providing the best realization of his vision and Return Of The Jedi was a case of recycling and readjusting to embrace, extend and escape a plot that would otherwise have been entirely determined by what had been promised before.
In other words it reveals Lucas’s creative genius. It is well worth a read for anyone interested in popular culture, creativity or aesthetics. And it contains strong hints for Free Culture activists. You won’t love Jar Jar Binks after reading it, but you will understand him.
“So you see what I told you was true. From a certain point of view.”