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.