Friday, August 23, 2013

George Lucas, Mythmaker, John Baxter, stuff

Reading Mythmaker, John Baxter's biography of George Lucas. I learned some things I didn't know before:

1.  During the Vietnam War, if you were a film school graduate, you could get drafted or join the military and they would make you an officer right away and give you valuable motion picture experience---at least, that's what people told Lucas. Lucas was diabetic and was turned down by the military in any case, and it turns out that so many cameramen and photographers were killed in Vietnam that they wouldn't let you leave. Filmmakers kept having their "service" extended, one guy stuck in the Army for eight or nine years.

2.  I knew that Lucas and Coppola came up with idea for Apocalypse Now. They thought they could go to Vietnam and film it in 16mm while the war was still happening. Lucas was mad when Coppola made the movie without him, so, pathetically, he made the movie More American Graffiti focusing on the Vietnam War figuring he would out-do Coppola.

3.  In the first draft of Star Wars, Luke Skywalker is caught having sex on a space ship somewhere and Princess Leia was eleven-years-old and got slightly older with each subsequent draft.

4.  Lucas gave bonuses and points to people who worked on Star Wars, but not to the people who worked on the special effects. He became enraged if anyone disagreed with him.

5.  Critics had to strain to like Star Wars. Pauline Kael praised it for its bad acting, as if George Lucas hired bad actors and failed to direct them properly on purpose.

6.  The original treatment for Star Wars was much closer to the Kurosawa movie The Hidden Fortress.

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