May 19th , 2005 at 12:01 am, it’s quiet and suddenly the sentence “…A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” appears on the screen in blue letters on a black background. Finally the moment has come for the whole story to fall into place. With a trumpet’s blast you hear the familiar sound you have grown so accustomed with. The golden letters shoot away from the screen and the prelude begins to scroll away. As you read you sit back, knowing you have a two hour journey ahead of you. After twenty eight years, the Star Wars saga will finally be completed. The man responsible for all the emotion, all the happiness, and all the amazing special effects is none other than George Lucas, Writer and producer of the Star Wars saga.
The Life of George Lucas began in Modesto, California on May 14, 1944. Lucas was the only son of four children. He grew up on a walnut ranch and his dad, George Lucas Sr., owned and ran a stationary store. His mom, Dorothy Lucas, stayed home as a house wife and raised the four children, George and his three sisters.
Lucas’s education and life growing up was not completely typical to an average teenager. Through out High School, Lucas had decided he would become a professional racecar driver. George Lucas Sr., being the kind of father that completely backs their child’s dream, bought Lucas a Fiat Bianchina. He immediately souped up his new car and began to race it.
During Lucas’s senior year in High School, he got in a terrible accident that had almost left him paralyzed. Suddenly one car wreck took a George Lucas, professional racecar driver to George Lucas, creator and director of Star Wars. After such and accident the reality hit him and he decided against his dream of becoming a race car driver. Lucas was now left without a plan in life. He did not want to take over the stationary store like his father. He was after bigger and better things. Lucas decided that he wanted to become a film maker. Before leaving home and going to college, Lucas went to junior college in his home town, Modesto. When he completed his education at home, he enrolled at the University of Southern California Film School. As a student at U.S.C., he created several films including THX-1138 (Electronic Labyrinth).
With his short film THX-1138, Lucas got the break he needed to jump start his career in movie making. THX-1138 4EB (Electronic Labyrinth) won first prize at the 1967-1968 National Student Film Festival. Lucas was awarded with a scholarship from Warner Brothers to observe the making of Finian’s Rainbow, which was being directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
While observing the filming of Finian’s Rainbow, Lucas and Coppola became good friends. The two friends shared a common vision of starting an independent film production company where a community of writers, producers, and directors could share ideas.(achievement.org) Since they both shared the same vision, Lucas and Coppola formed the independent film production company American Zeotrope in 1969. The duo’s first production was Lucas’s full length version of his student film THX-1138. After the production of THX-1138, Lucas decided he would leave Coppola and form his own film production company. So, during the time that Coppola was in the making of The Godfather, Lucas departed American Zeotrope and created his own company called Lucasfilm Ltd.
With Lucas’s newly founded company, Lucasfilm Ltd., he had what he needed to start creating more films. In 1973, Lucas released American Graffiti, a film that he co-
wrote and directed. American Graffiti was the first film of its kind to tell multiple stories through interweaving narratives backed by a soundtrack of contemporary music.(Starwars.com) American Graffiti won the Golden Globe award and two other awards; the New York Film Critic’s Award and the National Society of Film Critic’s Award. The movie was also nominated for five Academy Awards. Although this was a huge success for George Lucas and his company Lucasfilm Ltd., American Graffiti’s success could not even compare to what was in Lucas’s near future.
In 1973 and 1974, Lucas began writing the screenplay for his next film. Inspired by Flash Gordon and Planet of the Apes, Lucas’s next movie would be a science fiction film. When Lucas finished writing his script, all he had to do was find an agency to produce it. Every place Lucas had taken his script to, it was turned down. Their reason for turning him down was, “no one would like to see it.”(imdb.com) Finally, Lucas was able to get 20th Century Fox to go ahead with the script, even though they believed it would be a let down. Lucas forgo his director salary in exchange for 40% of the films box office and he took all merchandizing rights, a very smart move on his behalf.
The year 1977 had production companies all over kicking themselves for not signing this movie that “no one would want to see.” Star Wars - A New Hope broke all box office records and went on to win 7 Academy Awards. Star Wars became the highest grossing movie of it’s time and is still considered to be one of the highest grossing movies today.
Star Wars, although being a science fiction movie, still served a hidden purpose to the public. Star Wars was a way to bring back the good in things that Lucas believed
people had lost in the 70’s. It was not to force any sort of religion upon anyone, In Star Wars, there was no God. The goal was to remind everyone that good would always conquer evil. The “ever-present force” is what took place of whatever people would like to believe in as their god.
In order for Lucas to mold Star Wars from his dream to a reality, he needed assistance on special effects and sound. Refusing to accept the limitations of filmmaking at the time, Lucas created his own visual effects company, Industrial Light & Magic, to deliver the more than 300 shots required to make his vision a reality.(Starwars.com) Star Wars, being a movie that required lots of special effects, forced Lucas and his crew to learn and invent different techniques to make the movie look semi realistic. Along with Industrial Light and Magic, Lucas also created his own company for sound, called Sprocket Systems, which today is known as Skywalker Sound.
It was three years after A New Hope was released and it was time for Lucas’s second movie in the star wars saga to debut. In 1980, Star Wars-The Empire Strikes Back was released. Although most don’t consider it to be much of a movie without A New Hope, it is still considered to be the superior of the three original films. The special effects that were used in The Empire Strikes Back were much more advanced than A New Hope, even though only three years had passed between the two movies. The Empire Strikes Back was also noted for successfully leading the fans into the big ending that was to come with the next film in the star wars trilogy. For these reasons, The Empire Strikes back won three academy awards and made $141,672,000, the highest profit film of 1980.
Another three years had passed and once again fans were lined up at the theaters to finally see the grand ending they had all been waiting for. 1983, Return of the Jedi was released. It made $169,193,000 in the box office and got 4 academy award nominations. It was originally titled, Star Wars-Revenge of the Jedi, but it was changed from Revenge to Return because a Jedi would not seek revenge. Although written by Lucas, he did not want to direct it. The job was offered to the famous director David Lynch, who turned it down saying it was too much of a “Lucas thing.” The movie brought so much anticipation that in order to keep fans away from the set, it was filmed under the phony name, “Blue Harvest.”
George Lucas also co-wrote and executively produced the Indiana Jones series consisting of Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, Indiana Jones and the Temple of doom in 1984 and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989. The trilogy won eight academy awards and in 2006 a fourth Indiana Jones is supposed to be released.
Fourteen years had passed since Lucas had released Return of the Jedi and it was time to let remind the public of Star Wars. Once again, the trilogy was released in theaters. This time, Lucas had used modern technology and advances in special effects to digitally re-master his movies and add scenes to the movies for a better picture quality and a better viewer experience. The reason for the re-release of the re-mastered movies was to add to the effect of what Lucas had up his sleeve for two years later. At the time, Lucas told Time Magazine: "I look upon the three Star Wars films as chapters in one book. Now the book is finished and I have to put it on the shelf." And that "book" has remained on the shelf until 1999.(Tribute.ca)
In 1999, after sixteen years of waiting, the story finally began to fall into place. Star Wars Episode I-The Phantom Menace was released and yet again, Star Wars fans all over the world lined up at the movie theaters to witness the first episode in the Star Wars saga that began it all. Although many fans would argue that it is more directed to a child audience, the film still became the top box office hit of 1999 and it was nominated for an academy award.
Like The Empire Strikes Back, Attack of the Clones begins to tie everything together. While people watch it, there is the “oh, that is what happened” thoughts running through their minds. It also is very successful in building into Episode III. Although Lucas let some information go with Attack of the Clones, he still leaves fans questioning and wondering just how everything will be pieced and hymned together with one single movie.
In less than two months, the highest anticipated of all the Star Wars films will be released. Star Wars Episode III-Revenge of the Sith is to be released on Maybe 19, 2005. One last time George Lucas will bring Star Wars fans, young and old together, to movie theaters all over the world so they can witness the ending that started it all.
Written and designed by, Robin Verhasselt.