Baxter, John George Lucas: A Biography

ISBN 13: 9780006530817

George Lucas: A Biography

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9780006530817: George Lucas: A Biography

The first major biography (since 1983) of the great movie mogul George Lucas, whose marketing techniques have transformed the film business. His fourth Star Wars film, The Phantom Menace, released in 1999, was perhaps the most eagerly awaited cinematic event of all time.

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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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:

Despite his frank dislike of directing, George Lucas has made himself one of the most important figures in the history of film-making. His production company, Lucasfilm, is phenomenally successful, and his Industrial Light and Magic is the finest special effects studio in the world.

Yet, for all his achievements, Lucas remains an elusive, almost anonymous figure, shunning the limelight and spending much of his time on his isolated Skywalker Ranch complex in northern California. Now John Baxter, acclaimed biographer of Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick and Woody Allen, sheds new light on the originator of the 'New Hollywood.', tracing his small-town origins in Modesto, California (brilliantly recreated in his first major film as director, American Graffiti) and his subsequent phenomenal success with 'Star Wars', its successors and the tree 'Indana Jones' films. Together, these comprise the most popular group of films ever made.

John Baxter has compiled the most complete portrait to date of a man who has done as much to shape popular culture as anyone alive.

'This book is undoubtedly the best that could be written on the inventor of Luke Skywalker, the Force and trans-global product merchandising.'
NIGEL ANDREWS 'Finacial Times'

'Baxter reveals in his mastery of the anecdotal stuff that shows he has researched his subject as fastidiously as ever.'
BIRMINGTON POST

'Detailed and informative.'
IRISH INDEPENDENT

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