The score that runs throughout the film is pretty generic and only serves as a means to keep a feeling of life in the background while the participants are talking rather than just dead air, although the cartoonish, silly piece that plays during the animated opening sequence is quite memorable and puts a smile on my face. What's more memorable about the movie music-wise are the songs featured throughout it, some of which are pretty catchy. My personal favorite is David Heinzman's The George Lucas Song, which is a parody of Moskau. I really like the sound and beat of it and, even though I don't understand what's being said, I think I have a pretty good idea (plus, I like the, "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha," moment). Dear George Lucas by UFO Phil, which closes out the movie, is another memorable one because it comes across as a heartfelt love letter to the man, acknowledging his burnout over Star Wars and the like, and offering to help him continue the saga. It's another thing in this documentary that makes me smile. As I said, I'll comment more on George Lucas Raped Our Childhood presently but, just from a purely musical standpoint, I'm not a big fan of that song. The beat and the lyrics don't do it for me. I feel the same way about Ian Bonds' Death Star, which you hear only the first couple of lyrics of during the third chapter of the film, although listening to the whole thing on YouTube, I do smirk at how it's a musical critique of the problems with the prequels and is peppered with comments by Yoda throughout. Yellow Lasers by MC Fontalot has a pretty cool, laid back but constant sound to it, whereas I thought John Williams Is The Man, no matter what version, was just kind of silly. It was an interesting idea to sing about Star Wars to the melody of the Indiana Jones theme but that's all I took from it and as a result, I'm glad they only showed it once.
This is the first time I've ever reviewed a documentary and, when I began preparing for this, I realized that I had to approach this differently from the way I tackle other films. This is going to be akin to the way I do TV shows and video games in that, now that I've touched on the general aspects of it, I'm going to go through documentary, hit upon each of the major discussions and points made, and give my own two cents on them, as well as mention things they should have gone more in-depth on and others that they could have done differently. One thing I have to mention, though, is that, when I did my personal introduction to Star Wars before I reviewed the movies themselves way back when, I devoted a section of that post talking about what I personally think of George Lucas and the controversies surrounding him, so if you've read that, you're going to be getting a big sense of deja vu throughout this. Hopefully it won't be too bad since this is an opportunity for me to go into much more depth than I could in that introduction. Also, this might not be one of my most visually interesting reviews since I can't keep using images of people sitting down and talking to emphasize whatever the point of a given section is, although I will do my best to find images, from the many interesting and memorable ones that this film provides, that are relevant to the subject at hand. Now, with that out of the way, let's dive into the real meat of this review.
One thing I really love is how the opening credits sequence shows the evolution (or, if you like, deterioration) of the fanbase's relationship with George Lucas. Following a brief opening that sets up the whole issue, showing a bit of Star Wars' everlasting cultural impact as well as already giving us example of issues people have with Lucas, namely by showing Jon Stewart whaling on him about the ending of Revenge of the Sith, we get a little animated sequence that shows a cartoon caricature of Lucas walking around and projecting his various movies to a slowly growing and ever more enthusiastic crowd behind him. THX-1138 garners some interest, American Graffiti gets a little more, and Star Wars has the crowd jumping up and exclaiming before picking Lucas up, carrying him on their shoulders, and putting him on a throne where he's hailed as a king. We then see a thought bubble of himself frollicking through a field with a caricature of Steven Spielberg... when an explosion in the distance causes a refrigerator to land in front of them (I know, subtle). A vague figure steps out of the fridge and runs off, followed by a panicked Lucas, while Spielberg stands there looking confused. He's then caught up by an angry mob who run after Lucas with the stereotypical pitchforks and the like, as we finally get the title. That's how you start a film.
The hate towards Lucas begins in the second chapter with the release of the special editions, which many didn't expect to be so radically different from the movies they grew up with, and the documentary mainly focuses on the changes made to the original film, specifically the Jabba the Hutt scene and the notorious one between Han Solo and Greedo. The latter is what gets a whole lot of attention and discussion, with some arguing that complaining about is a major nitpick whereas others feel that it changes the core of Han's character and softens it up. There's some suggestions that Lucas may have done this because he was a different man in the 90's and, now that he was older and had children, he saw Han out-and-out blasting Greedo as being rather violent and brutal (which I don't agree with since Greedo had him at gunpoint and was talking like he was about to kill him) but the more important issue that this part of the film gets down to is the notion that Lucas is basically trying to rewrite history. Since he was never satisfied with the original versions, and they play an audio clip of him saying that, he's trying to redo them in the way he wanted to way back when, regardless of the fact that there's an entire generation of fans who love those original versions and now feel like he's being force-fed someone else's memories. What's more, he's also determined to replace the original versions with the special editions, saying in an article that they'll disappear and that the special editions will be what everyone remembers, a quote that they do show. They also briefly discuss LucasFilm's claim that the original negatives were permanently altered to create the special editions and discuss whether or not that's true or even possible. I'm not at all savvy about this type of stuff, so I don't if either side of the discussion holds water, but I will say, that knowing what we know about Lucas and the attitude he's displayed time and time again, I wouldn't put it past him to do that if it were possible. And as they say, it makes Lucas look like a major hypocrite since he went on a crusade against Ted Turner for wanting to colorize black and white films back in the 80's, as if he's so blinded by his determinator to have his way that he doesn't realize or care how bad it makes him look (one guy who hears about that for the first time says, "That makes me just want to say, 'Fuck him all the way,'").
I've said this many times before but my first major exposure to Star Wars was the special editions, so I don't have the nostalgia for the unaltered versions that so many others do, but I do agree with the notion that Lucas should not be barring people to see them. I don't have a problem with his actual tinkering as so many others do. It makes him look very obsessive-compulsive and I agree with the person who said that sometimes you have to realize that the work is done and that it belongs to history, but whatever. He has every right to do what he wants with them. However, trying to erase those original versions is very narrow-minded and selfish on his part for a number of other reasons. Not only is it disrespectful to the fans who grew up with them, it's also like Lucas doesn't understand that these versions, as imperfect as they are in his eyes, are what made him who he is and gave him the means to make anything he wanted (an opportunity I don't think he took advantage of as much as he should have but we'll get to that in due time). More significantly, adding the digital enhancements to the practical effects in the special editions and then making those the only versions you can see is very disrespectful to the model-makers and craftsmen who busted their asses to create them. As they say here, film is a collaborative medium and Lucas' obsession with complete control often causes him to forget that. So, as to the ultimate question that's put forth about whether something as significant as Star Wars belongs to its creator or to the public, I agree with Michael Cornacchia in that it's shared. Dale Pollock notes how Lucas may not like the idea of everyone feeling that they own his art but I would say to him, "Well, sorry man, but this is what happens when you put your art out there and people fall in love, despite the imperfections that you may see."
|I think I used this image back in my Star Wars introduction|
but I had to use it again because I think it sums up
perfectly what he's become to a lot of people.
The part where I get a lot of sadistic pleasure is during the first bit of the third chapter, where it talks about the overwhelming hype and build-up to the release of The Phantom Menace. You have people paying just to see the trailer, the countdown to the opening day, those people standing in line for weeks (I especially like that one guy who had a sign that read, I WILL GET TICKETS. IT IS MY DESTINY), and the actual countdown to the hour when it will be released. My favorite moment is when a bunch of people are asked what they will do if the movie sucks and a lot of them come across as very determined that there's no way it could suck, with two guys getting into a debate about it (a friend who shall remain nameless but I know will be reading this was one of those people who knew in his gut that this movie would be the greatest thing since sliced bread), and all the while, I'm sitting there with a big, shit-eating grin on my face. It gets even better when it's time and everyone is so excited, with one guy exclaiming, "Star Wars! We're gonna see Star Wars!", and the cheering when the movie starts coupled with the sight of those glowing, multi-colored lightsabers swinging in the dark. And then, as everyone says, the movie started, and that buzz died very quickly. People then went to see it twice to try to convince themselves that they liked it (one guy said he saw it in the theater like 18 times, which makes me wonder what kind of time he had on his hands back then) and only then did it truly sink in that this wasn't what they were expecting, nor what they wanted. If the fans didn't already have a lot of animosity for Lucas after the special editions, they certainly did now.
Lucas' obsession for complete creative control and his unwillingness to listen to anybody is another topic that I think could have been talked about a lot more, especially with the people who have either worked with him or have met him. Like I said earlier, Gary Kurtz mentions in an extended part of his interview on the bonus features of the DVD how Lucas and Irvin Kershner butted heads over this issue on The Empire Strikes Back, which I think they could have included in the actual film, and I think they also could have had him talk about what happened between Lucas and John Dykstra over the effects in the original Star Wars and why he himself was replaced as producer on Return of the Jedi. Speaking of Jedi, you could also discuss the idea that the reason Lucas hired Richard Marquand to direct that film was because, since he was a little known director, he would be more willing to bend to his will, in addition to the fact that he was much more personally involved with it than he was with Empire. Given his disdain for that film and the notion that that's where Lucas began to become obsessed with commercialization, this could be where you'd have Dave Prowse really go off on Lucas, as well as mention how, in that documentary on The Phantom Menace, some of the people on the movie appear flabbergasted about what Lucas is expecting them to do but don't speak up about it at all, possibly out of fear. There's an ILM budget meeting shown in that documentary where Lucas is being very shrewd, saying, "I don't care how we get this done, I don't care who pays for it, I've somehow got to get my movie made," again with worried looks on the faces of the people at the table with him. You could talk about that, as well as mention a bizarre disagreement between some folks about the casting of Anakin there that never comes up again, and take the opportunity to touch on how Rick McCallum has been accused of being the biggest yes-man Lucas had working for him during that time. I once read that something happened during production of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles where a man who had a minor disagreement with Lucas arrived at work the next day to find that he no longer had a parking space. There is so much stuff you could talk about in regards to this topic, especially with Kurtz and Dale Pollock, the latter of whom mentions how he held the ideas for the prequels in his head for far too long, that they don't take advantage of.
Fan-edits, mainly whether or not they're acceptable, are discussed for a bit, which is when Neil Gaiman makes his well-balanced comment on them that I mentioned earlier. More significantly, though, it's mentioned how they go all the way back to Lucas' issue with keeping other people from tampering with his work and that they probably cut into him the deepest. This extends into an idea that people want to put their fingerprints all over the things that they have affection for, which is demonstrated with a video of a fan talking about how he feels the ending of Revenge of the Sith could have been handled so much better than it was. I'm not gonna at all act like it's wrong for him to do that because I give my own ideas about how things would have been better in my opinion in just about every review that I do. So, I'm as guilty of wanting to put my fingerprints over stuff that I see like everyone else. Ultimately, though, no conclusion is made in this discussion, with one man suggesting that the fans are going to have to accept Lucas' control over Star Wars for the time being while another says that, as our culture becomes even more participatory, he's going to have to eventually gives the fans more control. This is where you get Kevin Rubio arguing that Lucas is the biggest proponent of the fans, citing that he holds a contest for fan-films and the like, and the notion that he's more gracious to them than they've been tolerant of him, which, if you remember from earlier, I don't completely agree with. The section ends with the idea that, for a guy who's very controlling over his creations, he made a serious blunder about it early on with the notorious Star Wars Holiday Special, which he's always said he wished he could completely destroy every copy of. The content of the special, particularly that weird as hell section where the grandpa wookie is watching what can only be described as a virtual sex fantasy, is talked about very briefly, but what they do get to is that Lucas isn't as all-controlling as he'd like to be.
The final part of the film begins with how a number of fans have either walked away from Star Wars completely or are now filled with venom for both it and George Lucas. You have videos of people ranting about he must atone for his mistakes, with one guy going as far as to tell him walk off a short bridge and yell that his movies are the worst shit imaginable. This is where George Lucas Raped Our Childhood comes along, which is the kind of stuff that really gets on nerves. I agree with Kevin Rubio: nobody raped your childhood. Did you buy the toys? Did you watch the movies again and again? Do you still have fond memories of that time in your life? Well then, nobody can take that away from you, least of all George Lucas. It's why I don't agree with the idea that Lucas (and Steven Spielberg, although he doesn't get mentioned hardly at all) raped Indiana Jones with the fourth movie. Putting aside the fact that I personally like Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I don't understand how that destroys all of the warm memories one would have for the original movies. If you don't like it, then don't think about it and just continue watching the ones that you do like.