As part of our #StrangeMagicEvent press trip, we knew we had the rare opportunity to see inside Skywalker Ranch (<— click there to see all the details of Skywalker Ranch) for a screening of Strange Magic & interviews! That alone was super exciting! But, we got the surprise of a lifetime the night before when it was announced that THE George Lucas (you know, the man behind Star Wars) would be joining us for interviews! And, yes, I think every blogger on the bus actually screamed!Before the interviews, we got to screen George’s new movie, Strange Magic, inside his Stag Theater at Skywalker Sound. And….George Lucas sat in the theater and watched the movie with us!!!! I’m not sure many people outside of his colleagues, friends, and family can say that, so to have this experience was such an honor! Any time you’re sitting in a theater with the creators behind it is amazing, but when the creator is someone legendary like George Lucas…just wow!
About Strange Magic
Strange Magic,” a new animated film from Lucasfilm Ltd., is a madcap fairy tale musical inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Popular songs from the past six decades help tell the tale of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their hilarious misadventures sparked by the battle over a powerful potion.
So, as you can see, this George Lucas film is an animated movie…and it’s actually a musical that has been 15 years in the making! George explained that after finishing all the Star Wars, “the idea of an upbeat, fun, simple movie just appealed to me.” Though he had been producing films after Star Wars, he wanted to do something where he could actually get his hands dirty so to speak. So for years, he was working on Strange Magic “on the side” with a small group of people just “designing things and doing animation tests”. With three daughters (ages 33, 26, and 18 months), it may not be a huge surprise that George Lucas wanted to make a movie that was a little more geared toward girls than to the boys!
“I thought it would be fun to make a film that was more for tween girls than Star Wars which is for tween boys, even though in the end everybody loved it and girls love it and, you know it all worked out. So I’m hoping that this one, even though it’s more teen girl-centric.. hopefully it will engage all the boys and-and everybody will like it”
Key Messages in Strange Magic
This may look like just a fun, little animated fairy movie. But, it touches on some really important messages for kids – especially as they navigate their way through those sometimes very difficult tween, teen, and young adult years. George explained that he wanted to “make a movie that is about the difference between being infatuated and being truly in love.” Oh my, how many tweens and teens (and even some adults) struggle with this – especially young girls it seems?!?! So, Lucas wanted to send a message especially to young girls who are prone to infatuations, to say, “you know, it’s not always the cutest guy in class that you really wanna be out with.” This point is made very clearly in the movie, where the good-looking, wannabe prince is actually a total jerk.
And, just like the movie poster, there is the key idea that “everyone deserves to be loved”. Really, in the end, Strange Magic is a story of redemption, showing how you can go through terrible heartbreak and still come out ok in the end. It’s got classic messages about heartbreak and love, which is what George wanted.
“Well it’s a story that needs to be told every generation you know, ’cause the little girls growing up, or boys, they don’t know any of this stuff. By the time they reach 12 they’re very confused. And, even though we all know it, and ‘oh I’ve seen that’, ‘oh I, well that’s been told over and over and over again’…well it needs to continue to be told over and over again. You can’t sort of let kids slip through the cracks and say ‘oh yeah, I was in the generation that didn’t get that message’. The message is so simple and, you know it’s been around for thousands of years… it can always be retold….
To me adolescence is a key period in a child’s life, and to make movies that say ‘look, these are the issues. Maybe your parents have told you about this, maybe they haven’t but you need to know the story of why you have friendships and what a friendship means, why there are things in the world that are bigger than you are, why, you know uh, your complicated feelings with your parents and all these kinds of things are not unusual, they’re not just you, this is something that everybody goes through’.”
That message about friendship, heartbreak, love, and redemption is one that’s important to George and he can find parallels to in his own life. After being married and getting divorced, George was a bachelor for 20 years. In fact, George didn’t think he’d ever find love again. “I said well I’ll never fall in love again; it’s just not gonna happen; I was the old-old cranky bog king.” But, he did get married again and he seems so genuinely happy! “We fell in love because we were exactly alike inside…you realize that you have so much in common that you would never have thought of on the surface.” Listening to him talk about his wife and his kids was so special. We got a little glimpse into what is obviously a BIG love for his family. In fact, his 26 year old daughter called during our interviews and he had stepped out to talk to her for a minute! In our interview he said, “Well, I’m a big parent person, kid person.” And, it definitely shows! Another thing that definitely shows is George Lucas’ BIG love of music!
The Music in Strange Magic
George shared that, “I love music; music’s a huge part of my life, I love all kinds of music, and um, you know, obviously I listen to music every day…” After seeing his media room at Skywalker Ranch, I can attest that he does indeed have quite a music collection! And, if you’re familiar with George Lucas’ pre-Star Wars days, you’d know he’s one of the first directors to use popular music as the soundtrack and integral part to the story. That’s what he did in American Graffiti. In fact, he said, “part of American Graffiti is I just wanted to have a movie that I could sit in the editing room and listen to and have a good time”. And, you can see that’s true of Strange Magic. He joked that he’s going back in time to his “pre-Star Wars period”.
With Strange Magic, George wanted to use popular music to tell a love story! “One of the inspirations was, I wonder if I could tell a love story using love songs. I could just take them and string them all together so they actually told the story.” And, he does just that! Strange Magic is indeed a musical, with SO many recognizable songs.
Once they got rolling with the movie though, the challenge became about how to cut the movie down to a manageable length. At first, the movie was about twice as long as it is now, with over 100 songs included! It got paired down to about 25…which George says was painful! 😉 But, he’s very pleased with how it all turned out. When asked about his favorite song in the film, he talked about “I Can’t Help Falling in Love”. It was the first song that he picked for the film. After all, like he said, “Love is strange”…it’s some strange magic! 😉
Strange Magic opens in theaters nationwide January 23!
So, be sure to take the family this weekend for fun music, all kinds of magical creatures…and some strange magic!
Disclosure: A HUGE thank-you to Disney, Lucasfilm, and George Lucas for this incredible experience!! Disney hosted me in San Francisco in order to attend the Strange Magic screening and participate in group interviews & media events. As always, all opinions, experiences, and love of Disney (and George Lucas & Star Wars) are entirely my own! 😉