It all started in 1971 when a shy young helmer named George Lucas came to Cannes to support his first movie “THX” in Directors Fortnight: He ended up that weekend on the inevitable Carlton Hotel terrace, sketching out a deal with United Artists to make a sci-fi pic tentatively called “Star Wars.”
It ended Sunday, 34 years later, in the Cannes Harbor aboard the Queen Mary 2 when the director received the Cannes Trophy for his contributions to the art and craft of filmmaking.
The ceremony was underwritten by Cunard Lines, with the QM2 making its first ever maiden call in Cannes — and making all the other yachts look like bathtub boats.
“We at Cunard didn’t want to just have a perfume party,” said Cunard lines VP Karen Cullen. The cruise line was looking to sponsor a high-end event related to the festival, and once Cannes folks settled on Lucas as the recipient of their trophy, Cunard jumped at the chance to be involved.
“Who better to honor than the most intergalactic, and technologically advanced filmmaker on the world’s best, and most technologically advanced ocean-going ship,” she enthused.
Ceremony unfolded at 2 p.m. in the so-called Illuminations room of the floating hotel, with a string quartet intro and clips from Lucas’ prior works. Some 200 guests attended the event, including the mayor of Cannes, Fox co-chairman Jim Gianopulos, and the Star Wars phalanx.
The ship’s European director Carla Marlowe reminded dignitaries and press that the ships of the Cunard line had been second homes for many stars, from Elizabeth Taylor and Burt Lancaster to , well, Carrie Fisher, who made a voyage last summer.
Cannes topper Gilles Jacob from video hookup on-shore talked briefly about meeting up for the first time with the shy Lucas in San Francisco many years ago. Similarly Cannes fest managing director Veronique Cayla and artistic director Thierry Fremaux spoke briefly in French of Lucas’ gifts and his “beautiful intergalactic voyages” — though nuances were lost by the young clearly befuddled translator.
Lucas was gracious, to the point, and brief: “It’s very fitting that the final episode should be here. Cannes is a very special place for me.”
He and his entourage were then whisked away to the next promotional encounter.