MARIN COUNTY, California — He's pretty much the undisputed star of six feature films, a pod-racing Jedi protégé who grows up to become the most evil Sith Lord in the Universe. So how do you have some real fun in the "Star Wars" sandbox? Get little orphan Annie the heck out of the way, that's how, "Star Wars" creator George Lucas laughed Monday from his Big Rock Ranch.
The series' first foray into feature animation, "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," aims to do exactly that, despite the fact that Anakin Skywalker is featured prominently in the poster for the film and, at least initially, is something of a major character. In the end, the movie — and, by extension, the 100-episode TV show for which it serves as a prologue — is not a Skywalker story, Lucas insisted.
"The epic itself is basically about one man. You pass through a lot of things, but you never get to look at it. [With 'Clone Wars'], we're not burdened by the mythological underpinnings. We get to go more places," Lucas said. "The story about Anakin Skywalker and his fall into the dark side and redemption by his son, that's finished. It was started when he was 10, it ends when he died. There's no more story to tell. All that stuff is really not part of what this is."
In his place, Lucas and "Clone Wars" director Dave Filoni have created two new female characters: Ahsoka Tano, a young Jedi padawan, and Asajj Ventress, a Sith apprentice. Together and separately, the pair will navigate the Clone Wars, the galaxywide battle between the Jedi-led Republic and the Count Dooku-led Separatists. Canonically, the feature film takes place between "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith."
Stylistically and tonally, however, the film almost takes place in an entirely separate universe, Lucas said, likening the storytelling possibilities to the broad canvas of "World War II." Ironically, that means bright colors, painterly Impressionist backdrops, and lots and lots of silliness.
It also means much less about the characters audiences have grown to know and love and much more about characters, places and events that are glimpsed at or spoken of almost incidentally in the previous features, Filoni said.
"When I was a kid, imagining that there were other Jedi Knights beyond Yoda was incredible. We've never really seen those other characters fully developed, and that's one thing we can really get into in this movie and in this series," he told MTV News. "Also, there are a lot of the clones that we can get involved with on the front lines and see just how they all contributed to this great republic that we always heard about in 'Star Wars' and how it falls apart and becomes an empire."
It's a freedom that enables Filoni to dwell on "Plo Koon or Kit Fisto," he said, two lesser known Jedis about to get the star treatment in "Clones." Or on a particular battle. Or on nothing at all, really, if that's what he wants to do for 22 minutes.
"I try to stay very closely tied to the live-action films as far as I don't want to interrupt the continuity that George created," he said. "But once we kind of moved away from one on one end and until we get towards 'Revenge of the Sith' on the other, there's a lot of room to explore."
The journey begins when "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" opens August 15.
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