An Early Filmography
Collected for the first time, a complete film-by-film examination of Lucas's early work, charting the development of themes and imagery up through his student films, documentary efforts and into his pre-Star Wars features.
With an associate in arts degree from Modesto Junior College, George Lucas enrolled in University of Southern California's Division of Cinema at the School of Performing arts in 1965. His class became renowned for birthing a generation of very successful filmmakers, including Walter Murch, Willard Huyck, Caleb Deshanel, Bob Dalva, Don Glut, Charles Lippincott, Matthew Robbins, Hal Barwood, Richard Walter and John Milius, who dubbed the class ‘the class the stars fell on,’ referencing a West Point class of 1915 which famously birthed a number of generals and a U.S. president.
Lucas was a hard-working student with disdain for the establishment, and after his initial success with Look at Life began pushing himself further and further, culminating in his work on the student version of THX 1138 4EB.
Look at Life (1965)
Lucas's very first short, a Lipsett-esque 16mm kinestasis, which won numerous awards.
An abstract dance of light, reflected off of the surfaces of a car, set to jazz. Co-directed with Paul Golding.
A young man tries to cross the border of a fascist state, but is gunned down in cold blood.
Lucas's first truly ambitious film, shot in color, complete with an aerial shot. It features a Lucas classic: a race car doing laps on a circuit.
The Emperor (1966)
A short documentary at about 24 minutes in length, showing the legendary radio host Bob Hudson in his prime. The man who would go on to inform Lucas's idea of Wolfman Jack in American Graffiti.
Anyone Lived In a Pretty How Town (1967)
An adaptation of E. E. Cummings poem from 1940. Technically impressive for a student film, but rather uninteresting as a piece of film.
Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB (1967)
Lucas's pièce de résistance, the student film which would be his first foray into fame, as it toured student film festivals across the US, one of which a young Spielberg was attending.
Lucas graduates from USC in early 1967.
A 'behind-the-scenes' on McKenna's Gold, in tone poem form. Which while not technically a student film, as it was done in the summer after Lucas finished his time at USC, belongs in this group of films nonetheless.
Filmmaker: A Diary by George Lucas (1968)
Another behind-the-scenes, this time on the making of Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People. Shot in a cinema verité-like fashion, it's fascinating for its portrait of the young Coppola in action.
The New Cinema (1969)
While not a Lucas production, this was directed and edited by Lucas classmates, with prescient interviews by a virtual who-is-who of late-60s up-and-coming cinema, including Lucas and Coppola.
THX 1138 (1971)
Not long out of USC, Coppola's production company American Zoetrope, started its life with Lucas's first feature film, THX 1138. An alienating film about social politics, consumerism and other hot button topics of the 60s, it is a remarkable first picture, and one that in many ways can be thought of as the art house version of Star Wars.
Maker of Films (1971)
Not a Lucas production per sé, but one of the earliest surviving video interviews with Lucas, showing in particular just how close to his original values he has remained over the years.
American Graffiti (1974)
Born out of his days cruising the streets of Modesto, American Graffiti is Lucas's love letter to a long since dead mating ritual. Seeming perhaps a sidestep in relation to Star Wars, when compared to the science fiction world of THX 1138, it was crucial in shaping the populist approach with which Star Wars conquered the world.