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I just watched PvGL, a film that I had been eagerly anticipating for
the last several months. I'm a huge Star Wars fan, and like most fans,
feel a deep loathing towards the prequels and the changes that Lucas
has made to the original trilogy.
Now, if you're reading this, chances are you already know the basic premise of this film (detailing the complex and dysfunctional relationship between Lucas and his fans), so I'm not going to reiterate the various intricacies, emotions, and reasoning that go along with that story. Sufficed to say, if you're a fan, you know what I mean.
And to that end, the film does a decent enough job painting a picture of who the Star Wars fans are and what the film has meant to western culture as a whole. There are some good insights from a wide range of people, from hardcore Star Wars nerds to film critics to other producers and directors. Most of what they say is easily relatable, as Star Wars really has become a cultural touchstone that almost everyone has some kind of feelings towards. It is cathartic to hear so many other people verbalize the frustrations almost every fan has surely felt towards Lucas, the prequels and the special editions.
With that having been said, there are a few flaws. The first being that the film is a bit too long. They could have easily cut about ten minutes out of the first act of the movie, which consisted almost entirely of fan parody and tribute films of varying quality. Yes, Star Wars inspires epic creativity on the part of it's fans, but that is a relatively easy point to make and didn't require quite so much screen time time to illustrate.
The other flaw is the end of the film, which completely goes soft on Lucas and abdicates its responsibility to take a firm position on the subject matter that was detailed in the entire rest of the film. After watching a whole documentary which carefully explained all the ways Lucas was ruining his work, thumbing his nose at film history as a cultural artifact (in direct opposition to positions he himself took years earlier) and acting in deliberate contempt of his fans, the conclusion it reached amounted to little more than a shrug and a soft-pedaled declaration of loyalty to Lucas anyway. Disappointing.
Any catharsis I felt very quickly melted away and once again turned to frustration. Why did the director feel the need to ultimately kiss up to Lucas? Wasn't that the fatal flaw which led to the prequels in the first place? That nobody challenged him? Let me be clear; I was not looking for a hit-piece here either; two hours of Lucas-bashing wouldn't have made for an interesting or informative film (which PvGL certainly is), but the entire premise of this documentary would have been far more credible had the last few minutes not completely undermined everything that was asserted throughout the entire rest of it.
I would still recommend it to fans as there are very interesting points to be heard in this film, but for true geek catharsis (and brilliantly insightful critique), you still can't beat the Red Letter Media long-form reviews of the prequels. People vs. George Lucas is entertaining to be sure, but it still doesn't come close to those reviews.
The term 'documentary' is a difficult label to affix to 'PvGL' but
sadly, for lack of a better word, is one that must suffice. I say this
because the film does not shed new light or impart new information so
much as it distills and summarises what we already know. Director
Alexandre O. Philippe condenses and intercuts massive amounts of
amateur videos, conversations, and first person tirades with
pseudo-authoritative interviews in an effort to douse the acclaimed
titular director with a bucket of icy water and wake Lucas from his
delusional God-complex so that he will own up to the serious missteps
he's made with the 'Star Wars' franchise (as well as 'Indiana Jones').
Make no mistake this is a film made by disillusioned fans, for
disillusioned fans, and the issues that irk the most are well-covered:
the erasure of the 1977, 1980, & 1983 originals by the CGI-altered
1990s reissues; the character change in Han Solo by firing AFTER
Greedo; the inherent ramifications of quantitatively defining the Force
with a microbiological organism; the erasure of the Star Wars Christmas
TV special; Jar-Jar Binks; and so on.
The film nicely establishes the original trilogy's place in history and in culture, and sets the tone for why we love George Lucas. But from there, it just gets ugly. As one interviewee put it, 'I love-hate George Lucas. I love-hate him a lot.' The anger and vulgarity that erupts from the wounded fans is unsettling but even more disturbing is the fact that I often found myself nodding in agreement with their arguments. Two-thirds into it, though, I just get the sense that 'PvGL' is acting like a neglected child throwing a tantrum at a parent, begging for attention and respect. Yet Lucas' betrayal of his fans through touting his authorial and divine right to tamper is not without merit. Attributing the disrespect to his secession to the dark-side (that is, entrepreneurship and big business), rather than remain the rebel filmmaker of his youth, 'PvGL' ultimately finds itself in an un-winnable spot, wedged between arguments of public (social and cultural) domain and artistic control. Does 'Star Wars' belong to the general public, or can those that originally penned it rewrite history?
Bearing this in mind, does anyone know where can I get one of those Tauntaun sleeping bags?
After seeing The People vs. George Lucas in June at the 2010 Edinburgh
Film Festival, I must say that it was the most fun documentary I saw at
the festival. And yes, my name is Shane Kester and I am a Star Wars
fan, but unlike the others, I can quit any time I want.
The director Alexandre O. Philippe stated that the documentary took three years and was made up of 634 hours of fan films and interviews submitted from all over the globe. You may naturally conclude by the title or what you've heard through the rumor mill that this is simply a "Lucas Bashing" documentary, but it's got much more depth to it than that. The director listened to the impassioned Star Wars and Indiana Jones fan's complaints and rants but also took a very mature look at it from several less "emotional" points of view that gave balance to the force, making this documentary another significant brick in the monument built by fans to honor the cultural phenomenon that Lucas created. This documentary by no means puts an end to the debates as Alexandre Philippe stated in Edinbough, there is still footage being sent in by fans all over the world. And as one of the participants in the documentary stated, "When we're in retirement homes arguing about things, we'll be having conversations about what went wrong with Phantom Menace." The People vs. George Lucas had a surprising array of interviews from the avid Youtube fan to original producers and actors all the way up to Lucas's mentor and friend Francis Ford Coppala who expressed a heart felt lament that George never ventured beyond Star Wars with his story telling.
Even if you aren't an avid fan of Star Wars or Indiana Jones you must at least be aware of the massive cultural influence that George Lucas has had on our little planet. If you're not aware, you must be on the planet farthest from the center of the universe with your head buried in bantha fodder not to have noticed. To you this documentary will be of no interest. But for the rest of you who enjoy a good rant and like to laugh out loud at how seriously people take Star Wars, you really would enjoy this movie.
No, this film is not 93 minutes of giving George Lucas the finger. It
plays out as a bizarre, but highly entertaining, mash-up of love
letter, trial, intervention, and therapy session, culminating in a
general feeling of hope.
I won't go into details, you're likely either going to really want to see this movie, or you won't. If you loved the original Star Wars trilogy and hated the prequels, you're going to want to see this. If you don't care about the Star Wars movies (and therefore, filmmaking in general) then I can't imagine you'd enjoy this movie.
Personally, I really enjoyed the original Star Wars trilogy, and pretty much hated the prequels. However, I don't enjoy Star Wars enough to want to go out and try to make my own fan film, nor did I enjoy watching the bulk of the fan film footage included in TPvsGL. I think these amateur attempts to recreate Star Wars only serve to trivialize and dilute the magic of the original trilogy, in much the same manner as George Lucas' tampering, and subsequent self-destruction of the series. Actually, one of the most interesting things about TPvsGL is that the fans are guilty of most of the "crimes" they accuse Lucas of. It's a very dysfunctional relationship.
The interviews make this movie. Almost all of the interviewees are excellent. They're, for the most part, keen, poignant, and funny. Sometimes hilarious. I laughed out loud a few times.
A must see for Star Wars fans, of all types.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I loved this movie. Was very funny, poignant, and made me yearn for a
simpler time where claymation and stop-action was the THING. This movie
made a good case for The People without being too hard on George. I had
actually never considered some of his reasons for what he did, either
in the prequels or the remastering of IV-VI. I got chills when the
movie described the build up to Episode 1, and relived the sadness and
disappointment I felt as the scroller began its nonsense about Trade
This was great fun until the last 5 minutes or so, when suddenly all that came before, all the logic and the pleas and the evidence got pushed aside for a bit of butt smooching for George.
He may not have... ahem... violated my childhood, but he took something we all loved, something that had become a part of our culture, and made it clear he had no idea or care for what it had become. To him, it was a vessel for his magic at ILM (his undeniably awesome contribution to the film industry). Star Wars was always more potential than reality, and when it came time to answer questions, to fulfill that potential, he showed he had very little respect for what the movies had become, quite on their own and with the help of the fans.
So, the George love at the end of this film, given the clear case laid out on behalf of The People, seemed a bit forced and unnecessary.
Other than that, truly an excellent film. Enjoyed it immensely.
First of all I am a fan of Star Wars and I think you need to be to
appreciate this documentary.
It talks about the decisions George made to the Star Wars franchise and for many fans slowly killing it.
We get an interesting discussion about the whole franchise and what it means to people and how hurt a lot of people were (including me) when George started to make one unnecessary change after another.
It also deals with the disappointment of the prequels and the backlash that those movies got.
It also question his intentions and shows just how little he actually cares about the fans and their opinions, and how he is making the original movies more kid friendly.
And the part that really made me a little mad was when he basically gave fans the finger concerning the original cuts of Star Wars.
It's and interesting story about a filmmaker that wanted to dazzle his audience but ultimately fell to power of greed.
And to summarize I will quote a fan from this documentary: If I ever met the man I don't know if I would shake his hand or punch him.
In this day of mass-participatory media it is in some ways inevitable
that a film potentially destined for general release would be made
incorporating a significant chunk of such material.
You may ask why has George Lucas been singled out for this film's subject? As the film explains, the number of homages, remixes and re-workings by the public of Star Wars is far greater for this work than any other film ever made. Furthermore Lucas has courted controversy through the mass marketing of his product and the slightly dictatorial way older versions of the film have been more or less obliterated. So any analysis of the subject of the art and business of film, rights ownership and its effects on its fans cannot pick a better subject.
In terms of the normal movie goer Alexandre O. Philppe's film provides plenty of laughs and is fascinating to watch. Barely pausing for breath, the film is a visual and auditory onslaught, with a barrage of sound bites and clips from the original material and its many derived manifestations. Producer Anna Higgs - interviewed after the showing - explained that contributions were invited on one of the many Star Wars forums on the Internet. Sifting through the mountain of material that arrived in response was a huge undertaking, and in showing the pick of the crop we the viewer are given an insight into the massive fandom that surrounds these films.
While for most people just watching a movie is enough, serious fans will purchase (sometimes compulsively) associated movie merchandise and involve themselves to varying degrees in paying tribute to the film and its mythos. If you have ever wondered what kind of person will spend three days walking around in a sweaty storm-trooper outfit at Dragon*Con in Atlanta. Or set themselves on fire in order to recreate a scene from a film then this film offers an insight into that world.
A large amount of the discussion in the film is about the differences between the original theatrical release of Star Wars and its subsequent remastering and updating which angered many fans not least as the original film was essentially removed from circulation at the same time. As digital technology empowers audience creativity, the democratisation of media seems to be at odds with filmmakers who want to retain absolute control and ownership of their work. However, despite its title this film is not about simply Lucas bashing. It is pointed out that Lucas has made footage and sound freely available to people who want to play with it.
It is possible to see a similar issue between the behaviour of obsessed film fans and people with strong religious beliefs. While religious texts have been used as an excuse for inhumanity and war. One wonders whether George himself lies awake at night puzzling at how his simple sci-fi story has led to such an amazing cultural legacy even if that legacy includes such things as Ewok yiff. 4 out of 5
Cambridge Film Festival Daily
My first documentary at Edinburgh's International Film Festival this
year directed by Alexandre Philippe, The People vs George Lucas.
I'm not the biggest Star Wars fan, in fact I watched the star was franchise in the wrong order. I started with Episode 1 and worked my way to 6. I've received a lot of grief for this over the years from friends and film lovers but I'm not that bothered. I did it that way so as to achieve a unique perspective on the films, it may have been the "wrong" perspective but I was given the chance to watch them from Ep 1 to Ep 6 and it made sense to me at the time. I've watched all the films once, they were OK, the last three (or first three depending on what way you look at it) Ep 4 6 were definitely superior but still for me, nothing special. I can appreciate that had I been around in the 70s or watched the films at a younger stage in my life I may feel differently. I know also of the huge fan base Star Wars has. Anyway the point of saying all this is, I went into the film not knowing much about the subject, unlike the majority of the rest of the folk in my screen.
I found the film entertaining, funny and informative. I laughed, not at all the jokes but enough to say its a comedy documentary that will make you laugh despite your knowledge of the subject. If you have seen the films many times over you will no doubt get more of the jokes though.
There was great use of archive photos and footage from the likes of 'The Daily Show' and You tube etc I found this impressive as I know it can be considerably difficult to gain copyright permission for these type of things. There was maybe a lack of actual footage from the films. There was some but probably not enough in my opinion.
The structure of the film was great and seemed to be appropriate length for the most part. I'd argue the last 3rd of the film dragged on a little, and began to repeat itself a lot. There's only so many times you can make the one point. The film is 97mins and I thing should be at most 80.
The music also at points became a little distracting for me. It was played quite loudly throughout the film which was OK most of the time but sometimes the audio was not lowered enough during interviews and I was distracted. On the subject of the interviews however I was impressed at the sheer amount. There were new opinions all the way to the end of the film. Some reasonably well respected faces appearing for only a few seconds. There was clearly a lot of work put into the film which I respect deeply.
I think Star Wars fans will be happy with the film.
People who aren't bothered about Star Wars should also see the film if possible. I found it interesting finding out some of the big debates in the star wars universe. I will now be able to appreciate and join in discussions with my mates about it. I think girlfriends subjected to Star Wars chat may find it a useful tool.
I'd say the film was a very good one indeed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The People vs. George Lucas" is a film that sets out to examine the
animosity shared by a great number of Star Wars fans over the changes
made to the Original Trilogy (among other grievances). Included here
are interviewers with every known type of Star Wars fan: the casual
goer, the passionate geek, and the bitter extremist who took his/her
passion too far.
The film does raise some interesting questions at the heart of the matter:
1. What, exactly, does Lucas owe his fans? 2. Are the more bitter of the fanbase blinded by passion (and therefore cannot evaluate the new movies on their own merits)? 3. Perhaps most importantly, *Who Owns Star Wars?*
With a title like "The People vs. George Lucas", it's expected to see the man put on trial, so to speak. And to an extent, that's what we get here. But objectivity suffers when the film is anchored by fan interviews, and the only soundbites we get from Lucas himself are taken from talk show interviews and documentaries done years ago. And it's the preoccupation with the angry hordes that tends to bog down the film; a 90-minute movie tends to run long when things devolve into a fun and playful look at just how far these people take these movies.
So nothing is really answered here, aside from the obvious "Wow, these people are crazy!" sentiment, which we already knew before going in. It's no different than watching "Trekkies" just to laugh at the nerds. You end up asking yourself, "What's the point?"
"I love/hate George Lucas, I love/hate him hard." A documentary that
deals with the "Star Wars" saga. Unlike most other movies about this
subject this one is a series of interviews with people telling about
their love of the original three movies, and the hatred of the
prequels. It begins with people telling about how their childhood was
shaped by the movies and the extremes they go to to show it. Not only
do the people have all multiple copies of all the movies but the
merchandise they have is amazing to see. This movie is worth watching
just to listen to and watch the passion the fans have and how they
almost crucify Lucas for what he did with the prequels. Interviews
mixed with homemade tribute movies make the movie very funny and very
interesting. Much like "The Captains", this is a movie that will appeal
to more then just fans of the series. The most amazing part of the
movie is that there are points where you feel like you should defend
Lucas against the things people are saying about him. Overall, this is
an extremely entertaining documentary that will appeal to all viewers,
not just "Star Wars" fans. One of the best for-the-fans movies I have
ever seen, and a very worth while watch. I give it an A.
*Also try - Captains & Fanboys
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