George Lucas

George Lucas was raised in Modesto, California. As a film student he made several short films including
THX-1138: 4EB (Electronic Labyrinth) which won first prize at the 1967-68 National Student Film Festival. In 1967 he was awarded a scholarship to observe the making of Finian's Rainbow which was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Lucas and Coppola became good friends and formed a company called American Zoetrope in 1969. The company's first project was Lucas' full-length version of THX 1138. In 1973 Lucas wrote and directed American Graffiti. In 1973 he started writing Star Wars, which was turned down by several studios. Twentieth Century Fox agreed to back the film and Lucas agreed to forgo his directing salary in exchange for 40% of the film's box-office take and all merchandising rights. The rest is history.
We caught up with him as Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith was due to be released on DVD...

Darren Rea: So you've finally finished the Star Wars saga. Are you glad it's all over?

George Lucas: It's nice to know that it is all complete. You know that feeling you get when you're in the middle of a project? You always feel worried that something's going to go wrong, or that you're never going to get it finished? That's the way I've felt for about 20 years now, so it's really great to have all of the episodes complete, and to have the entire story told in a way that I'm very happy about.

It's a story that I put together a long time ago and it feels great to finish it.

DR: Star Wars is set "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away," but how much has the plot been motivated by our world's history?

GL: The underlying themes in Star Wars come from mythology, and if you look through the history of world mythology, you see that there are certain ideas and concepts that keep recurring. Partly, that's because myths do incorporate some historical elements, and history seems always to repeat itself.

Certainly the political aspects of the prequels have a basis in historical events like Caesar taking over the Roman Senate and Napoleon taking over the Republic in France.

I've taken a story that is fictional and comes from my imagination and I've layered on top of it things I've learned about the world and our cultures.

DR: The final Star Wars film is called Revenge of the Sith. Now most people know what a Jedi is, but won't have a clue what a Sith is. What is it?

GL: The Sith are people who are very self-centred and selfish. There used to be many Sith, but because they were corrupted by power and ambition, they killed each other off, so now there are only two - a master and an apprentice.

Sith rely on their passion to get things done. They use their raw emotion, their hatred, their anger, their bitterness - which is the dark side of the Force. The Force is what binds the galaxy together, and it has a good side and a bad side.

The Sith learned how to manipulate both sides of the Force, and then they fell into the trap of being corrupted by the dark side. The Jedi Knights are like marshals in the Wild West. It's their job to make sure everyone is protected, to bring peace. They are the enemy of the Sith, because the Sith want to dominate the galaxy, to control everything, and for a thousand years they have had a plot against the Jedi.

So, in this movie, it is time for them to seek revenge against the Jedi for perceived injustices and to carry out that plot.

DR: When you were writing the script to the first Star Wars movie, did you have any idea you were writing something that would be so successful?

GL: I was excited about it and very proud of it, but I never imagined that it would be successful - let alone turn into the phenomenon that it became.

I had been trying to incorporate mythological motifs into a modern story, and I was excited by that challenge. I just wanted to make a good, fun movie that I would want to see myself.

Sometimes people like the way your movies turn out, sometimes they don't - and I'm just lucky that they liked these.

DR: In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin finally turns to the dark side and becomes Darth Vader. Why does he make such a poor career move?

GL: Anakin wants to be a Jedi, but he cannot let go of the people he loves in order to move forward in his life. The Jedi believe that you don't hold on to things, that you let things pass through you, and that if you can control your greed, you can resolve conflict not only in yourself but in the world around you because you accept the natural course of things. Anakin's inability to follow this basic guideline is at the core of his turn to the dark side.

DR: In every one of the Star Wars movies, the concept of a mentor and a Padawan, or a learner, is very important. Have you had many mentors?

GL: I've had a lot of mentors, especially teachers, who have helped me over the years.

I feel very strongly that the future of the human race lies solely in our ability to use our brain and to learn from those who have come before us. That is a central theme in my movies, because it's important to my life.

I very firmly believe that only through education and knowledge - gaining it, then transferring it on to the next generation so they can use it and improve it - will we survive and grow.

DR: Revenge of the Sith is arguably the darkest in the franchise, is that intentional?

GL: It is, and it has to be because Episode III sets up the hopeful part of the story. It's a dark movie and a bit of a sad movie, but it's also a fun movie that has a lot of action and a lot of excitement. I think it's very different than any of the other movies I've made.

By now, I hope people have come to expect the unexpected from these movies - they are never quite what people are anticipating them to be, and I think that will be the case with Revenge of the Sith.

DR: There have been rumours on and off for years that you may go on to make Episodes VII - IX. Just so that we can put this to rest for once and for all, will you be doing any more Star Wars movies, or is that it now?

GL: This is the last of the Star Wars movies. At the end of Return of the Jedi, the Republic is restored, and Darth Vader is redeemed.

It took a very long time, but Anakin finally fulfils the prophecy that he will destroy the Sith and bring balance to the Force.

To me, there are no more stories to tell in movie form after that. It seems a natural and fulfilling place to end the story of the Skywalker family and the struggle of the Jedi and the Rebels to bring peace and freedom to the galaxy.

DR: So, almost 30 years have passed since you started Star Wars. What on earth are you going to do now?

GL: There is a movie I am planning to produce, about African-American fighter pilots during World War II, and we are looking into a variety of possibilities for television projects. As for what movies I'll direct next, I'm not sure. I've been working on Star Wars for quite a long time now, and I've had a lot of ideas over the years.

The first films I made were very experimental. I was trying to tell stories in purely cinematic ways, and that was enormous fun for me. Movies like THX 1138 and American Graffiti were not traditional films, they told non-linear stories and relied very heavily on sound and image working together to create an experience. I'd really like to get back to that, to explore different techniques and different ways of making films. I'm looking forward to the future.

DR: Thank you for your time.

With thanks to Liz Silverstone at DSA

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith is released on DVD from 20th Century Fox on the 31 October 2005

Order this DVD for £14.99 (RRP: £24.99) by clicking here

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