This post was originally published by In A Far Away Galaxy.
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The Key Influences of films on George Lucas’ Star Wars
If you think George Lucas simply sat down at his desk with a pencil and a yellow legal pad and wrote down the script for Star Wars, you’ll believe they’ve recently added an extra letter to the word gullible in the dictionary.
Please note, this is not an exhaustive investigation just a summary of the more obvious things that Lucas has discussed in the past or are so obvious, that they should be mentioned!
The Hidden Fortress directed by Akira Kurosawa
The movie features the plot of a general and a princess, fighting their way home through enemy lines in feudal Japan with the help of a pair of bumbling peasants.
Does that sound similar?
What if you replaced the pair of peasants with R2D2 and C3PO?
Yep, Lucas took the two bickering peasants and swapped them out for what became one of the most famous cinematic pairings in history.
This was an idea that Lucas borrowed directly from the film.
This scene is shot in such a way that it echoes a similar scene in The Searchers, in which the young hero (not the Wayne character) also returns to his family’s farm to find the buildings burned and his own aunt and uncle murdered.
The lift is direct and obvious.
Does this sound familiar to Luke and Darth’s travails?
It was bigger than Ben Hur but Ben inspired it.
The fateful moment when Sebulba’s own pod racer connects with young Anakin’s pod is nearly a shot for shot remake of Ben Hurs’ climactic moment when Messala accidentally locks wheels with the Ben Hur character.
The torpedoes needing to hit the exact spot on the Death Star is taken directly from the need for the Dambusters to bounce the bomb to the exact part of the Dam.
That said, the famous trench run on the Death Star was actually a lift from 633 Squadron and the timing of the Death Star’s positioning to attack the Rebel base was a point taken from the Gregory Peck vessel, The Guns of Navarone
Lawrence of Arabia
As does a planet called Tatooine.
As does an angry young man called Anakin.
Stars Wars blog notes:
Remember this scene to the right where Padme and Anakin have a chat about politics?
He had no way of getting the rights to do so and ultimately set upon writing his own film, Star Wars.
And Star Wars has plenty of that indeed but what Star Wars really borrows from is the concept of a fairy tale in which futuristic technology stands in for the traditional role of magic (think Merlin’s role in many stories).
Which, in a sense, maybe true but what about the Force?
While the ‘swipe’ scene transitions were stolen from The Hidden Fortress, that famous Star Wars title amble marching up the screen in yellow was taken directly from the Flash Gordon serials. Lucas also borrowed the concept of a Cloud City
Edgar Rice Burroughs and his ‘Princess of Mars’ novels
But resonated so long and strongly with their influence on other writers that Lucas eventually found out about them when he learned they were the inspiration for Flash Gordon.
If Lucas said, I have an idea that there will be two robots it was McQuarrie who gave them their look.
Spock from Star Trek
Yeah, Spock from Star Trek did that first.
Gandalf from Lord of the Rings
At one point the third draft of Stars Wars featured Obi-Wan Kenobi paraphrasing direct passages from Tolkien’s writings.
While that was cut from the film, it served to show that Lucas had been thinking about the White Wizard so it can be argued that there is a bit of Gandalf in the foundations of the character of Ben Kenobi.
Fan boys and fan girls and mum and dads with fat wallets
Some are obvious, some not so.
Let’s start with Boba Fett. He had very minor parts in Empire and Jedi but he built up a massive fan base.
So much so that Jeremy Bulloch (and co) is a ‘cult’ star of the Star Wars universe.
This love for Boba meant that Lucas put the character into Attack of the Clones. This gave an origin for Fett.
Either way, it was pretty cool to see Mace Windu cut off Jango’s head with his saber.
By and large, most ‘adults’ hate Jar Jar. Kids love him, but that’s not the point. Fan venom feedback meant Jar Jar’s role was significantly reduced in Attack of the Clones and he barely made an appearance in Revenge of the Sith, uttering only a single line.
So much so that by the time Return of the Jedi rolled around, it was said to be funded by sales of merchandise from Empire.
The cynics have suggested that to make even more money, the intended presence of Wookie was changed to the Ewoks so toys and the like would be more marketable to children.
And let’s not get started on the Porgs in The Last Jedi…
Timothy Zahn’s Coruscant
A key takeaway from Zahn’s work is the creation of the character Grand Admiral Thrawn – he now has entered the new Star Wars canon by virtue of having a key role in season three of Star Wars Rebels.
Certainly, we haven’t yet mentioned Frank Capra and Yoda’s death in Jedi!