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The People Vs George Lucas

Like anyone who grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy, I have opinions about George Lucas. Few public figures have such a complicated relationship with their fans. When I heard about this documentary, I knew I would have to check it out but didn’t get around to it until I saw it was streaming on Netflix. It’s definitely a conversation starter. While there are some arguments in this film, that I don’t agree with, it shows you how each fan has their own unique experience with Star Wars and the man who created it. And it touches on the idea that for great hate to exist there must also be great love.

One thing that becomes very clear in this documentary, your feelings about Lucas are very tied to when you first became familiar with his work. Basically, the version of Star Wars you grew up with is our Star Wars, and any changes are met with resistance, to say the least. Those who watched the original versions find the Special Edition to be a betrayal. Those in my generation were pulled in by the allure of seeing the Special Edition on the big screen but find the prequels to be an abomination. Kids who grew up with the prequels don’t understand all the hate regarding the films, and sometimes find the older films boring, preferring “their Star Wars”. It’s interesting because Star Wars rival sage, Star Trek doesn’t have any of this generational angst, despite series creator Gene Roddenberry having no involvement with some of the shows.

Those interviewed for the documentary tend to be in the first group of Star Wars fans, the group that grew up with the original, original films and find the “enhancements” of the special edition to be a travesty. They try to make the argument that Lucas should know better than to tamper with classic films after he fought Ted Turner colorizing older films, but this is hollow to me since Lucas created the art he’s “fixing”, while Ted Turner simply owned the rights. Lucas’ stance has been that it is his baby and he can do what he wants with it. However, one fan does make a great point but saying “fixing” the films and saying they were never quite what he wanted, is a slap in the face to the crew who worked so hard to make it what it was. The fan points out that the team did win an Oscar for best special effects and did groundbreaking work. And while I understand the anger of the “Han Shot First!” people, claiming that this “raped” their childhood is a bit of a stretch.

The film then focuses on the second act of betrayal by Lucas towards the fans, the prequels. The frustration seems to go deeper than disappointment that the new movies were not as good as the originals, but there really was a promise broken by Lucas. Fans had been told that Lucas had the first three planned out all along, but it seems clear when watching the movies, he was making it up as he went along. The pacing alone, with lots of wasted time early on, then plot crammed in towards the end to make sure it all made it in, shows you these were not part of his original vision. These were created by a very different man, with a very different outlook on the world. I’ve noticed with some artists, after they’ve made it and have been comfortable in their success, they start to appear unsure about what fans like about them, so they put out inferior work that is clearly them going “This is what you like, right?” I could do a whole post about this phenomenon, but the prequel had the feeling of Lucas trying to give fans what they wanted but not knowing what that was. This includes bringing back familiar characters that make no sense in this world (Why would a slave build his own protocol droid and why doesn’t Obi-Wan remember them when they clearly had prolong exposure to one another?),the gang themselves are very formulaic, etc. He wanted to please his fan, and when he didn’t he seemed to have a “screw you, then!” attitude about it, with fan pointing out a shot of Jar Jar Binks looking into the camera, as if he’s saying, “I’m still here, Bitches!”

There’s very little new information here, so don’t go in hoping to learn something about Lucas or his work. It’s really a bunch of angry fans bitching, which can be satisfying if you share some of their opinions. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who is unfamiliar with Lucas’ work, but it you’ve ever uttered the phrase “Fucking George Lucas”, definitely check this out, preferably with a fellow fan.

About amandalovesmovies

Lifelong movie lover who's ready to share her two cents with the world! Follow me on twitter @tuxedopengin

4 responses to “The People Vs George Lucas

  1. I seem to be one of the few very nerdy Star Wars fans that really doesn’t give a shit about the changes made to the movies. The changes don’t affect me personally or my memories of the franchise…The prequels, on the other hand…

    • Yeah, I’m the same way. The only one I found obnoxious is when he changed Anakin’s ghost at the Ewok celebration to Hayden Christensen. As a writer, I found the prequels particularly painful because I know I could have done better!

  2. atothewr ⋅

    It’s strange that even to this day I still have rants about George Lucas that I haven’t gotten into yet and believe me I have ranted about him a lot.

    This was my childhood, the original trilogy. I saw them all in the theater as a kid and of course loved them. Love them to this day, but the prequels were a big miss.

    I am glad to have the originals (even as bonus material) on DVD now unaltered because what he did to them was ridiculous. If it made sense, maybe, but it doesn’t. I sometimes wonder if George is just messing with us to see what we will and will not take.

    Great review and thanks for the Netflix nod. I have been wanting to see this and didn’t know it was on instant watch.

  3. trickal

    I think the bottom line is that every other artist in the world who tries to improve on things doesn’t destroy the original to do it. When something enters the public domain and becomes popular people are reacting to it and their feelings towards it. It becomes a part of their life, and that’s the whole point of being an artist of any kind, creating an emotional connection with people through your work.

    If people hadn’t loved the original versions of Star Wars just how they were, Lucas wouldn’t even have had the money to make the changes he did or the prequels. It’s grasping and selfish to then refuse to allow people access to the work which made them love the series and provided the money to even have a franchise. Ridley Scott re-cut Alien and Blade Runner, but the DVD and Blu-Ray releases still have the original cuts on them, cleaned up and taken care of with just as much care as the new version that he thinks is better. He makes the original cut available in a decent, modern quality because he respects that people loved and enjoyed that version even if he wasn’t happy with it. And if people hadn’t loved the original versions, he wouldn’t have had the resources to fix it anyway.

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