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He can't let go of this adventure

October 21, 2007|Geoff Boucher | Times Staff Writer

That may sound a bit brassy, but really it speaks to the patience of Lucas. It's been 18 years since the last Indiana Jones film, and Lucas was willing to bide his time. That seems to apply to the television show as well. He said the notion of creating a massive history lesson wrapped inside an adventure series was the plan all along for "Young Indiana Jones," it just took this long to deliver it in the way he deemed worthy. "That was actually the original idea when I started the whole thing, and it's just taken me this long to get it all done," he said with a chuckle. "It's a lot of hours of material, and it was expensive and hard and, of course, it was something that the industry wasn't interested in."

Lucas is his own industry, however, and his interest and budget appear to be boundless. Back in Modesto, young George had a solitary word printed next to his high school yearbook photo: "History." The avid scholar in him is still alive and well. Last week, he got "The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Volume 1" ($117.99, in stores Tuesday) and its 12 discs. The wizard of Skywalker Ranch was mightily pleased. "I can't wait to get the other volumes."

The best part of the DVD series may be the new documentaries (there are 38 in Volume 1), which were led by CBS News veteran David Schneider. They are replete with rare photos and footage, as well as new contextual interviews with notable names such as Henry Kissinger, Gloria Steinem, Martin Scorsese, Colin Powell and Deepak Chopra. In a Skywalker Ranch screening room, Schneider gave a preview of one documentary, a biography of Paul Robeson that gave a measured but poignant account of his rise in American consciousness as a star of stage and screen and the dismantling of his life after he became a target of the anti-communist movement in America.

"Our goal was to tell the stories of history but also capture the drama of these lives, which sometimes is missing from documentaries," Schneider said. He talked in awe about lives that zigzagged between triumph and ignominy and how moments of serendipity and awful luck changed the course of nations. "There's incredible drama if you treat these as stories waiting to be told."

One core mission that Lucas gave Schneider was to make sure the documentaries would have a shelf life, that they were constructed in a way that would make them hold the attention of a student sitting in a classroom in 2020 or beyond.

That makes sense for a man who knows artifacts don't become less valuable as the years pass, nor do they suffer if they were underappreciated at first. The filmmaker laughed out loud as he imitated one of the naysayer opinions that confronted his young fedora-wearing hero in the 1990s. "The show, well, it's about history," he said in a mock voice dripping with disdain, "and, you know, forget that."


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