A Disturbance In The Force is an entertaining documentary that deeply delves into television’s greatest disaster.
Star Wars is a unique beast of a franchise. Created by George Lucas, the IP has become a tale of one man’s creation ultimately becoming a mega multimedia franchise with more cooks in the kitchen than ever. Since 2012, Disney has become the home for all things Star Wars with television shows and many other projects from many different creators. However, it wasn’t always like this. When we weren’t given shows like The Mandalorian or Andor, we got something else truly unique. A Disturbance In The Force is a documentary that tells the story of one of television’s greatest failures in the form of The Star Wars Holiday Special.
A Disturbance In The Force recounts the making of The Star Wars Holiday Special and its impact over the past 40 years of the franchise’s success. Told through multiple talking-head interviews and archive footage, the documentary dives deep into a strange part of television history as well as examining the birth of our complicated relationship with crafting pop culture content for our most beloved franchises.
When we think of franchises, we think of these unique beasts that consistently churn out content that seeks to maximise profit in any possible fashion. In the 70s, merchandise was king. Toys, books and other promotional materials all become pieces of the wide puzzle of capitalism and IP control. Star Wars, over the 45+ year history of its dominance in media, has been an incredibly influential IP that continues to shape the idea of blockbusters today. While the 70s may not have reached the technological advances of streaming services yet, television dominated many people’s recreational time.
A Disturbance In The Force, from the outset, is eager to truly dive into the beginnings of the Star Wars pop culture zeitgeist and just how uniquely strange it was. After all, we truly did not have a beast like Star Wars before. When pop culture dives into a whole new corner of mainstream success, it opens the door for some truly experimental and strange pieces of media.
As much as A Disturbance In The Force is about The Star Wars Holiday Special and the unique disaster that it was, it also acts as a reflective piece on 70s television and fandom as a whole. At this stage in history, television had cemented itself in many people’s homes. However, it still existed as a very new form of media for consumers and because of this, television took some bold swings. Mildly successful but ultimately forgotten personalities would be given primetime shows and many other cheaply produced programmes would be given maximum airtime but of course, Star Wars was worth more than that.
A Disturbance In The Force is quick to showcase not just the story of how the special was made within the chaotic television space but also how many of the franchise’s fans were absorbed by its curiosity. The special may have been a disaster with many cooks in the kitchen misunderstanding what fans wanted to see. However, the disastrous production led to the foundation of a complicated but ultimately bright legacy. Now, The Star Wars Holiday Special is a rite of passage for true fans of the franchise and as it approaches its 50th anniversary, it’s now celebrated for being such a special oddity.
A Disturbance In The Force is a fun documentary that dives deep into a surreal piece of history from one of Hollywood’s most successful IPs. While it may suffer from a bland presentation at times due to an overreliance on its talking-head interviews, you can’t deny just how fascinating the subject matter is at its core. The insights provided here by both fans and the crew behind the special are incredibly interesting and sometimes, that’s just enough for a film like this. Star Wars will likely never make something this strange ever again but the fact that the franchise even got to have this moment is enough to keep the memory alive. Thankfully, A Disturbance In The Force provides this and shows just how much of a special piece of television history this truly was.
A Disturbance In The Force will be released on digital and on demand on December 5, 2023.