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George Lucas, Filmmaker MAG
The Interview Experience by James F. , Attleboro, MA
The Interview Experience by Kate S. , Swarthmore, PA
From what I've read and seen here at Skywalker Ranch, it's obvious you're very interested in history. What exactly sparked your interest?
I've always been interested in where we come from, who we are and what's happened; obviously history has some great stories.
When I was eight or nine there was a series of books called Landmark Books. I started reading them, and I ended up over the next four or five years with a whole collection - I've got tons of them. It was from reading these history books that I became very interested in history - and I never stopped.
Most children live in a world of vivid fantasy which they seem to lose as they grow up. What or who allowed you to preserve your imagination?
Well, that I don't know.
I think imagination is something you're born with; I think it's more of a biological thing than anything else; you either have it or you don't.
Children obviously go through a lot of intense reordering of their brains as they go through puberty, and I think in a lot of cases they probably lose a lot of their ability to have a fantasy life. Or it matures. But I think there's an actual biological reason for the whole thing.
Someone once said that whatever happens in the first 18 years of your life, that's what you'll be writing about for the rest of it. Do you agree with this?
Your childhood has a huge impact on your life and what you think about, and what you care about, and your psychological outlook, and your motivations.
So, I would say probably that it's more your psychological outlook than anything else.
Who do you think should be the real role models for teens today?
Well, I don't know; obviously there are a lot of historical role models I think people can have.
And the problem today with the media is that they don't spend much time building up heroes. They spend most of their time tearing down heroes so there are not many people left anyone can look up to and say, "This is who I aspire to be. "
What were you like as a teenager, and do you feel the adolescent experience your children are going through now has changed a lot since your time?
Well, I was probably avery difficult teenager; I didn't realize it until I became an adult.
So far my kids are reasonably easygoing - they are demanding and they're definitely teenagers. One of them just finished being a teenager, and one is about to start.
I survived the first one, and I hope I'll survive the second, and then the third one's a boy, so I have no idea what that will be like.
Girls have their own difficulties and emotional challenges, but boys are generally more apt to get in trouble because they're more adventurous. I guess one way to put it is they're more willing to take stupid risks.
I think women are smarter and they don't do things like that - they're just kind of emotional - and it all comes out as a teenager.
This will all be very clear to you both in about 20 years.
What do you think are some of the greatest challenges facing teens today, and what can they do to overcome them?
Well, I think the hardest challenge you'll face is to figure out what you want to do with your life.
And it's interesting, because society has not built in an adequate system to deal with that, and it is the key decision. We have let people float and land and stick to something. Most young people don't get any exposure to the kinds of opportunities that are out there. I think the one thing young people can do is travel as much possible, have as many experiences as they can and associate with many professionals in various fields.
As they work they get a sense of what kinds of jobs and opportunities are out there, which are endless. Most kids have a very, very narrow scope of what they think is available.
When they go to college opportunities grow a little bit, but the endless variety of kinds of work you can do and careers you can have is amazing, and it's important you find something you really enjoy doing.
What kind of advice would you give to a parent whose kid is very adventurous and on the wild side, and they're learning from different experiences?
Well, all parents are concerned about the health and safety of their children, that's the primary thing.
I think ultimately, as a parent, my advice to teens would be to listen to your parents, hope that they will listen to you, and if they don't, tell them they need to listen to you. Don't be shy about it.
At the same time, realize that for the most part, parents only want you to be safe and self-sufficient, and so they have your best interest at heart. They may not express it well, but if they say something is really dangerous, take that into account and think about it, because sometimes their experience is worth something.
People devote their lives to reading, analyzing and explaining Shakespeare; some of what they come up with must have him spinning or laughing in his grave. You're kind of in the same position - people like to interpret your films.
What's it like to have your work so much a part of the public consciousness? What is the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard someone take from the"Star Wars" movies?
There are a lot of ridiculous things that people read into the "Star Wars" films that really aren't there, and it has more to do with the viewer, I think, than anything else.
It's an interesting perspective that I've come to because I've created something that people analyze and talk about and speculate on and assume, "He means this or he means that. "
And I can see that people do it with all literary works, all film, all the arts, really. There is an academic world of analysis that sort of thinks about thinking and then wonders if they should be thinking about thinking and debate about whether thinking is something more than you're thinking about.
And it's the same thing with art. Art is something you experience. Trying to analyze what a person is doing is, for the most part, not a really useful exercise. You have to have a one-on-one experience with art, and whatever that is, is okay.
People have taken away very silly and crazy things, but in the end it's okay if that's what they see; it's more a reflection of their own personality than the film itself.
What is the most challenging part about being a parent to a teenager? Are there any specific challenges you face having adopted children?
No, I don't think there's any difference at all between adopted children and children who are with their birth parents; kids are kids.
And I think the biggest challenge a parent has with teenagers is just learning to put up with them; teenagers are very difficult.
What have you learned from your kids that you think has made you a better person? What do you want to pass on to them - traits or knowledge - that you think will make them better people?
Well, I think children teach the most important thing of all - compassion. Compassion really is the secret to happiness and the secret to a good life, and is a hard thing to learn.
It's hard to learn not to think about yourself and to think about somebody else; but when you have a little baby it becomes pretty easy, if you're open to it. Any parent who is reasonably normal and open to these sorts of things really does learn compassion and caring about another person through having kids, and putting that person first.
And if children do their job well, then the parent will learn not only how to take care of kids and how to love people other than themselves, but will then move on to learn to love other people.
Some people are born with these traits, most have to learn them. And it's the child's job to teach those to the grown-ups.
Which of your films is your favorite? What is your all-time favorite movie and why?
My own films? It's hard to pick a favorite because they're like children; I care about each one, I have an emotional involvement with each. I take years and years of hard work to create one. So, I love all my movies, and it's hard to pick one.
When it comes to outside movies, I love all kinds. I love movies; I got into this very late, I was 20 years old before I even paid any attention to movies.
But I love "Dr. Strangelove, ""Citizen Kane, " "Seven Samurai, " "Hard Day's Night" - an endless list of movies I could name.
Is there a reason why?
Well, they're very good movies, they're very emotional movies; they have things to teach and at the same time they're very moving.
You probably knew this was coming: who is your favorite Star Wars character, and why?
You create these characters and you love them all, they're like children, so to speak.
Do you identify with any of them?
I don't know, one could say that I identified with Luke Skywalker because he was the character whose point of view I was writing from.
So, I would say that's probably the character I identify with the most.
In "Star Wars, " technology seems somewhat sinister and it's always transcended by the power of an individual; what do you see as the positives and negatives of technology today?
Well, in the films I've actually tried to paint technology in both lights, so it's reasonably helpful and at the same time can be misused.
It really has more to do with the people behind the technology than the technology itself.
You know, we have the Droids which are warm, fuzzy, friendly types, and then we have things like the Death Stars which are out to destroy the universe.
My feeling has always been that technology can either be a friend or a foe;it really depends on you.
And that theme kind of carries over to "THX"; is that really how you see the future?
Well, that was actually how I saw 1970; it was more a metaphor for the way we were living at that time with people trapped in their own cages that they create for themselves, trapped in a world where emotions are difficult to come by, illegal.
And I think the world has taken a strange twist from there, but I still think it's valid in terms of the modern world we live in.
Kind of a universal thing?
Very cocoon-like and very controlled.
You've described yourself as a 19th century person; what exactly does this mean?
I think that means that ultimately I'm romantic, I'm not a techie; this [pointing around his office] is me. You don't see steel chairs and fancy gadgets everywhere because I'm much more into people and ideas.
If society only works on faith like you say it does, what do you think is holding our society together today?
Well, the faith that holds our society together is faith in the system; it's faith in a lot of things. It's faith in the Constitution, faith in the government, faith in the President, faith in Congress, faith in your local police officer, faith in the institutions and that they're doing the right thing. Once you lose that, the society falls apart, because people don't believe in it any more.
And it's the glue that holds this society together, or anything, really.
What is your opinion on all the different religions out there?
Well, I think the example I've used, if you believe there's one God, then all religions have to lead to the same place.
What advice can you give a young person who wants to be a filmmaker or a writer?
Well, I would say you have to be persistent first of all, because it's a very hard thing to get into, and it's very hard to make it because the odds are against you.
So, you have to really love it; kids who get into it because they think they're going to make a lot of money or be famous or tell a lot of people what to do all the time will never make it.
But if you're obsessed with film and you love to tell stories and you love working in that medium, then that will give you the strength to be persistent and make it happen.
What has been the greatest disappointment you've had to deal with in your life?
I don't know; I would say that my marriage failed. That's probably the biggest disappointment in my life.
Did you have a favorite book as a teenager? What books would you recommend for teens today?
AsI mentioned, I liked the Landmark history books, and I read a lot of those; I read Treasure Island, that was a favorite, Mutiny on the Bounty I liked. It's funny, a lot of the books I liked are 18th and 19thcentury seafaring novels.
Is there anything you wished you had studied, or paid more attention to, or read more about when you were a teenager?
Well, I wish that I had enjoyed school more; I was much more interested in the social sciences than mathematics and the language arts, so I wish I had been exposed to more humanities and more history, more psychology and more anthropology.
How much attention do you pay to both the positive and negative opinions of the public on your work?
I don't read reviews or what people think very much, because I've got to make my movies the way I see them and want them to be. People can take them for whatever they are. They're going to like them or not, that's their privilege.
But I can't really make my movies for all the influences that the people around me, for better or worse, want; I can't make the movies to make money, I just make the movies to make them good and if they make money, fine.
I can't make them to make toys; if they find something they can make a toy out of in the movie, fine; I can't make them to be entertaining in the way that certain critics like them to be entertaining.
"Star Wars, " especially, has been created in a very particular style, and I've tried to be faithful to that style; if somebody doesn't like that style, it's fine.
It's funny that the one thing I did hear about the last film was that they discovered it was a film for young people. That was a big complaint, "Why did he make a children's film?"I said they've all been that way; I don't know if they ever saw the other ones, but they've been that way forever.
But everybody grew up and they thought they were going to see "Terminator 5, " but I'm not making that kind of movie.
Is there anything else we should have asked you that we have not already covered, or anything you want to ask us?
'What can you tell me about the new"Star Wars"?' That's the question most reporters start with.
And I would say, I can't tell you anything.
I want to ask why you think it's so important for people in a society to have something to believe in?
Well, you have to have something to aspire to, to guide you, that gives you a context in which to live your life.
That's why religions were created, that's why the secular world was created.
It sets up rules and aspirations and ways of living that you have to have.
If you don't have that, and it's not created artificially, nature will create it for you; but since we have minds and we can think, we're constantly curious and willing to figure things out and create new paradigms in which we live to try to improve on, that's the nature of the human beast, which is great because we do have the ability to make things better and see where we're doing things wrong and hopefully learn from that and try to improve it.
Are there any future projects that you hope to dive into that are unlike anything you've ever done before?
Well, as soon as I finish these films - I have one more to do after the one I'm working on now which will be done in 2005. Then I've got a lot of projects I want to do that are very different from the "Star Wars" films that I've been sort of saving up for a long time.
Some of them are history based; I'm very interested in history and I'm very interested in doing some historical pieces.