George Lucas to receive honorary Palme

The announcement that director, screenwriter and producer George Lucas will receive the Palme d’Or d’honneur on Saturday, May 25 at the Closing Ceremony of the 77th Cannes Film Festival raised a few eyebrows. As the ultimate celebration of cinema as art, why choose the producer of the Indiana Jones series?

The reason is simple: the Cannes festival has since the early days flirted with both commercial and art movies. It got its reputation from discovering and promoting new talent and styles. But it gets its whack from Hollywood.

Hollywood at Cannes

In 2004, when the Jury President was none other than Quentin Tarantino, and while the selection for top honours included classics such as Oldboy and 2046, the award finally went to Michael Moore’s documentary Fahrenheit 9/11.

George Lucas is, in the words of Cannes itself, inseparable from the Star Wars and Indiana Jones sagas. Whether this is a good thing or not is a question of personal taste. But there is no questioning his ability to turn a good idea into a lifetime money-spinner – twice.

It all started well.  “The Cannes Film Festival has always held a special place in my heart,” says Lucas. “I was surprised and delighted when my first film, THX-1138, was selected to be screened on the Croisette in 1971. Since then, I have returned to the festival many times as a writer, director and producer. I am truly honored by this special recognition that means a lot to me.”

Shot from George Lucas' THX 1138
Bold imagery from THX 1138

It’s easy to forget that Lucas’ early days were spent with young guns such as Francis Ford Coppola, who helped him produce the dystopian sci-fi essay “THX 1138” (1971), an adaptation of one of his experimental shorts.

With American Graffiti, an ode to American youth, Lucas first introduced Harrison Ford. Its success gave him a licence to aim higher still. Against everyone’s best advice, he directed Star Wars, inventing a space western that I still running (with mixed results), to this day. It might not feel like it, but the war has been running for 40 years.

Lucas’ curiosity and need to constantly improve the visual of his movies, led him to create his company Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic. It’s not an over-statement to say that cinema today would not look the same without Lucas.

On the sound side, he brought movie sound to new levels with THX. He is also the founder of the famous animation studio Pixar. Finally, George Lucas is an outstanding producer: beyond the three Star Wars trilogies, he is associated with the development of noted films by several directors ranging from Akira Kurosawa’s Kagemusha to the Indiana Jones saga, which he imagined.

Lucas movies are often turned into TV series

The honorary Palme d’Or will be presented to Lucas on the stage of the Grand Théâtre Lumière during the Closing Ceremony on Saturday, May 25, 2024.

The Closing Ceremony of the 77th Cannes Film Festival will be broadcast live on Saturday, May 25 on France Télévisions and Brut. Camille Cottin will MC the event.

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