This weekend was a busy one. Church takes up a good and valuable portion of Sunday, and there were youth activities to tend to, plus I got started on the short story contest I recently entered. The few moments of inactivity yesterday afternoon were set aside to finish reading George Lucas: A Life, by Brian Jay Jones.
I’m not much for biographies, but this was too much to pass up. Star Wars developed from an independent film supported by a major studio into a worldwide cultural phenomenon unparalleled in popular entertainment history. Reading about the man behind the myth was fascinating, to borrow a phrase from the rival Star Trek fandom.
While I enjoyed learning about Lucas’s early life, and the events that influenced his future career as a filmmaker, what really sparked my interest was his passion for his projects. Lucas repeatedly ignored film critics and naysayers to create what he wanted, his way. Sure, many of them were commercial flops, but it didn’t matter to him one whit.
Now, it’s all well and good to have that kind of confidence when you have gobs of money at your disposal. There’s no denying the success of Star Wars – and especially its attendant marketing tsunami – provided Lucas with the capital necessary to bankroll his artistic vision. And, lack of commercial appeal does often mean that his films were missing something. That said, it’s still amazing he had the fortitude and courage to say, “No, this is my vision, and I’m doing it this way.” Few people possess the guts.
It’s encouraging to anyone who picks up a pen or paintbrush, or toils over a keyboard or a musical instrument. Yes, there is a craft any artist must learn before embarking on a project. The foundation must be established before the piece of art can be built atop it. But does that mean something you created is no good because it doesn’t sell well? Lucas didn’t think so. He was happy with his films because they turned out the way he envisioned.
I highly recommend this book. It was slow at times, and of course, it’s an unofficial biography, but the insights from family, friends, and colleagues are well worth the read.