See Steven Spielberg Talking About George Lucas’ First Cut Of Star Wars And Why It Wasn’t Great

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas
(Image credit: HBO/Lucasfilm)

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have been friends for a long time. Both were a part of a group of young filmmaker friends in the '70s and '80s called the “Movie Brats" who would help each other with their movie-making ambitions. Along with Lucas and Spielberg, the group included Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Brian De Palma. Oftentimes they would show each other first cuts of films they were working on, and even let the others help with a few directing responsibilities. They were all very supportive of each other, but according to Spielberg, when Lucas showed the group the first cut of Star Wars, it wasn’t received very well, and for good reason. 

In a clip from the docuseries Light and Magic (opens in new tab), Spielberg reflected on what it was like watching the first cut of Star Wars and why it wasn’t very good in the beginning. You can check out the clip below.

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Clearly there was a disconnect, as the famed director notes. Several questions seemed unanswered, and the effects shots being absent did a great disservice to the material. Spielberg exclaimed in the clip:

To say it was not finished is a kindness! He didn’t have the effects yet. There was a great deal of debate about context because there were only a couple of effects shots in there. Where are we? Who are we? Who are they? Do we need “they”? What is this?

It was after this first showing that the movie started to really come together. De Palma, who was infamously critical about the Star Wars sneak peak, ended up giving a lot to the franchise. It was the Scarface director’s idea to include the now iconic opening crawl to contextualize the film. Spielberg, who is no stranger to special effects, saw potential in the idea, according to this clip. Clearly the effects are a massive star of the film, so I understand why it probably felt awkward watching the film unfinished. Star Wars became a massive blockbuster success that sparked a multibillion dollar franchise, so Lucas was definitely on to something.

Steven Spielberg was so supportive of Lucas in his intergalactic endeavors that he was convinced it would make more money than his own film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Lucas wasn’t as confident and ended up losing millions to his old friend when the original Star Wars almost grossed a billion dollars. Their friendship has lasted decades, and they even worked together on the Indiana Jones films. The two seem like a movie-collaborator match made in heaven, and I think plenty of people would love another film from these two bigwigs. 

You can catch the rest of George Lucas’ story in the docuseries Light and Magic with a Disney+ subscription. In addition, Steven Spielberg fans can check out his latest film, The Fabelmans, now playing exclusively in theaters, and he has many other films streaming now. For more information on other projects coming to theaters and streaming this year, make sure to consult our 2022 movie release schedule.

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