For about the last 15 years, George Lucas has been working on a project that many of his fans might find surprising. As they focus on the nearing release of the new Star Wars film, the creator of the galaxy far, far away is focusing on the upcoming release of his animated fairy tale musical Strange Magic.
Lucas, who discussed the film at a press event last week, said Strange Magic was in the works even as he was directing the Star Wars prequels.
“I’d go out and shoot and this would be put on the shelf for awhile … It’s a project I’d been doing for a long time and then when it came to sell the company [Lucasfilm] I realized it wasn’t completely finished,” he explained. “But I said ‘Well, I still want to retire. I’m not going to wait this out. I want to retire now. Time is more important to me than money.’”
He hoped that Kathleen Kennedy and the others who had worked on the film with him would want to finish the movie and that Disney would put money towards its completion.
The fact that it was a personal project for the filmmaker became clear as he discussed the plot, the message of which is summed up in the movie’s tagline: “Everyone deserves to be loved.” The story follows two worlds, a fairy kingdom and a dark forest, and characters that discover there’s more to love than good looks. Lucas’ personal experiences getting married, getting divorced, adopting his kids, and being a bachelor for 20 years had an impact. As a bachelor he wanted to get married again, but knew the people he was seeing weren’t the kind of people he would marry.
“I thought ‘Well, I’ll never find that person’ and I literally had given up and said ‘that’s never going to happen, there’s no way I can find that person.’ Then I met my wife [Mellody Hobson] who was completely opposite of me in every possible way, but inside we’re exactly the same,” Lucas said. “It’s eerie that we’re so much the same. I was obviously quite a ways down the road, this was eight years ago, but it did influence things.”
Lucas said Strange Magic’s “story is about the difference between infatuation and real love.”
“Real love is on the inside. It’s somebody you have a common ground with. You share the same values, you share the same interests, you share the same humor. All those things are things that will last you for the rest of your life,” Lucas said. “What the person looks like will not and that’s the point. You fall in love with a boy band, that’s not going to last. You fall in love with a football star, that’s not going to last. It’s for young kids, to say ‘Hey, let’s just get beyond the cover of the book.’”
According to Lucas, it’s a story that has been told over and over again. Like Star Wars was based on mythology, Strange Magic is based on fairy tales. The message that “true love and happiness really is not with the pretty boy or the pretty girl” is one that needs to be shared with each generation of kids. Lucas’ own children were an influence on why he wanted to make the film.
“Originally I had two daughters and I ended up with another daughter [Everest Hobson Lucas]. Star Wars was for 12-year old boys. I figured I’d make one for 12-year-old girls, and, you know, the 1- year-old boy—one that worked for everybody,” he said. “So I said ‘Well maybe I can do one like this but it’s slightly more female centric.’ We still have sword fighting, we still have things, but it’s really a story that will hopefully work for everybody. It was really something I said ‘Well, maybe I’ll do this’ and I just wanted to have fun.”
The film’s story is given a bit of a twist with a collection of songs spanning six decades. The music Lucas chose was from the same archive he used for his classic film American Graffiti. In the beginning Lucas wanted the film to be like an opera with no talking. While that idea didn’t last, he said the driving force remained focusing on how the lyrics can tell the story. A story that for Lucas shows how “love is strange.”
Strange Magic premieres Friday.
Photo via Lucasfilm