© Lucasfilm Ltd.
The extraordinary commercial success of films produced or directed by George Lucas would almost forget his undeniable talent as a filmmaker.
Born in 1944, it is possible that George Lucas has reached the pinnacle of his meteoric career in 1981. At 37, he had already made three remarkable films: THX1138, American Graffiti and Star Wars, and produced The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark which he is the creator.
While studying film at the University of Southern California (USC), he already expresses his love for cars, speed and science fiction in several short films including the famous THX 1138:4 EB, who made his reputation as a promising director, and became the basis for his first feature film.
Made with a very small budget, THX1138 is in many ways a “tour de force". A dark and intelligent fiction film, set in a dehumanized world that the main character named THX1138 is trying to escape. It allows Lucas to apply his methods of total cinema, not abandoning any of the tools that a filmmaker has, to give the illusion that means are more important, and immerse viewers in his story, beginning with sound, music and of course editing. The film was a commercial failure from which Lucas will draw many lessons. That will inspire his second film, American Graffiti, with all the warmth, tenderness and humor that was missing from his previous film (since it was precisely the subject). The great success of American Graffiti allows Lucas to convince 20th Century Fox to produce his next film, a new sci-fi picture in the vein of Flash Gordon
This is an opportunity for George Lucas to confirm that he is first a storyteller. If writing screenplay is a long and painful excercise for him, he deserves during the creation of Star Wars, from 1973 to 1976, to return to work as many times as necessary until that the end result is at the height of his ambition. The screenplay also shows a special and rare talent that the author shares with the greatest science fiction writers: to name people and places with original and unforgettable names.
The film combines great visual inventiveness, both in terms of design as special effects, a classic story - seemingly simple - which is as much a fairy tale as a Space Opera. The influences are many and assumed but the end result, both new and familiar, is of undeniable originality. There is a before and after Star Wars in movie history and for the audience.
George Lucas produced two sequels: The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 (the best!) and Return of the Jedi three years later and puts his saga on hold, preferring to devote his time to the adventures of a hero named Indiana Jones.
Between 1999 and 2005, he returned to directing after twenty-two years of absence, with three new Star Wars prequels episodes. If success was at the “rendez-vous", critics and the fans has been more mixed. The future will tell what to retain from these new films.
George Lucas' taste for film techniques and his willingness to push the boundaries of special effects also enable him to maintain an ambiguous relationship with his past work, as new technologies allow him to edit his films constantly at the risk of losing the original magic and alienate his fans.
Young rebel and independent filmmaker, success may be imposed on a destiny that George Lucas would not have chosen. In a way, it makes him a real life character at least as interesting as his most extraordinary fictional one.