A Disturbance in the Force (2023) [Fantasia Film Festival 2023]

When I think about it, it’s pretty shocking that no one has made a movie about “The Star Wars Holiday Special” yet. It’s an untapped corner of the “Star Wars” fandom that has remained mainly a running joke and mythical hurdle a fan must endure as a rite of passage. Director Jeremy Coon and Steve Cozak team up to deliver what is one of the breeziest, interesting and most entertaining “Star Wars” documentaries of all time. Likely to be regard as a classic fandom documentary, “A Disturbance in the Force” chronicles the making of “Star Wars” and how the pop culture climate took a fairly straight faced science fiction adventure movie and transformed it in to a disco variety show.

The transformation is not as inexplicable as one would think as the movie does wisely connect the dots. “A Disturbance in the Force” manages to swiftly bring us to the shocking success of “Star Wars” in the box office, then introduces us to the realm of television in the 1970’s and what was considered popular, and then perfectly justifies why—at the time—a “Star Wars” Holiday Special was a great idea. Reasonably the movie does explain that the 1979 “Holiday Special” really does take off from “A New Hope,” as audiences hadn’t actually been familiar with the wider scope of Lucas’s universe. Not to mention that newly born “Star Wars” fans were starving for more content.

The TV special was intended as a way to give fans more of this world while, admittedly, squeezing more money out of the product. There are also looks back at Harvey Korman’s odd cooking segment, the intent to cast Cher for a guest appearance, and the potential story line of Han Solo being in a romantic relationship with a Wookie. Although we never get a straight from the horse’s mouth recollection, the pair of directors do a great job filling the gaps. There are clips from Conan O’Brien, and “The Big Bang Theory,” and vintage interviews with stars Bea Arthur and Harvey Korman. Furthermore there are interviews with a ton of surviving crew members that worked on the special including Bob Mackie, Steve Binder, and Bruce Vilanche, respectively.

Of course there are also fan testimonials from folks like Seth Green, Weird Al, Donny Osmond, and Paul Scheer, respectively. “A Disturbance in the Force” is a fantastic documentary, one that celebrates the sheer awfulness of The “Star Wars Holiday Special” while also perfectly explaining why it not only made sense at the time, but also kind of helped increasing the popularity and appeal of the movie series in the long run. I emphatically recommend it for any self respecting “Star Wars” fanatic.

This year the Fantasia International Film Festival runs in Montreal from July 20th to August 9th.