George Lucas, Star Wars creator and Indiana Jones visionary, is the subject of a New York Times Magazine profile out this weekend and argues that naïveté can actually be a good thing for movies about race. Bryan Curtis profiles the prolific producer-writer-director-entrepreneur legend and focuses the majority of the profile on race and Lucas's upcoming movie, Red Tails which tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. It's a discussion not entirely unfamiliar to anyone who's seen Lucas out and about awkwardly promoting Red Tails and the struggle of producing an all-black action film. That in mind, it's this anecdote about Lucas opting for entertainment over the complex history of civil rights and racism and the explanation of what kind of story Lucas wants to tell that grabbed our attention:
“I can’t make that movie,” Lucas recalled thinking when he read the scripts. “I’m going to have make this kind of . . . entertainment movie.” So Lucas focused on the middle chapter: the dogfights and the Nazi-hunting black pilots who shout, “How you like that, Mr. Hitler!” (When I mention Lucas’s naïve style to Michael Bay, the director of the “Transformers” movies, he says sympathetically, “That’s what I get crap for from my critics.”) …
For a model, Lucas studied flag-waving World War II films like Nicholas Ray’s “Flying Leathernecks,” which starred John Wayne. “We made movies like this during the war, and everybody just loved them,” he said. “I said, ‘There’s no reason why that idealism, that kind of naïveté, can’t still exist.’ ”
… The key then to understanding Lucas’s last blockbuster, like his first, is not how futuristic he’s making it but how retrograde.
For the full profile, check out the New York Times Magazine.