It’s George Lucas‘s birthday! To mark the occasion, here are five films from the acclaimed director. Sure he’s only directed six films in his lifetime, but behind the scenes he’s produced some other great films. Check some of these out!
Star Wars (1977)
It’s Star Wars month here, so of course I had to pick this one. It’s the OG film of the series that started it all and it’s quite possibly the first film I ever loved as a kid. No matter how many times I have seen this movie, I’ll never get sick of it. It’s so oddly dated and timeless at the same time that you just can’t help but get sucked into the world he was creating. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the film.
THX 1138 (1971)
Here we have George’s directorial debut. Set in a dystopian future where the population is controlled through android police and mandatory use of drugs that suppress emotions. Based on his student film Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, that he made four years earlier while attending the USC School of Cinematic Arts. This time around he got a bigger budget and was backed by Francis Ford Coppola. The film stars Robert Duvall and Donald Pleasance and has a score by Lalo Schifrin, which I never knew about the score until just now. THX was a box office failure, but has grown in cult status over the years. It’s pretty difficult to see the original version, but unlike some of his Star Wars edits over the years, the upgrades in FX for this film are a huge improvement. If you haven’t seen this, you should. It’s not like anything else of his.
American Graffiti (1973)
A coming-of-age comedy drama that Coppola asked Lucas to write while he was working on THX 1138 in order to challenge him to create something mainstream audiences would like. So he in turn wrote a film somewhat based on his teenage years of hot rods and hanging with friends in 1960s California. “Cruising was gone, and I felt compelled to document the whole experience and what my generation used as a way of meeting girls.” The film is told in a series of vignettes and tells the story of a group of teenagers and their adventures over the course of a night. Think of it like the original Dazed and Confused. And unlike THX being a financial failure, this film was produced on a $777,000 budget, and has become one of the most profitable films ever. It was even nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Ok this one was NOT directed by Lucas, but he was the producer and the story was written by him. Plus, it was directed by American Graffiti alum Ron Howard. Starring Warwick Davis, Wicket W. Warrick himself and Val Kilmer, it tells the story of a reluctant farmer with the help of a mercenary swordsman to protect a baby from a tyrannical queen who vows to destroy her and take over the world. Lucas conceived the idea for the film in 1972 and convinced Howard to make the film after he was done making Cocoon. Industrial Light & Magic’s visual effects sequences led to a revolutionary breakthrough with digital morphing technology.
Gimme Shelter (1970)
Ok, you may say this is a bit of a stretch, but George Lucas was a camera operator for this documentary about the last weeks of The Rolling Stones‘ 1969 US tour which came to a head in the disastrous Altamont Free Concert. It’s on of the best music documentaries ever made and if you haven’t seen it, you should.
Sadly, Lucas’ camera jammed after shooting about 100 feet of film. None of his footage was incorporated into the final cut but it is still worth the watch.
What are some of your favorite films by George Lucas?