Why I prefer George Lucas over JJ Abrams as a filmmaker
I really enjoyed Episode VII The Force Awakens. It is very good, effective filmmaking. The only thing that made me sad about it is that George Lucas is only credited in the end titles with “Based on characters created by George Lucas”.
Which strikes me as a bit greedy, because hey, you know what, he not only created the characters, he created the whole godamn universe!!! And if we are very honest, the storyline of The Force Awakens copies a lot from the previous films (not just characters, literally entire sequences!). People are very quick to dismiss Episode 1–3 as bad films, but in terms of storylines, they were more ambitious and original.
Plus, when George Lucas made the prequels, he also invented much of modern film technology: He pioneered new digital cameras and new CGI techniques, and these films also drove the early adoption of digital cinema projection. If Lucas wouldn’t have shot Episode II in digital and in the process almost forced cinema operators to upgrade to digital projectors, we wouldn’t be able to watch a 3D digital copy of The Force Awakens in cinemas today. He didn’t just try to tell a story, he built entire new tools for storytelling in the process.
Compare that to JJ Abrams, who could come in and start from a point where everything was created, and all he needed to focus on was execution. Sure, he has done an amazing job, and he must be complimented for making a hugely enjoyable Star Wars film. Does this make him a better filmmaker than Lucas?
If you think so, then you know what… possibly JJ Abrahams could also paint a better version of van Gogh’s sunflowers, because their execution is also not very good. Wouldn’t that also make him also a better painter than van Gogh?
In my view, we should always value originality more than execution. And if you value originality, then George Lucas deserves so much more credit as a filmmaker than he receives.