George W. Lucas was raised in a walnut ranch in Modesto California in 1944. While attending Downey High, he had a love for cars. He planned to become a professional racecar driver. However, just after his high school graduation, Lucas was involved in a terrible car accident that caused minor fractures & his lungs to hemorrhage. That accident crushed his dreams of ever becoming a professional racecar driver. The accident changed his view on life. He decided to attend Modesto Junior College before enrolling in the University of Southern California film school.
As a film school student, he made several short films including THX-1138. A futuristic Sci-fi story that’s set in the 25th century, about a man & a woman who rebel against their rigidly controlled society. This film went on to win 1st prize at the 1967-68 National Student Film Festival. In 1967, he was awarded a scholarship by Warner Bros. to observe the making of “Finian’s Rainbow” which was being directed by Francis Ford Coppola. This is where Lucas & Coppola began the friendship that would later on form a company called American Zoetrope in 1969. The company’s first project was a full-length adaptation of Lucas’ THX 1138. Lucas would then go on to start his own company called Lucasfilm Ltd.
With Lucasfilm, his first project was a movie called American Graffiti (1973). American Graffiti was a movie where Lucas’ love for cars would shine & take center stage. A movie about a couple of High School grads, spending a final night cruising the strip with their friends before they go off to college. American Graffiti won a Golden Globe & garnered 5 Academy Award nominations. This gave him immediate credibility to start his most famous film of his career. From 1973 to 1974, he began writing the screenplay for what was known at the time as The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller which later became, Star Wars: A New Hope.
The inspiration from the film came from Flash Gordon & also The Planet of the Apes. In 1973, after Lucas’ idea of Star Wars was turned down by several studios, 20th Century Fox finally gave him a chance. Lucas began to write a full script of his synopsis in 1974. In this script he reintroduced the Jedi, which had been absent in his previous treatment, as well as their enemies, the Sith. He changed the protagonist, who had been an experienced General in the treatment, to an adolescent boy & he shifted the General into a supporting role as a member of a family of dwarfs. Lucas envisioned the Corellian smuggler, Han Solo, as a large, green-skinned monster with gills, which would turn out to be Greedo, whom Han would shoot in the Mos Eisley Cantina when we first meet his character. Han’s co-pilot Chewbacca, was based on Lucas’ Alaskan Malamute dog, Indiana. Which acted as Lucas’ “co-pilot” by often seating in the passenger seat of his car. In 1975, Lucas established ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) to produce the visual effects needed for the film. Another company called Sprocket Systems was established to edit & mix Star Wars & later became known as Skywalker Sound. Star Wars: A New Hope, was released in May of 1977. It went on to break all box-office records & earned 7 Academy Awards. It was a true “blockbuster”. Lucas then of course, went on to conclude the saga with sequels & prequels to the film. Lucas along with Lucasarts, also went on to take part in films like the Indiana Jones series, Howard the Duck (1986), Labyrinth (1986), Willow (1988), Hook (1991), & Beverly Hills Cop III (1994), amongst many more films.
The creative mind of Lucas didn’t just stop there. Lucas revolutionized movie theaters with the THX system which was created to maintain the highest quality standards in motion picture viewing. He also built on the Star Wars brand with the Star Wars expanded universe & LucasArts, along with the merchandise of Star Wars which is some of the most collected & most wanted merchandise in the world. Star Wars merchandise includes anything from toys & video games to cereal boxes & soda cans.
In October of 2012, Lucas sold the rights of Star Wars & everything Star Wars related, to Disney (which also owns Pixar & Marvel). Disney right away announced a new Star Wars trilogy to start in 2015. The first of the films already has the cast of the original trilogy to reprise their roles & solo character spin-off movies are also in the works.
Lucas is not only a director, a producer & a story teller but is also an innovator & an inventor. Even as he discusses his retirement, George Lucas continues his legacy as he is currently working on opening a museum in San Francisco California for cultural arts. George Lucas is a genius in his own right & with his highly imaginative mind, has brought the world a new hope, for generations to come.