All creative people "appropriate from multiple sources." There is nothing new under the sun, just new ways of putting the pieces together. I'll be the first to admit that Lucas is not a great writer (Harrison Ford said he should be tied up and forced to recite his own dialogue), but he directed the first Star Wars
film with so much energy, and paced it so well, that it hardly mattered.
He neither wrote nor directed the second film, The Empire Strikes Back
, and while it's more intelligent and original than the first, it is not the classic that the original is. If you don't like that, take it up with the public.
The original Star Wars
is a classic precisely because it was
derivative. Its plot could have been lifted right out of a beginner's book on how to write a script. Its characters were archetypes, pure cardboard. It showed us things that had been described in books by Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov thirty years before, but nobody had ever depicted a binary star system or a jump into hyperspace on film. The most that had been done was to mention it in the dialogue and let the audiences' imaginations take it from there.
People prefer derivative works. That's why fanfic gets more readers than original fiction by unknown authors, and why Hollywood is eaten up with sequels and remakes. Taking a chance on unknown authors and filmmakers is risky. Getting to know new characters, new worlds, and new situations is too much work. People want to turn their brains off and be entertained. They don't want to think.
I've heard "George got too big for anyone to tell him no" before, but it's just a parrot squawk as far as I can tell — one of those rumors that get passed around until they become something "everyone knows." Maybe it's true and maybe it isn't, but I do know this for certain: he was in his early thirties when he directed Star Wars
. He was about fifty-five when he made The Phantom Menace
. As people get older, they lose their edge. If you haven't made it in a creative profession by the time you're forty, chances are you never will.
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