This is the second in a series of three posts exploring library resources related to documentary films I saw this past June at the SilverDocs Film Festival. The first highlighted the circus arts, this one journeys to a galaxy far, far away.
The People vs. George Lucas explores the questions of who owns a creative work once it is released into the world, and what obligation the owner has to the fans of the work. With the release of the original Star Wars in 1977, George Lucas created a dedicated and lifelong fan base (see Star Wars Uncut for a representation of just how remarkably invested Star Wars fans can be). Then he altered the original, angering many fans and initiating a torrential and varied response.
See a trailer of the documentary here:
One of the essential changes to the film involves a scene in which Han Solo is sitting across from Greedo in the Cantina. In the original, when Greedo confronts him at the table, Han Solo shoots him and walks away. In the revised version, Greedo shoots at Han first, misses, and Han shoots him in self-defense. This seemingly minor change has a big impact on the development of Han’s character. Is he a selfish smuggler only looking out for himself until he is reluctantly drawn into doing the right thing, or is he honorable from the start?
See another trailer of the documentary, one that touches on this issue specifically, here:
Following the screening at SilverDocs, the director, Alexandre O. Phillipe, and Dale Pollock, author of the definitive biography of George Lucas, Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, took the stage for a 45-minute back-and-forth. Perhaps one of the most interesting, if distressing, topics of conversation revolved around Lucas’s claim that an original negative of Star Wars: A New Hope no longer exists. This adds to the ire and sense of betrayal of those who were angered by the Cantina scene and other changes he made. (Interestingly, The People vs. George Lucas reveals that in the 1980s George Lucas testified before Congress in opposition to Ted Turner’s colorization of some classic films such as Casablanca. He argued that those films were too culturally significant to be altered.)
While you’re waiting for The People vs. George Lucas to become available at the library, why not check out some of our other Star Wars-related materials? Of course we have the films (live action and animated), along with the series fiction, but there are countless other options including:
- Fanboys, a film in which four buddies take a road trip to break into Skywalker Ranch and steal a copy of Episode I before it’s released.
- A Galaxy Far Far Away, a documentary exploring the Star Wars phenomenon.
- The instantly recognizable John Williams music from the Star Wars movies, in both music score and CD formats.
- Star Wars inspired cookbooks with recipes such as Boba Fett-uccine.
- Star Wars memorabilia price guides to assess the value of all your old action figures.
- Carrie Fisher’s memoir Wishful Drinking, in which she “chronicles [her] all too eventful and by necessity amusing, Leia-laden life” (p. 15).