George Lucas: The Early Years
Most know him as the man behind the Star Wars franchise, but his early works may come as a surprise.
When you say the words “George Lucas” to a movie fan, you’ll likely hear a variety of responses – many of them passionate. Some may focus on his business acumen and numerous technological contributions to the cinematic medium. Others might say that he showed promise as a filmmaker early on, but sold out to Hollywood. A vocal majority might maintain that he ruined their childhood with the Star Wars prequels. George Lucas, the man behind the Star Wars myth, is many things but we rarely talk about him as an artist. When we talk about George Lucas, we may talk about money, product, and franchises – not necessarily style, form, or influences. It may come as a surprise, then, that Lucas’ early work was at the frontier of film from experimenting with editing and abstraction. This essay investigates Lucas’ early years, from his short films at the University of Southern California to his collaborations with other filmmakers, up to his first feature film, the cold and chilling dystopian thriller THX 1138. Along the way, you just might find that Lucas is more of an artist than you initially thought.