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This review is from: George Lucas (Masters of Cinema) (Paperback)
This chapter in the Masters of Cinema is a short, picture rich account of George Lucas's career to date. I read it cover to cover in an afternoon, as I bought it for my 12 year old son, as an example of biography. It fails on that account - Lucas as a person is only covered superficially, it is his films that are front and centre. Karina Longworth writes well and is not averse to giving her opinion about her subject. It is pretty caustic at times, especially about his relationship with Francis Coppola and her assessment of Episodes 1-3 of Star Wars.
Lucas emerges as a giant- his vision, technical ability, tenacity, willingness to change - and a dwarf - his lack of education, inability to write a decent screenplay, his physical weakness, his overwhelming ego. Of course, everybody has two sides to them - but Lucas is a man with a polarising CV beyond most. Having failed with his pet project, THX1138, he learned his lesson quickly - film in America is commerce first. His auteur instincts, so to the fore in his first feature, slipped into second place behind his drive to make money and control everything. He uses his extraordinary visual panache, his childlike wonder, his huge ambition - to make Star Wars, easily the most impressive of his accomplishments.
To Longworth, the original trilogy is a tremendous feat, marred by Lucas's perfectionism and ego, but the more recent 'pre-quils' are overblown, ham-fisted efforts. I take a more nuanced view. I think Lucas used unknown, inexpensive actors for both, and spent the money on the visuals and effects. I think the story of the entire Star Wars is much bigger and better than the original trilogy. Star Wars is the grand tragedy of Anakin Skywalker, going from his discovery, rise, fall, to his eventual redemption in Return of the Jedi. For me, Hayden Christianson is no worse an actor than Mark Hamill. Natalie Portman is better Carrie Fisher, and the effects of the latter three films, infinitely better than the orginal three, CGI and all.
Lucas is a cinema great, flaws and all, and this introduction to him is well worth reading.