There are those who consider that, as the creator of the 'Star Wars' saga, George Lucas is one of the main people responsible for cinema becoming more and more like a mere dollar and popcorn factory; No one would say it, that is, judging by the overwhelming ovation he received today – applause, screams, whistles, perhaps some orgasmic gasps – which he received today moments before his meeting with the audience at the Cannes Festival, which tomorrow will make him delivery of a Palme d'Or in honor of his more than 50 years of career. “It's a great honor, and a kind of recognition that I'm not used to, since I didn't used to make the kind of films that win awards.”

The truth, in any case, is that Lucas already participated in Cannes – in the parallel section then known as Directors' Fortnight – with his first feature film, 'THX 1138' (1971), dystopian science fiction story based on one of the short films he had directed during his years in film school. “At that time we were willing not only to make films for free, but to pay to make them”, he recalled today. It is then, he assures, that he adopted the method that would end up making him one of the most relevant figures in the history of Hollywood. “Persevere in the effort to make a film, “never stop pushing, never give up.”

At that time, in the early 1970s, Lucas had already begun writing what would become the most famous epic in the history of science fiction – The Rebellion of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia against the Empire- and that is also a perfect metaphor for another conflict, the one that authors like Coppola, Altman, Scorsese and himself waged against old Hollywood in search of a cinema that gave freedom to the figure of the director. “When we started, it was impossible to access the studio system except by plug,” he recalls. “But then something magical happened: in the mid-60s the founders of Hollywood were retiring and the studios were acquired by companies like Coca-Cola, who had no idea about making movies and hired young guys like us because They thought we knew what we were doing. Of course, they were wrong.”

George Lucas in Cannes, where this Saturday he will receive the Palme d'Or.

Many people are unaware that Lucas is the one who originally was chosen to direct 'Apocalypse Now' (1979) and that, before being replaced by Francis Ford Coppola in office, he worked with screenwriter John Milius on a version of the story that later ended up serving as his inspiration when starting 'Star Wars'. “It was very influenced by the Vietnam War, and it was going to be a satire along the lines of 'Red Telephone: We Fly to Moscow' (1964),” he recalls. When he showed the first installment of his galaxy saga to the producers, he adds, their reaction was unmistakably negative. “They didn't like the movie at all. They reluctantly agreed to release it in the United States, and initially it was only screened in 32 theaters throughout the country.” Shortly after, however, it was already being shown in more than 1,000 cinemas. And, as we now know, that was just the beginning.