Picks and Pans Review: Skywalking: the Life and Films of George Lucas
by Dale Pollock
The timing, of course, is no accident: The release of Return of the Jedi means this biography of Star Wars creator George Lucas might not require the intervention of the Force to be a success. Pollock, a Los Angeles Times film reporter, takes a hard look at Lucas—a strangely secretive man but one who can be extremely generous to friends and rivals alike. On occasion Lucas can be tightfisted, sending computerized bills for the use of his screening rooms, but he shared $5 million in profits from The Empire Strikes Back with everyone involved in the movie. Most remarkable in this book are passages detailing Lucas' famous feud with fellow director Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola had championed the young Lucas, then had a falling-out with him over the production of Apocalypse Now, a movie that had originally been Lucas' idea. Interesting, too, is Lucas' relationship with Steven Spielberg, the other reigning wizard of huge-grossing high-tech movies. Despite his success with E.T., Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spielberg has an almost childlike reverence for his friend. They worked closely together on Raiders, but for Spielberg to let Lucas edit the film was a liberty no other big Hollywood director would ever have permitted. Pollock presents his material in a no-nonsense way. There is no fancy writing, and readers not fascinated by the movie business may be a little put off by the nuts-and-bolts, dollars-and-cents explanations of how Hollywood works. But some of the minutiae are fascinating. When Lucas gets nervous about his writing, for instance, he has a habit of snipping off bits of his hair. That kind of idiosyncratic detail helps make this a rich, full-blooded book that avoids the usual Hollywood pap. (Harmony Books, $14.95)
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