Lucas, George

Lucas, George
born May 14, 1944, Modesto, Calif., U.S.

Film director and producer.

He studied filmmaking at the University of Southern California. His first feature film, THX 1138 (1971), was followed by the surprise success American Graffiti (1973). He wrote and directed the immensely popular science-fiction movie Star Wars (1977), which made innovative use of computerized special effects. He formed the production company Lucasfilms (1978), its special-effects division Industrial Light and Magic, and produced the Star Wars sequels, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and The Return of the Jedi (1993), as well as Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and its sequels. He returned to directing with the first Star Wars "prequel," The Phantom Menace (1999), which was followed by other films in the series.

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▪ American film director and producer
born May 14, 1944, Modesto, California, U.S.
 American motion-picture director, producer, and screenwriter who created several of the most popular films in history.

      Lucas became interested in filmmaking while in high school. He received encouragement from the cinematographer Haskell Wexler and gained admission to the film department of the University of Southern California (B.A., 1966). Lucas's first full-length feature film was THX 1138 (1971), a grim fantasy about a robotized, dehumanized society in the distant future. His second film, American Graffiti (1973), a sympathetic recollection of adolescent American life in the early 1960s, was a surprise success at the box office.

      Lucas spent the next four years writing and then shooting Star Wars (1977), an intergalactic swashbuckler with colourful characters, realistic extraterrestrial settings, and an array of breathtaking special effects. The film was immediately popular and went on to become the largest-selling motion picture in history. Its success spawned a host of other science fiction films using the same newly developed computer-based special-effects technologies that Star Wars had used so effectively. In 1978–79 Lucas formed the production company Lucasfilms, Ltd., which contained a number of divisions, including Industrial Light and Magic, regarded as the most prestigious special-effects workshop in American film.

 Lucas served as executive producer of the other two episodes in the Star Wars saga, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and The Return of the Jedi (1983), and of the popular Indiana Jones series directed by Steven Spielberg (Spielberg, Steven). Working exclusively as a producer throughout the 1980s and most of the '90s, Lucas had a few minor successes (Willow, 1988) and spectacular failures (Howard the Duck, 1986). In 1997 he added new computerized effects to the Star Wars films and reissued them to great acclaim. These films generated interest for one of the most highly anticipated releases of the decade, Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace (1999), the first installment in a prequel trilogy. For this film, which received mixed reviews but reaped enormous profits, Lucas returned to the director's chair for the first time in more than 20 years. He followed it with Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith (2005).

Additional Reading
Dale Pollock, Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas (1983, reprinted 1990).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Lucas,George — Lu·cas (lo͞oʹkəs), George. Born 1944. American film director, producer, and screenwriter best known as a pioneer of special effects, especially in his Star Wars motion picture series, including Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980),… …   Universalium

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