THE CINEMA OF GEORGE LUCAS

Marcus Hearn, Author . Abrams $50 (264p) ISBN 978-0-8109-4968-3

The life and career of the one-man cinematic revolution that is George Lucas gets a lush visual treatment in Hearn's frankly adoring and uncritical coffee-table book, though there's plenty of smart text underpinning the artwork as well. The first two of the book's eight chapters are best, covering Lucas's childhood and student filmmaking days at USC, which culminated in the 1971 masterpiece THX 1138 and 1973's iconic American Graffiti . Hearn deftly portrays this heady period in Lucas's life, in which the director was furiously experimenting with the form and working inside the short-lived San Francisco filmmaking collective American Zoetrope with pals Francis Ford Coppola, master editor Walter Murch and legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler. This section is elaborately illustrated with photographs, publicity stills and script excerpts, and the photos of young Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss and Lucas himself will amuse fans. Once Hearn begins to delve into Lucas's rise into the cinematic stratosphere with Star Wars , and the creation of his mini Hollywood in the Bay Area, however, the book fails. Hearn's worshipful tone doesn't allow him to satisfyingly explain how this long-haired rebel turned into the mini-mogul that he is today. Still, this is a crucial addition to the libraries of not just Star Wars aficionados but all lovers of modern cinema. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 03/28/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
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