Is Star Wars Written for the Fans?

Sky courtesy of GratisographyWith the release of Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens,  I heard a most unusual complaint: that it was written too much for the fans.

Many who saw it thought it was a great movie, but there were some who felt it was too nostalgic. With so many nods to the original trilogy, they felt it became hard to truly enjoy the new movie, and they wished it’d broken into new ground rather than working so hard to convince viewers that this time, they wouldn’t be disappointed; everything they’d loved about the original trilogy was coming back.

But if the new movie was written with the fans in mind, it’s the first time in Star Wars movie history that it’s ever happened.

In an interview done in 2004, just before Episode III came out, George Lucas basically told us all that Star Wars was written for him, and that each edit done to the original trilogy was to bring it closer to what he’d always hoped the movie would be.

“To me, the special edition ones are the films I wanted to make. Anybody that makes films knows the film is never finished. It’s abandoned or it’s ripped out of your hands, and it’s thrown into the marketplace, never finished…And even most artists, most painters, even composers would want to come back and redo their work now. They’ve got a new perspective on it, they’ve got more resources, they have better technology, and they can fix or finish the things that were never done.”

That’s why he’s tinkered with his movies so often, and why he put so much money into the tinkering. To make the movie he wanted. It’s the fan’s money that he’s been spending to make the movie “for himself,” yet he sees no reason to spend his money to bring what the fans loved originally to a lasting medium.

And he doesn’t attempt to hide this fact. He went on to say:

“It’s like this is the movie I wanted it to be, and I’m sorry you saw half a completed film and fell in love with it. I want it to be the way I want it to be. I’m the one who has to take responsibility for it…I’m making the movies, so I should have it my way.”

Which brings us to an interesting question: who is an author responsible for, when they write a story? Are they only responsible to themselves, to making themselves completely happy? If so, we shouldn’t be surprised at George Lucas’ decisions, nor should we be upset that we can’t find the “unaltered edition” on DVD.

But if books are supposed to be written “for the fans,” we shouldn’t complain if we get excessive nostalgia, as is apparently in Episode VII (if the complaints are to be believed).Copyright 2016 Andrea LundgrenPhoto courtesy of Gratisography

5 thoughts on “Is Star Wars Written for the Fans?

  1. I’m not a big Star Wars fan, but even so, Lucas’ response really rubbed me the wrong way. Sometimes I think Hollywood delights in purposely sticking their thumbs in the eyes of fans. (Don’t even get me started on what they did with the Narnia books. Talk about squandering your loyal fan base!)

    Your question though, and my gut reaction to Lucas’ statement, really made me stop and ask, who I am writing my book series for anyway? Am I being hypocritical? Right now I guess I am writing for myself–for the story I need to tell. But I’m not in Lucas’ shoes either–I don’t have hundreds of thousands of fans paying my bills. I can’t even imagine having that many followers, not to mention all of the marketing stuff to go with it. I’m still building my fan base from the ground up. So the real question is, once I’ve established my fan base, what is my responsibility then? If my story ever got that big, would it really even be mine anymore? Would I let the fans determine what I write in future books? Or would I ignore them and just do what I want, even knowing that they are funding it, and could just as easily move on to something else if I upset them too much?

    I’d like to think that I’ll be sensitive to fans without letting them push me too far in directions I don’t want to go in. There has to be a balance between staying true to the integrity of my work, and honoring those who have supported me and helped me become successful in the first place. I may have passed part of this test already on a much smaller scale. A number of people have asked me what happened to a specific character from my first book who doesn’t appear in the second. I’m now writing a novella to address their question. But will they ultimately like what I’ve done with that character’s story? Or will they be disappointed by the direction I send him in? And if they don’t like it, how will that change what I write about him moving forward in the series? I guess only time will tell.


    1. I think there’s a difference between writing a story, as you feel you need to tell it, and writing just for yourself. Personally, there are characters I’d skip, or downplay a great deal, if left up to me, but I have to leave in the plot because the story is better for their being there. (And I don’t just mean nasty villains, but good characters with annoying habits, who are overly talkative, or very selfish and self-absorbed, etc.) Writing the story to the best of your abilities is what writing is all about…as I explored in my post on “Who Do You Write For?” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can see the distinction you mean, and agree. In that light, writing just for yourself seems rather pointless. 🙂 Haven’t gotten to your new post yet, but it is on my list for today!


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