The great thing about Star Wars is that it speaks to us about every aspect of our lives. It can even teach us about romance. What to do, and what not to do. Especially the second one.
It is hardly an original observation that George Lucas' artistic output has been wildly inconsistent over the years. Cracked never tires of pointing this out. But his treatment of onscreen romantic pairings is deserving of special mention. Because it's so fucked up.
Please note that we are not talking about this bromance. Because it's awesome.
See, we here at Cracked have noticed that there are two George Lucases. There's the ambitious young filmmaker who struggled to bring his vision to the screen with the original trilogy, and then there's the head of the media empire who completely lost his mind years ago and everyone around him is too busy counting cash to notice or care.
This has led to something we're dubbing The Lucas Effect. The Lucas Effect is something that even the most casual of Star Wars viewers will notice while watching the films, and it goes something like this: The amount of restriction (whether financial, technological or otherwise) placed upon George's ability to bring his vision to the screen is inversely proportionate to how retarded the end result is. A simpler way of putting it is that the more hands-on George gets, the stupider the result.
This is clearly seen in the by now well-known litany of truly awful decisions Lucas has made over the years. Ewoks, Greedo shooting first, Jar Jar...you're a Cracked reader, you know the list.
But when applied to portraying the age-old story of Boy Meets Girl, The Lucas Effect yields results that are downright...icky.
In the Original Trilogy (more commonly known as "the good one"), Lucas was under a lot of restrictions. When he set out to make the first Star Wars movie (now known as A New Hope) he wasn't the powerful movie mogul he is today. This meant he was under a lot of restrictions, mainly budgetary. Held back by the limitations of 1970's special effects technology, the young upstart filmmaker labored over the script. Seeking out advice from others, he pared the story down until it was perfect. A lot of creative people had input in the first two films and it shows. With the third movie, Lucas had gained tighter control over what was now a franchise, and it also shows.
Han And Leia
There's no overt romance in A New Hope, what with all the running around and pretending that Imperial Stormtroopers have scary marksmanship skills, but the first film does do a good job of setting up an effective love triangle between Princess Leia and the two male leads, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo.
A subplot featuring a torrid affair between Leia and Chewbacca was unfortunately scrapped.
The first sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, is the film with the strongest romantic subplot. Building on a previous, unused script and extensive notes from Lucas, screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan deftly crafts a sparkling romance between space pirate Han and the Princess. Brimming with sexual chemistry and snarky banter, their burgeoning love is believable and fun to watch. They're an outer space Tracy and Hepburn. The love triangle dynamic is built up as well, with Leia giving Luke a steamy kiss in one scene. The story almost seems to be setting up the Han/Leia pairing as a way of allowing for a twist in the finale where she winds up with Luke instead.
Incest? More like in-sexy! Am I right?
The Lucas Effect
Actual cash cow genetically engineered at Skywalker Ranch. That's how rich George Lucas is.
As such, Lucas was faced with the challenge of giving the series a satisfying conclusion that would still keep people buying action figures and allow George to pursue his new passion of not having to make any more fucking Star Wars movies. At this point Lucas had already fully embraced his self-proclaimed status as a Hollywood Outsider Whose Vision Is Too Big To Dilute. So whereas he had delegated much of the creative process for the previous film (widely regarded as the series' best), Return Of The Jedi would be an exercise in finally bringing his ideas to the screen in their purest, most unfettered form.
Pictured: Unbridled artistic integrity.
The results are a mixed bag, but it's it's still a damn good movie. Despite excesses and blatantly pandering to the toy-hungry kids in the audience, it still provides an exciting conclusion that wraps up most of the plot in a satisfying way. And hey, they even resolved that love triangle! In the end, Leia winds up with Han. But not because she chooses a charming rogue with a shady past over a whiny but determined bitch/hero. Nope, she ends up with Han because it turns out that Luke is her twin brother.
Han doesn't buy Lucas' "I had the whole thing planned out from the start" bullshit.
This twist comes about not because it's dramatic or interesting, but because it's easy. Anything more complicated would have required Lucas to put in some effeort and explore a landscape of human emotion that he was increasingly disinterested in.
With all that, you'd think it couldn't get any worse. You'd be wrong.
So much can (and has) been said about the shortcomings of the Prequel Trilogy and we're not going to rehash it all here. We'll just say that in revisiting Star Wars Lucas proved himself no longer a young visionary, but instead an out-of-touch corporate executive more interested in using technology as a marketing tool than in storytelling or the human condition and leave it at that. The Prequels are one giant excercise in The Lucas Effect, as his previous method of collaborating with others gives way to an approach where he micromanages every single aspect of the films until nothing is left that doesn't seem utterly artificial.
Anakin And Padme
Lucas had a big problem with the Prequels (actually, he had many, but we're just focusing on one). The Original Trilogy had established that Darth Vader, Anakin Skywalker, had fathered twins Luke and Leia. That meant that during the Prequels, which are all backstory, Anakin had to get busy. So there had to be a romance. No problem, right? Sibling issues aside, the Original Trilogy already had a really good love story. There's no reason to think that Lucas couldn't deliver the romantic goods again.
"Mesa no worried!"
So the first of the new films introduces Anakin and his love interest/future choking victim Padme Amidala. And it's pretty much all downhill from there.
The Lucas Effect
The Anakin/Padme love story is pretty much ALL LUCAS EFFECT. It's almost impossible to single out one scene or element that represents the problem because it all works so badly.
It starts with the writing. Lucas has created characters that only barely qualify as such. They have names and they do stuff. There's no more depth to it than that. They do and say things not because they are motivated (or even remotely relatable) but because the paper-thin plot demands that they do, all so Lucas can get to his next big set piece. The dialogue between our two romantic leads is so far removed from anything an actual human being would ever say that one has to wonder if Lucas has actually ever spent any time around people. The most egregious example is probably the infamous "fireplace scene", which contains gems like "I wish that I could just wish away my feelings".
"Perhaps by wishing for some kind of wish-granting wish."
The completely stilted and lifeless interaction between them is only compounded by the horrible casting. Lucas' hamfisted dialogue would be a challenge to even a gifted actor, which these two are not. Ultimately, it's all one can expect from wooden actors reciting stilted lines in front of a greenscreen at the behest of a director who doesn't like working with actors.
We get that Anakin is on a slippery slope to the Dark Side. That's not the problem. The problem is that both he and Padme are hopelessly creepy. So do yourself a favor. If you need advice on your love life, don't go to George Lucas.