Spike Lee says 'Star Wars' wasn't a life-changing event; plus, Jim Jarmusch defends violence in movies, and Wu-Tang Clan's Rza makes Samurai hip-hop

By Sandra P. Angulo
Updated May 20, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

STAR WARS WATCH Spike Lee’s ”Summer of Sam” (which is making its Cannes’ debut) may take place in the scorching summer of 1977, but don’t expect George Lucas’ original ”Star Wars” to make a cameo. ”I had forgotten that ‘Star Wars’ even opened that summer,” Lee said during an interview at the Palais’ American Pavillion. ”I stood in line like everyone else to see it that summer, but I don’t see the media’s need to tie in the existence of the world to ‘Star Wars.”’ And critics are saying Darth Maul has a bad attitude?

AMERICAN HISTORY Jim Jarmusch (”Stranger Than Paradise”), whose Cannes entry ”Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai” is about a modern hitman (Forest Whitaker) who lives by ancient samurai rules, says film violence shouldn’t be verboten post-Columbine. ”America is a gun culture. White Europeans came to America with guns and killed all the Native Americans,” Jarmusch said after the screening. ”It’s cowardly to attack art as responsible for violence, when the movies are a reflection of America’s history.”

And while Jarmusch is known for highlighting music in his films (and directing videos for Neil Young and Talking Heads), most Cannes critics were surprised with his latest soundtrack collaborator: Rza, of the Wu-Tang Clan. Rza, who created a samurai-themed soundtrack at Jarmusch’s (a Clan fan) request, thinks samurai style appeals to hip-hop lovers: ”American culture doesn’t go that far back, but the Asian cultures are ancient and full of history, and that attracts us,” he explained, sort of.