Ok, it’s been a month since I saw the Rogue One. As if a new Star Wars movie wasn’t enough news, we also have the passing of Carrie Fisher to contend with. My second viewing of the film just happened to be on the day her death was announced, so the final shot of the film took on even more significance than it ordinarily would have. “Hope,” she said. The Tantive IV took off, the familiar John Williams music started, and the credits rolled. Upon my first viewing, I was smiling. Upon my second, I was still smiling, but it was a bittersweet grin, since it was achieved with the knowledge of Ms. Fisher’s demise. Where would things go from here?
I’ll tell you where things will go: Forward. Not only is that the only option we have, it’s the option that Carrie Fisher would have chosen. The speculation began immediately concerning how the filmmakers would handle the death of the actress who played the most important female character in the Skywalker saga. Would they recast? Of course not. Would they rework the ending of the upcoming episode in the story? Possibly. Is that the most important issue right now? Not even close. A friend made a comment in the wake of all the hand-wringing about the films, and I think she’s right. She said that we needn’t worry about that, those sorts of problems are why we have screenwriters. Her family members are the ones who need support, because their lives have been irrevocably changed, and no amount of editing-room magic can change that.
We’re fans. I get it. Star Wars holds a vital place in our lives, and there’s really nothing wrong with that. However, Star Wars WILL go on. We’ll continue to lose artists who contributed to our beloved franchise, and each one will be a tragedy. None of them will kill Star Wars. George Lucas let his creation pass to a new creative team, making sure that it will live on long after he is gone. There are those who are still not convinced that Disney are the best proprietors of the property, but something happened in the wake of Carrie Fisher’s death that reminded me of the last word in Rogue One.
One of the options that was discussed about the continuation of the Skywalker saga was one that made my skin crawl: There was the suggestion that Disney might build a “Digital General Organa” much like they did with Grand Moff Tarkin (and the younger Leia) in Rogue One. We can debate the success that was achieved with this method in Rogue One, but regardless of the quality of the work, it DOES present some ethical challenges for me. As an actor, it is troubling to me to think that, were I of sufficient importance as a performer, I could be rebuilt after my death, and my image could be used in areas that I never had any opportunity to accept or decline. I’m not comfortable with the family of actors being the ones in charge of their likenesses in the event of the actors’ deaths. It’s a discussion that has been ongoing for years, and one that will continue.
However, my feelings on the ethics of this pursuit are not the purpose of my ramblings this time. My purpose is to explain what gives me HOPE about Disney’s stewardship of Star Wars. As soon as the discussion started on social media about how the story would proceed after Carrie Fisher’s death, it was suggested that Disney and/or Lucasfilm had approached her family to discuss creating a digital double to be used in the film. Site after site reported this, and I was beginning to weary of the discussions that were happening. Then, a wonderful thing happened. Lucasfilm responded! It was an unusual move, but one that was warranted and appreciated. Lucasfilm, under the proprietorship of Disney, announced that they did NOT intend to create a digital double of General Organa. This news made me breathe easier, and told me everything I need to know about how they will handle the saga going forward.
This news should give us hope. Not only has Lucasfilm produced two VERY well-received films to begin their Star Wars releases under the Disney umbrella, but they’ve managed to avoid some major missteps along the way. The decision to not go the digital double route is commendable, but their decision to cut off the internet chatter before it became deafening is doubly-comforting to me. This tells me that Lucasfilm and Disney have thought out their plan for Star Wars, and that they understand how the Star Wars fan community works. They could have just remained silent and gone about their business, but making their statement not only laid to rest any debate, it also, one imagines, served as a comfort to those who were personally affected by the death of Carrie Fisher. To me, this shows that Disney cares about its property, and both Disney and Lucasfilm care about their fans.
Folks, Star Wars is in good hands. I’ve said it from Day One, and nothing has made me doubt my confidence since the announcement of the acquisition was made. We SHOULD have hope. There’s no reason to think that ANY of the films we have coming in the next few years will be anything less than well-crafted entertainments designed to increase interest and add wonderful new layers to the Star Wars saga. And that’s not all! To me, the way the situation with Carrie Fisher has been handled has made me feel like they will continue to respect the work that has come before, as well as respecting the work and memories of the craftspeople that have produced the work.
Star Wars is in good hands. Our fandom is in good hands. Everything is going to be ok. So why don’t we all sit back and enjoy the ride, and leave the hand-wringing to the situations that we should REALLY be worrying about, whatever they may be for each of us.
Until next time,
May The Force of Others Be With Us All
Jeff can be heard weekly on Assembly of Geeks (www.assemblyofgeeks.com) and on his own podcast network, MarvinDog Media (www.MarvinDogMedia.com) where he hostsThe Pilot Episode, Talking Toys with Taylor and Jeff, and Bantha Banter: A Star Wars Chat Show. He is also co-host of Comics With Kenobi with fellow CWK blogger Matt Moore, on CoffeeWithKenobi.com, which you have already found if you’re reading this blog. You can contact Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org.