Our reviewer in Tribeca…a talk with George Lucas

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Maysa Moncao has been hitting the film festival circuit hard, this time at Tribeca. She sends back this account of an interview with Star Wars genius George Lucas. Check out her LinkedIn profile for more and contact details.

Every good film festival promotes meetings and talks with filmmakers and people from the industry. At Tribeca, I had the chance to talk to George Lucas, Spike Lee and 2 guys who have been composing the soundtracks for the Coen Brothers for almost 20 years.

A day after the launch of the teaser trailer of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Lucas confesses that he has never been so anxious as now he is. The reason for it is that this time he didn’t take part in the creative process:

“To tell you the truth”, Lucas begins, “Star Wars is a silent movie. The cuts are every 12 frames. The emotion is genuine and raw, primitive. The dialogue is not important, but the music is”.

And here I learn the basic receipt for a sci-fi massive success. Well, Alfonso Cuarón learnt it too and did Gravity.

George tells me that at 20 he wanted to be a race pilot simply because he likes speed. He then fancied photography, but he found out that there was no University course on that, but only cinematography. He directed his first shorts while in College in San Francisco and they were very experimental:

“I did an animation called Clouds. I grew up in San Francisco and I wanted to make a movie about the desert.”

It was Frances Ford Coppola who convinced him to give up experimental shorts and shoot a comedy. American Graffiti was a hit and became a cult movie. (By the way if you are in London, Prince Charles Cinema will show it on 22nd June).

Again Lucas was not totally convinced that he was going the right way. It was not what he really wanted to do. But still, he shot Star Wars:

“When I showed the first version to people from the studio, nobody liked it. Not even my friends Coppola and Brian De Palma. Marty (Scorsese) enjoyed it very much and said it would be a huge success, but I did not care much. I sent it to the distributors and travelled to Hawaii. Then suddenly, as I was spending my days on a sofa, I had a call. ‘Turn on the TV now.’ And everyone was talking about me and the weekend blockbuster.”

As we all know now, Lucas and Spielberg changed the course of North American movie history, because they invested in teenagers, who consume not only the movies, but also toys, VHS and (later) DVDs and Blu-Rays. This teen audience is faithful. And now they are in their 40s, still buying popcorn, and light sabres, and taking their kids to Madame Tussaud’s, where a new room dedicated to Star Wars is now open.

Currently retired, I guess Lucas is enjoying his heritage. He does not seem to be the guy who controls his art and products with an iron fist, but ultimately lets the new generation run free with his creation. He is now on vacation.

Maysa Moncao

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