• Gary Kurtz Interview
• Music Video
• Filmmaker Commentary
• The People vs STAR WARS 3D
They gave him their love, their money and their online parodies. He gave them...the prequels. The passion the original STAR WARS trilogy inspires in its fans is unparalleled; but when it comes to George Lucas himself, many have found their ardor has cooled into a complicated love-hate relationship. This hilarious, heartfelt documentary delves deep into Lucas’s cultural legacy. Utilizing interviews taken from over 600 hours of footage, and peppered with extraordinary STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES re-creations lovingly immortalized in song, needlepoint, Lego, claymation, puppets and papier-mâché, above all this film asks the question: who truly owns that galaxy far, far away—the man who created it, or the fans who worship it?
There are plenty of film franchises with dedicated followings, but for pure fanaticism, it's hard to imagine Harry Potter devotees, swooning Twilight lovers, or even Trekkies surpassing the Star Wars enthusiasts seen in writer-director Alexandre O. Philippe's The People vs. George Lucas. Although there are other elements in this thoroughly entertaining documentary--a few details about creator-writer-director George Lucas's pre-Star Wars years, comments from some well-known talking heads, archival interviews with Lucas himself--it's the fans who provide the most amusing, frightening ("Get a life, people!" comes to mind), and occasionally insightful moments. These are folks who know every line, every scene, indeed every shot, of the first three films in the series (especially Episode IV, A New Hope, and Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back) by heart. The number and variety of fan re-creations of Episode IV in every conceivable medium (film, animation, Claymation, puppets, LEGO, and on and on) is staggering, but even more extraordinary is the kind of proprietary attitude these fans adopted. When Lucas, who'd said that he wasn't completely satisfied with the original version, released a slightly altered cut in 1997, the faithful responded as if the guy had pilfered their childhoods. Talk about obsessed: one viewer notes disapprovingly that in the newer edit, the theme music begins two frames sooner; meanwhile, a minor change in a scene in which Han Solo exchanges gunfire with a bounty hunter is examined as if it were the Zapruder film, earning Lucas nothing but scorn and derision. Forget the fact that Lucas owned the movie and was entitled to do anything he pleased with it. These objections weren't simply the result of "super-nerd nitpicking," but rather a reaction to what they saw as a deliberate betrayal, and from then on, the fans regarded Lucas with a mixture of suspicion and disappointment (don't even get them started on the three prequels that were released starting in 1999, and the easy target that was Jar Jar Binks, one of the most hated characters in all of filmdom). There's a good deal of ranting going on here, but there are some good points made as well. It's hardly coincidental that for the first three movies Lucas relied to some extent on various collaborators, while the next, inarguably inferior three were his responsibility alone; it may also be true that the astounding success of the franchise robbed Lucas of his creativity and turned him into the kind of big businessman he'd always vowed not to be. But in the end, the film is rather poignant, as all (well, most) is forgiven. After all, they wouldn't complain if they didn't care. --Sam Graham