Friday 22 December 2023

BEHIND THE SCENES: THE MARCIA LUCAS FACTOR!

 

George Lucas, needing morale support, with then wife Marcia, perched against a Djerba beast background player. An image taken during the final days of Tunisian location filming for Star Wars in early April, 1976.

Behind ever great man, there has to be a great woman, as the song goes, and back in 1976 as writer/creator George Lucas developed, and filmed the original, difficult to make Star Wars he had the thankful support and backing of his wife Marcia Lucas during many affecting times, herself a much in-demand and trusted filmmaking talent withing the world of editing, and known for her strong creative instincts and flair. She was and is a gregarious person who recognised peoples' talents and how to bring them out to the benefit of everyone, especially in Hollywood circles, where she was much admired by the likes of director friends including Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma, who used her editing talents for their own groundbreaking projects. Both George and Marcia would prove to be a popular couple during the period they were together, whose chalk and cheese natures seemed to blend perfectly in the early to mid seventies era of innovative and unforgettable movie production.

Marcia Lucas's Star Wars-related postcard from Tunisia to Lucy Autrey and the Parkway team in 1976.

During Star Wars production she favoured the casting of Hamill, Ford, and Fisher, was key to the development of the Force in the movie's original script, which she found fascinating (even writing some of the extra dialogue needed during Kenobi and Vader's duel), helped her husband realise that Kenobi's death was indeed vital to keep the film's drama in the final script (and not leave a great actor like Sir Alec Guinness with nothing important to do), and, in the editing, was key to making the final Death Star space battle as tight and exciting as possible (creating the idea of the Death Star preparing to fire at the Rebel Base, alongside fellow editor Paul Hirsch's idea to bring in an edge of your seat countdown to the finale). She even recognised the value of small unique moments of humour, like the Mouse Robot sequence showcasing Chewbacca, which was almost entirely excised from the film before she put her foot down.

Fondly known by the 1977 Lucasfilm team as 'the heart' of its expanding family, and recognised as 'the smartest pair of hands in the galaxy', Marcia was sadly not able to work on the editing for The Empire Strikes Back due to other commitments (though she clearly saw and/or gave opinions during the film's post production process, and visited the London Elstree Studios filming at least once in mid 1979, alongside her then husband) and to also start looking after her and George's adopted baby, though she was able to come back to help her desperate husband for a short period on Return of the Jedi's end of post production period, despite having now retired from the editing field, when it's original cut (crafted by director Richard Marquand and his own specially chosen editor Sean Barton), needed a major creative boost in key dramatic areas, especially linked to Mark Hamill's scenes as Luke Skywalker, and his eventual destiny as a Jedi, plus the vital moment when Vader transitions back to Anakin Skywalker and defeats the Emperor. Marcia would further be a part in reshaping the film's already edited Sail Barge battle, so as to bring viewing clarity.




Earlier this year, Marcia Lucas was a key contributor to a documentary series linked to the making of the Original Trilogy, which aired on Vice TV (July 12th): 

Vice TV-Nacelle ‘Star Wars’ Series Lands 1st TV Interview With Lucas’ Ex-Wife – Deadline


Filming at the top of the Sidi Driss hotel in Tunisia with Mark Hamill looking down into the sinkhole, and watched by the crew (including Marcia Lucas, centre, with Gary Kurtz). Image: the Ben Ageros Collection.

Visiting the location specifically to bolster her husband's low spirits with the problematic start of filming Star Wars, Marcia watches George direct a Landspeeder motion sequence.


 Marcia, at bottom left of image with Gil Taylor, and Meredith Kurtz, as the crew (including George Lucas, Anthony Waye and Ann Skinner), from a small scaffold, film the Landspeeder entrance into Mos Eisley at Djerba, Tunisia, at the end of March, 1976.

Conferring with, and enjoying the company of, Garrick Hagon and Mark Hamill, watched by George, on the last day of location principal photography at the Djerba fishing village, Tunisia- April, 1976.


Both Marcia and George had a natural passion for the craft of film making and editing and were much respected for their successes in the 1970's.

A proud Oscar winning Marcia with her husband at the 1978 Academy Awards, enjoying the success of the original Star Wars.

Going through some footage of The Empire Strikes Back in late 1979, alongside respected director Irvin Kershner.

Marcia hated the original script created for Revenge of the Jedi, which featured two Death Stars (as seen in this Ralph McQuarrie painting. Soon enough, George dropped the idea and brought back Lawrence Kasdan back to the fold to help him draft a better story.

As seen in a recent Star Wars related 2023 documentary on the US Vice TV channel.


https://www.indiewire.com/2021/09/star-wars-editor-slams-disney-films-jj-abrams-1234666134/?fbclid=IwAR14fJW4wZuyQHxak_GpAa7a81Ce3NuXArGI2vG0-a6p-wTzjs4XQB3bDS8

No comments: