by: Josh Schonblum on May 22, 2010
When the credits are rolling at the end of documentary and you’d be willing to sit through another hour of talking head interviews, you know it is a good documentary. The People vs. George Lucas (2010) is a good documentary.
Coming to Toronto as part of Hot Docs 2010, Alexandre O. Phillippe’s film centers around a very contentious love/hate relationship between filmmaker George Lucas and his many fans. From film historians and Youtube celebs to members of the 501st Legion and people who claim George Lucas raped their childhood, The People vs. George Lucas covers almost the entire spectrum of Star Wars lovers and haters. The film follows a well structured story arc covering many layers of the Lucas legacy. At first the film paints a scene of Lucas’s accomplishments and the importance of the originally trilogy, both filmically and as business empire. It then makes way to suggest a failing of Lucas however, as he becomes a business man instead of a filmmaker, criticizing the merchandising of the industry as exploitative. From here we see the large impact of the film as fueling force in pop-culture and and entertainment, as well as the personal impact of the lives of many people. The bulk of the film though takes a rather critical tone as it explores the supposed “betrayal” of the special edition re-release of the film in the 90s, covering various controversies surrounding the modification of the film and the disappearance of the original film negatives. Further fueling the flames the film spends a very long time discussing the failings of the new trilogy and the difficulties in accepting a “new generation” into the fandom. Instead of closing the film on a sour note though, Phillippe ends the film with a more general reflection on the positive impacts of Lucas’s career and the undeniable creativity and brilliance of the man.
The film tells its story through a mindblowing amount of perspectives, with too many interviewees to count. It’s not only limited to pure dialog though, as the film contains plenty of footage from various Lucas films, fan films, pop-culture adaptations (such as South Park and Spaced), various aspects of the fan culture (cosplay, Youtube reviews, remakes, nerdcore rap) and much more to prove its point. While containing several serious moments of debate and discussion, generally the film is much more of a comedy with plenty of moments which had the audience roaring with laughter. It’s also extremely entertaining with very fast editing and high impact imagery making for an great experience regardless of your interest in Star Wars (two of the people I saw the film with had never seen a Star Wars film and they still loved it).
Bottom line is the The People vs. George Lucas was a very entertaining and meaningful doc, which I high recommend checking out. While it was only in Toronto for three days for the Hot Docs Festival, it should be hitting DVDs some time around Christmas. Be sure to check it out!
My Rating: 7.5/10