From boy-revelation to Hollywood to one of the most acclaimed creators in the industry, George Lucas - who turns 77 this Friday (14) has a rich trajectory in cinema. Obviously, his greatest contributions were the billionaire universe of 'Star Wars'and the adventures of the archaeologist'Indiana Jones', which he co-produced with his friend Steven Spielberg .;
However, Lucas's last five decades have not been dedicated exclusively to the Skywalker family saga. The filmmaker is also a producer of several films, ranging from historical dramas, animations and even a HQ adaptation of The Marvel movies. With varying degrees of success - or resounding failure.
Created to provide the special effects of 'Star Wars', Industrial Light and Magic has already won 16 Oscar statuettes - including one on its debut in 1997, with 'Episode IV: A New Hope'. Founded as a Lucasfilm division in 1975, the company is a reference in its segment, and provides service to all major studios.
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Graduated in Cinema at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, Lucas produced in 1967 the science fiction short 'Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB', which won the first prize at the National Student Film Festival. This recognition accredited him to direct and release in 1971 his first feature film: a complete version of the short film called 'THX 1138', starring Robert Duvall.
Apart from the 'Star Wars' and 'THX 1138' films (and a dozen shorts and documentaries), Lucas only directed another film: the teen comedy 'Summer Madness' (1973), with Richard Dreyfuss ('Tubarão') and Ron Howard, who at the time was an actor, but would later become the director of 'Apollo 13: From Disaster to Triumph' (1995) and 'Uma Brilliant Mind' (2001). Howard is now recognized worldwide as “the father of Bryce Dallas Howard”.
But if you visit the George Lucas's IMDB page and looking for his work as a director, he could see a huge gap between 1977 and 1999. What did he do for 22 years? He counted money at Rancho Skywalker. Well, that too, but Lucas has always been more prolific as a producer than as a filmmaker.
The opportunity presented itself early on, when he decided to deliver the sequel to 'Star Wars' into the hands of his teacher, Irvin Kershner - a choice that would prove to be very right, with 'Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back' (1980) being considered until today the best of the franchise. Lucas has been executive producer of everything related to 'Star Wars' and 'Indiana Jones' (including films and series) over the years, but that is not our focus here.
Dwarfs and ducks
Perhaps because of his connection with the themes of fantasy and science fiction, George Lucas worked as a product of many films of the genre in the 1980s. The first one was 'Labyrinth, the Magic of Time' (1986), directed by the puppet genius Jim Henson (creator of 'Muppets'), with singer David Bowie and young Jennifer Connelly in the cast.
In the same year, Lucas produced what at the time was considered a failure, but which later brought together a large number of cult fans (but still very bad), 'Howard the Superhero' (1986). This classic of the Afternoon Session - which is no longer shown because it has, among other absurdities, a paw with breasts - is one of the first adaptations of a Marvel comic for the cinema. Long before 'Iron Man' (2008) established the MCU, Howard tried to establish dubious relationships with Lea Thompson (Marty's mother in 'Back to the Future').
Before the end of the decade, Lucas would produce a few more features - with greater success. 'Willow: In the Land of Magic' (1988), directed by his friend Ron Howard, would become a fantasy classic, and will win a sequel on Disney +. The animation 'Em Busca do Vale Encantado' (1988) surfed the popularity of dinosaurs long before 'Jurassic Park' (1994) and thrilled an entire generation. 'Tucker: A Man and His Dream' (1988), the biography of designer Preston Tucker brought together two passions from Lucas: cinema and cars.
In 2012, after the frenzy of directing the prequel to the 'Star Wars' trilogy, the filmmaker tackled another hobby - studying about World War II - with the production of 'Red Tails Squad'. The feature tells the story of the African-American pilots in the Tuskegee training program, who fought on two fronts: against the Nazis and against racism.
Since then, apart from being a credit as an executive producer in the animation 'Magic Strange' (2015), Lucas has basically taken his time counting money at Rancho Skywalker - an amount that grew a lot after the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney. Every now and then he paints on a movie set or 'Star Wars' series, but after so many years he is enjoying a more than deserved retirement.
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