People are mad. They are yelling at the screen exposing their hidden most geekness to rant and rave to the brink of mouth foaming. And just when things get to a point of pure boiling over – Jar Jar Binks becomes the topic of conversation.
The movie is The People vs. George Lucas, a documentary that gives film geeks from around the world a platform to spew on the legacy of one George Lucas and his contribution to their frustrations with his creative approach to the Star Wars film franchise.
Most of the arguments come from Lucas’ tinkering with the original trilogy of Star Wars, the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Fans go off on everything from Lucas’ change to having Greedo shoot at Han Solo first in the Cantina (and how can he miss from less than 3 feet?), to replacing some of the special effects with new CGI enhancements.
There are a few scenes from the films inserted into The People vs. George Lucas for reference, but most of the non-interview scenes include fan made films, skits or animated bits that parody or attempt to recreate moments from the original films.
A good portion of those interviewed discuss how Lucas’ tinkering fucked with their youth and their major argument is that the films that made George Lucas a household name should be left in its original format as preserved by the Film Institute. They don’t offer good arguments outside of their emotions of betrayal although there are some interesting points such as Jay Sylvester’s take: “George Lucas may be the brainchild behind Star Wars; he may have come up with the story and a lot of the characters, but everyone who participated in making those films had some type of creative input. I mean they won an Oscar for best special effects. Some of those effects are stripped out and replaced with CGI enhancements, if you wanna call them that. I think that that's really disrespectful to the people who worked on those models and did those shots.”
We get deep into the documentary before the words Jar Jar Binks are uttered and it seems like everyone wanted to chime in on the comedic character who first appeared in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. But one interviewed observer noted that children liked the Jar Jar character and maybe out hatred for the beast comes from our now adult view on the franchise.
But maybe my favorite chapter was the one that dealt with the release of The Phantom Menace back in 1999. The doc reminded me of the feelings and excitement we all had around the impending release. How we went to the movies months before and bought tickets just to see the film’s trailer (the internet was not what it is today) and how opening night the audience screamed in unison when the LucasFilm logo appeared on the screen before the film. I was one of those first-nighters. One of those that waited in line for 9 hours one week before the screening to get tickets. I was in the audience cheering with the rest. And I left the theatre hours later as disappointed and confused as I have been at the conclusion of any screening before or since.
The People vs. George Lucas does get a bit long in the tooth. Any Star Wars fan will likely agree with the arguments put forth by the multitude of angry protestors, but after hearing the same arguments (and likely the same conversations had by your best friends over a few pints through the years), it gets rather boring and pointless. Like preaching to the choir.
Still, The People vs. George Lucas was an interesting journey. And watching stay-at-home-sons get all worked up over a fantasy/science fiction film is entertaining. For a while anyways.