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 Who Lives In The Star Wars Galaxy? 
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Post Who Lives In The Star Wars Galaxy?
Title: Who Lives In The Star Wars Galaxy?

Author: Stephen Schochet


It's hard to say where old Hollywood ended and new Hollywood
began. People in the industry don't think of themselves as
making history, they are just going to work. But the day in 1967
that Jack Warner cleaned out his desk at Warner Bros. studio,
George Lucas and Frances Ford Coppola arrived on the lot.

The two young filmmakers were very different in demeanor.
Coppola a legend at UCLA film school was 27, a loud boisterous
mixture of mogul and marxist, who prided himself in dressing
like Fidel Castro. He impressed film executives at first with
his bravado, but later would upset them with his reckless
overspending. Five years younger, Lucas, who went to USC, was
quiet and introspective. The only guys at Warners who were below
30 and wore beards, they hit it off instantly with Coppola
taking the mentor role. Lucas had made a thirteen minute science
fiction film project called THX 1138, a dark look at a computer
controlled future. Coppola convinced his protégé to extend it
into a full-length film and talked Warner Bros. into financing

Over the next few months the wily Coppola played both sides.
"I'm telling you this kid Lucas is making a great film." Coppola
told the Warner brass. "Don't put pressure on yourself, they
don't expect anything," He reassured Lucas. When they saw the
completed THX 1138 the Suits were furious. "Francis what is
this?" "I don't know, I've never seen it." replied the
bewildered producer. To Lucas's dismay the studio cut out parts
from THX 1138 before they released it. "They're cutting the
fingers off my baby."

THX failed at the box office and Coppola was held financially
liable for $300,000, but the two filmmakers were given another
chance to make a low budget movie at Universal. Impressed by the
success of Easy Rider (1969) the old guard at the studio was
reaching out to new talent, once again Coppola would produce and
Lucas would direct. Lucas was encouraged by his wife Marsha to
make the second project more positive. At USC he had studied
anthropology learning that the American male has a unique mating
ritual, he drives around in cars trying to pick up girls. Lucas
combined this observation, with his own love of classic cars,
his small town upbringing in Modesto, CA and his appreciation
for top 40 songs played on the radio by disc jockeys like
Wolfman Jack. The result: American Graffiti.

The now beloved film got off to a rocky start. It was previewed
in San Francisco to young crowd who adored it. After the show
Lucas and Coppola waited for the Universal executives to come
and congratulate them. Instead they were shocked by angry
accusations that they had planted their friends in the crowd and
American Graffiti was not releasable. True to their personas
Coppola argued and Lucas stood quiet. Once again George saw his
film taken away and cut up by what was in his view an
interfering, know nothing studio. But there was one difference
between THX-1138 and Graffiti; Graffiti was a hit, a highly
profitable film that made Lucas a millionaire.

Now Lucas decided to return to science fiction, this time
wanting to do a more positive story than THX. After failing to
acquire the rights to Flash Gordon, he sat down to write his own
screenplay. Influenced by the writings of Carlos Castaneda and
the mythology of King Arthur, he based the characters on
familiar figures. Luke Skywalker's personality came from George
Lucas himself, young, adventurous, and quiet from a small town,
with a love of racing cars, or in this case space pods. Han Solo
was based on . . . Francis Ford Coppola. He was loud, cocky,
reckless, always in debt, going through a love-hate relationship
with the younger Skywalker. And the empire was actually the
Hollywood studios. George Lucas striving for his creative
freedom as a filmmaker would parallel Luke Skywalker's journey
to win liberty from the empire, and both would achieve it thanks
to Star Wars.

About the author:
Stephen Schochet is the author and narrator of the audiobooks
"Fascinating Walt Disney" and "Tales Of Hollywood". The Saint
Louis Post Dispatch says," these two elaborate productions are
exceptionally entertaining." Hear realaudio samples of these
great, unique gifts at

This article was posted by permission.

Thu Jul 12, 2007 3:58 pm
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