Mel Brooks co-wrote, produced, and directed the 1987 American space opera parody film Spaceballs. It is primarily a parody of the original Star Wars trilogy. Still, it includes references to other sci-fi films and popular franchises such as Star Trek, Alien, The Wizard of Oz, 2001, and Planet of the Apes. But what did George Lucas think of Spaceballs?
George Lucas not only gave his approval for Spaceballs but also delegated the space effects and postproduction to his effects company, Industrial Light and Magic.
Who is George Lucas?
George Walton Lucas, Jr. was born in Modesto, California, to Dorothy Ellinore Lucas and George Walton Lucas Sr., and is of German, Swiss-German, English, Scottish, and distant Dutch and French ancestry. His family visited Disneyland during its opening week in July 1955, and Lucas remained a park fan. He was a fan of comic books, science fiction, and television shows like the Flash Gordon serials. Long before he started making movies, Lucas aspired to be a racecar driver, and he spent most of his high school years racing on fairgrounds’ underground circuits and hanging out in garages.
Lucas was driving his souped-up Autobianchi Bianchina on June 12, 1962, a few days before his high school graduation, when another driver broadsided him, flipping his car several times before it crashed into a tree; Lucas’ seatbelt had snapped, ejecting him and thus saving his life. His lungs, however, were bruised due to the severe hemorrhaging, and he required emergency medical treatment. This incident led to him abandoning racing as a career and inspired him to pursue other interests.
Lucas’ father owned a stationery store and had hoped that when George turned 18, he would work for him. Lucas had planned to attend art school and declared when he left home that he would be a millionaire by 30. He went to Modesto Junior College and majored in anthropology, sociology, and literature, among other things. He also started shooting with an 8 mm camera, including car races. At the time, Lucas and his friend John Plummer were drawn to Canyon Cinema, which featured screenings of underground, avant-garde 16 mm filmmakers such as Jordan Belson, Stan Brakhage, and Bruce Conner.
Lucas and Plummer also watched classic European films from the time, such as Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless, François Truffaut’s Jules et Jim, and Federico Fellini’s 812. Lucas met renowned cinematographer Haskell Wexler, another race enthusiast, through his interest in autocross racing. Wexler, who would later collaborate with Lucas on several occasions, was impressed by his talent. (Source: Britannica)
Was the Film “Spaceballs” a Success?
Critics have given the film mixed reviews. According to Rotten Tomatoes, as of 2022, 56 percent of critics gave positive reviews, based on 45 reviews with an average rating of 6.4/10. Many critics agreed that, while amusing, making a Star Wars parody ten years after the original film seemed pointless. The Chicago Sun-Times’ Roger Ebert gave the film 2.5 stars out of 4.
I liked the movie a lot, but I kept thinking I was watching a revival. It should have been made several years ago before our appetite for Star Wars satires was completely satisfied.Roger Ebert, American Film Critic
(Source: Roger Ebert)
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