By Marc S. Sanders
Star Wars has evolved from a beloved franchise celebrated in detailed play sets, figures, bed sheets, costumes, plush toys, and t-shirts to a franchise still wrapped in all those materials, only now there is an animosity and regret among its populace of fans. Vitriol and love mix like oil and water towards its creator, George Lucas.
In the documentary The People vs George Lucas a lot of complaining and poking transpires in the medium of endless home movie fan films (the best one being a spoof of Misery where a fan holds an injured Lucas captive) to measure the stress and betrayal followers of the franchise feel for a creator.
As a lifelong fan of the galaxy far far away, I did not watch this documentary with a constant nod in accord and “preach/fight the power” mentality. I could only think some people really need to value something more than this. Go outside. Taste an apple. Ride a bike. Feel a breeze in the air. Talk to a girl or a boy your own age.
The documentary only works to a certain level of degree and that’s because it doesn’t live up to the promise the title suggests. It’s primarily a one sided 90 minute argument of various worldwide fans venting frustrations with little to offer from Lucas. It’s fair to say Lucas would never give these documentarians the time of day anyhow. Why should he have to, really? So stock footage interviews are used instead to a minimal degree. The “vs” never really shows and the ball only ever stays on one side of the court.
Complaints abound of who shot first, the special edition edits of the original films, Jar Jar Binks (the best sequence of the film) and Lucas’ refusal to release the original cuts of the Episodes IV-VI (that’s always been my biggest issue).
A ridiculous segment focuses on the reiteration of merchandise like thousands of different Darth Vader figures or endless new releases of the films in new boxed sets thus tempting fans to continue to buy. This is frustrating. Yet, somehow, some way this need to collect is all Lucas’ fault? That’s where the film loses me. When a person uses a scapegoat because of a weakness of free will, there’s not much I can empathize.
There’s moments to laugh at. The frustrations are not wrong but who cares to listen to someone who claims their childhood was literally “raped by George Lucas?”
I did appreciate how the film examines that sadly, in an ironic sense, Lucas became the monster he tried to avoid. When making the 1977 original he broke many standards of filmmaking in Hollywood refusing to answer to corporate cogs. He wanted independence of money grubbing and grasps. He achieved that mean to an end by simply becoming the biggest corporate cog of them all. Stock footage interviews show him admitting that. Ultimately, he never directed again until 1999 when he declared he would direct a trilogy of prequels. He did not answer to anyone, and no one questioned his methods. Thus, the world was treated to Jar Jar Binks. That’s what corporate America does. That’s what George Lucas did.