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.