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  1. Rewrite in progress: article to be made more succint and up-to-date. The little bits I shared of my insights into this seemed to sit well with the community, so I decided why not make an article of this? This article will deal primarily with the antecedents and sources of the Star Wars series. Of course, if one so wished, one could read absolutely anything and everything into it, look no further than Vincent Canby's review of the original film: "Quo Vadis?, Buck Rogers, Ivanhoe, Superman, The Wizard of Oz, The Gospel According to St Matthew, the legends of King Arthur." Likewise, one could look into the sources of Lucas' sources, and through Burroughs link Lucas up with Arabian Nights and, through Kurosawa, to Minamoto Yoshitsune. But what are the actual, direct and concrete inspirations of Star Wars? George Lucas, himself, of course, had since March 1980 pointed increasingly towars high-brow sources like Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai and Sir James Fraser's The Golden Bough.1 But what are the influences we can actually observe through the movie and its evolving drafts (and Williams' score)? And how do they stack up against each other? My own research suggests Lucas' sources (roughly by descending order of significance) are EE Smith's novella Galactic Patrol, Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom book series, especially A Princess of Mars but also A Fighting Man of Mars, Warlord of Mars and the Weird Worlds comic adaptation; The Flash Gordon serials, especially Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe; Donald Richie's The Films of Akira Kurosawa. Ontop of those is a series of secondary sources, in no particular order, including Frank Herbert's Dune, JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit, illustrations on issues of Analog Science Fiction / Science Fact and Harry Harrison novellas; films from Dam Busters and The Searchers to A Space Odyssey and Casablanca. Carlos Castaneda's Don Juan novels, particularly Tales of Power, and A book on the psychiatric importance of fairytales by Bruno Bettelheim, and a review on Psychology Today of Star Wars itself from 1978. Galactic Patrol (1937) A salient description of Star Wars in terms of its antecedents would be "Lensmen on Barsoom", referring to two influences which unquestionably loom the largest on the series: The first, and probably most substantial, is Doc EE Smith's Lensmen series, specifically his original Galactic Patrol, which Lucas' biography Skywalking credits him with reading. Indeed, Lucas owns what looks like (picture below) the 1972 paperback of the popular Panther edition.2 Lucas is believed to have started his reading of space opera literature while editing American Graffiti, and through his writing process. His earliest drafts (February 1973-January 1975) all feature similarities to Smith in the interstellar setting and in names like Thanta (Thionite), Tantive four (Rigel IV), Aldeeran (Aldebaran) and Skywalker (Skylark). Later, Lucas would take the title of the most-admired entry, "The Empire Strikes Back", from the title of one of Smith's episodes: "The Quarry Strikes Back." By the second draft (January 1975) Lucas seems to have gotten into Smith's book in some length, and now the Empire is preceded by a benevolent republic similar to Smith's "The Civilization" with its "Galactic Senate." There's a character whose mechanical but for his right arm, like the commandant in Smith's book, a characterisation that would much later shift to Vader. But, most importantly, the concepts of the Jedi (Lensmen), Sith (Boskone, also recalling Lucas' "Bogan"), the Cosmic Force (Cosmic All) and, as of yet, the Kiber Crystal (Arisian Lens, also the later Midichlorians) are much indebted to Smith.3 Beyond this, much of the plot of, especially, the original film is taken from Smith, who's hero flies the fastest ship in the fleet, blasts off into the fourth dimension, passes the ship for scrap when caught in a tractor beam, steals data spools about the dreaded "Grand Base" and escapes the premises in a "space lifeboat" with another Lensmen before landing on a desolate planet. He trains with his blast shield down, infilitrates an enemy base to rescue his love interest, is injured and has his limbs replaced. Barsoom (1917-1943) The other "source" for Star Wars is Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Barsoom" series. Lucas would have known Burroughs' most popular hero Tarzan, who in 1972 headlined DC's Weird World comic-strip, also featuring the Barsoom series, and with which Lucas seems to have discovered Burroughs' John Carter. He soon began collecting Burroughs illustrations by Harold "Hal" Barwood and Frank Frazetta.4 His earliest draft (Feburary 1973), is clearly based on the opening page of Burroughs' A Fighting Man of Mars (see table) and his treatment (May 1973) was appended with an illustration (see picture) from the latest edition of "John Carter of Mars" (1943). Indeed, while writing it he told Joseph Gelmis that he's working on a film "in the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs." After the second draft, by which time Lucas also read Richard Lupoff's "Edgar Rice Burroughs: Master of Adventure", Lucas prefaced his synopsis saying its a story in "in the grand tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars, and Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon."5 George Lucas, The Journal of the Whills, February 1973 Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Fighting Man of Mars, May 1931. This is the story of Mace Windy, a revered Jedi-bendu of Ophuchi, as related to us by C.J. Thorpe, padawaan learner to the famed Jedi. I am Chuiee Two Thorpe of Kissel. My father is Han Dardell Thorpe, chief pilot of the renown galactic cruiser Tarnack. As a family we were not rich, except in honor, and valuing this above all mundane possessions, I chose the profession of my father, rather than a more profitable career. I was 16 I believe, and pilot of the trawler Balmung, when my ambitions demanded that I enter the exalted Intersystems Academy to train as a potential Jedi-Templer. It is here that I became padawaan learner to the great Mace Windy, highest of all the Jedi-bendu masters, and at that time, Warlord to the Chairman of the Alliance of Independent Systems. Never shall I forget the occasion upon which I first set eyes upon Mace Windy. It was at the great feast of the Pleabs. There were gathered under one roof, the most powerful warriors in the Galaxy, and although I realize my adoration of the Master might easily influence my memory, when he entered the hall, these great and noble Warlords fell silent. It was said he was the most gifted and powerful man in the Independent Systems. Some felt he was even more powerful than the Imperial leader of the Galactic Empire. This IS the story of Hadron of Hastor, Fighting Man of Mars, as narrated by him to Ulysses Paxton: I am Tan Hadron of Hastor, my father is Had Urtur, Odwar of the 1st Umak of the Troops of Hastor. He commands the largest ship of war that Hastor has ever contributed to the navy of Helium, accommodating as it does the entire ten thousand men of the 1st Umak, together with five hundred lesser fighting ships and all the paraphernalia of war. My mother is a princess of Gathol. As a family we are not rich except in honor, and, valuing this above all mundane possessions, I chose the profession of my father rather than a more profitable career. The better to further my ambition I came to the capital of the empire of Helium and took service in the troops of Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium, that I might be nearer the great John Carter, Warlord of Mars. [...] It was thus that I met Sanoma Tora, daughter of Tor Hatan, Odwar of the 91st Umak. [...] because here in the capital of Helium riches count for more than they do in Hastor, Tor Hatan is a powerful man, whose influence reaches even to the throne of the Jeddak. Never shall I forget the occasion upon which I first laid eyes upon Sanoma Tora. It was upon the occasion of a great feast at the marble palace of The Warlord. There were gathered under one roof the most beautiful women of Barsoom, where, notwithstanding the gorgeous and radiant beauty of Dejah Thoris, Tara of Helium and Thuvia of Ptarth, the pulchritude of Sanoma Tora was such as to arrest attention. I shall not say that it was greater than that of those acknowledged queens of Barsoomian loveliness, for I know that my adoration of Sanoma Tora might easily influence my judgment, but there were others there who remarked her gorgeous beauty which differs from that of Dejah Thoris as the chaste beauty of a polar landscape differs from the beauty of the tropics, as the beauty of a white palace in the moonlight differs from the beauty of its garden at midday. Unlike Galactic Patrol, A Fighting Man of Mars is the story of Mars-native Tar Hadron, and so set the precedent for a story taking place without earth being in the picture. Elements in these early drafts include names like Jedi (Jed in Burroughs), Bantha (Banth) and Sith, many of them taken from other Barsoom novels, probably the Gods of Mars and Warlord of Mars omnibus. Barsoom is the antecedent of not just Tatooine (Burroughs' earthen cities clearly presage the "used" aesthetic of Lucas' planet, and the two suns are a play on Mars' two moons) and Geonosis with its arena, but also of Utapau, Hoth and the Wookie planet. Still more of Star Wars' bestiary is taken from Burroughs, including the Banthas (Thoats), Nexu (Banths), Wampa (Apt), Aiwhas and Mynocks (Malagor), Wookies and Ewoks (White Apes) and Gungans (Tharks). Indeed, an entire plot-line whereby the heroes recruit primitive tribes against the Empire is based on John Carter's recruiting of the Tharks in A Princess of Mars, and was to appear in Luke's recruiting of the Cowai (Splinter of the Mind's Eye), the Ewoks (Return of the Jedi) and Amidala's recruiting of the Gungans (The Phantom Menace). Likewise, the damsel-in-distress setup of the original film owes much to Burroughs, and the whole Jabba "short" is in the style of Burroughs as illustrated by Frank Frazetta, replete with a Barsoomian light ship.6 Flash Gordon (1936-1940) While Lucas was influenced by the Flash Gordon serials - e.g. the landspeeder - his main influence was surely the Universal serials. It was, in fact, the original instigation for what became Star Wars, with Lucas fancying to adapt Flash Gordon since probably the failure of THX-1138 in May 1971. Only when this proved impossible did Lucas pitch an original space opera "The Star Wars", clearly based on "Space Soldiers", the title by which Lucas knew the Flash Gordon serials.7 Beyond this, however, there's relatively little to Star Wars that's concretely Flash Gordon-like, and still less that's like Buck Rogers. What little there is, derives primarily from the third serial, Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, which features an opening text crawl and a city in the clouds. The Gungan city comes from the original Flash Gordon serial, and the all-important concept of a rebellion against a tyrannical Empire is a significant debt to the serials. Visually, both the wipes and the cobbled-together look of the serial are important to Lucas' visual language.8 The Films of Akira Kurosawa (1966) After the success of Star Wars had sunk in, Lucas began to downplay Star Wars' origin in pulps, as in the above, and towards more high-brow sources, of which one of the most central was the films of Akira Kurosawa. Lucas first remembers being introduced to Kurosawa by John Millius circa 1966-1970, and he may well have caught the popular (but heavily abridged) Seven Samurai, perhaps still going under the same title as its Western remake The Magnificent Seven. Indeed, thinking of Burroughs in terms of Westerns (more on this later) his mind seems to have turned first to the Sturges film, which recently had a sequel released, before turning to the Kurosawa original, and acquiring a copy of Donald Richie's The Films of Akira Kurosawa, from which his treatment and rough draft paraphrase copiously. Lucas was ultimately to pay the greatest attention not to Richie's descriptions of Seven Samurai (although Jar Jar owes something to Kikuchiyo) but Hidden Fortress and Yojimbo, both of which he was unlikely to have seen for his own eyes, although he knew that Leone remade Yojimbo as A Fistful of Dollars. The repeated beat of severed arms is an ode to the latter, but much of the plot of Lucas' early drafts owes to Hidden Fortress.9 Donald Richie, The Films of Akira Kurosawa, 1965 George Lucas, The Star Wars: Synopsis It is the sixteenth century, a period of civil wars. A princess, with her family, her retainers, and the clan treasure is being pursued. If they can cross enemy territory and reach a friendly province they will be saved. The enemy knows this and posts a reward for the capture of the princess. She is being guarded by one of her generals and it is he who leads her on the long and dangerous journey that follows. They take along with them the sixteen hundred pounds of gold and also two farmers whom the general has captured. The farmers' accidentally discovering the gold (accompanied by percussive and Noh-like sounds on the sound-track) is the first indication, and Mifune's splendid entrance is another. They are rummaging around the rocks, pushing and pulling each other, each trying to find the next piece. [...] The princess, just like Yoshitsune, is disguised as a porter [...] ... and the farmers would have been comic relief, inserted among the general seriousness. [...] The setting is a narrow road in the forest. [...] Mifune cannot curb his horse in time; we have hardly time to see what has happened when the momentum both of horse and of camera movement, carries him directly into the enemies' hands. [...] At the end—as at the end of the Noh play— she is revealed as her goddess-like self. The farmers, like the porter in They Who Step on the Tiger's Tail come to realize that they have been adventuring with demigods. [...in Sanjuro] The young men laugh with relief, anticipation. Laughter continues and they look around in consternation for none of them are laughing. Out of the inner sanctuary ambles Sanjuro (Toshiro Mifune), yawning, scratching himself, thumping his shoulders, stiff with sleep. The youngsters reach for their swords. He barely glances at them. The contrast between the spick-and-span boy-samurai with their terse nods, their meaningful glances, and Sanjuro, a real samurai, a real man, could not be greater. [...in Yojimo] Snick-snack—the sword is out, an arm lies on the ground, one of the men lies doubled, cleft from chin to groin, and Mifune is with quiet dignity replacing his sword in its sheath. It is the thirty-third century, a period of civil wars in the galaxy. A rebel princess, with her family, her retainers, and the clan treasure, is being pursued. If they can cross territory controlled by the Empire and reach a friendly planet, they will be saved. The Sovereign knows this, and posts a reward for the capture of the princess. She is being guarded by one of her generals, (Luke Skywalker) and it is he who leads her on the long and dangerous journey that follows. They take along with them two hundred pounds of the greatly treasured "aura spice", and also two Imperial bureaucrats, whom the general has captured. The two terrified, bickering bureaucrats crash land on Aquilae while trying to flee the battle of the space fortress. They accidently discover a small container of the priceless "aura spice" and are rummaging around the rocks pushing and pulling each other trying to find more... [...] The princess and the general are disguised as farmers [...] The two bureaucrats are essentially comic relief inserted among the general seriousness of the adventure. [...] Skywalker and his party race along a narrow pathway [...] Skywalker cannot curb his "jet-stick" in time and the momentum carries him directly into the enemies' hands. [...] The princess’ uncle, ruler of Ophuchi, rewards the bureaucrats, who for the first time see the princess revealed as her true goddess-like self... After the ceremony is over, and the festivities have ended, the drunken bureaucrats stagger down an empty street arm in arm realizing that they have been adventuring with demigods. [...]The boys laugh in anticipation of the blow they will strike the Empire in the name of the princess. They all stop laughing, but the laughing continues and they look around in consternation. Into the sanctuary ambles Skywalker, scratching himself, amused at the idealism of the youths. He barely glances at them. The contrast between the boy rebels with their terse nods, their meaningful glances, and Skywalker, a real general, a real man could not be greater. [...] With a flash of light, his lazer sword is out. An arm lies on the ground, one of the bullies lies double, slashed from chin to groin and Skywalker, with quiet dignity, replaces his sword in its sheath. This would not survive to the finished film: the only major vestige of Kurosawa's influence on the original film is an eight-minute segment of the Droids wandering the wasteland, and even there the personalities of the characters have been changed, now more akin to Laurel and Hardy. The speeder-bike chase in Return of the Jedi is based on the horse-chase in the Kurosawa film, and much of The Empire Strikes Back owes to Kurosawa's latest Dersu Uzala. The most Kurosawa film in Lucas' oeuvre, however, was to be The Phantom Menace, both in shot compositions that recall Seven Samurai and Throne of Blood, but also in a plot outline based on Lucas' early drafts and thus akin to Hidden Fortress.10 Secondary Sources: Printed The Hobbit (1937) When Lucas read Lupoff's essay on Burroughs, he came across a correspondence that Lupoff quotes between himself and JRR Tolkien, author of The Hobbit. In his next draft, Luke is less of a messianic "chosen one" and more the everyman hero, as well as an orphan like Bilbo from Tolkien's book. The old general of the earlier drafts had been transformed into a Gandalf-like character, down to some of his dialogue. Lucas casting choices for both parts - as well as Sir Alec Guinness' willingness to take the latter role - owe something to Tolkien: Lucas even considered casting a short person in the role of Luke. Gandalf was to be the model for the characterisation of Yoda, the Emperor (as a dark version of Ben) and Qui Gon. By Lucas' next draft, still more of Tolkien's influence sunk in: Luke (and, later, Yoda and Anakin) lives in a hole-in-the-ground not unlike Bag-End. The draft opens with "A Long Time Ago" rather after the manner of Tolkien's "This is a story of long ago." Luke even briefly rejects the quest, like Bilbo11 There's still more of Tolkien in Return of the Jedi and the following Ewok films: Jabba and his palace owe something to the Goblin-town episode in Tolkien's book. Its possible Lucas hadn't read that far into the book, but rather relied on the Rankin-Bass TV Special, whose Goblins are not unlike some of the concept art drawn for Jabba's guards: comments by Arthur Rankin about the similarities to Star Wars may have caught his attention, and Rankin's sequel, The Return of the King, may have affected Lucas' change from Revenge of the Jedi to Return of the Jedi. The first Ewok film, surely the most fairytale-like of Lucas' oeuvre, bears an uncanny resemblence to Tolkien's plot, and while the second Ewok film breaks away from that, there's again much of Gandalf to Wilford Brimely's Noa.12 JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit, 1937 George Lucas, The Star Wars: Third Draft "Good morning!" said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat. "What do you mean?" be said. "Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is morning to be good on?" "All of them at once," said Bilbo. "And a very fine morning for a pipe of tobacco out of doors, into the bargain. BEN: Good morning! LUKE: What do you mean, ‘good morning’? Do you mean that it is a good morning for you, or do you wish me a good morning, although it is obvious I’m not having one, or do you find that mornings in general are good? BEN: All of them altogether. Dune (1965-1976) Dating back to his earliest drafts, the influence of Frank Herbert's Dune is much in evidence in Lucas, including names like Bendu (Bindu), Ophuchi (Ophiuchi) and Emperor Alexander Xerxes XIX of Decarte (Shaddam Corino IV, Padishah Emperor). Although Tatooine is based primarily on Barsoom, much of what populates it - Bedouin-like sand people, moisture farms and giant crawlers - come from Dune. Even the city planet that would eventually become Coruscant, seems to emerge from Geidi Prime, rather than from Asimov's Trantor. The Jedi and the Force owe primarily to the Lensmen and the Cosmic All, but in the prequel trilogy in particular they attain something of the political power of the Bene Gesserit, and the general atmosphere of politiking that was to seep into the series, culminating in Revenge of the Sith, owes much to Frank Herbert. The siege on Naboo in Episode I is not unlike the Harkonnen attack on the Atreidis and the Emperor's splint cranium was modelled on the space navigators.13 The more "messianic" angle of Luke's role, which began to supercede the more Bilbo-like "everyman" function beginning in 1980, is certainly in the style of Herbert. Indeed, notes of Lucas from the time of the earliest drafts of The Empire Strikes Back quote Herbert's latest, Children of Dune. It is here that Lucas came up with the idea of Luke having a sister, and perhaps here too that he was appraised to the fact that the evil Baron Harkonnen was the father of Jessica, which may have some significance to the pivotal twist of the film. The tragic irony of Padme's death may owe something to Herbert, as well, probably via the conduit of concurrent Children of Dune miniseries.14 George Lucas, notes, probably November 1977 Frank Herbert, Children of Dune, 1976 "Learn the way of the Force. Luke: 'Will you teach me?' Teacher: 'It would've been better to begin this when you were much younger. It'll be harder for you now and it'll take much longer." (Making of the Empire Strikes Back, p. 58). “Shall we start?,” asked Farad’n. “It would’ve been better to begin this when you were much younger,” Jessica said. “It’ll be harder for you now, and it’ll take much longer. You’ll have to begin by learning patience, extreme patience. I pray you’ll not find it too high a price. Harry Harrison and Science-Fiction Periodicals (1969-1977) Soylent Green, based on a Harry Harrison novel, was released when Lucas was drafting his treatment. In seeking more works by Harrison, Lucas started reading issues of Analog Science Fiction / Science Fact, which was to prove valuable: opposite a story of Harrison's in the March 1969 issue was a Kelly Kae Freas illustration of two characters dueling with swords of light, the most probable antecedent of Lucas' lightsabres. From a July 1975 arrived Chewbacca. Lucas' notes point to another Harrison novella, The Stainless Steel Rat, as the source for the TIE-Fighter and the description of the main character on the back of the cover recalls Han Solo, who just around this time turns into a human gunslinger.15 Lucas did read other Science-fiction periodicals: the Death Star comes from a John Berkey illustration from Star Science Fiction, and some of the spaceships of the classic trilogy owe something to Berkey still. By 1977, Lucas became aware of Heavy Metal which was to be an influence on Cloud City, the Imperial probe and the Rebel Freighter, which was to be a model for Grievous ship later on. Lucas also referenced illustrations from Heavy Metal when he wanted to make the Walkers more bulky.16 Secondary Sources: Cinematic Westerns and World War II films With the various printed sources of Star Wars, Lucas seemed too have digested them through certain films: Galactic Patrol led him to think of "2001 meets James Bond." Lucas' films are sprinkled with homages to the Kubrick film, including the opening shot of Star Wars and, especially, the medical facility in Revenge of the Sith. The attack on the space station, also from Smith's novel, is modelled on World War II films, especially The Dam Busters. Subsequently, Lucas also referred to Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph des Willens, initially for an Imperial rally scene which also quotes from Churchill's famous speech, but other aerial scenes like the TIE Fighter attack owe much to Howard Hawks' Air Force.17 That last film was the likely source for the name R2, rather than the apocryphal story about sound mixing for American Graffiti: the fact that the name doesn't appear until the rough draft, exactly as Lucas was immersing himself in World War II films, bears this out. Geidi Prime from Dune made Lucas think of the giant cities of Buck Rogers and Fritz Lang's Metropolis, from which came C3PO. When Lucas, probably inspired by Harry Harrison's The Stainless Steel Rat, decided to turn Han into a human, he said he should be "like Bogart" in Casablanca, which was to leave a trace on the Cantina, and help steer Lucas towards what became Raiders of the Lost Ark. That film was primarily influenced by Secret of the Incas and, significantly for Splinter of the Mind's Eye, the Zorro serials which Lucas saw in film school.18 Burroughs made Lucas think of "a Western movie set in outer space." Its this line of thinking that led him to The Magnificent Seven and thus to Kurosawa, but also to John Ford's The Searchers: Lars' remote ranch is clearly close kin to the Edwards homestead, and the "scruffy American" attitude of Owen is not unlike Ethan Edwards. Two sequences - Luke finding the homestead in ruins and Anakin finding his mother dying in captivity - are among the most overt homages in Lucas' filmography, and point to Ford's classic. Later on, Lucas also watched Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West, which was to leave a trace on Boba Fett. Already in 1976, Lucas envisioned the second film including a romance between Luke and Leia, along the lines of Gone With the Wind, which was recently reissued in 70mm. Off of these and its repeated appearances on TV, the book had achieved a ressurgent popularity, and when Lucas was rewriting Leigh Brackett's draft of The Empire Strikes Back, he quoted from it, as well as using the cover as inspiration for his production.19 George Lucas, Star Wars Episode II: The Empire Strikes Back, April 1978 and Lawrence Kasdan, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Feburary 1979 Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind, 19 [...] “They say I kiss very well. But don’t worry, I’m not going to kiss you here—you see, I’m quite selfish about my pleasures and it wouldn’t be much fun for me now. I’m going to wait for you to grow up a little more. I’m sure we’ll meet again.” (Making of the Empire Strikes Back, p. 254). [...] "I'd just as soon kiss a Wookie!" [...] "LEIA: Occasionally, when you are acting like a scoundrel" "HAN: Scoundrel?" [...] You like me because I'm a scoundrel. There aren't enough scoundrels in your life. LEIA: I happen to like nice men." ‘I don’t care for such personal conversation,’ she said coolly: managed a frown. ‘Besides, I’d just as soon kiss a pig.’ [...] I'm waiting for you to grow up a little more. You see, it wouldn’t much fun for me to kiss you now and I’m quite selfish about my pleasures." ‘Well, sometimes,’ she answered cautiously. ‘When you aren’t acting like a varmint.’ He laughed again and held the palm of her hand against his hard cheek. ‘I think you like me because I am a varmint. You’ve known so few dyed-in-the-wool varmints in your sheltered life that my very difference holds a quaint charm for you.’ This was not the turn she had anticipated and she tried again without success to pull her hand free. ‘That’s not true! I like nice men—men you can depend on to always be gentlemanly.’ 1960s and 2000s Widescreen epics Dune, with its fremen, led Lucas to think of Lawrence of Arabia. The Sith attack in Lucas' rough draft is clearly modelled on Sharif Ali's apperance in Lean's film, and soon afterwards Lucas briefly directed the design work on Vader to resemble Ali. Even in the finished film, Vader's emergence against a field of white could be seen as an abstraction of the Lean scene. A more overt homage to Lean's film is to be found in Episode II. By the time of the prequel trilogy, Lucas turned increasingly to such 1960s widescreen epics, and their contemporary descendents, in-line with the more "high-brow" spin on Star Wars. The more overt homages adumberated to 2001 and the more substantial Kurosawa epics are also part of this trend. There's something of Ben Hur to the speeder chase, and of The Fall of the Roman Empire to the closing procession. Gladiator is in evidence of the arena fight, and there's something of Titanic in the romance in the same film. For Revenge of the Sith, Lucas cashed-in his establishing shots for flyovers out of The Lord of the Rings.20 Francis Ford Coppola Lucas was deeply influenced by the works of his "older brother" Francis Ford Coppola. Its no coincidence that Lucas started moving away from a Smith-esque "adventure of the week" format to a more connected saga, at the same time that Coppola edited the first two Godfathers into one televised "epic." The return to the Vietnman War subtext in Return of the Jedi likewise coincided with the release of Coppola's Apocalypse Now. Still more telling is the resemblence of the prequel story to the Vito storyline of The Godfather: Part II: both start as nine year-olds, lose their mothers, live in destitution, are whisked away, return for revenge, turn to crime and doom their own offspring.21 The Canadian Avant-Garde? Lucas swears a debt to the Canadian Avant-garde, but it has almost no influence on Star Wars: even in film school, Lucas seems to have only become aware of Arthur Lipsett's films after he finished his undergraduate, and its influence even on the student version of THX-1138 is probably secondary to that of Godard and the former dean, Slavko Vorkapich. If it influenced "The Force" at all, its only by name. Still fewer of Lucas' shorts are Lipsettian "tone-poems" than Lucas would have us believe, with only Herbie (made for a class on film aesthetics) and 6-18-67. The rest of his short-subject filmography and putative jobs in the film industry, suggest rather a low-budget documentary filmmaker wanting to get into making features.22 Secondary Sources: Scholarly Gary Jenkins' biography of Lucas says he "read Grimms’ fairytales and CS Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles, JRR Tolkien, Frazer’s Golden Bough. He also read Greek, Islamic and Indian Mythology and the works of modern mythologists like Campbell and Castaneda.” Many of these claims are dubious at best. While sketching Episode I, Lucas had on his shelf several books loosely on the subject of Folklore: The Gnostic Gospels (1981 edition), Peasant Customs and Save Myths (1968), Landscape and Memory, Bullfinch's Mythology, The Study of Folklore (1965), Motif-Index of Folk-Literature (1958, last volume), but they're not a discernable influence on his film. Carlos Castaneda's Tales of Power Before the third draft, Lucas read some works by science-fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, which led him to more mystical writings by Khalil Jibran and Carlos Castaneda's Road to Ixtlan and Tales of Power. It is exactly around this time that Lucas started exaggerating his academic interest in anthropology - he merely took a couple of sociology classes in community college - not unlike Castaneda, who submitted his novels as his anthropology thesis and dissertation.23 Castaneda's hermit, Don Juan, is an antecedent to the more hermit-like Yoda (who quotes Don Juan verbatim) on Dagobah, and perhaps the idea that Luke simply leap down the chasm and be miraculously rescued in The Empire Strikes Back is indebted to Tales of Power, in which Castaneda makes a similar death-defying leap only to end-up in a separate reality. In truth, however, the influence of Castaneda is mostly as a 1970s New Age "text": The Force, inasmuch as its a superpower in the style of the Cosmic All, is also equated with 1970s spiritualism, a worldview that Lucas would pastiche increasingly in the prequel trilogy.24 Bruno Bettelheim and Conrad Kottak While ostensibly from The Hobbit, Lucas' turn to fairytales with his "Long Time Ago" caption was also inspired by a colum about the psychological significance of fairytales by Bruno Bettelheim. In time for Return of the Jedi, Lucas got a hold of Bettelheim's actual book, entire paragraphs of which are quoted in his notes. Whenever Lucas opens his mouth with some "insight" about mythology he's all but quoting Bettelheim. In spite of this, Bettelheim's influence on Lucas' films is elusive: while writing Return of the Jedi, he said that fairytale heroes face trials in sets of three, as described by Bettelheim, but this isn't evident in the film except perhaps in the way all three envoys to Jabba fail, before Luke triumphs over him over the pit. 25 George Lucas, various interviews Bruno Bettelheim, Uses of Enchantment [...in 1977] One of the criteria of the mythical fairy-tale situation is an exotic, faraway land, but we've lost all the fairy-tale lands on this planet. Every one has disappeared. We longer have the mysterious east or treasure islands or going on strange adventures. (The Wizard of Star Wars) [... in 1981] If I ever consciously used anything that I read, it was to make the story more consistent with traditional fairytales. For example, if there was a part in which Luke had two trials, I would try to make it three, because three is more consistent with hero myths. But if adding a third trial jeopardised the story, I wouldn't do it. (Denise Worrell, “The Dark Side of George Lucas,” in Denise Worrell (editor), Icons: Intimate Portraits [Washington: Atlantic Monthly, 1989], p. 182.) [... during story conferences for Return of the Jedi] The whole concept of the original film is that Luke redeems his father, which is the classic fairytale: a good father/bad father who the good son will turn back into the good father. (The Making of Return of the Jedi, p. 285) [...later, on the set of Return of the Jedi] “in a fairytale, its always being nice to the little bunny rabbit on the side of the road that [results in it having to] give you the magic.” [...Lucas spoke in 1988] of his ''Star Wars'' trilogy as the struggle between the good and the bad father and said he also intended to make a movie about the war between the good and the bad mother. (Aljean Harmetz, A Pained Lucas Ponders Attacks on 'Willow', New York Times, 9 June 1988.) [...in 1999] Children love power because children are the powerless. And so their fantasies all center on having power. (Anonymous, "The Mythology of Star Wars," BillMoyers.com, 18 June 1999.) [...in 2006] “The Han Solo journey is a continuation of the motif of death and rebirth, which is the overall theme of this whole series in relationship to Darth Vader, who comes out of his evil hibernation and is reborn as Anakin Skywalker. Han has been put to sleep, which is a common device, especially in fairytales and mythological tales; it’s like going into a state of suspended animation and then, usually, you come out rejuvenated. Sometimes it’s the equivalent of going down to the netherworld and coming back enlightened.” (Making of Retun of the Jedi, p. 853) [...in 2015] I think I can have things to say that I can actually influence kids, you know, adolescents, 12-year olds and, you know, that are trying to make their way into the bigger world and that's basically what mythology was, was to say - - of saying this is what we believe in; these are our rules; these are -- this is what we are as a society. And we don't do that. (Charlie Rose Interview) [...in 2015] a majority of people -- boys -- have a certain psychological relationship with their fathers. And that's been going on through history. And trying to explain that, to say we know your darkest secret and, therefore, you're part of us because we all know the same things. We know what you're thinking about your mother. (Ibid.) [...] these stories do not take place in the here and now, but in a faraway never-never-land. [...] ‘once upon a time’, ‘in a certain country’, ‘a thousand years ago or longer’, ‘at a time when animals still talked’ [...] the number three in fairy tales often seems to refer to what in psychoanalysis is as the three aspects of the mind [...] Goldilocks encounters the three dishes, beds, chairs – for three separate efforts mark her entrance into the Bears’ dwelling. [...] three encounters with the man, three exchanges of a cow for a magic object, three nights with the princess. [...] [...] The good fairy godmother watches over the child’s fate, ready to assert her power when critically needed [... little Red Riding Hood] tells him, the wolf is a passing manifestation—Grandma will return triumphant. [...the sister in Seven Ravens] travels to the end of the world and makes a great sacrifice to undo the spell put on them." [...]The same tales assure that the ferocious giant can always be outwitted by the clever little man—somebody seemingly as powerless as the child feels himself to be. [...]Snow White’s deathlike sleep in the coffin is a period of gestation which is her final period of preparing for Maturity [...] Many fairytale heroes, at a crucial point in their development, fall into deep sleep or are reborn. Each reawakening or rebirth symbolizes the reaching of a higher stage of maturity and understanding. [...] Going down into the darkness of the earth is a descent into the netherworld. [...] Some fairy and folk stories evolved out of myths; others were incorporated into them. Both forms embodied the cumulative experience of a society as men wished to recall past wisdom for themselves and transmit it to future generations. These tales are the purveyors of deep insights that have sustained mankind through the long vicissitudes of its existence, a heritage that is not revealed in any other form as simply and directly, or as accessibly, to children. [...Freud suggests that ] the myth of Oedipus had become the image by which we understand the ever new but age-old problems posed to us by our complex and ambivalent feelings about our parents. 53 It was surely this renewed interest in Bettelheim at the time of Return of the Jedi and The Ewok Adventure that led to the treacly tone of those films, as well as to the Special Edition changes to the same effect, but this owes as much to the Disney films through which Lucas digested The Hobbit. Already in the third draft of Star Wars, Lucas gives Luke the nickname "Wormy" after the manner of "Wart" in Disney's Sword in the Stone. By the next draft, he decided "Luke doesn't know father Jedi", like Arthur doesn't know about his heritage.26 Perhaps a more substantial influence was exerted by Conard Kottak, in his February 1978 review of Star Wars for Psychology Today. Hardly the firsy "psychological" review of Lucas' film, Kottak was nonetheless the first to suggest a Freudian reading of the rivalry between Luke and Darth Vader, as well as the etymology "Dark Father" which Lucas (whose notes suggest a derivation from "Dark Invader") subsequently picked up. Although turning Vader into Luke's father, exactly around this time, owes to the example of Frank Herbert and Lucas' childhood favourite Tommy Tommorrow, the timing could suggest the influence of Kottak's essay, which may have also instigated Lucas to get Bettelheim's book. 27 Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment (1977, excerpt published 1975) George Lucas' notes and interviews, circa 1978-1980 The fairy tale presented in a simple, homely way; no demands are made on the listener. This prevents even the smallest child from feeling compelled to act in specific ways, and he is never made to feel inferior. Far from making demands, the fairy tale reassures, gives hope for the future, and holds out the promise of a happy ending. [...] Fairy tales, unlike any other form of literature, direct the child to discover his identity and calling, and they also suggest what experiences are needed to develop his character further. Fairy tales intimate that a rewarding, good life is within one’s reach despite adversity—but only if one does not shy away from the hazardous struggles without which one can never achieve true identity. [...] children are innocent and love justice, while most of us are wicked and naturally prefer mercy. [...] It seems particularly appropriate to a child that exactly what the evildoer wishes to inflict on the hero should be the bad person’s fate [...] At this age, from four until puberty, what the child needs most is to be presented with symbolic images which reassure him that there is a happy solution to his oedipal problems [...] The good fairy godmother watches over the child’s fate, ready to assert her power when critically needed [... little Red Riding Hood] tells him, the wolf is a passing manifestation—Grandma will return triumphant. [...the sister in Seven Ravens] travels to the end of the world and makes a great sacrifice to undo the spell put on them." [...] "A repulsive, threatening figure can magically change into a most helpful friend." Present [story] in a simple, homely way … This prevents even the smallest child from feeling compelled to act in specific ways and he is never made to feel inferior … Reassures, gives hope for the future, and holds out the promise of a happy ending … Discover identity and calling … Intimate that a rewarding, good life is within one’s reach despite adversity—but only if one does not shy away from the hazardous struggles without which one can never achieve true identity. Children are innocent and love justice. While most of us are wicked and naturally prefer mercy … Need symbolic images which reassure them that there is a happy ending, solution to the Oedipal problems … What the evildoer wishes to inflict on the hero should be the bad person’s fate.” [...] Somewhere the good father (Ben) watches over the child's fate, ready to assert his power when critically needed. Father changes into Darth Vader, who is a passing manifestation, and will return triumphant. Luke travels to the end of the world and makes sacrifice to undo the spell on his father. [...] "A repulsive, threatening figure can magically change into a most helpful friend." (Making of the Empire Strikes Back, pp. 58, 80) Joseph Campbell? Although Lucas was aware of Joseph Campbell, perhaps from Sir Arthur C. Clarke's diaries, he seems to have not turned his attention to him in earnest until after the first Ewok film. But Campbell's prose was far denser than Bettelheim's or Kottak's, and his influence on Lucas even more controversial. His films don't follow Campbell's "Monomyth" formula very well at all: Luke never meets a "temptress" along the lines described by Campbell and, even across the entire trilogy, never crosses "the return threshold" and comes back home. Luke leaves the "Normal world" before meeting his "guide", and gets his "talisman" before he takes the call. Lucas may have subsequently mined his book for names, like Dannan in Willow. His increased dependence on biblical parallels, beginning with the "Belly of the Whale" episode (cited by Campbell) in The Empire Strikes Back, may owe something to Campbell, but then Lucas had already mined Leia's name from Asimov's Guide to the Bible, an instinct as indebted to his Methodist upbringing as to any supposed immersion in Campbell. The great irony is that all the works cited above are of little actual academic value: Castaneda and Bettelheim were both thoroughly established as frauds by the late 1990s (which pushed Lucas increasingly into Campbell's embrace), and Campbell a dilletante.28 Secondary Sources: Autobiographical and topical There's little reason to read biographical or topical subtexts into Star Wars. Attempts to equate Tatooine to Modesto, and the the Lucas walnut ranch to Owen's are hackneyed: Modesto is neither arid in climate, nor sparse in population or remote in location, and the walnut ranch in which Lucas spent his teenage years was five miles from the Lucas' previous home in the town. A closer parallel is to be found between the early iterations of the human Han Solo with Francis Ford Coppola, but they're not very apparent in the finished film.29 Star Wars is often presented as a panacea to the Vietnam War and Watergate scandal, but both contributed more clearly to the success of the previous Lucas hit, American Graffiti. In early drafts, hot off of perliminary work on Apocalypse Now, Lucas equated the rebels to the North Vietnamese as against the Nixon-esque Empire, and while there's something of this in the finished film, its somewhat buried under the film's dermis, even in Return of the Jedi. By The Phantom Menace, any attempt to equate the Trade Federation to American "occupiers" is knee-capped by the decision to give the Nimodians a Thai accent.30 Secondary Sources: Aural When George Lucas first met John Williams in 1975, it was his intention to have Williams' score the diegetic cantina band: the rest of the score was to be comprised from existing film and concert music like the Flash Gordon serials. Indeed, when Williams arrived to score the film, the temporary track seems to have included some pieces directly from the Flash Gordon serials, including Liszt's Les Preludes and Franz Waxman's The Bridge of Frankenstein. The prominence of Gustav Holst's The Planets is surely an ode to Burroughs, and the track seems to have included pieces by Rosza (NOT Korngold's King's Row), Dvorak, Stravinski, Masaru Sato and Bernard Hermann. 31 The later scores seem to have used less temporary tracks from other scores, although there's an apparent homage to Prokofiev in Return of the Jedi. Williams is quite fond of melodic fragment that falls and rises by halfstep and then drops by a fullstep, whose similarity to the "Dies Irae" plainchant is probably unintentional. Only by the later two prequels do other scores start influencing Williams, in accordance with Lucas minding the historical films of the time: the chase in Attack of the Clones shows the influence of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Lion, Lisa Gerard's crooning in Gladiator peeks into Padme's ruminations in Revenge of the Sith, and the influence of the Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack album is much in evidence in that film. 32 Williams did convince Lucas to let him write an original score with recurring themes. While Williams was aware of this this technique's precedent in Richard Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung, his immediate model was that of Wagnerian film composer Erich Korngold, who was himself was more influenced by Wagner's procedures in Lohengrin and Tristan. Williams had seen a performance of the Ring (probably heavily cut) a decade prior, but not knowing German found it inaccessible, nor is there any reason to assume he heard works by Carl Maria von Weber or Etienne Mehul, who presage Wagner's Leitmotive technique. 33 Footnotes Vicent Canby, "'Star Wars:' A Trip to a Far Galaxy That's Fun and Funny," New York Times, May 26, 1977. (All links last retrieved 16 October 2023). Jonathan W. Rinzler, The Making of Star Wars (New York: Random House, 2007. Enhanced Edition), p. 117. Chris Taylor, How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise (New York: Perseus Books Group, 2017), p. 208, 217, 236, 267, 514. Gary Jenkins, Empire-building: The Remarkable, real-life story of Star Wars (New York: Carol Publishing, 1999), p. 37. Anonymous, "George Lucas on the impact of Star Wars with Christopher Nolan", Director's Guild of America, 19 February 2011. Dale Pollock, Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas (New York: Harmony Books, 1983), p. 141 ff. "All I need is an Idea", 20th Century Fox, Star Wars: The Complete Saga (2011). Edward Elmer Smith, Galactic Patrol (Reading: Fantasy Press, 1950). Also see Andrew G., "Everything Known About the 'Journal of the Whills' Outline," Medium, 30 October 2020. James Whitebrook, "George Lucas’ Plans for His Star Wars Sequels Were More Familiar Than You’d Think," Gizmodo, 12 November 2020. Compare George Lucas, Adventures of the Starkiller (episode one): The Star Wars, Second Draft, 28 January 1975 : “As the Republic spread throughout the galaxy, encompassing over a million worlds, the GREAT SENATE grew to such overwhelming proportions that it no longer responded to the needs of its citizens” and that the senators “slowed down the system of justice, which caused the crime rate to rise;” with Smith: “with the invention of the inertialess drive and the consequent traffic between the worlds of hundreds of thousands of solar systems, crime became so rampant, so utterly uncontrollable, that it threatened the very foundations of civilization.” Although The Making of Star Wars gives the appearance that Midichlorians date from 1977, Rinzler admits Lucas doctored the manuscript at that point. Jonathan W. Rinzler, "So What the Heck Are Midi-Chlorians?" StarWars.com, June 24, 2013. The mechanical arm also appears in a contemporary science-fiction TV shows that Lucas watched like The Six Million Dollar Man and Star Trek, but the specifics seem taken from EE Smith. Here, the character is Kane Starkiller, a stern master not unlike the commandant. Later, it transfers to Ben Kenobi and, probably only during post-production, to Vader. Toth in Raiders of the Lost Ark was briefly also given a mechanical arm. Again compare Lucas: "There is nothing left but my head and right arm" with Smith: "[his] right leg and left arm, although practically normal to all outward seeming, were in reality largely products of science." Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Fighting Man of Mars (New York: Metropolitan Books, 1930). Anonymous, "A young, enthusiastic crew employs far-out technology to put a rollicking intergalactic fantasy onto the screen". American Cinematographer (American Society of Cinematographers: 1977), p. 1. Lucas owns the Frazetta-illustrated paperback of Burroughs' Moon Maid - see the picture above from "All I Need Is an Idea" - and used to have Frazetta's illustration of Burroughs' The Rider in his office. Jonathan Rinzler, The Making of Return of the Jedi (New York: Random House, 2013. Enhanced Edition), p. 1566. Several Frazetta originals remain in his possession to this day: Bob Strauss, "The Force was strong in LA as 'Star Wars' creator George Lucas launched his Narrative Art museum," Los Angeles Daily News, 14 March 2018. Lucas refers to Barsoon strictly as "John Carter on Mars", suggesting he learned of him from the comic-strips which bore that title. A fan of DC, its hardly surprising that he should have alighted upon Weird Worlds: his second draft epigraph is taken from the latest issue: compare Lucas "And in the time of greatest despair there shall come a savior, and he shall be known as: THE SON OF THE SUNS" with: “And in time of greatest danger there shall come a hero." Denis O'Neil et al, Weird Worlds Comics, Issue 1, September 1972. The Making of Star Wars, p. 156. Lucas' spurious 1977 assertion (American Cinematographer interview) that Burroughs pulled on Edwin Lester's "Gulliver [sic] on Mars" comes from Lupoff. The third, Frazetta-illustrated edition was published just before Lucas returned to the Burroughs-like damsel-in-distress storyline and written the adumberated preface. For Lucas referencing Burroughs in interviews see Paul Rosenfield, "Lucas: Film-Maker With the Force," Los Angeles Times, June 5, 1977. Paul Scanlon, "George Lucas: The Wizard of Star Wars," Rolling Stones, 25 August 1977. Stephen Zito, "George Lucas goes far out," American Film, April 1977, pp. 8-13. John Baxter, Mythmaker: The Life and Work of George Lucas (London: Harper Collins, 1999), p. 33. Rinzler, p. 117, 257. Kaminski, p. 17, 63. The debt here is also somewhat to Tarzan, who is homaged sporadically throughout Lucas' Star Wars and Indiana Jones films: in the early drafts, Owen Lars is an anthropologist in the jungle quite like Professor Porter. This debt to Flash Gordon was to cause some embarrasment to latter-day Lucas, who insists to Charlie Rose that he never intended to make Flash Gordon. However, Lucas seems to have expediated some effort circa March 1973 into getting the Flash Gordon rights: According to friend Edward Summer, Lucas checked with Universal, suggesting that he went to New York fully intending on pitching Flash Gordon to King Features and United Artists. Kaminski, p. 45 ff. Michael Heilemann, "Edward Summer interview May 19th (Part 1)," Kitbashed. Charlie Rose, "George Lucas", Charlie Rose.com, 25 December 2015. Rohan Williams, "The Origins of the Crawl," Force Material, 2016. Michael Heilemann, "Princess Hair", Kitbashed. The serials would shoot using available sets and props on the studio backlot, creating a hodgepodge look. Says Michael Heilemman, "Flash Gordon," Kitbashed: "Footage from Leni Riefenstahl’s silent 1929 film Die weiße Hölle vom Piz Palü would pad out the snow-climbing sections (and provide some much needed scale to an otherwise studio-bound production), and Flash would do battle on the steps of a medieval tower from The Bride of Frankenstein. In fact, the music that opened many of the serial’s episodes was a theme from The Bride of Frankenstein that had been co-opted (as was much of the other music used). The impressive idol footage in Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe was from the 1930 musical Just Imagine. Other medieval sets were used from Tower of London (1939), and footage was brought over from Perch the Devil (1927). In an unprecedented move the production shot on the sets of James Whale’s 1940 film Green Hell before he himself had put them to use!" Curiously, exactly when and how Lucas saw the serials is in contention: Brian Jay Jones, George Lucas: A Life (New York: Little, Brown, 2017) suggests it was probably on Super Serial from KTVU circa 1955, rather than on "Adventure Theater" on KRON. John Baxter, Mythmaker: The Life and Work of George Lucas (New York: William Murrow, 1999), p. 73. Michael Kaminski, "The Influence and Imagery of Akira Kurosawa," The Secret History of Star Wars, 2008. Lucas chose Hamil for being "more Disney-esque" (The Making of Star Wars, p. 402) which is the way he visualised The Hobbit. A missing link may be the Hildebrandt brothers, Disney-esque Tolkien illustrators later called upon to design the film's second poster. Hamil remembers Guinness telling him he "always wanted to play a wizard." Kevin Burns, "Empire of Dreams," Star Wars: The Complete Saga. The choice of the shooting location in the guise of Tunisia, and subsequently the change of the planet's name to the local place name Titaouinne, was expressedly because Lucas liked the local dwellings for their similarity to "Hobbit village." Philip Kosloski, "Obi-Wan Kenobi was originally created to be a Star Wars version of Gandalf," Voyage, 16 November 2019. Rinzler, p. 366, 452 ff. Paul Scanlon, "The Wizard of Star Wars," Rolling Stones, 25 August 1977. John Culhane, "Will the Video Version of Tolkien Be Hobbit Forming?" New York Times, 27 November 1977. If The Hobbit was indeed a new purchase of Lucas following the reading of Lupoff, it would have probably been the revised edition that includes the above line, but even the earlier version (still available in bootleg paperbacks at the time) had "one morning long ago." The Making of Return of the Jedi, p. 93, 859. Jonathan W. Rinzler, The Making of the Empire Strikes Back (New York: Random Books, 2010. Enhanced Edition), p. 58. Michael Heilemann, "The Millennium Falcon" and "Chewbacca," Kitbashed. Heilemann, "The Moebius Probe" and "Valérian and Laureline," Kitbashed. Heilemann, "It's a period of civil war..." and "Air Force (1943) & The Destruction of Aldeeran," Kitbashed. Michael Heilemann, "The Millennium Falcon" and "Casablanca," Kitbashed. As was the case with Star Wars, the original impetus for Indiana Jones was the serial Don Winslow of the Navy, by Flash Gordon directors Ford Bebee and Ray Taylor, but the time it came to the screen there was little to it that was recognisable of that serial. Temple of Doom owes to Gunga Din and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to Lucas' childhood favourite Forbidden Planet. On the latter film's influence on Star Wars - it was reissued in 1972 and probably informs the designation of the Falcon as a "Corellian" ship, see Michael Heilemann, "Amazing! Nothing like it ever," Kitbashed. Heilemann, "The Searchers," Kitbashed. Michael Kaminski, "The Visual Development of Darth Vader," The Secret History of Star Wars, 2007. Kaminski, The Secret History of Star Wars: The Art of Storytelling and the Making of a Modern Myth (Ontario: Legacy Books Press, 2008), p. 298 nb. Heilemann suggests Lucas may have seen Lipsett's film in the curiculum of his first-year animation class, and Kaminski suggests he could have seen it in film festival before his college tenure. However, Brian Jay Jones, p. 64 suggests it was only after his undergraduate - a suggestion made the more plausible by the absence of overt Lipsett references up to this point - and that Lucas earlier muse was rather the former Dean Slavko Vorkapich, which is certainly evident. Baxter, p. 164. Carlos Castaneda, Tales of Power (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974), p. 15: "We are luminous beings." Other quotes from Castaneda in Lucas' notes: "Mood of the warrior calls at once for control and abandon.” (The Making of the Empire Strikes Back, p. 116) as compared with Carlos Castaneda, The Journey to Ixtlan (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972), p. 134: "The mood of a warrior calls for control over himself and at the same time it calls for abandoning himself." Denise Worrell, “The Dark Side of George Lucas,” in Denise Worrell (editor), Icons: Intimate Portraits (Washington: Atlantic Monthly, 1989), p. 182. Rohan Williams "When You Wish Upon a Death Star: The Disney-Lucasfilm Connection," Force Material, 5 December 2015. Michael Heilemann, "Like Father, Like Son," Kitbashed. The case against Castaneda's books being fiction was clenched in 1980, around which time Castaneda retreated from the public eye and increasingly became something of a cult leader. Bettelheim's fraudulent credentials were not revealed until after his suicide in 1990. Campbell, although citing copiously from Hindu sources in his 1949 book, never acquired control on Sanskrit nor so much as visited India until the mid 1950s, and his book is full of similarly inobservent comments about Islam and other religions and mythologies. Taylor, pp. 36 ff. Anonymous, "Early Drafts of George Lucas’ Willow Are a Very Different Adventure," Consequence, 14 August 2018. Watergate was concluded by mid 1974, and the US had disingeged with Vietnam in 1973, with the war ending in 1975 when Lucas' script was only starting to take shape. By the time Lucas decided to adapt Flash Gordon, he was already losing interest in Apocalypse Now as evident by his plans to make American Graffiti, at least one Flash Gordon film AND Radioland Murders. Michael Heilemann, "The Origins and Inspirations of John Williams' Star Wars score," Kitbashed. Lucas (The Wizard of Star Wars) and Hirsch (A Long Time Ago, in a Cutting Room Far, Far Away) remember using Liszt's Les Preludes, Rosza's Ivanhoe, a piece from Kurosawa's Hidden Fortress, and (The Making of Star Wars, p. 811) Bruckner's Ninth , but seem to be conflating the latter with Dvorak's Ninth. Doug Adams, "Sounds of the Empire: Analysing the themes of the Star Wars Trilogy," Lukas Kendall (Editor), Film Score Monthly, Volume 4: Number 5 (Culver: Vineyard Haven: June 1999), pp. 22-47. Jon and Al Caplan, "Sithburger?", Lukas Kendall (Editor), Film Score Monthly, 10: 3 (May/June 2005), p. 32. Alex Ross, "The Force is Still Strong with John Williams," The New Yorker, 21 July 2020. James Buhler, “Star Wars, Music, and Myth,” James Buhler et al, Music and Cinema (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2000), p. 53 Conclusion A thorough-going examination of Lucas' sources skews far more towards "pulp" sources like Flash Gordon and Princess of Mars than to anything more "high minded" like Kurosawa epics or mythographic works a-la Campbell and The Golden Bough. Just as importantly, the works Lucas relied upon, by EE Smith, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Donald Richie, Ford Beebe, JRR Tolkien, Frank Herbert and others were not acquired through some life-long immersion in their respective genres but a concerted research into recent reprintings and cinema reissues. The works themselves, are by and large from the 1940s through to the mid-1960s: the stuff of Lucas' childhood. Although his early drafts often quote Burroughs, Richie, Tolkien, Herbert and Castaneda verbatim, the finished films can by no means be accused of plagiarism. Lucas is, by and large, succesfull in synthesising from his sources and put them in service of his own art. Its not clear that Lucas embarked on this research intending to make a self-consciously "post-modern" collage, but his film (talking specifically about the original) invariably became one, at least to some extent: containing, as it does, rather over homages to Herbert, Akira Kurosawa, John Ford, EE Smith, Howard Hawks and Michael Anderson. Footnotes "Interview from 2001 with filmmaker George Lucas about Kurosaw," Akira Kurosawa, The Hidden Fortress, Criterion Channel, 2001. "George Lucas on the impact of Star Wars with Christopher Nolan." JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit (London: Harper Collins, 1937), p. 2 ff. Philip Kosloski, "Obi-Wan Kenobi was originally created to be a Star Wars version of Gandalf," Voyage, 16 November 2019. Rinzler, p. 366. Kevin Burns, "Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy", 20th Century Fox, Star Wars: The Complete Saga, 2011. Rinzler, p. 452 ff. "The Wizard of Star Wars." Alec Guinness interview, Parkinson Talk Show, 1977. The Making of Star Wars, p. 523. Jonathan W. Rinzler, The Making of the Empire Strikes Back (New York: Random Books, 2010. Enhanced Edition), p. 94. Pollock, p. 141 ff. "George Lucas Goes Far Out." Adventures of the Starkiller, p. 48. The Making of Return of the Jedi, p. 93, 859. Michael Heilemann, "Chewbacca," Kitbashed. Michael Heilemann, "The Complete History of the Milennium Falcon," Kitbashed. "Star Wars Archives: Episode IV-VI," 20th Century Fox, Star Wars: The Complete Saga, 2011. Michael Heilemann, "The Moebius Probe," Kitbashed. Kaminski, p. 21, 212, 426. Michael Heilemann, "Giant Walking Machines," Kitbashed, 2015. Heileman's Edward Summer interview. Cathie Fenner, Arnie Fenner, Testament: The Life and Art of Frank Frazetta (Nevada City: Underwood Books, 2001). "George Lucas Goes Far Out." Michael Kaminski, "The Visual Development of Darth Vader," The Secret History of Star Wars, 2007. Kaminski suggests here that Vader was concieved as a burn victim before shooting started, based on a Mark Hamil interview from 1980, but in his book (p. 126) he admits Hamil's memory may be "foggy." My own feeling is the idea of Vader as a burn victim dates from post-production: the fact Lucas made no mention of it in his discussions with Carol Titelman shows it was a fresh idea on his mind when he told it to Rolling Stones that same month. This would make the similarity to Doctor Doom null. Michael Heilemann, "Casablanca." Jabba, who was originally designed and cast as a human, was a kind of cross of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen and Sydney Greenstreet's Signor Ferrari from Casablanca (1942). By November 1979, however, Lucas transformed him into a more Burroughs' like design. While working on his look, Lucas rejected designs that looked too much like a sand-worm from Dune, the Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland (replete with a Hatter-like Bib Fortuna) or the Great Goblin from The Hobbit. Michael Heilemann, "The Searchers" and "Its a period of civil war," Kitbashed. Kaminski, pp. 90-92, 141, 161, 430. "The Influence and Imagery of Akira Kurosawa." Michael Heilemann, "The Birth of R2-D2" and "Amazing! Nothing Like it Ever!", Kitbashed. Michael Kaminski, "Jabba the Hutt: 'Wonderful Human Being'", The Secret History of Star Wars, 2008. Kaminski suggests Jabba was reconceptualised as an alien before the comic adaptation of the film was released in June 1977, but actually it released in March. My own feeling, since the release of Rinzler's Making of Return of the Jedi, is that the idea was only arrived at in September 1979. Andrew G. "Why Did George Lucas Say His Ideas for Episode VII Were Abandoned?" Medium, 19 October 2021. Andrew shows that Lucas' plan for Episode VII were far closer to "The Force Awakens" than Lucas himself will admit. While Lucas had envisioned Luke dying in Episode VIII, the fact that virtually all the documentation we have of his vision for the sequel trilogy is of Episode VII would suggest he didn't plan the subsequent two films in any depth. In fact, it could be that the idea of the sequel trilogy was done to “to satisfy fan and media demand” (Kaminski, p. 505) rather than telling the world he was halving the size of the film series (which he shortly prior said would be twelve-film long, like a Flash Gordon serial). The seeming absence of any notes for such sequels would reinforce such a reading. Taylor, p. 488. Taylor, pp. 172 ff. Gilbert Cruz, "George Lucas Wants to Retire and Make Art Films. Sure He Does", Times, 18 January 2012. A survey of Lucas' filmography is given by Michael Heilemann, "The Early filmography of George Lucas," Kitbashed, but seems to have jumbled the order of the films and overstated Lipsett's influence. Jones (pp. 131-134) gives a more rigorous order of Lucas' student films, and puts Lucas' viewing of Lipsett's film around his tenure at graduate school. Heilemann does, however, show that Lucas' first film, "LOOK at LIFE," didn't start out as a film at all but as a "Kinestasic project", and was only inserted into Lucas' oevure after the fact, presumably when Lucas' The Emperor and THX-1138-4EB were touring student film festivals. "George Lucas on the impact of Star Wars with Christopher Nolan." Steven Silberman, "Life After Darth", Wired, 1 May 2005. Jenkins, p. 37. The Making of the Empire Strikes Back, p. 146 ff. Carlos Castaneda, Road to Ixtlan and Tales of Power (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972 and 1975). Kaminski, pp. 78-80. "Wizard of Star Wars." Michael Heilemann, "Like Father Like Son," Kitbashed. The Making of the Empire Strikes Back, p. 76 ff, 98. George Lucas, National Arts Club speech, 1985, recorded in Phil Cousineau (editor), The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work (San Francisco: New World Library, 1990), p. 186. Michael Kaminski, "Saving Star Wars: The Special Edition Restoration Process and its Changing Physicality," The Secret History of Star Wars, 2009. Rinzler, p. 291, 944-946. David E. Williams, "Gilbert Taylor, BSC is given the spotlight with the ASC's International Achievement Award". American Society of Cinematographers (February 2006). p. 4. "Lucas: Film-Maker With the Force." "The Wizard of Star Wars", Pollock, p. 200. The Making of Return of the Jedi, pp. 105. The Making of the Empire Strikes Back, p. 159. Aljean Harmetz, A Pained Lucas Ponders Attacks on 'Willow', New York Times, 9 June 1988. The Making of the Empire Strikes Back, pp. 77, 105 ff. The Making of Return of the Jedi, p. 377-379, 725. Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces (Princeton: University Press, 1949). Michael Heilemann, "Fairytales and the Hero's Journey," Kitbashed. Arthur C. Clarke, Lost Worlds of 2001 (New York: New American Library, 1972), p. 34. Campbell, p. 54. Taylor, p. 197. Lucas had used various dictionaries and name-books to come up with peculiar names, including Thesaurus, Webster’s, Penguin’s Dictionary of Surnames, Harper's Bible Dictionary and Asimov's Guide to the Bible. Kaminski, pp. 71, 526. "All I need is an idea." Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1977). The Making of Return of the Jedi, p. 1160. Richard Schickel (writer), "From Star Wars to Return of the Jedi" 20th Century Fox, Star Wars: The Complete Saga, 2011. "The Wizard of Star Wars." Staff, "The Mythology of Star Wars," BillMoyers.com, 18 June 1999. Charlie Rose interview. A Pained Lucas Ponders Attacks on 'Willow'. Alan Dundes, "Folkloristics in the Twenty-First Century," Lee Haring (editor) Grand Theory in Folkloristics (Indiana University Press: Bloomington, 2016), pp. 16–18. Richard Pollak, The Creation of Dr. B: A Biography of Bruno Bettelheim (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997). Taylor, pp. 55 ff, 74. Kaminski, p. 105. Jones, pp. 51. Ibid, p. 902. Kaminski, p. 298. Michael Appler, "Al Pacino Recalls Turning Down ‘Star Wars’ Despite ‘So Much Money,’ Jokes: ‘I Gave Harrison Ford a Career’," Variety, 20 April 2023. The role of Han - not Ben - was a prime candidate for star casting. Also considered was Burt Reynolds. Jason Guerrasio, "Burt Reynolds was such a screen icon that even the list of roles he turned down is legendary, from James Bond to Han Solo," Business Insider, 6 September 2018, Lucas has been suggesting Star Wars as a shoestring budget, little-engine-that-could since 1977, but in fact even at his bleakest, he admits he thought it could make a thrifty $16 to $25 million domestically. Fox' contract specifically states the film has "substantial domestic and international appeal." Even the rejection letters from United Artists and Universal say its a potential hit, albeit a risky one, and Chris Taylor suggests that "the fact that the lawyers kwould keep fighting over the precise details" of the merchandising deal, "shows that Fox was not as asleep at the switch we've been led to believe." (.p. 207). While the nearly $12 million budget seems modest, adjusted to inflation of USD as against British and Tunisian currency, Lucas will have gotten the equivalent of an $80 million movie in 2023 dollars out of it. Lynda Miles and Michael Pye, "The Man Who Made Star Wars", The Atlantic, March 1979. Kaminski, p. 63. "Empire of Dreams." Alex Ross, "The Force is Still Strong with John Williams," The New Yorker, 21 July 2020. Michael Heilemann, "The Origins and Inspirations of John Williams' Star Wars score," Kitbashed. Lucas and Hirsch remember using Liszt's Les Preludes and Bruckner's Ninth, but seem to be conflating them with Bride of Frankenstein (no doubt inspired by Liszt) and Dvorak's Ninth. James Buhler, “Star Wars, Music, and Myth,” James Buhler et al, Music and Cinema (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2000), p. 53 Doug Adams, "Sounds of the Empire: Analysing the themes of the Star Wars Trilogy," Lukas Kendall (Editor), Film Score Monthly, Volume 4: Number 5 (Culver: Vineyard Haven: June 1999), pp. 22-47. Jon and Al Caplan, "Sithburger?", Lukas Kendall (Editor), Film Score Monthly, 10: 3 (May/June 2005), p. 32. Conclusions Lucas main influences are Galactic Patrol (via the 1972 Panther reissue); Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars; Space Soldiers Conquer The Universe (via reruns on Super Serial), and The Hidden Fortress (largely as summarized in Richie's The Films of Akira Kurosawa). From these he took the following: From Galactic Patrol: the interplanetary setting, the concepts of the Jedi and the Force as they appear in the larger series, and much of the plot of the original film. From John Carter: Tatooine, Geonosis and Jakku. Bestiary including Banthas, Aiwhas, Wookies and especially the Ewoks and the Gungans, both of which are led by the heroes to fight against a technologically superior foe (like the Tharks against Zodanga). The premise of rescuing the princess in the original film. Removing earth from the setting. From Flash Gordon: the original impetus to make a film on this topic, some designs, stylistic elements like the wipes, the idea of a rebellion against a tyrannical overlord. From Kurosawa: Much of the plot of Episode I, and isolated plot points for Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The Japanese trappings of queen Amidala, the Tatooine robes (later Jedi robes) and Vader's helmet. From secondary sources: the urban planet, the emphasis on spacing guilds in Episodes I and II, Luke and Anakin as "Chosen Ones" (from Dune), the lightsabres, the TIE-fighters and some broad archetypes (from Harry Harrison), Luke as an "everyman" in the original film; Ben, Yoda and Qui Gon as wizard mentors, the designs of Luke's homestead, Anakin's hovel and Yoda's hut (from The Hobbit), the cloying tone of Return of the Jedi, some "Special Edition" revisions to reduce the violence in the original film, the "Long Time Ago" epigraph (from "Uses of Enchantment"), the main twist in "The Empire Strikes Back" (from Conrad Kottak's review of Star Wars), the trench run, the Germanic trappings of the Imperials and some of the spaceships (from The Dam Busters), Luke finding his dead aunt and uncle and Anakin his mother (from The Searchers). While owing a substantial debt to these sources, it would be unfair to accuse Lucas of pastiche: For as heavy a debt as he owes to Galactic Patrol, Lucas' film is quite distinct from it: Smith's book plays more like very soft science fiction, lacking the kind of fantasy trappings of Lucas' film. Likewise, one cannot watch a Flash Gordon serial, and much less a Kurosawa film and "see" Star Wars. Lucas uses from these sources in ways that benefit his film, recontextualising the elements he takes within the framework of his own story. What's more, its not clear Lucas was interested in hiding his sources entirely: many of these stories were still quite popular at the time, and anyone at all familiar with the genre would have recognised the allusions from practically the moment they sat down to watch the movie. In fact, Lucas' sources were overwhelmingly recent: either new issues of space opera periodicals, or recent reissues of genre classics, all entirely between 1969 and 1977. Even the films Lucas referenced were mostly cinema rereleases or television reruns. Also significant, I think, is the fact that much of the filmic influence of Lucas, both in terms of positive influence and in terms of showing him what he wanted to divorce himself from, comes from television: It is poetic, then, that this franchise should have now become ostensibly a television franchise. Was the film intended as a "post modern", "meta" mash-up of homages? It was certainly concieved of as knowingly retro. Lucas was 1950s kid growing up on a lot of 1940s films and comics, and he wanted to throw back to those. His early, more derivative drafts may have been intended merely to jog his imagination, and as could be expected of any filmmaker making a genre film, he did his research into the genre, not necessarily intending to make a "homage" even if he invariably ended up making one. His cinematic style, that of a 1950s Western, complements the 1940s Flash Gordon and Lensmen and 1920s (that is to, say pre-World War II) Burroughs material, and is well-helped by the 1910s-styled musical score. He certainly didn't want to be self-aware as such, and any such trends - overstated by 1977 critics - had been snuffed out of the sequels and prequels alltogether. Lucas' films are not congruent with the "high brow" spin: already in 1975, Lucas insisted to Edward Summer that there was no comic-book influence on Star Wars, and instead pointed to his interest in Campbell, and this rhetoric would intensify, particulary after 1980. The study of Lucas' sources, however, shows that this is an affectation: Even with regards to Kurosawa, while A Hidden Fortress is an excellent, well-regarded film, it is far from Kurosawa's finest or even Lucas own favourites of the Japanese filmmaker's output. Flash Gordon, Galactic Patrol and John Carter all fall on the pulpy side of things, and are more significant influences than Kurosawa and certainly then Bettelheim. Its therefore rather poetic that Star Wars had been sold to Disney of all studios, and that, after having based itself on these quixotic and comic-book-like sources, should have finally pivoted from the novelistic style that Lucas aspired to between 1980 and 2005, to a more comic-book-like picaresque style, ostensibly becoming the third major cinematic comic-book franchise alongside Marvel and DC.
  2. Hi to all JWFN members. It is great to see such dedication and knowledge to the man who has scored more than just the movies. On that note The History Press and I would like to share word of a new book published now in the UK and September 1st 2018 in the US. John Williams is the spine and soul of this book. Mark O’Connell didn’t want to be Luke Skywalker. He wanted to be one of the mop-haired kids on the Star Wars toy commercials. And he would have done it had his parents had better pine furniture and a condo in California. Star Wars, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Superman didn’t just change cinema – they made lasting highways into our childhoods, toy boxes and video stores like never before. In Watching Skies, O’Connell pilots a gilded X-Wing flight through that shared universe of bedroom remakes of Return of the Jedi, close encounters with Christopher Reeve, sticker album swaps, the trauma of losing an entire Star Wars figure collection and honeymooning on Amity Island. From the author of Catching Bullets – Memoirs of a Bond Fan, Watching Skies is a timely hologram from all our memory systems. It is about how George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, a shark, two motherships, some gremlins, ghostbusters and a man of steel jumped a whole generation to hyperspace*. *Action figures sold separately. From examining his contributions to these key films, the soundtracks to broken homes and the VHS revolution to seeing the musical DNA from JANE EYRE all the way through to ATTACK OF THE CLONES, WATCHING SKIES is as much about John Williams as it is Spielberg, Lucas and Donner. It is about how 'Leaving Home' was exactly the cue going through the author's life and mind when he did just that, how the 'Love Theme from Superman' had to be played at a Pinewood Studios wedding, how 'ET and Me' scored a divorce and how a honeymoon on Amity Island couldn't help but hear those JAWS 2 harps at every street corner and beach rock. Were it not for the work of Williams, this book and these movies would not exist with the same legacy they have today. WATCHING SKIES - STAR WARS, SPIELBERG AND US is available now. WATCHING SKIES on Facebook WATCHING SKIES on Twitter For more about WATCHING SKIES and author Mark O'Connell
  3. In a Charlie Rose interview made after The Force Awakens was made, George Lucas said he still intends to make movies but they are art house and experimental films he has no intention of publicly showing. He added that these were the type of films he always intended to make. Since Lucas's legacy will probably be the pop culture mega hits, he stated he never had any desire to make a popular movie but was far more interested in experimental/avant garde films and Star Wars was just a side project but fate intervened. This is an example of what he wanted to do as a film maker: My question - if these post retirement films would be shown, would you want to see them?
  4. With all the Force Awakens discussion, this one seems to have slipped under the radar... I watched CBS' broadcast of the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors on December 29 and was pleasantly surprised to hear Williams' voice in narration of the segment honoring Seiji Ozawa, a very short bit of which can be heard ~52 seconds into this preview video posted on YouTube: The entire 91-minute broadcast is featured on CBS.com: http://www.cbs.com/shows/kennedy_center_honors/video/3B46BD11-F62B-A68F-C39B-EB54202549BC/the-38th-annual-kennedy-center-honors/. The Ozawa segment begins at the 57/58 minute chapter mark (you may have to endure a series of advertisements if you advance forward into the video).
  5. Spielberg's long-time associate producer Kathleen Kennedy has been named co-chair of LucasFilm as successor of George Lucas: http://www.deadline.com/2012/06/lucasfilms-names-kathleen-kennedy-as-co-chair/ Interesting.
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