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George Lucas Receives Honorary Palme D'or

George Lucas received the honorary Palme D’or today in recognition for his legendary work. Lucas is best known as the creator of the Star Wars series as well as the founder of Lucasfilm. During his rendez-vous today he discussed his early career in hollywood, how he got started in film, and how he sees the industry today.





Lucas started out studying anthropology and social sciences, it was on a whim that he decided to take the University of Southern California (USC) entrance exam. Surprised at even passing the exam, he decided to go to study photography, only to discover the school only had a film program. At the time Lucas enjoyed animation and avant garde cinema. Doing so he met friends and fellow students, who would go on to become his partners in filmmaking and legends in the industry.

As he described his hectic early years in the industry he reminisced on his first time coming to the Cannes Film Festival in 1971. He had just finished the film THX 1138 (1971) screened in the directors fortnight section of the festival. Warner Bros, however, did not want to pay for them to attend. Instead, him and his friend and cowriter Walter Murch pooled together what little money they had and made their way to Cannes. There they had to sneak into the premiere of their film as they didn’t have a ticket. Years after the event, a representative of the festival asked why they hadn’t shown up to their press conference for the film, Lucas replied “I didn’t know there was one”.

Lucas continued by describing his first major success, American Graffiti (1973). “The crowd went wild”, he recounted the first screening of the film. “It was like a rock concert”. The studio was not so impressed originally wanting to send the film straight to television. Lucas was able to convince some executives to rent out the largest theatre they could find for the next screening, to a similar result. Seeing the crowd’s enthusiasm convinced the studio to distribute American Graffiti to 50 theatres for one month of screenings. After seeing the popularity of the film, they expanded the number of theatres and ran the film for close to a year.



This led to Lucas writing Star Wars: A New Hope (1977). With his newfound notoriety he was able to take greater risks. He was inspired by the vietnam war, and his friend Francis Ford Coppala, in the process of making Apocalypse Now (1979). He wanted to speak to a younger generation however, “I said; I want to make another kids movie, for 12 year olds… that don’t know what their doing, why their here, asking all the questions about what should I be worried about.”

Similar to American Graffiti, the studio was unhappy with Lucas’ latest and strangest project. They wanted to sell it instead of distributing, but finally decided to screen the film in just 32 theatres. That number ballooned quickly to over 1000, to Lucas’ surprise most of all. Now Star Wars is a staple of not only cinema, but global culture.



The event finished with a standing ovation, and Lucas receiving the honorary Palme D’or 53 years after first attending the festival.



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