I love this documentary.
It is fantastic piece of knowledge on a pivotal time in American Cinema. I think more than any other it gives us a look at that late 60's-early 70s Californian/Hippie ethos of we are gonna change the world and we will not repeat the mistakes of our forefathers.
Of course it is not all there is here, there is talk about generation at the beginning and how basically the ideological/thematic/cultural revolution these guys were leading was first and foremost generational. But it might just be me right now looking at it from 2020, when generational fracture is deeper than ever.
What I like about this doc is that it follows the film making business and industry more than the film making itself. it is pretty rare to have Scorcese, Spielberg and other talk about the movie industry in such a relaxed casual manner. Now when you hear them talk, it is to deplore the studio system and the fact that corporate greed/control crushes the soul of the artist filmmaker. Obvisouly it is on full display here, but it made more sense to me because you understand the motivation and you see the roots of the distrust between someone like Lucas and the studios.
Usually these conversations are pretty shallow or political in nature, with an endgame or a message. Yet here it leads to this analysis of the studio system and it is back-up by facts.It is rather descriptive and analytical than enflammatory.
It is pretty funny to see this film in 2020. I had already seen this once like 5 years ago, but even so things have changed dramatically since then. Not only does the documentary capture the late 60s, it is also a time capsule of the early 2000 when it was made; When all these filmmakers where at the top of the food-chain.
On that last note : the documentary comes right after the prequels but before the Disney buy-out. It may have been the last time anyone treated George Lucas as a genius, without having to justify it. Then the prequels back-lash happened, Then Disney bought Star Wars and drove it to the ground.
I don't really know if it's fair from me to mention Marcia Lucas. Since the documentary came out, and the prequels opened up the question : Did Lucas actually knew what he was doing ? A lot of people look at his ex-wife as the driving force behind the success of Star Wars. "Saved in the editing" as it was. This subject is absent form this movie. And it is okay. But since they approach these questions like where were they in their lives, where did they got the money etc... I feel it was an intersting sidenote: was she even there?
The documentary ends on the idea that American Zoetrope was the stable that led to Star Wars, Apocalypse Now and all those masterpeices. I get it, but it feels a bit forced. Sure the ideas, the spirit, the talent percolated here, but ultimately those films were good on merits of their own. Marcia Lucas and Richard Chew saved Star Wars in the editing room. Hearts of Darkness shows how Coppola created Apocalypse Now through the hardships and difficulties he faced in the Phillipines.
But hey, maybe in some years I'll see this with yet another look.
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