George Lucas biography documents movie folklore

LIKE many middle-aged men, Brian Jay Jones saw Star Wars when he was 10, and his life was changed forever.

So when it came to writing a book about the creator of the biggest film franchise in history, Jones felt a huge responsibility to the subject matter.

The result was George Lucas: A Life, which has been embraced as the definitive biography of the filmmaker.

"It is that obvious I'm a fan?" Jones said from his home in Maryland in the US.

"This project was fun, but also intimidating. It's a dream project and a nightmare project. You feel like you have a big responsibility, and you want to feel worthy of the subject.

"I got up each day and would think 'don't mess this up'... it means a lot to many people.

"There's so much work on Star Wars, Indiana Jones, ILM (Lucas's special effects company), Pixar and more, but nobody has wrapped their arms around all of his work and put them in context with each other. I wanted to tell the entire George Lucas story and I spent just over two years all up on this book."

George Lucas has never written his autobiography, though he came close back in the 1980s.

"Lucas has been done in books a couple of times, he signed off on working with someone in 1983 when he was doing Return Of The Jedi and he didn't like it. That ruined it for everybody, he hasn't participated in one since, but fortunately he has talked a lot over the years," Jones said.

It's fair to say that Lucas, along with close friends Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola, have shaped the movie industry since the 1970s, redefining special effects, movies and genres to this day, but it was a hard slog at times. The story of the original Star Wars production is etched in movie-making folklore, with most involved recalling it as an unpleasant, tough experience, but Lucas stuck to his vision

"The fact that Star Wars was made at all is a testament to Lucas and his, pardon the pun, force of will," Jones said.

"He had script proposals for studios that were an absolute mess, and they didn't understand them, but they believed in George. Art stands on its own and we all embrace it. Lucas thinks that he had to compromise (with the original Star Wars trilogy), and as the creator he is allowed to go back and make it look the way he wants.

"Many had no idea he was so forceful and committed to artistic integrity. It's been really satisfying seeing the reaction from fans who know Star Wars back to front, realising that Lucas really did a lot for film, technology and the industry.

"I have never met George, but I sent him a copy of the book," Jones said. "So far I haven't heard back, but I hope he liked it."

George Lucas: A Life by Brian Jay Jones is out now through Hachette. RRP: $35.

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