Much like the countless Star Wars’ action figures, The People vs. George Lucas is a total novelty product, but one which is hard for any fan to resist.
A crowd funded passion project, director Alexandre O. Philippe has rounded up a herd of boisterous fan boys to wax lyrical about their love of the Star Wars saga and how creator George Lucas has subsequently betrayed them. With special-edition versions of the original films, unnecessary restorations, a suffocatingly vast merchandising industry, plot changes, prequels, sequels, animated series and the worst Christmas TV special of all time, these Jedi’s have a lot to complain about.
If you’re a fan of the films, then you’ll be well aware of these indictments against Lucas: that it was arrogant and presumptuous of him to tinker with films that are burned in the brains of people who saw them as wide-eyed children. Even though he may be Dr Frankenstein, the monster has become a significant cultural artefact owned and cherished by many.
Partly esoteric and childish, some of this documentary is amusingly enlightening – with Philippe creating a montage from fan-made films that recreate the epic space opera and expand on the corruption of the series; with everything from costumed live actors to Legos to stop-motion animated cell phones with character faces on their screens.
Adding some necessary meat on the bone, the fans are joined by critics and academics looking at the cultural discourse surrounding the bout between director and fan. Blatant with their outcry, the documentary is at risk of taking itselves too seriously, but luckily enough the contributors see the funny side to the debacle. There’s also consideration of the Indiana Jones series after the highly disappointing 2008 sequel Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, eternalised by an infamous South Park episode where, to the the boys devastation, they catch Lucas and directing chum Steven Spielberg raping Indy.
this week’s news The most interesting argument has to do with Lucas’ apparently constant urge to retrospectively tinker with and otherwise attempt to improve his own creation. An inexplicable act of self-harm and cultural vandalism which, depending upon your point of view, is either a sign of insecurity or a breathtakingly cynical corporate ploy to extract more coins for the well. This raises the humorous, if a little repetitive documentary’s central struggle of cultural ownership. To whom do these films really belong: the creator, who sacrilegiously branded them as “only movies”; or the lightsaber swirling nerds who regard the original three masterpieces as life affirming phenomena? With the recent news that that Lucas is setting up the re-release of Episodes II & III in gimmicky and wholly unnecessary 3-D, it’s certain the Empire hasn’t fallen, and the real-life, beardy Darth Vader doesn’t mind pissing off his storm troopers.
Made by the fans, for the fans, The People vs. George Lucas is not for the uninitiated. On the other hand, who is uninitiated when it comes to these preposterously lauded films? This is comprehensive and heavy handed documentary which, like the LucasFilm pantheon, shares a universality to
Best of all, there’s a good, ten-minute long Jar Jar Binks bashing session which is, of course, totally justified.
The People vs. George Lucas is available for rental online and purchase in iTunes. May the force be with you.