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The year was 1999. With the first new Star Wars film in 16 years on the verge of being released, Star Wars hype reached a crescendo of Star Destroyer like proportions. Amongst all the officially licensed merchandise this little documentary slipped right through Lucasfilm's fingers. It's so unauthorized, there aren't even any credits. Just a bunch of stars and some music meant to invoke John Williams. Either this was an oversight or else they ran out of money, for there is a distinct lack of captions all the way through. But don't let the title make you feel you're going to see some Lucas bashing of IMDb message board proportions, this hotchpotch was assembled by a couple of true believers (who will forever remain nameless).
Most of the interviews here are drawn from press junkets held for the release of the Star Wars Special Editions in 1997. Not only did they get access to George Lucas, Luke, Han and Princess Leia but also Threepio, Artoo, Chewie and Rick McCallum. All of this material looks very professional (although they had to blur out all the posters in the background for copyright reasons). Unfortunately it is interspersed with some interviews the documentary makers shot themselves, on video and without any prior knowledge of lighting direction. These include talks with head of publicity and former Lucas classmate Charles Lippincott and the actors who portrayed Biggs Darklighter, Boba Fett (sat at his home computer) and Bib Fortuna. The difference in quality between the press material and these home movies is enormous.
Whoever made this simply grabbed everything they could get their hands on and stuck it in. Several different interviews with Lucas, Hamill and Daniels are used, as well as every usable shot from the premieres and the customary fans in costumes. There are snippets of interviews conducted on the red carpet, including one brief shot with Ewan McGregor, who is never mentioned or seen again. Both he and Liam Neeson are prominently featured on the cover, but Qui-Gon Shindler never appears on tape at all. A couple of unidentified "experts" who refer to Star Wars as a religious and cultural phenomenon appear throughout. I have a sneaky suspicion these guys may well be responsible for the entire Unautorised Story, since the tape was obviously made by a couple of slobbering fan-boys who snuck in amongst the press for the 1997 release and were so excited they kept interrupting their heroes' anecdotes.
Obviously they could not use any shots from the beloved trilogy itself, but they did get permission to show bits of the 1930's Flash Gordon serials, the 'Forbidden Planet' trailer and some amusing British and Japanese news items from 1977. Add to this some holiday movies from the filming locations in Tunisia and a few misty shots of San Fransico and Mann's Chinese Theater in L.A. They even took a trip to Lucas' Home town of Modesto (where they interview all his old neighbors) and at one point use a couple of lame computer animations of our own solar system. Everything is accompanied by silly wipes that resemble (but don't sound like) Lightsabers and once, sliding Death Star doors. The lowest point comes when they attempt to illustrate behind the scenes stories by using a bunch of monster masks and the remote for some sort of toy car.
Lets face it: this one is strictly for Star Wars collectors who positively have to have everything saga-connected in their possession. There are one or two anecdotes they might not have heard before, but most will probably only watch this once and put it on the back of a shelf forever, or better yet, leave it wrapped up in mint condition. The Phantom Menace is hardly even mentioned, since it had not come out yet when the bulk of this material was shot, but the last word is reserved for the biggest nerd in the entire show, who compares Star Wars to The Bible before predicting that Episode I will probably be just as good as the originals. Just when you think he's crossed the line with that statement, they cut in some more Flash Gordon footage and the tape ends. So never let it be said that nerds don't have a sense of humour about themselves.
1 out of 10
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