George Lucas may well be one of the most controversial figures in modern moviemaking. His unwavering devotees declare that he is a groundbreaking genius who not only created an incredible six-part space saga, but also validated the science fiction genre. His detractors, however, insist he's spent the latter half of his career undermining his early glory and destroying his legacy. Both sides are sure to have plenty to say about Lucas's latest ambition.
According to Empire, the creator of Star Wars and founder of Lucasfilm is looking to distance himself from both, telling the magazine:
"I'm moving away from the company, I'm moving away from all my businesses, I'm finishing all my obligations and I'm going to retire to my garage with my saw and hammer and build hobby movies. I've always wanted to make movies that were more experimental in nature, and not have to worry about them showing in movie theatres."
While the filmmaker retirement cry is often an idle threat, Lucas has been making movies for more than 40 years, and does have enough accrued wealth to live out his days devoting his time to any odd little interest he may have. Still, as much as I personally loathed many of his most recent works--especially the soul-crushing disappointment that was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull--I'm hoping this is not Lucas' farewell to film. Instead, I'd like to think these "hobby movies" will be something that may never see movie theaters, but will be released on the web.
Perhaps without the massive budgets, demands, and hype that are inherently attached to a Lucasfilm production, Lucas the filmmaker will rediscover his muse. Sometimes without a framework of expectation, true and fresh creativity can truly thrive. Just think of Joss Whedon, who weathered the Writers' Strike of 2007 by crafting the quirky and wonderful pop opera Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog for the internet. Without the constraints of TV/studio execs, Whedon was able to tell a tale unfiltered, and the results were uniquely electric.
For all his faults, Lucas is an innovator who has long been intrigued by cinema's next step. Maybe retreating from feature-length cinema is his next step, one that could draw him into a freer creative space that could remind those who lost faith why they celebrated him to begin with.