George Lucas Stanley Kauffmann - Essay

Stanley Kauffmann

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[When artists use their young years as subject matter,] they have to prove that their young years can be fascinating to others. Broadly speaking, there are only two ways to do this: by showing that your young years were extraordinary or by finding depth and form that illuminate and preserve the commonplace. (p. 218)

George Lucas has tried for the latter. He has taken some familiar bull right by the horns and has wrestled it into a reasonably good film. A couple of years ago … Lucas made a "future" film called THX 1138 in which he lavished impressive cinematic skills on material so trite that he made me feel he had "an arrogance toward the need to have a fresh idea" [see excerpt above]. This new script—by himself, Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck—still has no new ideas as such. But working close to what is apparently his own youthful experience, Lucas has so integrated methods and material that he finds some of the depth and form mentioned above; and, to some degree, he transforms the banalities of TV situation comedy into a small epiphany of a period. (pp. 218-19)

But the story is not the film—only its means of coming into being. (Which is what Lucas attempted, less successfully, in THX 1138.) The weakest parts are those that try to beef up the script, in plot and literary "theme" terms, like the mysterious blonde in a white T-bird who weaves symbolically through the film taunting one of the boys…. [The] pleasures of the picture are in the way it was made. There is no mere springboard of accurate decor, as in Summer of '42, which got all its details right, then wallowed ahead into syrup: the milieu, so to...

(The entire section is 692 words.)