Star Wars Explained is our ongoing series where we delve into the latest Star Wars shows, movies, trailers, and news stories to divine the franchise’s future. This entry examines Icons Unearthed: Star Wars, the new six-hour docuseries from Vice TV, which features the first on-camera interview with Marcia Lucas.
Few films have been examined and reexamined as much as Star Wars and its various sequels, prequels, and spin-offs. I can’t even count the number of documentaries, making-of books, and articles I’ve consumed during my decades-long obsession with the galaxy far, far away. I know it’s a lot. I know I’ll consume a lot more. And most will offer very little in terms of new knowledge.
Vice TV, in partnership with The Nacelle Company, recently launched a six-part anthology docuseries digging into the Star Wars franchise. Icons Unearthed: Star Wars is a nuts-to-bolts retelling of the saga’s creation myth. The first two episodes are currently streaming, with the rest to follow every Tuesday.
The show takes a rapid-fire approach, stitching numerous interviews together in a rough, jaggy fashion. Phil Tippett will chime in with an interesting tidbit, but you’re off in another direction before you can process the comment. Icons Unearthed‘s propulsive nature makes the viewing experience a little exhausting but never dull. You’ve undoubtedly heard many of these stories before, but there’s at least one contributor’s tale you’ve missed: Macia Lucas.
The First On-Camera Interview with George Lucas’ Ex
Marica Lucas arrives in Icons Unearthed with little fanfare but a significant set-up. Marcia met George in the late sixties when they both worked as apprentice editors on the short film Journey to the Pacific. They quickly connected, and a few years later, they were married. After working on films like Medium Cool and The Rain People, Marcia assisted George in editing his first feature, THX–1138.
To hear her tell it, she was with George when the Star Wars idea first seeped into his brain. It occurred when they both went to see 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film was overwhelming but mostly slow. However, Kubrick’s masterpiece sparked a passion in George’s heart. What if you applied Douglas Trumbull‘s spectacular effects to a Flash Gordon serial adventure? He couldn’t shake the possibility, and George spent nearly every waking moment afterward trying to rally the thought into creation.
The journey from that 2001 screening to Star Wars‘ premiere was also recently told during the Disney+ series, Light and Magic. That series’ perspective drills into ILM’s birth and how their wizardry saved Star Wars from being just another B-movie bust. Icons Unearthed agrees but tells the ILM side of things in sentences, not paragraphs.
Marcia’s story is equally skirted, but Icons Unearthed is attempting to reveal a grand picture. As someone deeply interested in her story, how she’s plopped alongside Anthony Daniels and her editorial colleague Paul Hirsch is frustrating. That being said, Icons Unearthed‘s director Brian Volk–Weiss doesn’t have the same desires I do and Marcia Lucas may not want to be the focus.
‘Star Wars’ was Saved in the Edit
Constructing Star Wars was a desperate act. Every minute put strain upon George Lucas. Icons Unearthed gives the impression that the director walked away from the experience hating the process. Hence, Irvin Kershner helmed The Empire Strikes Back, and Richard Marquand directed Return of the Jedi. Not until the last minute did George Lucas, or anybody in the production really, understand the magnitude of what they had made.
While John Dykstra and his ILM cronies were rapidly assembling the effects, Paul Hirsch and Marcia Lucas scrambled to concoct a watchable edit. The film’s original editor, from the British crew, cobbled together a tonal disaster. Paul and Marcia were determined to whittle it into something passable, and maybe even something exciting (as long as the ILM folks came through on their end).
Marcia Lucas’ focus was the Death Star run. Using old World War II movies like The Dam Busters as her guide and sometimes stand-in (again, the ILM team struggled to complete their shots), she stretched the sequence as far as she could. Originally, Luke Skywalker took two passes at the trench before scoring a hit, but Marcia encouraged George to excise the first. He agreed, but with only one pass, that trench run needed to be as tense as possible. Marcia rearranged and inserted frames, prolonging the battle by adding a countdown clock.
Star Wars‘ initial edit did not have the Death Star approaching Yavin 4. Using voiceover and Death Star gunner footage stolen from the previous destruction sequence of Alderaan, Marcia Lucas created a ticking clock for the final battle. Originally, the only danger belonged to the X-Wing pilots and the Death Star denizens. Marcia Lucas removed the threat-exclusivity from the battlefield and placed a target on those good Rebels not yet in the fight. If Luke Skywalker doesn’t hit his target, millions more will die shortly after.
The Return of Marcia Lucas
Marcia Lucas and George Lucas’ marriage dissolved during the post-production of Return of the Jedi. To this day, as depicted in Icons Unearthed, several crew members believe there was an extramarital affair. Marcia Lucas vehemently denies these accusations in the docuseries. In her recollection, George became a workaholic, and his time as Mr. Star Wars pulled him away from her.
Yet, with their marriage in crumbles, according to Marcia, George asked her to contribute one last time to the Star Wars franchise. Once again, alongside Paul Hirsch, Marcia toiled on the edit. With the job done, her time as editor was also complete. She no longer contained that creative desire and retired from the task.
Reliving these moments paints pain on Marcia Lucas’ face. She seemingly adored revisiting those early days, celebrating the monumental task they accomplished as a couple, but when reflecting upon the end, Marcia’s demeanor grows grim. She has not spoken to George in years. Marcia even wonders if she ever will again. He seemingly wants nothing to do with her.
Marcia Lucas, the Unearthed Icon
Icons Unearthed feeds the Star Wars obsessive well. Like any feast, there are tastier bits than others. You’ll find yourself wishing the meal had more Marcia Lucas or Richard Marquand gossip. I didn’t get into it here, but the Return of the Jedi segments features lots of people with nothing but venom for the director. Anthony Daniels ain’t holding back at all, calling Marquand incompetent repeatedly. There’s more to dine on there for sure.
Hopefully, Icons Unearthed initiates more curiosity about Marcia Lucas’ contribution to Star Wars. If she’s willing, a doc focused on her perspective would certainly reveal a previously unconsidered side of the franchise story. And with her talking, wouldn’t it be glorious if George Lucas found a voice to chat again about Star Wars? Since the Disney Lucasfilm acquisition, the man seems totally done with his cinematic baby.
At the same time, he’s said enough already. Marcia Lucas is just getting started. Let her talk.
Icons Unearthed: Star Wars is now streaming on Vice TV.