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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Filmmaking > Industry > Franchise > Preservation > Biography > The People Vs. George Lucas (2010/Lionsgate DVD)

The People Vs. George Lucas (2010/Lionsgate DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B     Documentary: B



When the press conference for Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith (2005, aka Episode III) was held, George Lucas made a statement about how he was surprised that the re-elected George W. Bush and his administration were making (to paraphrase) every single exact same mistake the U.S. Government made during Vietnam.  The film would be criticized for even being written to go after the Bush Administration (which was an idiotic thing to say for more reasons than we can go into here) when it arrived in theaters, but the real shock was the disconnect no one picked up on.


By constantly making unprecedented, unannounced changes out of nowhere to the three original films (1977 to 1983) over and over to meet a supposed vision that has been proven not as visionary as fans had hoped, he at the least broke a contract with all viewers (fans and otherwise) that when a film is finished, it is finished.  Especially in these cases, they had not been censored and he was even making changes on the first film in 1979 by adding 1930s serial-style wipes among other changes, so he was never happy with the first film and seems indecisive about what should not be so difficult.  In context to the Bush Administration, he was simply accusing them (betrayal of the people, the audience, The American Dream, an America that works for all people) of what he had done and keeps doing with his films and their audience.  Alexander O. Philippe’s The People Vs. George Lucas (2010) never examines the situation this honestly or deeply (including amazingly skipping any Vietnam, context, which is impossible to avoid) but is still a fine documentary that examines the rise and fall of the love of the original fans, the consequences, how and why it has happened.


The first part (at nearly 20 minutes) shows how huge the film was, how no body expected it to even make any money back, how wrong everyone in the industry and beyond was and how that was the beginning of the phenomenon.  Then it jumps to the 1997 reissues n theaters, though it does not note (or know of) the lull in popularity of the franchise (proven in part by the higher values of the Power Of The Force toyline which did not sell well at the time) so it bases it on the big fans only who never turned away from the original trilogy.


The interviews that follow include many fans and a few experts, gets into the debate about how the original Oscar-winning version has been disturbingly digitized out of preserved existence by the tinkering, on how he is claiming (beyond actually owning the franchise single-handedly) he owns the films as if he owns the fans and can pull the rug out from under them (especially after spending so much money on his franchise) and offers many more surprises I will not ruin here.  However, its debate on authorship, ownership, pop culture, art and culture beyond just these films is a vital debate as important as ever, even if the makers did not intend it and that is why you should see it even if you do not like Star Wars.


To add to this debate, which could offer a sequel of its own (especially with the next changes Lucas has made since this was finished with the Blu-ray sets) is the debate of whether the Lucas/Spielberg commercial works are childlike or childish, are they really original works or are they just pastiche compendiums like Tarantino films but instead of celebrating their original sources just ignore they exist as much as possible to sell toys and how much have they both co-opted older genre works?  With that said, should the fans start supporting the pre-Star Wars/Indiana Jones genre works or not take them as seriously if they started seeing the films and TV shows that made their megahits possible?  The People Vs. George Lucas delivers, including some of the expectations the prequel trilogy did not deliver.



The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is not bad and the usual mix of new interview footage, plus a collection of older film and video footage of various quality which plays just fine, while the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix stretches out the stereo soundtrack a bit (including more than a few monophonic moments) does not have a consistent soundfield as expected but this is well recorded and there are few location audio issues.


Extras include a feature-length audio commentary by the “filmmakers”, a Music Video, Poetry Slam Selections, The People Vs. Star Wars 3D featurette by fans who are not happy with any further changes and a really good (wish it were longer) interview with Gary Kurtz, Lucas’ former main producer having the last word on what when wrong and why he left as Jedi was being made.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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