Directed By Alexandre O. Philippe
Starring: Damian Hess (MC Frontalot), Joe Nussbaum, Derek Ambrosi, Neil Gaiman
Way back when, a few friends and I camped out all night long to catch the first viewing of a little movie called Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. As Star Wars “fans”, it was our duty, after waiting nearly 16 years since Return of The Jedi (1983), to tough it out with fellow kindred spirits, waiting with bated breath for the almighty STAR WARS roll and slow crawl opening credits to once again sweep us away to a galaxy far, far away.
We came, we saw, we said, “Meh”.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Star Wars. While the new trilogy wasn’t exactly the candle we had all hoped would be lit after years of unbearable darkness, there was still something to be said about revisiting some of our favorite childhood people and places once again, and to be whisked away into a universe we grew up with and had grown to love. For better or for worse (and probably the latter), the new movies were still undeniably “Star Wars”, and as such, I consider them part of the family, regardless of their many shortcomings. The fabled controversy over Lucas’ numerous updates, changes, and additions to the original films has brought down all manner of fire and brimstone from fans and critics the world ’round. To this day, a huge segment of Star Wars fans would have you believe that they have been bamboozled, hoodwinked, and run amok! They didn’t land on Alderaan, Alderaan landed on them! Much of this outcry has spilled out onto public forums, comic book conventions, Star Wars events, and even independently made “fan films”. Self-prescribed “true blood” fans cry foul, claiming that George Lucas, through a combination of original trilogy alteration and an entirely disingenuous new trilogy, has ruined their childhood memories forever. To these dejected many, it would seem that Lucas has buried a light saber deep into each of their respective chests, and laughed the entire time behind his flannel and off-putting goiter. Atop his billion dollar money bin he bellows, “My films, my decision, eff-off!” Who’s right and who’s wrong? You decide.
The People Vs. George Lucas, is a 2010 docu-comedy directed by Alexandre O. Philippe, in which the audience is presented with a comical yet accurate history of how Star Wars came about, and how a young emo-kid from Modesto decided to give the proverbial bird to Hollywood and make his own personal and close-to-the-heart space opera, devoid of “big money” influence. Through a series of fast cut interviews and stylistically interspersed fan film clips, Lucas interviews, and critic interpretations, The People Vs. George Lucas is a witty and often blunt look at how a certain percentage of “original” Star Wars fans feel disenfranchised by a man they had previously held to a God-like status.
Oddly enough, although I am a die-hard fan of most things Star Wars (sans Jar-Jar), a lot of things in this flick made sense to me, most notably, the notion that George Lucas really might be taking us all for a ride, as he sits back at the ranch and has a hearty chuckle while we buy everything from Star Wars lunch boxes to 20 different versions of the same movie, day after day and year after year. Hell, even the people who I knew that absolutely hated the new trilogy still went and saw them 2 or 3 times in the theater, bought a tee-shirt or a movie poster at some point, and can still quote the damn thing all day long…on command. What the new series successfully proves is that even the most jaded fans will still call the Star Wars universe home, even if it (and it’s creator) may have wronged them time and time again, a sort of cinematic domestic abuse if you will. It’s a love/hate relationship with many of these fans, a form of Stockholm Syndrome induced memory bastardization that keeps even the most off-put coming back and saying, “Please Sir, may I have another”. The central conveyance of The People Vs. George Lucas is one of absolute love for a franchise that introduced an entire generation to a fantastical world of good versus evil, flying mega-fortresses, and swashbuckling laser-sword drama. At the time, old folks thought the film downright ridiculous, a sure sign that cinema was a dying art form, to be replaced by robots, caped villains, and outer space tomfoolery. But the 20-somethings and below LOVED it, embraced it, and called it the swan song for their generation. Now all grown up, our parents and those of us old enough to have seen at least one of the original films in an actual theater spit and claw at the very man who decades earlier had delivered us from silver screen doldrum. Did George Lucas fail us by re-editing his old films and then going on to create a watered down, childish new trilogy? Or…did we fail George Lucas by not welcoming his new vision of Star Wars, accepting the fact that he views his films as ever-evolving works of art, and that the originals movies were, in fact, the exact same thing 30-plus years ago, just in different robes?
The People Vs. George Lucas captures the absolute mood, feel, and nerd borne angst of bitter Star Wars faithful better than most fan-inspired rant films espousing George Lucas’ failures as a writer and director. What you are left with is a good amount of “evidence” to make your own case as to whether or not Lucas deserves to be flogged publicly, or held up on a lofty pedestal and praised for creating what is undeniably the greatest franchise on the planet.
May the Force be with You.
5 out of 5