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TV REVIEWS : The Myths, Magic of George Lucas

March 26, 1993|KEVIN THOMAS

"George Lucas: Heroes, Myths and Magic," Jane Paley and Larry Price's one-hour documentary for "American Masters" (at 10 tonight on KCET-TV Channel 28), represents television's first introduction to one of the most successful and influential filmmakers of all time. On camera, the bearded Lucas is relaxed yet projects an unmistakable--and understandable--aura of self-assurance.

Paley and Price rightly open with an extended consideration of the landmark "Star Wars" and its impact both on screen mythology and technology.

Curiously, the documentarians don't follow up on Lucas' tantalizing remark, "My relationship to my father plays a big role in 'Star Wars.' " There are, however, brief home-movie glimpses of a grammar-school-aged Lucas at a birthday party--there looks to be spacemen on top of his cake--in Modesto, where he says he grew up in "a pleasant, happy, small-town environment."

He celebrated this existence in his first big hit, "American Graffiti" (1973), which, as a coming-of-age film, he compares to "Star Wars" in that they both deal with "the fear of the unknown."

Generous use of clips attest to Lucas' protean, visionary talent, in which his mastery of screen storytelling is matched by innovations in sound and special-effects technology. Lucas modestly sums up his incomparable career to present as "a learning experience," saying that he's now "ready."

But he leaves us guessing as to what he's ready for, and to whether this means he will return to directing, which he gave up after "Star Wars."

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