This post was originally published by In A Far Away Galaxy.
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You’ve surely heard of the Wizard of Oz? Did you know it helped inspired Star Wars?
Both Luke and Dorothy live with their aunt and uncle on a farmThey both are looking for something more. Luke wants to go to the Academy to fly things and likes to stare into the Binary Sunset and ponder such things. Dorothy states her deal when she sings Somewhere over the rainbow.They each have complementary farmhands. Hunk, Zeke, and Hickory for Oz and C–3PO and R2-D2 respectively.Each has their world turn upside down. Dorothy’s is literally thrown around by a tornado, and Luke’s by the Vader’s stormtroopers murdering his family (which was actually a call out to John Wayne’s The Searchers). Aside – Wayne has a cameo ‘line’ in ANHThe two characters also become surrounded by familiar companions.
Chewbacca steps in for the Cowardly LionC–3PO steps in for The Tin Man (and both enjoy some oil for their joints early in each film! “Thank the maker”)R2-D2 steps in for Toto. Both don’t speak English and one could argue that R-TWO D TWO is a play on TO TO.
It is very important to bear in mind that the duo of R2 and C3PO were directly inspired by characters from The Hidden Fortress, so don’t think Lucas is wholly copying from Oz.
George Lucas has previously said that he took facets of Luke’s personality and made them into characters, and that’s how he came up with Luke’s friends and companions. And that’s pretty much what happens in Oz.
An amusing parallel is that when Darth Vader kills Obi-Wan Kenobi, only Kenobi’s robes remain as his body has disappeared into the Force. When Dorothy accidentally kills the Wicked Witch of the West, only her robes too remain after the water is thrown on her.
“‘Oh, he just took The Wizard of Oz and turned it inside out.’ But if you look at those two movies, they are totally different ideas. I mean, you can see certain similarities between almost any two movies. But coming up with a basic idea and developing it and making it work is very difficult and not to be underestimated.”
So let’s give him a fair due on that point.
But don’t be fooled, in Return of the Jedi, Lucas did a fabulous homage to this scene:
Recall that R2D2 and C3PO are inspired by OZ and you get:
Like Dorothy and her new friends went off to the Wizard’s Emerald City, C3PO and his little buddy R2 headed off to Jabba’s Palace, each party not really knowing what their fates would be.
For a more expert consideration on OZ’s influence on Star Wars check out: