Tuesday, November 08, 2011
The People vs. George Lucas
My goodness, that was an interesting hour and a half. I just got done watching the documentary film, The People vs. George Lucas. And I have to say, it gave me some food for thought, both as a fan and as a writer.
Basically this movie details the love/hate relationship that fans have with George Lucas and a certain galaxy far, far away, mostly focusing on the late '90s re-edits and the prequels. There are interviews with fans, famous personalities (I see you there, Neil Gaiman!), and a few "Star Wars insiders." While they cover a lot of territory, from fan films to the way many Star Wars fans' love has been twisted into hate, there were some interesting focal points. For example, who shot first, Han or Greedo? What do you think of Jar-Jar Binks? And who does Star Wars belong to at this point, George Lucas or the fans?
Like I said, this was a thought-provoking movie to watch. True confession time: I've been a Star Wars geek for most of my life. I've read the Extended Universe novels, played the videogames, bought all the soundtracks. One of the things I was looking forward to most about being a parent was seeing my son's reaction to the classic moment in Empire Strikes Back where we get a peek at the Skywalker family tree. And yes, I have been disappointed by the prequels. It took me a while to see how bad Episode I really is, and I've even gotten into arguments with my youth about which trilogy is better. I suspect that in the future, there's going to be a Jar-Jar line. A lot of what the fans said in this movie resonated with me, such as their pleas for Lucas to release a version of the original trilogy in its unenhanced form. You know, one in which HAN SHOT FIRST.
But at the same time, I also found myself wondering how I would react if I were in Lucas's flannel. Suppose one of my creations takes off and becomes a cultural institution that . . . What's so funny? Why are you laughing?
Okay, fine, I'll wait until you're done.
Seriously, though, if Star Wars is George Lucas's creation, if he is the owner of it still (and thanks to U.S. Copyright Law, he will be for a long, long time), then technically, he does have the right to go back and touch things up as he sees fit.
I know. I feel icky just for writing that.
But it's still the truth, as much as we may disagree. It's his story, his universe, and we're invited to come along if we want. Yes, I have an idea of how I would have told the prequel stories, but that's not my story to tell.
I guess what's really interesting about this movie is the sheer amount of rancor (pun possibly intended) that Star Wars can create amongst its fans. The fact that people are willing to invest so much vitriol and ire for a movie trilogy is a testament to what a cultural touchstone it's become.
And the one thing that made me smile was the ending of this movie. A lot of the vocal critics admitted that the reason why they do what they do is because Lucas inspired them. Whether we agree with what Lucas did in recent years or not, he shaped a lot of our childhoods. And I, for one, am still grateful.
So thank you, George. Now, if it isn't too much of a bother, can you please release the original trilogy?