What am I watching here, a “Star Wars”, or “Indiana Jones”, film?

Thursday, 24 October, 2013

I’m only taking Tegan Jones’ word for it, so far, but there looks to be numerous tie-ins – even if they are of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it type – between the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” films, all of which US filmmaker George Lucas has some involvement, to varying degrees, in.

For those of you who skipped my incessant rambling and got straight to the easter egg list, this reference can be found at the beginning of the movie. Indie, Short Round and the ever unpopular Willie have just escaped a nightclub in Shanghai. As their car speeds past the front of the establishment you can see that it’s called “Club Obi Wan”.

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I like my newer Star Wars films better than my older ones

Tuesday, 24 April, 2012

The Empire Strikes Back was the worst film in the “Star Wars” movie saga, according to series creator George Lucas – even though IMDb’s Top 250 movies list suggests the complete opposite – who attributes the film’s commercial and critical success to good publicity.

George Lucas, giving the award to Sid Ganis, who was the in-house publicist on Star Wars: Episode Five – The Empire Strikes Back, said, “Sid is the reason why The Empire Strikes Back is always written about as the best of the films, when it actually was the worst one.”

Does this mean then the prequel trilogy was an attempt by Lucas to redeem himself?

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“The People vs. George Lucas” DVD giveaway

Monday, 20 February, 2012

The People vs. George Lucas DVD cover detail

The People vs. George Lucas is a documentary comedy made by US filmmakers Alexandre O. Philippe and Michael Ramova, that explores the anger and resentment of fans of the “Star Wars” science fiction movie saga with its creator George Lucas, while also attempting to understand his thinking and motives.

Not only are fans up in arms over the numerous – though usually minor – changes Lucas has made to the films since their original release, many are also upset with the quality of the prequel trilogy of films, particularly “The Phantom Menace”, that after much anticipation, they felt was especially disappointing.

There are always two sides to every story though, and both are presented here. I saw a screening recently and thought it was exceptionally even-handed, despite Lucas’ lack of direct participation.

“The People vs. George Lucas” will be released on DVD in Australia to rent or buy on Wednesday, 22 February 2012, and thanks to the people at Hopscotch Films I have three DVDs to give away to readers of disassociated.com.

To go in the draw for one of the DVDs please leave your name and email address in the appropriate fields in the comment form below, plus the name of episode four in the “Star Wars” film saga, in the comment box.

The small print. One entry per person. Correct entries will go into a random draw to determine winners. You must be residing in Australia to participate. Your entry constitutes acceptance and understanding of these terms. The giveaway closes at 5pm AEDT on Wednesday, 22 February 2012, and winners will be contacted soon after.

Update: now closed, thanks for your interest.

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The People vs. George Lucas

Thursday, 16 February, 2012

3 and a half stars

The premise

The People vs. George Lucas (trailer), a documentary comedy jointly directed by US filmmakers Alexandre O. Philippe and Michael Ramova, explores the anger of fans of the “Star Wars” movies towards saga creator George Lucas, in particular their annoyance with changes Lucas has made to the films since their original release.

Fans are also deeply disappointed with aspects of the Prequel trilogy series of films, especially the first episode, “The Phantom Menace”, which after years of anticipation many considered to be a let down. As the title suggests, the film considers the grievances of fans, while also mounting a defence of Lucas, in court room trial fashion.

The play

“The People vs. George Lucas” explores through interviews with fans, filmmakers, and the use of archival news footage, the indelible mark the science fiction film series has left on popular culture, a phenomenon that came as something of a surprise, as few people believed the first film, “A New Hope”, had any real chance of succeeding.

Also analysed is Lucas’ disillusionment with the way Hollywood produces films, which he feels deprives directors of the full creative control they are entitled to. His anger at the way his earlier films “American Graffiti”, and “THX 1138”, were “meddled” with, further spurred him to find ways of gaining total control of the production process.

Lucas’ continued tweaks and adjustments to the “Star Wars” films are attempts, he says, to finally assert his original vision, which he was unable to fully realise earlier. The changes he has made are defended in a number of ways, including the argument that many artists frequently alter their works before finally declaring them complete.

The wrap

“The People vs. George Lucas” is far from a one sided, vitriolic, attack on Lucas despite there being no actual interviews with, or direct comment from him, about the subject matter. And while one or two criticisms are expressed passionately – and the anger of fans is palpable to say the least – overall the case for Lucas case is fair and balanced.

While this is a film hardcore fans of the “Star Wars” saga will certainly appreciate, in exploring the frustrations of Lucas, it also has a lot to say about contemporary filmmaking. As to a verdict? The arguments of both sides, I thought, for better or worse, were valid, though I doubt anyone can really claim Lucas’ edits had the effect of destroying their childhood.

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The film director who kept changing his movies too much

Tuesday, 27 September, 2011

If George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars sci-fi movie saga, is so intent on constantly altering his original work why doesn’t he remake the films instead, perhaps as Alfred Hitchcock did with “The Man Who Knew Too Much” in 1956, which he first made in 1934?

Of course the idea of re-writing, updating or altering is not new. Authors do it all the time, presenting a revised second edition and letting the first edition slip quietly out of print. Nor is the idea of re-working old material, it happens all the time, even with classics. Kate Bush did just that with her album Director’s Cut earlier this year. But in most cases enterprising fans can find a copy of the original version, or, if there’s enough consumer demand, original versions are made available by a publisher who will typically own the rights. Not so with Star Wars. The rights belong to George Lucas. But should they?

While remakes wouldn’t please everyone they would have allowed the originals to remain untouched, while fulfilling Lucas’ desire to realise his “original” vision in regards to the saga.

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Photos from the sets of American Graffiti

Wednesday, 27 July, 2011

Another stash of forgotten/lost/little seen photos have surfaced… this time some snaps taken during the filming of George Lucas’ American Graffiti.

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Forgiving George Lucas for the Star Wars prequels, but Ewoks?

Wednesday, 20 October, 2010

Would we find the whole “Star Wars” movie saga generally more enjoyable were we to stop complaining about the three prequel films?

A common defense of the prequels is that they’re not for adults, but for children. That’s no defense at all – what entertains a child, especially in fantasy, is not so different than what entertains an adult. Children respond to verisimilitude and the gravity of a well-constructed world just as much as any grown up. (See: Star Wars.) So if the prequels were bad, it’s not because they were for children. It’s because they were just bad.

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Oh yeah, Star Wars, I just made that up as I went along

Thursday, 20 May, 2010

While the original “Star Wars” film, A New Hope, was always going to spawn sequels (being the Original trilogy), I had the feeling that the idea for the prequels (the Prequel trilogy), plus another three films (the Sequel trilogy), that take place some years after events of the Original trilogy, were ideas that came to George Lucas after production of the first film had started:

Don’t tell anyone … but when ‘Star Wars’ first came out, I didn’t know where it was going either. The trick is to pretend you’ve planned the whole thing out in advance.

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