Depending on how you look at it, this prequel/sequel is where it all started, or where it all went wrong... It was George Lucas who ushered in the digital revolution of film with this second installment in the prequel-trilogy of the beloved space opera franchise. Attack of the Clones is the first major movie that’s completely conceived of as a digital film. Even though its somewhat clunky CGI might mark a rocky start for the new technology, it opened up a clear path for Hollywood to move forward and replace the costly celluloid with zeros and ones.
Little more than twenty years later, the landscape of film is radically altered by the brave new world pioneered by Lucas. Major films like Avatar (2009) and its even more incredible sequel The Way of Water (2022) have proven Lucas right in the way that digital film has opened up a space for total freedom in how you want to create your cinematic worlds. However, some of the prophesied dystopian aspects of Attack of the Clones have also materialized: digital mainstream film is becoming an increasingly more generic byproduct (aka “content”) of corporate entities that dabble in cultural fascism while appeasing their stakeholders. The clones are already amongst us and in this cultural era it’s often unclear which master they serve.
During the season finale of Which Way Is Up? we have to confront Lucas’ dubious legacy and grapple with the way he has shaped the future of film in his own vision.
Title: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones | Director: George Lucas | Year: 2002 | Runtime: 142 min
About the programme: Which Way Is Up? is a recurring film series curated by film critic Hugo Emmerzael, offering critiques and reflections on our postmodern, late capitalist hellworld through the lens of digital film — from mainstream blockbusters to experimental cinema.