The media blitz that's accompanied the upcoming Red Tails has been unique, to say the least. Instead of interviews with the stars or insights from the director getting the lion's share of the publicity festivities, it's been the quotes and public appearances of executive producer George Lucas causing the most hubbub. (All of it's a bit ironic, since the film's marketers didn't think Lucas was a big enough selling point to name-check in the trailers.) Which brings to today's interview with Lucas about Red Tails, a lengthy sit-down in New York Times Magazine about the struggles he had making the movie and where he sees his career going from here on out.
The former has already been well-documented, so it's the latter that needs to be paid close attention:
“I’m retiring,” Lucas said. “I’m moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff.”
He was careful to leave himself an out clause for a fifth 'Indiana Jones' film. But otherwise, 'Red Tails' will be the last blockbuster Lucas makes. “Once this is finished, he’s done everything he’s ever wanted to do,” says Rick McCallum, who has been producing Lucas’s films for more than 20 years. “He will have completed his task as a man and a filmmaker.”
Except, he hasn't. Because as the article quickly goes on, Lucas will now turn his expertise and artistic vision (which, arguably, there is little of) in order to go the Francis Ford Coppola route and begin making smaller films on a more regular basis:
"Lucas has decided to devote the rest of his life to what cineastes in the 1970s used to call personal films. They’ll be small in scope, esoteric in subject and screened mostly in art houses. They’ll be like the experimental movies Lucas made in the 1960s, around the time he was at U.S.C. film school, when he recorded clouds moving over the desert and made a movie based on an E. E. Cummings poem."
Throughout his post-Star Wars career — documented especially well in Peter Biskind's riveting portrayal of Hollywood in the '70s and '80s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls — you certainly get the feeling that Lucas wanted to be an artistic guerrilla-style filmmaker before all that pesky success got in the way. That the potential gold mine that came with creating a franchise of glorified kids movies was too good to pass up. (See: Eddie Murphy's career for the past decade.) But that his hope to achieve some artistic vision outside of the land of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader was always tugging on his heart-strings.
Well, now he says he's going to do it. We'll see if he actually goes through with it.