Star Wars has long been looked upon as more than a movie. From many it was a film that defined elements of their life. It also served as mythology for the late 20th century. The combination of effects, story and heroes struck a chord with the movie-going public in 1977. As the release of Episode I approached in 1999, filmmaker Tariq Jalil wanted to take a look at why Star Wars was such a success.
To make things interesting, Tariq seeks out the most colorful characters that populate the fan universe for Star Wars. He takes viewers from the first official Star Wars convention to the 42-day line outside a theater in Hollywood as fans waited for the first new Star Wars film in 16 years.
Clips from Any Garcia, Jodie Foster's manager, Meatloaf and everyday fans relate what Star Wars means now and what it meant then. Christopher Vogler, a Fox executive and author, tries to take credit for hero's journey myth theory that Joseph Campbell has made popular when relating the reason the film was so popular.
These are nice anecdotes, but the best clips come from the fans themselves. At the official convention, the Dancing Stormtrooper and a Hip-Hop Boba Fett take center stage in the interviews. Likewise, the Jammin' Jedi Knight is another fan that has woven music and a unique perspective into his love for the film. As the filmmakers reach into the convention, the fans take on a more stereotypical look. There are fans that name kids after characters, typical dealers, fans in costume, and everything in between. Let's not forget Twin Sister, the Star Wars tribute band and their song Ben.
The filmmakers also stake out the countdown line in Hollywood and interview the crew that started it. After several weeks, the line participants are bruised and beaten but will not give in. As the premiere night nears, Star Trek fans arrive and begin protesting. They even have a toy Yoda hanging in effigy. Taco Bell arrives to give out free tacos and Comedy Central star Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Corolla arrive to break into line for their show The Man Show. Line-goers don't take the joke so well and call the police who escort the TV pair from the line. Kimmel is later shown arguing with a fan about the joke and it's a great look at what didn't make in on Comedy Central and the mentality that most held toward the fans in the line.
As the film nears the end, it takes a dramatic turn and focuses on the major layers in the film. It revels the amazing similarities that many of the have. Most have come from broken homes or abusive parents. They see a link to the parentless character that was in the film. Filmmaker Tariq links the film as a connecting piece for a generation that had something missing from it. What starts as a tongue-in-cheek look winds up with an amazing conclusion. For a better look at the characters in the film check the official site, www.swdocumentary.com.
Video: The video is mostly digital, with a little VHS thrown in. Lighting is not always the best and it's grainy and dark at times. The transfer isn't perfect, but it's along the lines of what is present in most documentaries. There's nothing distracting in the video in general.
Audio: Compile for a variety of sources, the audio matches the film and that's about as far as it goes. It's a stereo mix, but there's nothing that stands out. It's adequate and easy to hear the dialog and that's all that is needed.
Extras: Included on the disc are a few deleted scenes. These prove that documentaries have uninteresting moments as well. Two of these include interviews the filmmaker gave on TV that highlight just how some people looked at a film on this topic. A commentary with the director, editor and a few other crewmembers runs the length of the film as well. It's an interesting commentary that falls blank at times. It interesting to hear them talk about the true character of the people portrayed in the film and what makes them interesting.
Overall: This documentary is a great look at Star Wars fans
and the amazing amount of hype that was built up around Episode I. There is
no wonder most were disappointed when looking at the build-up on this disc.
The reaction of the fans that came out of the first midnight showing was funny
as they try to justify their disappointment. Any Star Wars fan would enjoy this
and it's also a great look into an aspect of pop culture.