A while back I received a screener for a movie called The People vs George Lucas. It traveled with me through our latest move, unopened but still tantalizing. What could this documentary be about? Was there really a law suit against George Lucas? I felt it entirely appropriate to sit down and watch it in preparation for Star Wars Day, and what I found was a delightful discussion on how fans feel about what George Lucas has done with his most popular franchise.
The movie itself is broken up into four chapters, the first of which deals with George Lucas as a budding filmmaker, and how he came about to get Star Wars made. The man himself describes the disillusionment he suffered after American Graffiti was pillaged by the corporate machine. He therefore vowed to never let that happen to his work again, and struck out on his own to create separate from the big movie studios, with the help of funding from Alan Lad Jr.
This background is important when starting a discussion about Star Wars, because although George Lucas tinkered with his own projects, and arguably became the corporate machine he so very hated, he always felt that he needed to retain complete creative control over his art. That complete creative control also included the remakes of the first Star Wars trilogy, where he felt he could add back in scenes he formerly cut, and even change deep motivations for characters now that he was an older man and a parent.
The outrage and backlash over what the fans viewed as the perversion of the sacred has lasted for decades, and will most likely continue for decades more. The core of The People vs George Lucas deals with the fan response to the decisions that Lucas has made in altering his movies, and then in releasing a second trilogy who everyone agrees is not only substandard when compared to the first, but pretty much just bad movie making all around.
For any geek today, this movie is definitely one you should watch. I myself just recently watched the entire 1997 version of the first Star Wars trilogy, and it was a great foundation for watching all the fan film and art that has been created around these movies. What you get out of it is a strong sense of the ownership fans feel over these movies, and how that greatly conflicts with the ownership George Lucas maintains over his art. While we will not see any more Star Wars movies from him, one cannot deny that George Lucas is a polarizing character, and this documentary illustrates that fact to perfection.
The People vs George Lucas is available on Blu Ray and DVD.