On November 17, 1978, The Star Wars Holiday Special aired on CBS and became the stuff of legend. It’s not because it was good, but because it was the weirdest and stupidest thing that Star Wars has ever put out there. What A Disturbance in the Force looks to accomplish is to give Star Wars fans an idea of how and why this special became a disaster. After all, as one person said in the documentary, “any kind of artwork is going to look funny. Any kind, period. If you don’t know the history and the context you cannot appreciate it fully.”
In short, everyone involved didn’t mean for The Star Wars Holiday Special’s cheesy and wacky on purpose. It was just a perfect storm of how the variety shows were like back then, hiring people unfamiliar with Star Wars (but perfect to create a variety show) and lacking direction. It makes a compelling case that the special is not merely an absurd piece of television. It’s simply an example of a radically different time in the history of Star Wars. Co-directors Jeremy Coon and Steve Kozak didn’t make this documentary to point fingers at anyone. A Disturbance in the Force is more of an affectionate documentary. No one speaking on the documentary pretends that the Holiday Special is high art. Still, every person speaking in the documentary is telling their truth from the heart.
There’s plenty in A Disturbance in the Force that will satisfy casual and hardcore fans alike. And maybe, just maybe, we can appreciate the absurdity that is The Star Wars Holiday Special.
The documentary does a great job of taking viewers through the ins and outs of the production. Still, the documentary has an essential message in addition to providing information. Coon and Kozak also want to teach audiences that you can’t measure failure for the rest of your life. A Disturbance in the Force attempts to show that you should embrace your failures and not deny their existence. Aside from our mistakes being a powerful learning tool, the documentary highlights that people’s perspectives change, including how they interpret things. Over forty years later, everything from South Park and The Big Bang Theory to The Mandalorian and Guardians of the Galaxy references the Holiday Special. Despite the special’s outlandish nature, some people love it and consider it an integral part of their childhood.
Overall, A Disturbance in the Force is a documentary that informs and teaches. Most diehard fans may learn something new while watching the documentary. If nothing else, it teaches that there’s something to learn from one’s failures, including joy. There’s plenty in A Disturbance in the Force that will satisfy casual and hardcore fans alike. And maybe, just maybe, we can appreciate the absurdity that is The Star Wars Holiday Special.
Rating: 4/5 atoms
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