Monday, March 20, 2017

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise, by Chris Taylor (author), Nick Podehl (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, October 2014

In 1973, George Lucas sketched the first notes of what would become his epic space fantasy movie, Star Wars. More than four decades on, Star Wars has become a $37 billion movie franchise and media empire, and an enormous cultural force.

Taylor gives us both the history forward from that beginning through the making of the films and the sale and rebirth of the franchise under Disney, and the path from the middle class kid growing up in Modesto to the man who made that first Star Wars film and its two sequels. (No, it wasn't originally called A New Hope; I saw the first movie when it first came out. And yes, Han Solo did shoot first, whatever George Lucas now wants us to believe.) Both Lucas' own story, and the story of the Star Wars franchise, are complicated, confusing, and fascinating. Taylor gets quite thoroughly caught up in the story and his own pursuit of it, and makes it reasonably inviting for the reader or listener to jump on that ride with him.

Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hamill had no idea they were signing on for roles that would be defining factors for the remainder of their careers. It seems clear that, despite later statements to the contrary, even Lucas wasn't seriously planning sequels at that point. He'd loved the Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon serials, and wanted to make a space fantasy that would have the same fun and adventure. Yet what he really wanted to do were small, serious movies, personal movies... No, really. He kept saying so!

Those small, serious movies never got made, as Lucas continued to pursue a career that looked nothing like that.

We follow the growth of Lucas as a filmmaker, the friendships and rivalries with other producers that helped shape him and his career, and the successes and missteps along the way. I started out merely curious, and became very interested in this odd, compelling story and the man at its center.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.