DVD Review: The People Vs. George Lucas
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The People vs. George Lucas
DVD | Instant Video
Directed by Alexandre O. Philippe
Starring Neil Gaiman, Francis Ford Coppola, Chris Gore, Kevin Rubio, Gary Kurtz, David Prowse, Todd Hanson, George Lucas
DVD Release Date: October 25, 2011

The People vs. George Lucas is a quasi-documentary film which uses a courtroom debate approach to explore the issues of filmmaking and fanaticism pertaining to the Star Wars franchise, and its creator, George Lucas.

The film combines filmmaker and celebrity interviews with fan-created content and fictional dramatizations to present an all-encompassing look at the indelible mark Lucas has left on pop culture and the film industry.

Interviewees include author Neil Gaiman, writer/director Kevin Rubio (Troops), actor David Prowse (Darth Vader), and Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz. Lucas himself appears frequently in archival footage, but is never interviewed directly by filmmaker Alexandre O. Philippe.

The People vs. George Lucas discusses the extent to which the Star Wars franchise is an incomplete artistic creation of Lucas (and subject to his evolving vision) versus a cultural phenomenon that belongs to the general public.

The Original Trilogy (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi) defined my entire childhood. I grew up fascinated with every aspect of those three films, from the special effects to the genesis of the story itself and of course the people responsible for bringing it to life. I idolized George Lucas, Irvin Kirshner, Richard Marquand, Lawrence Kasdan, Gary Kurtz, Phil Tippett, and Dennis Muren. I consumed every bit of information I could get my hands on regarding the making of Star Wars and the subsequent sequels.

In the years between 1984 and 1995, there wasn’t a whole lot going on in the Star Wars universe. I spent the majority of my childhood at flea markets, auctions, and yard sales trying to accumulate as many Original Trilogy artifacts as possible. While other kids were reading The Chronicles of Narnia or watching The Lion King, I watched television specials and documentaries about Industrial Light & Magic and read annotated screenplays and George Lucas’s original treatment of Star Wars. Needless to say, I was obsessed with that galaxy far, far away.

I can say, without a second’s hesitation, that George Lucas is responsible for my love of film and why I wanted to pursue writing. Every single film review or in-depth feature I’ve written for Geeks Of Doom is the direct result of countless hours spent living, breathing, and eating Star Wars (literally, remember the Wookiee Cookies: A Star Wars Cookbook?!).

Star Wars was (and remains) my greatest inspiration – it was the catalyst in my transformation as a Geek, Nerd, and Scruffy-looking Nerf Herder. But, like all Star Wars fans, there is a deep, intense conflict that prevents me from entirely enjoying and embracing my greatest inspiration.

After the Special Editions in 1997 and the Prequel Trilogy (1999-2005), I found myself in the difficult position of constantly defending George Lucas’s right to tinker with his films and apologizing for Jar Jar Binks, Midichlorians, and nearly every aspect of Episodes I, II, and III. The People Vs. George Lucas attempts to unravel the ever-waging internal struggle of every Star Wars enthusiast by examining the creative decisions George Lucas has made over the years and the varying opinions of creators and fans who have been influenced by his work.

In the post-Prequels world of geek culture, you can only truly identify a Star Wars fan by how much they hate George Lucas and Star Wars. The general feeling is that if someone actually enjoys the Special Editions and finds merit in the Prequel Trilogy, they’re either a complete idiot or not a true fan. In the year 2012, the prerequisite to being a Star Wars fan is being cynical and disenchanted. I’ve found that you can only truly hate something (or someone) you’ve loved with your whole heart – and it is by that measure that Star Wars fans hate George Lucas. Most fans feel betrayed by the director’s pointless revisions and his refusal to make the original versions of his films available – because we love what he originally created so much.

It’s unknown if Alexandre O. Philippe reached out to George Lucas in the making of this film, but it’s assumed that LucasFilm would rather ignore these kinds of criticisms than participate in what could be a cultural catharsis with its fans.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was Lucas’s first film as a director after a 22-year hiatus and only his fourth film overall. To me, the question has always been why – why, after 20 years, did he decide it would be a good idea to write and direct three Star Wars films after years of inactivity. While he started as a visionary filmmaker, Lucas became the very thing he hated – a businessman. Beyond criticism, Lucas refused to collaborate with anyone in making the Prequel Trilogy. Episodes I, II, and III were less about telling a story and more about proving a point – an experiment in developing technologies and techniques that Industrial Light & Magic and THX would no doubt benefit from – even if the films themselves were bad.

But I digress, that ever-waging internal struggle is getting the best of me. These days I simply pretend the Prequels don’t exist – and I’ve gone out of my way to find fan-edits and restorations of the original films. Ultimately, George Lucas will continue doing what he wants to his films – and the only way fans can make him reconsider is to stop supporting him. If you don’t like the Special Editions or the Prequels, stop buying action figures and pajama sets. Stop pre-ordering half-assed Blu-ray box sets and demand more. Ultimately, The People vs. George Lucas leaves the decision in your hands. You can’t stop George Lucas – he’s a billionaire beyond criticism – but you can make an active choice to stop supporting the tarnished obsessions of your childhood and begin creating your own worlds. I’ve spent hours inside my own mind dreaming up what the Prequels should have been – and every version I’ve imagined is better than anything Lucas could have created…

The People Vs. George Lucas is now available on Netflix Streaming.

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  1. “I’ve spent hours inside my own mind dreaming up what the Prequels should have been – and every version I’ve imagined is better than anything Lucas could have created…”While I agree with much of the article and have big problems with the prequel trilogy and what has become of Star Wars, the last sentence sums up much of the problem. No one had expectations of what Star Wars was or would become in 1977. Everyone had hopes in their own mind of what the new films should be like. The (new) films could have been better, but not an easy task…too much time since the originals and nearly impossible to live up to everyone’s expectations.

    Comment by Ericbeas — May 27, 2012 @ 9:01 am

  2. Wow.  I’m amazed at how useless this “review” is.  It just ends up being another pathetic attempt to knock Lucas from a supposed “fan”.

    I know too many people who really love all six films (and The Clone Wars) to buy into the nonsensical notion that “true” fans hate Lucas and the prequels or that “all fans” are conflicted.  (I’m certainly not.)  As the kids who grew up watching the prequels and don’t have a childish attachment to the original cuts grow up, hopefully this silliness will subside.

    Until then, the next time you try to write a review, try reviewing the actual product, not just regurgitating your own opinion on the subject matter.

    Comment by Dmark — July 9, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

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