Monday, September 17, 2012

[In Flight] The People vs. George Lucas

Nuff Said

Star Wars has become more than a film. Like it or not, it is a phenomenon, it launched a series of toys and merchandize and brought new meaning to marketing of a film, it brought about technological creativity with the founding of Industrial Light and Magic, created a religion amongst the most fanatical of fans, and of course, all these made George Lucas an extremely wealthy man. The question then is, have all these corrupted the filmmaker in his storytelling integrity, such that he can afford to piss in the face of his fans, and probably even at his cast and crew?

For the longest time I had resisted getting any Star Wars related films on home video, laser discs, DVDs and Blu Ray, no matter how enticing it is currently with the latter format in its latest, probably definitive release in a box set. But to get there, you would already know about the letterbox versus widescreen versions, the proper sound encoding being absent in some releases, extra features, and the uproar against the special editions. We can choose to ignore these changes, but they don't seem to end do they, with the latest announcement being the theatrical release of all the six films in 3D no less.

But why do we fret so much when George is basically doing what he can do in his power, since he's creator of this galaxy, far far away once upon a time? This documentary charts the rise of Star Wars as a phenomenon, and touches on almost all of the films, the original trilogy, the prequels, and the highly embarrassing Holiday Special, and speak to a whole host of fans, non-fans, and notable guests such as Neil Gaiman, about what made them love, and loathe the monolith that is Star Wars. And it also charts the rise of George Lucas' film career, and that this sheer arrogance not only affected the Star Wars franchise, but that of Indiana Jones, with the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull being something that even long time collaborator and director Steven Spielberg tried to distance himself from, pointing the finger clearly at George Lucas for silly scenes and happenings such as the survival of a nuclear attack by hiding in a refrigerator, the tarzan inspired tree vine swinging moments, and the inexplicable alien ending.

The mantra would of course be, because he can. If he can change things like Han Shot First, or replaced little known actors in the original trilogy with the more illustratrous actors from the prequels, and throw in so many childish moments in the Star Wars films in the pretext of appealing to children, he can, and will do it. Probably dictated by the money in the sale of toys and merchandise, or probably under the influence of his children. Fans can go up in arms about who shot first, and to others it seems like a silly thing to be upset about, but such is the power of pop culture, where the ownership of property cuts deep into the hearts of fans, that repercussions can be keenly felt especially when the creator decides to do something drastically different with what we have been familiar with. Midichlorians? Sure.

What I enjoyed about this documentary, besides those unflattering recorded interviews with George Lucas himself, is how it pointed out that we're essentially playing in the big man's sandbox. He had created a world on film, and a flourishing, have it all sandbox, where anyone can roam in it and have fun. From cos-playing to following in the ways of the Jedi, this world had expanded beyond celluloid, and over the years had built expectations that any film, under any director, would have fallen short of expectations. It tried its best to present a balanced viewpoint and approach, but ultimately skewed to the dark side of those disappointed, especially with the time dedicated to slamming George Lucas, through a series of interviews with those who had given up and pitched vocally in ridiculing the man himself. I would suppose that anyone who is oblivious to the fray, would see that he had taken it all in his stride, and continued to allow anyone to partake in expanding the universe created in any other way, so long as his canon is left untouched.

With plenty of footage of the fanaticism, and influence of the Star Wars film carefully stitched together, it provides a nice jumping point for anyone interesting in researching the love hate relationship that fans have with Star Wars, and the pertinent issues that will irate the fan boys and bring about endless points for discussion. For me, I'm still reining the urge to get the Blu-Ray box set to rewatch the two trilogies at home, and fighting that inner fanboy from purchasing a force-FX lightsabre. May the Force be with me indeed!

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