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George Lucas quote about Joseph Campbell

Monday, January 11, 2010 10:49:02 AM
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"About ten years ago I set out to write a children's film, and I had an idea of doing a modern fairy tale. My friends all around said, "What are you doing? You're crazy. You have to do something important. You have to do something that is socially relevant. You have to do something that is art with a capital A. You have to do what we're doing." I had been working on a project about Vietnam [Apocalypse Now] and I had abandoned it -- gave it to a friend of mine [Francis Coppola] and said I've got to do this children's film.

I didn't know what I was doing at the time. I started working, started doing research, started writing, and a year went by. I wrote many drafts of this work and then I stumbled across The Hero With a Thousand Faces. It was the first time that I really began to focus. Once I read that book I said to myself, This is what I've been doing. This is it. I had been reading other doctors - Freudians, and also dealing with an ample supply of Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge, and all the other mythical heroes of our times. But The Hero With a Thousand Faces was the first time a book began to focus what I had already been doing intuitively. I began to see a lot of parallels and began to become fascinated with this whole process and as a result I picked up several other books, The Flight of the Wild Gander, The Masks of God, as I continued to write.

This whole process went on over a period of years. Then, as I say, I went around in circles for a long time trying to come up with stories, and the script rambled all over and I ended up with hundreds of pages. It was The Hero With a Thousand Faces that just took what was about 500 pages and said, here is the story. Here's the end; here's the focus; here's the way it's all laid out. It was all there and had been there for thousands and thousands of years, as Mr. Campbell pointed out. And I said, "This is it." After reading more of Joe's books I began to understand how I could do this. When that happened to me I realized how important the contribution that Joe had made to me was. I had read these books and said, Here is a lifetime of scholarship, a life of work that is distilled down to a few books that I can read in a few months that enable me to move forward with what I am trying to do and give me focus to my work. It was a great feat and very important. It's possible that if I had not run across him I would still be writing Star Wars today.

I think you can say about some authors that their work is more important than them. But with Joe, as great as his works are, there is no doubt in my mind that the body of his work is not as great as the man. He is a really wonderful man and he has become my Yoda."

--George Lucas, National Arts Club, 1985
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