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George Lucas: A Biography [Hardcover]

John Baxter
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 Sep 1999

The first major biography (since 1983) of the great movie mogul George Lucas, whose marketing techniques have transformed the film business. His new Star Wars trilogy is due to open in 1999.

George Lucas is one of the most innovative bigtime players on the movie scene. His three Star Wars films and the trio featuring the action hero Indiana Jones (all six of which Lucas conceived, produced and co-wrote) comprise the most popular group of films ever made. To finance them, he masterminded a revolutionary redrawing of the financial agreements under which films were produced in Hollywood, snatching away control of funding, intellectual content and the distribution of profits from studios, and placing them in the hands of the film-makers themselves.

Yet Lucas remains (like Stanley Kubrick, the subject of John Baxter’s recent biography) an enigma and a recluse. He has specially built the Skywalker Ranch a long way from Hollywood – a Victorian village community in a redwood forest where he and his friends can work in splendid isolation, free of studio pressure but with the highest technology.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Entertainment; First Edition edition (20 Sep 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0002570092
  • ISBN-13: 978-0002570091
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.7 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,275,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Among the wave of film directors who brought fresh blood and maverick sensibilities to southern California in the early 1960s--including Francis Ford Coppola, John Milius, Brian DePalma, and Martin Scorsese--none could have seemed less likely than George Lucas, the short, painfully shy car nerd from Modesto, California. And yet, in a mere four appearances behind the camera over 20 years, he managed to change Hollywood and fundamentally alter the culture. In this lively and informative biography, John Baxter weaves interviews with Modesto townies and Lucas cronies into a portrait of the man as an artistically gifted loner with a grocer's feeling for budgets--an important director who was also unmanned by directing and a self-effacing man whose notes for Star Wars reveal an ambition to make an American epic on the scale of Kurosawa's samurai stories. Baxter skilfully shades in Lucas's emotionally straitened adolescence, his lack-of-anything-better-to-do enrolment in USC's film school, and his relationship with Coppola, whose operatic manoeuvrings made the small, European-ish American Graffiti possible, even as his flamboyance estranged the two. Baxter also takes Lucas to task--Lucas lied about losing his virginity in the back seat of a car, he argues--but by the end the author has been won over, appreciating Lucas's films less than he admires the basic goodness and integrity of the man who put up money for Kurosawa's Ran and Coppola's Tucker, for no other reason than because he felt that small-town boy's sense of debt to his mentors. --Lyall Bush

From the Back Cover

George Lucas is one of the most innovative bigtime players on the movie scene. His three 'Star Wars' films and the trio featuring the action hero Indiana Jones (all six of which Lucas conceived, produced and co-wrote) comprise the most popular group of films ever made. To finance them, he masterminded a revolutionary redrawing of the financial agreements under which films were produced in Hollywood, snatching away control of funding, intellectual content and the distribution of profits from studios, and placing them in the hands of the film-makers themselves.

Yet Lucas remains (like Stanley Kubrick, the subject of John Baxter’s recent biography) an enigma and a recluse. He has specially built the Skywalker Ranch a long way from Hollywood – a Victorian village community in a redwood forest where he and his friends can work in splendid isolation, free of studio pressure but with the highest technology.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
On buying this book I dubious that it would be one of those biographies that continually praise and patronises the celebrity, but not so. This follows George Lucas from his youth to his Last project , The first star wars film. Warts and all, tells of his strict upbringing by a father who wanted him to inherit the family business rather than pursue his love of films, his rivalry with Francis Ford Coppolla, collaborations with Stephen Spielberg, and his sometimes stormy relationship with his wife Marcia, who it is said would have made a brilliant film director if she had made the step from brilliant film editor to film director. This book will inevitably be read by people who just want to read about the Star wars films. But to do so would be a huge mistake, missing out on so much. This is one fine film biography that stands out from the usual bunch. So much so , i read it in one sitting. A hugely addicitve read, leaving you with more admiration for the man that gave us Star Wars, arguably the film that changed the face of cinema history, but also came from a man that has directed fewer films than most directors have in making their mark on the history of cinema.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough review of a difficult man 10 July 2013
Format:Paperback
I read this book because I knew nothing about Lucas and often got him mixed up with Spielberg - and because I love reading about the cinema anyway. I came away with a very firm picture of a difficult man, who I will never mix up with anyone else again.
One thing stood out above all. His difficulties with school work, especially reading; his inability to relate to others - he was a film director who couldn't communicate with actors, and used to leave notes about what he wanted to say rather than risk speaking to someone (rather like a lion tamer who was afraid to go into the cage and confront the big cats); his obsession with machines (especially cars) that made him produce films about things rather than people, with effects being placed above characterisation; the fact that his marriage broke down because he couldn't see that his wife wanted more than an occasional postcard or a brief chat when they met to discuss the film they were co-producing together (and the fact that he was dumbfounded when she left him, despite having ample warning that she was terribly unhappy and tried repeatedly to say so), and his total obstinacy when dealing with anyone creative (insisting that everyone agreed with him and not tolerating argument or discussion for any reason) all point to an indication that he might well have some form of autism, albeit of as very high-functioning kind. This may be totally wrong, of course, as all sorts of tycoon types exhibit similar behaviour, but seen in the context of his life story it make a lot of sense.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars George Lucas: A Biography 28 Dec 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
George Lucas transformed world cinema with cult classics: Stars Wars and Indiana Jones. He earns a staggering fortune with the Lucas production company. The Industrial Ligths and Magic revolutionised special effects to a new level in the 80's, but no longer a dominating force as it faces stiff competition with new techniques pioneered. He has dedicated the whole life to the ranch. The ranch has undergone enomorous changes. He is proud to owner of the ranch.

What inspired Lucas into film-making? The book journeys to Lucas's childhood in a typical suburban area in North California. The introverted and reserved Lucas developed a fascination with models and cars. The obsession with cars during his teenage years led to the central theme as the debut movie "American Graffiti". How did the cult classic Stars Wars become a phenomenal success? Its legacy continues to live on. The book takes a deep look into the preliminary stages of the epic adventure. It is fascinating area to learn about, as you learn about movie magic. In addition, the book reviews other film projects of Lucas. The Stars Wars aspect fascinated me the most, as I share the experience like many others of watching the movie as a kid.

The book does not just focus on Lucas highly successful career as a film-maker. It paints a picture of Lucas as an individual. The biography is well-researched, with insightful and expert commentary on the movie business dating back to the 70's. The decade witnessed an individual. He contributed to transforming the world of cinema making, but remains uncomfortable in the media limelight. Lucas rarely provides interviews.

The biography is beautifully written and I would recommend to anyone who is an avid fan of Lucas. I have onecriticism reserved about the biography.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than just Star Wars .. read it and find out 26 Mar 2002
Format:Paperback
Zoom, zoom, pow... The story of the man that bought you Star Wars trilogy. This is a really good book and should be read by any one interested in George Lucas. I found the book provided a good insight about him, his relationship with Marcia his wife and the strain and stresses of an up and coming director. The book is well balanced providing the right level of information on George, his family his films and about Hollywood. There are some interesting tie-ins with other Hollywood directors such as Francis Coppola and Steven Spielberg. I though the book was going to be heavily weighted towards Star Wars, but was pleasantly surprised that it covered his whole career in a levelled way. I'd recommend this book.
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