There have been numerous attempts at bringing the heroic story of the Tuskeegee Airmen to the silver screen in grand fashion, but none have been as high profile as George Lucas. Despite toiling away in two creative continuities he's clearly less than enthused about, Lucas has spent years trying to escape the cash-encrusted pigeonhole that the entertainment world has cast him in with fare like Radioland Murders and his passion project, Red Tails.
When on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Lucas talked about how hard it was to get the film into multiplexes.
"This has been held up for release since 1942 since it was shot, I've been trying to get released ever since," Lucas told Jon Stewart. "It's because it's an all-black movie. There's no major white roles in it at all … I showed it to all of them and they said no. We don't know how to market a movie like this."
Lucas has also talked about the political importance of this film in a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt at engaging the Black moviegoing audience …
"I realize that by accident I've now put the black film community at risk [with Red Tails, whose $58 million budget far exceeds typical all-black productions]," he said. "I'm saying, if this doesn't work, there's a good chance you'll stay where you are for quite a while. It'll be harder for you guys to break out of that [lower-budget] mold. But if I can break through with this movie, then hopefully there will be someone else out there saying let's make a prequel and sequel, and soon you have more Tyler Perrys out there."
Just what we all wanted … anyhoo, here's seven minutes of the film to whet your appetite …
Komplicated supports the idea of the this film and its ideals, because it puts a lot of money in the pockets of a lot of Black people (including a Black director and screenwriter) while telling a story on the big screen in a huge way that could not have been done (at this time) by most of our working filmmakers today. Plus, as Lucas notes, if it does well, yes, that's bigger budgets for everybody.
Red Tails opens January 20 in theaters everywhere, and the opening weekend box office results are superbly important. We'll see you at the theaters.