Baxter’s 461 page opus printed in 2000 isn’t
exactly enamored of its subject, but it isn’t a hatchet job either.
wrote several biographies on directors including a shortish (how else
could it be considered the legendary director’s infamous reclusiveness)
one on Kubrick published son before his death which I read and enjoyed.
Baxter also wrote a biography of Spielberg which is apparently quite good.
His George Lucas: A Biography
is quite well written and easy to read. I finished my copy within a view a
few short days despite the usual pressures of work, family, etc. usually I
would unreservedly recommend a book for this reason, but I have a few
reservations in this regard.
One is a factual inaccuracy I caught
regarding Howard the Duck in which Baxter supplies an incorrect
synopsis of this mid-1970s Marvel comic book title. I can attest to this
having recently read the Essential Howard the Duck graphic novel -
particularly highly recommended for anyone who remembers 1970s Marvel
comics which this title lampoons, by the way. Instead Baxter supplies the
plot synopsis of the movie which differs substantially from the comic.
However, catching out such
inaccuracies makes one suspect the rest of book in question. So when I
checked out some user reviews on Amazon.com I noticed that people pointed
out several inaccuracies in an earlier book Baxter wrote about Lucas
(namely Mythmaker: The Life and Works of George Lucas); one of them
being that Baxter states that Jim Henson supplied the voice of Yoda in
Empire Strikes Back. It is in fact Frank Oz. I
didn’t recheck whether George Lucas: A Biography repeats this
mistake, but this prevents me from recommending the book unreservedly.
Also, Baxter at times loses focus on
his subject and the narrative drifts. Occasionally I was wondering whether
I was reading a biography of George Lucas or Francis Ford Coppola. Some
more judicious editing would have been in order in this case.
Needless to say this book will
infuriate fan boys who can’t wait for the as-yet unnamed sixth
Star Wars pic. If you feel like
spamming me with a message stating “f&*#k you – George Lucas is a GOD!”
then this book isn’t exactly for you.
If you however have a more balanced
view of the man and is interested in a more critical perspective on his
life and work, then digging up a copy of George Lucas: A Biography
from the sales bin like I did is a good idea.
George Lucas: A Biography
by John Baxter
Paperback: 461 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 7.76 x 5.11
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; (September 18, 2000)