Whining Fans Take to the Stand in The People vs. George Lucas


“Fans liked that thing you did,” Neil Gaiman says to the camera in Alexandre O. Philippe’s documentary The People vs. George Lucas. “They would like another one of those, please.” This catalog of the rise and fall of the Lucas brand is told by fans still mostly faithful to the Star Wars cult, despite the heartbreak brought on by Lucas’s late-’90s revisions to the “original” trilogy, and the three subpar prequels. Philippe’s narration-free, rapid-fire montage approach gives time to critics, media experts, and a wide variety of no-name aficionados, who use dialogue from the films to contextualize their passion (“He was just a scruffy nerf herder from Tatooine—he was one of us”), and second-guess Lucas’s authorial choices as if they were personal offenses (“C’mon, George . . . how are you going to un-fuck this?”). It’s an exhausting airing of nerd grievances, the monolithic arguments leavened only slightly by counterpoints seemingly inserted for comic relief (of course the French love Jar Jar Binks, with one subtitled critic calling the controversial character “an experiment that connotes an enduring desire to create a spectacle”). With no direct access to Lucas or, presumably, footage from his filmography, Philippe takes advantage of the bounty of filmed Star Wars fan fiction. The most relevant cine-critique woven throughout is Forcery, a feature-length Misery spoof in which a crazed admirer traps an injured Lucas and forces him to rewrite the saga to her specifications. It’s such a concise stating of the filmmaker’s thesis that it almost renders the rest of his movie moot.

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