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Case Number 22573: Small Claims Court

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The People Vs. George Lucas

Lionsgate // 2010 // 133 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // October 21st, 2011

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All Rise...

Leave Judge Patrick Naugle to his Jar Jar Binks bed sheets.

The Charge

A long time ago at a Comic-Con far, far away…

The Case

So you went and saw a little movie called Star Wars in 1977 and enjoyed the two sequels. End of story, right? WRONG! As epic as anything conceived in a galaxy far, far away, the Star Wars saga has almost been eclipsed by its master, George Lucas, and his decision to rework his masterpieces into newer, bigger, and better versions. Actually, the term better is up for debate, which is where The People vs. George Lucas comes in. Dozens of fans and filmmakers take umbrage with Lucas and his new 'versions' of movies that shaped their childhood. As the decades roll on, the original versions of Star Wars we all collectively remember are giving way to newer, slicker editions…but is that a good or a bad idea? This documentary takes a hardnosed/humorous look at the phenomenon of Lucas and his 'little space operas' in a whole new way.

The People vs. George Lucas can be summed up with one question: When does art become property of the masses? More specifically, should fans be subjected to George's revisions of his beloved Star Wars film series?

The history of the franchise is well known in most geek circles (and even outside of them). In 1977, George Lucas gave the world Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and the world embraced it with a collective hug. Flash forward 35 years and that movie—along with its two beloved sequels Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi—have been re-tooled, re-edited, and re-done to the point where many fans don't feel it's the same saga they remember. Adding insult to injury, Lucas wrote and directed three lackluster prequels (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith) which were met with blockbuster openings and tepid fan response. Over the years, Lucas has released, re-released, and re-re-released his Star Wars movies on laserdisc, VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray, each version featuring minor and major tweaks from their previous incarnations. Where does it stop, if ever?

The People vs. George Lucas is essentially one long rant for the fans. Although it certainly falls on the side of letting art stay as it was originally created—e.g. "George, stop mucking around with your movies!"—it also attempts to lend a sympathetic tone to Lucas and his revisions. Although the man has made fans furious with his tinkering (and become the one thing he always loathed: a businessman), moviegoers also wouldn't have their beloved Star Wars universe without his vision and filmic genius. On one hand, the Star Wars movies are owned by Lucas, and he should be allowed to do whatever he wants with them. But is it hypocritical for a man who stood up against Ted Turner for colorizing classic movies be allowed to rewrite his own cinematic history? Weighty questions, indeed.

Lest this sound like a downer of a film, The People vs. George Lucas is also a celebration of the entire Star Wars franchise; there are interviews with fans, fan films (some good, some…not so good), fan videos, fan writings (Wookie Poetry!), and fan appreciation for everything George has given us. Director Alexandre O. Philippe (in his first major film) has given a good portion of runtime to defending Lucas and his creations (well, except for Jar Jar Binks). Interview subjects run the gamut from writer Neil Gaiman (Neverwhere) and producer Gary Kurtz (The Empire Strikes Back), to casual fans and fan filmmakers, all offering their personal opinions on the subject. While I wouldn't consider this an exhaustive dissertation on the Star Wars universe, it's certainly a fun look at how fans feel about Lucas and the decisions he's made.

When the dust finally settles, The People vs. George Lucas doesn't really provide any rock solid answers. Some think Lucas is the devil, while others hold him up as a film God to be revered for all eternity. While everyone seems to want the original movies as they remember them, the idea of art vs. its creator muddies the issue. Fans will find this love/hate relationship core of the film fascinating, no matter what side you fall on.

The People vs. George Lucas is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer looks good, but is understandably uneven; some footage is reference quality (like some fun animation sequences), while others look mediocre (mostly the off-the-cuff interview segments). Considering the genre, fans won't likely have a problem with the image quality.

The audio is presented in Dolby 5.1 Surround and, much like the video transfer, the mix is neither exceptional nor poor. Dialogue, music, and effects are all easily heard without any defects or interference. Also included are English and Spanish subtitles.

Bonus materials are slim, but should satisfy fans. The best is a screen-specific audio commentary with director Philippe, cinematographer Robert Muratore, and editor Chard Herschberger; the three presenting a lively discussion of the production. We also get bonus interviews with producer Gary Kurtz, deleted poetry slam footage (yawn), a comment on the forthcoming 3D versions, and a music video for the subtly titled song "George Lucas Raped Our Childhood."

The Verdict

The People vs. George Lucas is a light hearted look at something that is near and dear to many people's hearts. It may not be a probing expose, but it is a lot of fun with some truly deep and pointed questions lurking under its humorous surface.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 87

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 133 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary

Distinguishing Marks

• Scene Commentary
• Featurette
• Interview
• Poetry Slam
• Music Video


• IMDb

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