The Catholic film features actor William Shatner and was inspired by Psalm 42.
After graduating from Modesto Junior College in 1964, a young George Lucas started to set his sights on a career in film and enrolled at the University of Southern California. He was encouraged to pursue cinematography at USC and it was there that his love for being behind the camera emerged. Lucas started to experiment on different projects and looked for work any where he could find it. All the major film companies shut their doors to Lucas and he was struggling to find anything.
Then through a series of events and connections, Lucas was able to try his hand at being an assistant cameraman for a short film being produced by a small production company. The company was called Family Theater Productions and was under the direction of Father Patrick Peyton. The small Catholic production company explains how they “gave noted film producer/director George Lucas (Star Wars) his first film credit — as an assistant cameraman — in the mid-1960s for a short, The Soldier, starring William Shatner.” The film was directed by Richard A. Colla (Battlestar Galactica) and was one of Shatner’s first performances on screen. The Soldier was part of a larger series of meditations on the Psalms and took for its inspiration Psalm 42 (41 in the Douay-Rheims translation).
To further help out a young college student, Family Theater Productions made an agreement with Lucas and “in exchange for his work, he was allowed to edit a student film on Family Theater equipment.” At the time Lucas was a senior at USC, working on students films and needed the equipment to edit his early attempts at cinema. The experience proved to be helpful and a few years later Lucas put together his first film, THX 1138, paving the way for his future Star Wars adventures.
So on this #StarWarsDay, watch below rare footage from The Soldier and see the Catholic film that boosted George Lucas’ early film career while he was in college.