A detailed look at the George Lucas’ screenwriting and movie effects appears in a compelling excerpt from Camille Paglia’s Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars posted at The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Star Wars “might never have been made,” Lucas acknowledged, without Ralph McQuarrie’s concept paintings, based on Lucas’s instructions: The first picture showed the two robots against a desert landscape on a distant planet. To make Star Wars as he envisioned it, however, Lucas had to invent a whole new technology. In 1975, he founded his own laboratory, as feudal as a medieval guild: Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), a subdivision of Lucasfilm hidden in an old warehouse in an industrial park outside Los Angeles. The young computer whizzes hired by Lucas’s special-effects supervisor, John Dykstra, looked like hippies and brainstormed in the chaotic atmosphere of a commune. Out of ILM, which later moved north to Marin County, would come such wonders as the nimble, stampeding dinosaurs of Jurassic Park and the morphing, liquid-chrome killer robot in Terminator 2. ILM’s Pixar Image Computer facilitated 3-D medical imaging and produced (after sale to Apple’s Steve Jobs) the first digitally animated feature film, Toy Story.
[Thanks to Francis Hamit for the story.]