When Disney bought Lucasfilm and announced their ambitious plans, it looked like an end of the line for the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Honestly, I really thought that they would have been forgotten and pushed into the outer rim of galaxy by all of the new and, hopefully, brilliant content, that we were about to get. Fast forward to 2016 and, as was predicted, we have indeed gotten a lot of amazing new Star Wars content.
However, what many probably did not predict was the way how perception towards the prequels has changed. These three (shall we say) problematic films are actually becoming more appreciated a decade down the road, which leads us to a somewhat unlikely conclusion — the Star Wars prequel trilogy has aged well.
So, what has brought along this shift in perception? Why are we focusing more on what was done well in the prequels as opposed to what was completely messed up? Let's take a look at some of the more likely reasons behind this unexpected, yet positive disturbance in the Force.
All Is Said And Done In Terms Of Criticism
Naturally, there are many who were let down by the prequels and feel that the negatives far outweigh the positives. Therefore, when talking about these films, the first things mentioned are often key phrases like poor dialogue, questionable story choices, lack of emotional connection with the characters, uneven directing and a certain distinguished Gungan politician.
However, there has been more than 10 years to parody, criticize and analyze every single one of these flaws, no matter how huge or small. This has resulted in creation of some brilliant content, which, in a way, could be considered a positive that came out of the prequels in its own right. Either way, this activity has certainly kept these films in people's minds.
Now, it's important to understand that there simply isn't anything new to add to a long list of things that the prequels got wrong. Obviously, all of these brilliant reviews and parodies are there for revisiting, but they are unlikely to get any more significant additions. However, focusing on what the prequels got right — that is another story.
The Legacy Of The Prequels Is Becoming More Apparent
For the purpose of this article, there is no point in simply listing the positive aspects of the prequels. Whether it's the brilliant performances by Ewan McGregor or Ian McDiarmid, fascinating but underused characters like Darth Maul, amazing world building like Coruscant, or interesting themes and ideas (on a conceptual level at least) — they have always been there. It's just that, well, we do seem to appreciate that massive world and its contents more than we did in the past.
The keyword here is legacy. Back in the mid '00s, it seemed as if the prequles were the last of Star Wars we were going to get in the foreseeable future. Therefore, the positive aspects that the prequels had were largely dismissed as a waste of potential in, what many felt, were otherwise bad films. However, there are two sides to having this potential.
The thing is, the Star Wars franchise is expanding rapidly and doing so on many different platforms — films, tv shows, video games, books, comics, etc. — all of them fascinating but, perhaps, underdeveloped aspects of the prequels are now there for the taking.
For example, the world and the characters, which were set up in these films, created an excellent basis for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which explored them to a great effect. Furthermore, The Clone Wars enriched the lore of Star Wars with completely new and, by now, beloved characters like Ahsoka Tano. In other words, it showed us just how much the setting and timeframe, which were created for the prequels, can offer. Also, this legacy has transcended into the Disney era as well, with Star Wars Rebels having strong ties to The Clone Wars.
As another example, let's take the Star Wars Anthology films, which have the potential to explore the Star Wars Universe from many different angles. The prequels offer many intriguing angles to do this. That's why, about 10 years ago, Ewan McGregor's strong performance didn't have any relevance to the future of Star Wars. So, it was dismissed as a waste of talent. Now, however, a potential Obi-Wan spin-off is a fascinating prospect for an anthology film, which many fans want to see happen.
What one should understand here is that liking or disliking these movies is one thing. However, the legacy that these films have left behind exists on a completely different level; it has simply become more evident over the years.
Looking Behind The Scenes
There is another aspect to be considered when regarding the growing appreciation towards the prequels: the filmmaking process behind them. When looking past the over-reliance on CGI and the above-mentioned issues with directing, the thought and talent put into creating these films is simply overwhelming. I am talking about all the set designers, stunt choreographs and more. There are countless hours of behind-the-scenes footage displaying just how passionately people were working on these films.
Now, once again, it's not like this is a new information. However, more fans seem to be interested about it. Why? Well, as said before, the legacy of these films has offered a lot of fascinating content for the Star Wars fans. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that more people are becoming interested in knowing how exactly was something, which has provided so much cool content, created.
Obviously, we should keep in mind that when a creative process results in a product, that isn't loved by all (as will always be the case), then it doesn't matter how ambitious it was. Can't argue with that. However, when something is done with passion and dedication, it will always shine through somehow. Exploring this creative process has enabled more and more fans to see that passion and further appreciate these films as a result.
They Are An Original Vision
By the time George Lucas got around to making the prequel trilogy, he had a complete creative control. There was no Harrison Ford to question his dialogue. No Irwin Kershner to direct and no Lawrence Kasdan to co-write. In other words, he was in a position, where no one could and would challenge his ideas.
Now, this is a tricky subject. One the one hand, too much creative control for Lucas can be considered the root of all the problems that the prequels had. However, we should never disregard the value of seeing a vision brought to life, especially if it is done in a completely unaltered manner. The thing is, it's impossible to find two individuals with exactly identical visions. So, bringing one to life guarantees an original result.
Of course, I am not saying that originality equals quality. Also, I have never been one to be too critical towards the over-reliance on known content in nowadays film industry. In fact, it's largely owing to this trend that we get films that are made for the fans by the fans. Furthermore, I did not mind the fact that The Force Awakens was extremely similar to A New Hope from a structural point of view. I loved it and do consider it to be a lot better film than any of the ones within the prequel trilogy.
However, it's fair to say that many filmgoers are growing tired of this trend of relying on the familiarity. Therefore, it's easy to understand why many of us are appreciating originality simply for the sake of originality to a bigger extent than 10 or so years ago.
To Sum Up
It's not a question about whether or not one should like the prequels. In fact, it's not even a question about whether or not should one appreciate them. It's about understanding why do they deserve appreciation, should one be willing to give it.
Now, let's remember that appreciation is essentially being grateful for the existence of something. So, taking all of the above into account, the existence of these flawed yet inventive films has — directly or indirectly — given so much positive to the Star Wars Universe. To me, that is a simple and yet sincere reason to be grateful for these movies. And, it would seem that more and more fans are feeling the same way.
If you got an hour to spare, then find out just how much thought, at least on a conceptual level, was put into the prequels in this fascinating George Lucas interview below: