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Friday, April 27, 2012

The People Vs. George Lucas


"Let the hate flow through you."

The People vs. George Lucas is an entertaining, surprisingly fair-minded (considering the title) documentary exploring the relationship between George Lucas and Star Wars, Star Wars fans and Star Wars, and Star Wars fans with George Lucas. Dozens of nerdy talking heads, and some famous ones like fantasy author Neil Gaiman and director Francis Ford Coppola, provide myriad perspectives on Lucas and Star Wars, creating a fascinating, if predictable patchwork of opinions on their conflicting devotion to the franchise and their enmity towards its creator. 

The history of the creation of Star Wars and George Lucas' early years as a young avante garde filmmaker are whisked through at lightspeed before the real meat of the hostilities toward Lucas are confronted. It boils down primarily to anger over three things: the permanent alterations Lucas made to the original films when the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition was released in the 1990s ("Han shot first!"), Lucas' refusal to release the original Star Wars trilogy the way they were theatrically seen in the 1970s and 1980s, and of course, the quality (or perceived lack thereof) of the prequel trilogy (embodied specifically by Jar Jar Binks). 

The People vs. George Lucas lets the nerds rip on Lucas to their hearts content, some of it is entertaining, some of it true (from a certain point of view), and some of it is just hilarious, over-the-top nerd rage from some marginal people who, in William Shatner's wise comedic words to his own Star Trek fanbase, need to get a life. However, the nerds do have a point. For instance, the paradox that George Lucas successfully campaigned before Congress in the 1980s against the colorization of black and white films, yet feels complete justification in continually altering his six Star Wars films as he sees fit is a major sticking point. The  self-hatred felt by many fans, who see themselves as addicts to (true) and victims (false) of Star Wars, and the generation gap between fans of the original trilogy and their offspring, who don't necessarily take issue with the quality of the prequels, are amusingly touched on (the latter with help from a furious Simon Pegg).

What's pleasing about The People vs. George Lucas for supporters of Lucas, and perhaps this incited some more nerd rage, are the sympathetic perspectives shown towards Lucas as an artist, as the creator of Star Wars, and for his right to do (or not do) with Star Wars as he sees fit. There's also a good bit of deserved mocking for some of the more ridiculous nerds devoted to Star Wars, including some who love it so much they've come to hate it. The documentary winds down with a lot of love and gratitude expressed, ultimately, for Lucas and for Star Wars, with a conclusion reached that if Lucas ever saw fit to simply release the original, un-altered trilogy of films remastered on DVD or Blu-ray, much would be forgiven. Keep waiting. Some nerds will never be happy regardless. Probably because they know, deep in their geek hearts, the Force is not with them because they lack midi-chloreans.