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  1. 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." But what are the actual, 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. 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? Galactic Patrol The most major source for the Star Wars series (perhaps less so the original film by itself) is not Flash Gordon and certainly not Kurosawa or Joseph Campbell: its a 1937 pulp novella by "Doc" EE Smith called "Galactic Patrol", part of his Lensmen series, which Lucas' biography Skywalking credits him with reading.1 Indeed, Lucas owns a paperback of the popular Panther edition, which was out in 1973 and 1972, just in time to be referenced in his very earliest notes for the films.2 In February 1973, Lucas started sketching (and soon abandoned) a synopsis for "The Journal of the Whills", and concomitant lists of character and planet names. Most of his reading of pulps seems to have been concentrated at the time leading right up to the writing of this document. The list of names already contains Aldeeran, a clear paraphrase on Smith's Aldeeraban, and two characters called Skywalker, seemingly based on the name of another Smith character, Sklark of Space. While it seems Lucas didn't read this novel, its title is given in the paperback as part of detailing Smith's bibliography. Far more importantly, the planet-hopping premise hinted at in the unfinished document is closer to Smith's intergalactic adventures than to Flash (whose adventures take place almost entirely on the planet Mongo) or John Carter (who adventures purely on Mars). In the intermittent drafts, Lucas mentions a food called Thantha, which is clearly paraphrased from Smith's Thionite. Even the concept of the Republic and how it became sickly through the influence of inept politicians and drug trade resembles Smiths' description of "The Civilization," with its "Galactic Council." Also in all those early drafts (and in those of Raiders of the Lost Ark), a character is revealed to be more machine than man: in early drafts, its the hero's father Kane. This was briefly passed to Ben Kenobi, then rejected and only applied to Darth Vader in post-production, and then briefly to Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Kane's description is almost verbatim that of Smith, describing the comandant of the space cadets in the academy (another concept borrowed by Lucas). Even the idea of blowing up planets has its antecedents in Smith, although its only brought to effect in the later Lensmen novels, which we don't know for a fact that Lucas read. Most importantly, while "The Force" has antecedents in a whole host of space operas (themselves all taking a page from Smith), none hits close to the mark than EE Smith: in Lucas' second draft, the Jedi emerge as intergalactic policemen (like Smith's Lensmen) who harnass the power of the Kaiber Crystal (Smith's Arisian lenses) to use The Cosmic Force (Smith's "Cosmic All") and fight the evil Sith pirates - called Boskone in Smith's book. In fact, Lucas briefly named the Dark Side "Bogan" which sounds a lot like Smith's Boskone. This concept was rejected in later drafts - neither Luke nor the Jedi are depicted as superheroes in the finished film - but it starts creeping back into the sequels and prequels (including a discarded sequel plot released as the novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye, which features the crystal, now renamed Kaibur to denote Excalibur), along with more of Smith's nomenclature: Smith's eighth chapter is called "The Quarry Strikes Back." The Force was still called "The Cosmic Force" in the shooting script, and Lucas kept referring to it as such as late as 2019,3 and the microscopic lenses are also the antecedents of the later idea of the Midichlorians. The Lensmen being the product of a breeding program (much of its eon-spanning history is described in prequels of Smith's) feels like the germ of the idea of the "Clone Wars" and perhaps even Anakin's immaculate birth. In the 1977 film, what mostly remained is a tremendous amount of Smith's plot: Smith's hero, Kimbal Kinnison, flies the fastest ship in the fleet, The Britannia, which the hero uses the blast off into the fourth dimension to evade his pursuers. When they finally do catch him in a tractor beam, he passes the ship for scrap. Early on, he infilitrates the enemy's ranks and steals data spools about the enemy's deadly space station "The Grand Base", escapes the premises in a space lifeboat with just another Lensman to keep him company before landing on a desolate planet. Spending his free time sensing a remote while his blast shield is down, he later has to rescue his love interest (with whom he bickers constantly) from his pirate kidnappers, and finally, he flies low in a one man fighter over "The Grand Base" and blows it up with a well-placed shot. John Carter of Mars The second source is still not Flash Gordon: its John Carter of Mars. Seemingly while editing American Graffiti, Lucas started researching the space fantasy genre dating back to 1968. Its here that he probably looked into Smith and a few other sources we'll get to later, but also says (in an interview later reprinted in the film's souvenir programme) that he discovered his childhood hero Flash Gordon drew "inspiration from the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs (author of Tarzan) and especially from his John Carter of Mars series books."4 Lucas' favourite artists, Hal Foster and Frank Frazetta, were famed for illustrating Burroughs' stories, and Lucas could scarcely have missed that Buster Crabbe who played Flash and Buck also played Tarzan. Lucas had a Frazetta illustration of Burroughs' "The Rider" hanging in his office,5 and owns a copy of Burroughs' "The Moon Maid." In 1977, Lucas repeatedly said his film is in the genre of "Burroughs and Heinlein",6 that he wanted to "make a space fantasy that was more in the genre of Edgar Rice Burroughs,”7 that Alex Raymond "took his character from Edgar Rice Burroughs",8 that he wanted to perpetuate genre trappings that were laid down “primarily by Edgar Rice Burroughs.”9 Even more damingly, when he was first developing the film, he told Joseph Gelmis that he was working on a low budget space opera "in the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs."10 In fact, his third draft synopsis - the first true version of the film as we know it - is actually prefaced as being "in the grand tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars, and Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon." Lucas further asserts that Burroughs was "sparked" by "Gulliver on Mars, written by Edwin Arnold and published in 1905."4 That (spurious, as it happens) suggestion first appeared in Richard A. Lupoff's Master of Adventure: The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs (revised 1968). Lupoff will have led Lucas to the originals, which he at least parsed through, because he clearly wrote "The Journal of the Whills" with Burroughs on his table, being that it basically amounts to a paraphrase on the opening of Burroughs' A Fighting Man of Mars: 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. This draft is incomplete, but based on later drafts and the effort Lucas put into certain names on his lists of character and planet names, there's reason to belive the story was to revolve around rescuing a princess (a stock Burroughs plot) on the desert planet Aquilae (i.e. Barsoom), inhabited by the "Hubble" people led by Han Solo (i.e. the Green Martians led by Tars Tarkas) and the Bebers (i.e. red martians) led by Lord Annikin (i.e. Tardos Mors) and Luke Skywalker (his son, Mors Kajak) and culminating in a Flash Gordon-esque space battle. A lot of the nomenclature derives from Burroughs: "padawaan" here (and later, possibly Obi-Wan?) clearly derives from "Padwar", which suggests "Jedi" derives from "Jed" and "Jeddak." Even the device of the "Journal of the Whills" though which the story is supposedly relayed to us, is a paraphrase on "The Girdley Wave" of Burroughs. Furthermore, its from A Fighting Man of Mars (and, to a lesser extent, Dune as we shall see) that Lucas decided to set his story with no point of reference to earth. In contrast to Tad Hadron, Paul Atreidis and then the characters in Star Wars, the heroes of other space operas including Gullivar Jones, John Carter himself as well as Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, are from earth. While writing his first proper draft, Lucas may have read the actual Mars novels beyond just the opening of A Fighting Man of Mars. My bet, however, is that he turned rather to Coleman Burroughs' comic strip adaptation of A Princess of Mars and Warlord of Mars, which was called "John Carter of Mars" and was republished in 1970. The resulting rough draft/first draft is the closest to Barsoom, with princess Leia clearly based on Dejah Thoris (the heroes even have to rescue her from implicit rape by alien "trappers" like Carter does Thoris countless times) and the "green" Han Solo on Tars Tarkas. Even Chewbacca could be said to be like Woola, a Barsoomian hound. Most importantly, Tatooine is a straight port of Barsoom: the twin suns, especially, are either a play on Barsoom's twin moons or Lucas genuinely confused the illustrations in the strip for two suns: The beasts of burden in the above strip are clearly the forebearers of the Dewbacks and the Banthas: in fact, as Lucas' biography openly admits, Banth is a term from A Warlord of Mars1(which appears in the strip) describing a many-legged alien feline, which ultimately was pretty much lifted for Episode II's arena battle. In a conference with Lucasfilm's Carol Titelman in 1977, Lucas imagined many-legged girafees, also clearly based on Burroughs' knack for giving his alien bestiary multiple limbs.11 Sith, too, is a term from Burroughs', referring to giant insects. Lucas had wanted to feature flying steeds, of a kind described by Burroughs, in every entry beginning with The Empire Strikes Back before finally appearing on Kamino in Episode II, and they probably influenced the flying creatures glimpsed on Dagobah and Naboo, as well as the Mynocks and perhaps even Watto. Burroughs even has his own snow-monster, the Apt, but it doesn't appear in this strip and its unclear if Lucas had it in mind. This first draft was the basis for the screenplay to The Phantom Menace, and so the situation between the Naboo and Gungans is clearly based on the dichotomy that Lucas' took from Burroughs between the Red and Green martians, with the Gungans and especially Jar Jar and Boss Nass based on Tars Tarkas. While their role in the trilogy was clearly cut short due to scathing fan reaction, Burroughs' influence persists, with Geonosis based even more closely on Barsoom that Tatooine was, replete with an arena battle and an attack of insect creatures (also used in an early draft of Willow).12 Return of the Jedi is also influenced by Burroughs: the entire opening Jabba "short" is in the style of Frazetta, Lucas' favourite Burroughs illustrator, with Slave Leia the spitting image of his illustrations of Thoris, and Jabba's sail barge a dead ringer for a Barsoomian light ship. Flash Gordon Lucas was influenced by the Flash Gordon comics - which influenced C3PO and Luke's landspeeder. He could have seen the 1955 Flash Gordon TV series, later edited into a film, which took place in the 33rd century, the setting of Lucas' first story treatment for the film. But he was mostly influenced by the serials, which were still globally popular with kids on local TV programming going into the 1980s. Lucas remembers seeing them circa 1956 on "Adventure Theater" airing at 6 on KRON, but that programme didn't air on KRON until 1960, and played at 2:30. Rather, its more likely he saw it, retitled as "Space Soldiers", on “Super Serial”, reportedly the top-rated show for that time slot in the central valley area, which aired at 6 on KTVU.13 Although Lucas later denied to Charlie Rose that he wanted to make Flash Gordon at all, insisting that Star Wars emerged as an original concept dating back to his days in community college, in 1977 he was empathic that he wanted "to make Flash Gordon, with all the trimmings."4 After the failure of THX-1138, he had inquired Universal only to find out the rights reverted back to King Features. When he visited Coppola's Godfather shoot en route to Cannes, he clearly intended to visit King Features ahead of a meeting with United Artists, so he could pitch them Flash Gordon as a two-picture deal with American Graffiti, in which they showed interest. However, the creative and financial terms offered by producer Dino Di Laurentiis (who was eyeing bigger fish) were too onerous for Lucas, and he decided to make an original space opera instead. In terms of influence, it most inspired the tone, the wipe-transitions and some visuals: a city in the clouds; and ice planet, an underwater city, and a woodland planet: all appearing on the serial as different parts of the fictional planet Mongo. Flash even went to Mars in the second serial, which offers a link to Burroughs. The ramshackled visuals, created from shooting on sets and with props and music from other films shooting on the studio backlot with mostly unknown actors, are a precedent to Star Wars "Kitbashed" approach. However, the main characters have little in common with their serial counterparts. Luke is far too much of an underdog to be equated to the muscular, superhero of Flash, and Leia is not reconisably like Dale Arden. Guinness' wizard-like Ben is not at all like Zarkov. However, the Rebel Alliance has some antecedents in Flash's attempts to rouse the inhabitants of Mongo against the tyrannical Ming, who in turn is something of a model for both Tarkin and the Emperor. Of the three Flash serials, the most influential seems to have been Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, which featured Queen Fria (who had buns in her hair) and was the only Flash Gordon serial (notwithstanding a previous Buck Rogers serial) with a text crawl in the style of Lucas' film. The Films of Akira Kurosawa Beginning March 1980, Lucas started pointing towards more high-brow sources for his film, and donwplay its sources in pulps: I quoted many instances from 1977 when Lucas cited John Carter, and one can make a similar list of him referring to Flash Gordon, and his biography also mentions Lensmen, Dune and films like Forbidden Planet. However, after 1980, many of these sources are scarcely mentioned again. Instead, Lucas turned rhetorically towards high-brow scholarly sources (see below) and towards sources that hold some catchet with cineastes, like the films of Akira Kurosawa. The title I chose for this fourth influence is a the title of Donald Richie's The Films of Akira Kurosawa. The Kurosawa film that Star Wars has most in common with is, of course, The Hidden Fortress. But that movie is actually not one of Lucas' favourites and was not a popular succes in the US at the time, in which it was presented with heavy cuts. To recall the plot in sufficient detail, Lucas had written his synopsis with Richie's book open on his desk. Also taken from Richie's book are a few beats from Yojimbo and Sanjuro. The recurring imagery of severed hands has its genesis in Kurosawa's Sanjuro. 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 Yojimbo] 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 Sanjuro] 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. However, this all happened during the writing of the initial treatment: this influence would dissolve over the various drafts. The empire uses the symbol of the Yamana from the film, but far more prominent in their depiction are allusions to Nazi imagery. The archetypes for the general, the villian and the princess appear in Kurosawa's film, but were primarily shaped by pulp sources. Even though Lucas did consider casting Toshiro Mifune as Old Ben, his notes show that he was thinking more of Mifune's turns in Seven Samurai and Yojimbo than in Hidden Fortress, where Mifune bears little resemble to Guinness' Old Ben. There's something of the headstrong princess Yuki in Leia, but not much. Rather, its main influence is in the two Droids, the samurai-trappings of the Jedi and the Japanese flair of both the Tatooine robes (later retconned as Jedi robes) and Vader's helmet: McQuarrie remembers Lucas giving him a book on "Medieval Japan" but he's probably referring to Richie's book, whose title is scrolled on one of his sheets.14 Some plot points for The Empire Strikes Back come from Kurosawa's 1975 film Dersu Uzala: The Hunter, which takes place in the Russian tundra and features a diminutive, eccentric wise-man. Since Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace pull on the first draft, they owe something to Hidden Fortress: in particular, Vader's turning on the Emperor having some precedent in Takodoro breaking ranks with the Yamana. Willow also strongly resembles Hidden Fortress, and early drafts even had gold concealed in the tree branches on Razel's island, like in the Kurosawa movie. However, Episode I is actually by far the most Kurosawa-like of all of Lucas' films: although no Star Wars film uses telephoto lenses like Kurosawa (for that look instead to THX-1138, and even there it probably derives from other sources of inspiration), the imagery of that film owes something to Ran and Seven Samurai, favourites of Lucas.15 Nevertheless, even that film owes more to Lucas' pulp sources. Secondary Sources: Literary Lucas' biography suggest he read Frank Herbert's Dune, which was reissued in 1969.1 Inasmuch as his original "Journal of the Whills" is a paraphrase on A Fighting Man of Mars, some of the nomenclature in it derives from Herbert: Ophuchi is a star in Dune, and Lucas' tentative name for the Emperor, Alexander Xerxes XIX of Decarte, is a clear paraphrase on Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV. The Jedi are given here as Jedi-Bendu, recalling the Prana Bindu technique from Dune. This suggests the city planet of Aldeeran described here has more in common with Geidi Prime than with Isimov's Trantor: there's reason to take Lucas at his word regarding his dislike of Asimov. Furthermore, it was the combination of Dune and A Fighting Man of Mars that led Lucas to put his story in "a Galaxy far, far away." Burroughs led the way: A Fighting Man of Mars, along of the Barsoom novels, takes place entirely on Mars, but it still mentions earth, whereas the principal planets of Dune are in some remote region of the known universe. While Tatooine derives from Barsoom, some of what populates it - crawlers, bedouin-like sand people, moisture farms, spice, worm-like creatures - derive from Herbert. Guilds, which are first namedropped in The Empire Strikes Back and then feature prominently in the first two prequels, come from Dune. Likewise, the siege on Utupau in the First draft (and subsequently in The Phantom Menace, in whose first drafts Naboo was still Utapau) might recall the Harkonnen attack on Arrakeen. The increasingly-messianic tones of Star Wars beginning 1980, with Luke and then Anakin being turned into "chosen ones", probably come from Herbert: In the second draft, Luke is the "Chosen One", who in the film's epigraph (itself designed on quotes from Irulan's diary in Dune) is called "The Son of Suns." This would be replaced by a Tolkien-esque "everyman" angle in the third draft, and subsequently in the movie, but gradually return to the series in 1980. Its hard, however, to pin specific beats in the story on Herbert's influence: By way of specific scenes, the original film has one small scene, in which Ben uses the Force to compel the Stormtroopers to let them go, which smacks of how Jessica and Paul use "The Voice" on the Harkonnen henchmen. Another specific influence doesn't come from Lucas but from the design team: back in 1981, the Emperor's decrepit appearance was not yet the result of blunt trauma (and wouldn't be until 2003: cf. Palpatine's sickly makeup in Attack of the Clones) and his makeup artists gave him a cranium split, thinking of Dune's space navigators. Lucas rejected some sandworm-like designs for Jabba.16 I mentioned Tolkien, which was a secondary but important source, at least on the original film. Lucas seems to have read The Hobbit before the Third Draft, because here Luke turns into an everyman who's father had died offscreen, like Bilbo, while Old Ben is clearly based on Gandalf, a characterization later transferred to Yoda. McQuarrie's concomitant designs for the character started shifting from a Toshiro Mifune-like Saumrai to a wizened old wizard, with Lucas approaching Sir Alec Guinness with this draft, which Guinness himself noted for its "borrowings from Tolkien." In fact, the draft contains a clear paraphrase on Bilbo's and Gandalf's first meeting: 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. Its impossible to say whether Lucas made Ben more Gandalf-like to suit the casting of Guinness, or turned to The Hobbit once he started thinking about Guinness for the role (having been turned down by Mifune) but ultimately it doesn't matter. Nor is this the only influence of The Hobbit on the film: After this draft, Lucas started scouting north Africa for desert locations, finally choosing Tunisia, and renaming his desert planet afte the local place-name Tatooine. John Barry remembers Lucas picking Tunisia because he "liked Matmata, where people live in these holes in the ground", which Lucas fondly recalls as reminding him of a "Hobbit village."17 His choice of location (including grain stores that would later appear as Shmi's hovel in Episode I) surely owes something to Tolkien: in the third draft, Luke's homestead was still a set of buildings, not the Smial-like place it would become: In fact, Lucas explains that deciding to shoot the homestead in one of those underground hotels made the shoot costlier. This choice is echoed later in the series in Yoda's hut. It was drawn by Ralph McQuarrie shortly after he bailed on Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings, and its not stretching anyone's imagination then that his concept of the wizard's hut and of a Hobbit hole would become mingled, or that Lucas, already fired up by *The Hobbit*, would warm to such a design. Although Lucas already fond of having short-statured creatures in his story like R2D2 and the Jawas, he now considered casting a short person in the role of Luke.18 Maybe even the fact that the sabers glow blue (in artwork, they're plain white) and even the round interiors of the Falcon owe to Tolkien. Lucas later made An Ewok Adventure and Willow, both heavily indebted to The Hobbit. The lightsabers themselves, however, predate this and seem to derive from a Frank Kelly Freas artwork that appeared opposite from a story of Harry Harrison, a favourite pulp author of Lucas', in a March 1973 issue of Analog. Indeed, many of Lucas' other pulp sources are visual: the final design for Chewbacca, replete with the bowcaster, comes from a July 1975 cover of Analog: neither design of Chewbacca, nor any of his descriptions in the drafts of by Lucas belie a similarity to dogs, casting doubt over the autobiographical spin that he is based on Lucas (actually, Marcia's) dog Indiana. Meanwhile, Lucas' notes explicitly cite19 the cover to another Harrison novela from 1973, The Stainless Steel Rat, as the source for the TIE fighter and, subsequently, Darth Maul's ship. Harry Harrison also wrote archetypes similar to Lucas': on the back cover of The Stainless Steel Rat you can see a description of the main character, Jim DiGriz, very much along the lines of Han Solo, while his Bill, the Galactic Hero stars a farmboy. In 1979, Lucas cited his love of the work of Moebius,20 whose illustrations feature similarly "used" sci-fi worlds to Lucas'. However, Moebius' work on Metal Hurlant wasn't published in America until early 1977: Lucas could have learned about it during the prep period in England, or even before that via his friend Edward Summers who did business with comics enthusiasts in Europe, but its not a noted influence on the original film: even the "used look" is not appearant on the early work of McQuarrie and Cantwell, and seem to have only arouse later out of a practical necessity as the realities of the budget were hitting home. Lucas only contacted Moebius in 1977 to work on promotional material for the film's European debut, and his art influenced the animated segment of The Holiday Special, as well as The Empire Strikes Back. While it was mostly confined to the art-deco Cloud City, it also inspired the design of the Rebel freighter. While the Imperial Walkers were inspired by War of the Worlds and industrial artwork by Syd Mead, Moebius' art was used as a reference when Lucas asked to bulk the Walkers up.21 Jack Kirby's Fourth World comics are sometimes cited as an influence: Lucas was actually accused of this in a 1975 dinner with an associate of Kirby's, although Edward Summer who was present assigns no significance to this.22 Kirby's comics feature a hulking villain who's the hero's father, but Lucas didn't "hit" upon this as a plot point until March or April 1978. Kirby's other creation, Doctor Doom, also resembles Vader, but beyond the influence of Richie's book on the design of the helmet, it seems Vader's design grew organically from the space suit McQuarrie gave him. If he's based on any preexisting work at all its more likely to be The Lightning from The Fighting Devil Dogs serial (who shoots lightning, like Vader does in Splinter of the Mind's Eye)23 or even Frazetta's illustration of "The Rider" which used to hang in Lucas' office. Frazetta met Lucas circa 1980 and remembers Lucas telling him he was inspired by some of his illustrations. Secondary Sources: Cinematic Other movies, which Lucas usually caught on TV, mostly influenced only specific segments in Lucas' film. Some fifty World War II movies, especially The Dam Busters, influenced the trech run, and contributed to the Nazi trappings of the Empire and WWII trappings of many of the spaceships. The Searchers inspired Luke finding the burnt homestead (and possibly the blunt characterization of Owen, especially in the third draft) and later Anakin finding his mother, and Lucas' shooting style is closer to John Ford's than to that of Kurosawa's or of the Flash Gordon serials. Gone With the Wind is a noted influence on the love story in The Empire Strikes Back. While Lucas enjoyed the epic films of the 1950s and 1960s, they weren't a noted influence on his films initially. 2001: A Space Odyssey influenced the mechanical, NASA-like look of some of the spaceships, but its cinematic style couldn't be further removed from Lucas' and homages to it are few and far in between. Perhaps the most overt is in the medical facility in Revenge of the Sith: having spent years by this point talking about how Star Wars takes "from the epics" (see later), and after his abortive attempt to make a large-scale historical picture, to be realized later as Red Tails, did he turn to 2001 and other 1960s widescreen spectacles, alongside the more large-scale films of Kurosawa's. The influence is all over the prequel trilogy, but all in all is fairly unsubstantial, influencing only isolated shots and setpieces, like one or two big ground battles, a podrace in the style of Ben Hur, a shot composition (of Anakin, R2 and Padme) out of Lawrence of Arabia, and a procession out Cleopatra. Gradually, too, the influence of contemporary epics starts coming to the fore: the arena battle is as indebted to Gladiator as to anything in Spartacus, an influence also borne out of the soundtrack for Revenge of the Sith (see later). The latter film also incorporates "flyover" shots straight out of The Lord of the Rings. Other than that, the influence of other movies is mostly on designs: C3PO is designed after the Metropolis robot, and while R2D2 is an original design, Lucas first intended him to be based on the robots from the recent Silent Running.24 The description of Han or his ship as "Corellian" (which Lucas said in 1977 means its "Krell make") seems to derive from the Krell of Forbidden Planet, a childhood favourite of Lucas which recently reissued and which Lucas later screened for his crew.25 Casablanca left its mark on the Cantina (Lucas notes say he's making Han "like Bogart") and perhaps set Lucas on the road to develop what would become Raiders of the Lost Ark around the same time.26 That film, however, whose premise Lucas developed significantly for Splinter of the Mind's Eye, owes more to the Zorro serials (which Lucas was shown by a friend in film school) and Secrets of the Inca. From Casblanca Lucas' also took the appearance of Jabba, first as a "salivering hulk" played by Declan Mullholand, and later (circa November 1979) as a "fat, slug-like creature",27 both of which resembled Sydney Greenstreet's Signor Ferrari, whom Lucas referenced. Its no stretch to say that Lucas doubling down on the Vietnam war subtext in Return of the Jedi owes something to the success of Coppola's Apocalypse Now, which Lucas almost directed. When Lucas started writing his first draft of the original film, he intended to present it to some extent as a Vietnam War parable, but that was downplayed in the writing process, and is all but wholly absent from The Empire Strikes Back. In Return of the Jedi, however, even the suggestion that in striking the Emperor down in anger, Luke would succumb to evil recalls the dynamic between Kurtz and Willard. In Episode I, the Gungan sacred place recalls Kurtz' compound, and when he was involved in development for Episode VII, Lucas described the hermit Luke as a "Colonel Kurtz type."28 A considerable aspect of Lucas' cinematic sources were sources that showed what he didn't want to do: in keeping with the "high brow" angle, Star Wars is often presented as an answer to the 70s "American New Wave" movies, but commercially its rivals were rather the big-budgeted disaster films of its day. However, for his part, Lucas conceived of it as a response to what he saw ON TELEVISION, mentioning Kojak and The Six Million Dollar Man, as well as his disappointment with the static spaceship imagery of Star Trek.29 The name "The Force" resembles a conversation captured in an experimental short film by Arthur Lipsett that Lucas watched in film-school and had wanted to homage in THX-1138. Lucas suggests his early filmography in and immediately after film-school comprised of experimental, non-narrative "tone poems" a-la Lipsett, but actually of his nine non-feature-length projects, only two (Herbie and 6-18-67) can be described as such: the others are either exercises in montage ("LOOK at LIFE"); narratives, obscure though they may be, like Freiheit, Anyone lived in a pretty [how] town, and THX-1138-4EB; documentaries like 1:42.08, The Emperor and Filmmaker, not to mention the abandoned mockumentary Five, Four, Three. In fact, it seems Lucas didn't see Lipsett's film until near the end of his term in USC, and his early interest in montage work was rather sparked by the work of the faculty's former dean, Slavko Vorkapich.30 Secondary Sources: Scholarly An earlier 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.”31 Many of these claims are dubious at best. Ahead of the third draft, Gary Kurtz showed Lucas Carlos Castaneda's recent The Tales of Power. The draft's synopsis specifically compared Old Ben to Castaneda's Don Juan: the quirky, Don Juan-like characterization was filed-back to a more dignified Gandalf-like character at the insistence of Guinness, but returned for Yoda, who speaks as Don Juan does of "luminous beings." Even the concept of "Life Day" from the Holiday Special has a Castaneda-like ring to it, but otherwise its an alltogether minor influence. The name "Force", however, appears in Lucas' drafts since before it does in Castaneda's books. When he began writing the fourth draft, Lucas revised the film's epigraph to "A long time ago, in a Galaxy far, far away", which he later said32 was inspired by a book of Bruno Bettelheim, who analysed ten Grimms' fairytales. The book wasn't published until 1977, but Lucas did read a long excerpt published in the New Yorker in December 1975. If anything, Lucas previous draft was even more fairytale-like thanks to The Hobbit, but now he started thinking of the film rigorously as a fairytale. The plot didn't change, and even the designs were mostly locked at this point. Even Lucas' choice of diffused, ethereal visuals seems to have long predated this, and at any rate Lucas removed it with sharpening tools for the special edition,33 and Flash Gordon already set him on a certain path regarding his music choices. A possible influence beyond the epigraph may have been to tone down the violence, although a fair bit of it remained in the first two films (and returned with a vengenance in Revenge of the Sith) and what was removed (a beheading in the original film, and the intricacies of Han's torture in the sequel) was seemingly done more out of commercial practicalities than anything else. That said, Lucas did remove a few shots showing Imperial officers being shot on-camera for the Special Edition, seemingly under the influence of the new, kid-friendly, fairytale concept for the series, inspired by Bettelheim. Possibly, a more significant influence came in March 1978, via a review of Star Wars by Conrad Kottak for Psychology Today,34 which compared it with Bettelheim's theorem. Kottak suggests Darth Vader is the image of Luke's "Dark Father": Lucas earlier notes suggest the correct etymology was "Dark Invader",35 but now he adopted Kottak's post-hoc etymology in notes from circa 1980, as well as identifying Ben with the image of Luke's good, idealized father. It can therefore be that the idea of Vader being Luke's father, which Lucas wrote down in March or April 1978, comes from Kottak, although it was also a common space opera plot ploy. Kottak suggested the boy must slay the evil father, and Lucas' first title for the third film, Revenge of the Jedi, may suggest he was originally going to head down that road. However, it seems Kottak's review drew him back to Bettelheim. His notes now quote extended passages, not just from the column but from the unabridged book. This was also the first that he mentioned Bettelheim to the press, and when he started ceaslessly talking to his cast and crew about the movie being a fairytale: that was his reasoning for making the Ewoks as cloying as they were, and for refusing to let Lawrence Kasdan kill-off Lando. Vader's redemption first manifests at this stage, although Lucas had previously spoken to Brackett about making Vader pitiable in his dying moments, so its hard to pin the route Lucas eventually took with the character on Bettelheim, per se. In fact, in Lucas' first treatment for Return of the Jedi, even the deceased Ben and Anakin return at the end in the flesh, but this wasn't done in the finished film, tempering with the influence of Bettelheim. Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment (1977, excerpt published 1975) George Lucas' notes, circa late 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." 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. [... later, in story conferences with Kasdan and Marquand:] 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.36 This leads us to Campbell. Even if Lucas had read Campbell, it was by his own account at the time of the third draft, by which point the basic plot and designs of Star Wars were already laid down, so its influence on the film had long been disputed as inconsequential. However, there's also reason to doubt Lucas' reading of the book, which is a far denser tome (which is to say nothing of the >900-page The Golden Bough). Says Michael Heileman: Ontop of Heileman's doubts of Lucas' erudition, the truly damning evidence (ex silentio though it is) that Lucas probably never read through Campbell is Lucas himself: in notes and story conferences - where Castaneda and Bettelheim are clearly mentioned - Campbell's writings are nowhere to be found, and none of the people who knew Lucas during the writing period attest to his reading of Campbell. One could expect Lucas to at least cannibalize Campbell's book for outlandish names, but the only possibilities are Dannen from Willow; and Masassi and Brunhuld, both from Star Wars drafts that predate Lucas' supposed reading of Campbell, the latter supposedly derived from a book of baby-names.38 Another piece of damning evidence is what little insight Lucas has into mythology. Although he supposedly wrote Return of the Jedi with Campbell's book on his desk, the only insight Lucas gave to Mark Hamil on the set is one that any ten year-old could offer: “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.”39 Furthemore, this banal piece of insight is exactly the same as Lucas used for Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, and derives far more readily from Bettleheim and, even more to the point, from The Hobbit. Lucas is similarly inobservant about religion, ignorantly claiming that the Abrahamic religions stem from the same origins as Buddhism (a statement that belies 1970s New Age spiritualism more so than a student of anthropology) and Zen-like turn of the Jedi in the prequel trilogy is very much a Westerner's picture-postcard fascimilie of Buddhism and Zen. Furthermore, Lucas' film doesn't really resemble Campbelll's "Monomyth" very well: Luke leaves the "Normal world" before meeting his "guide", and gets his "talisman" before he refuses the call. At no point in his quest is Lucas presented with the kind of temptations to abandon the quest described by Campbell, and even across the entire trilogy, Luke never "crosses the return threshold" and comes back home. Anakin's journey is even less Campbell-like than Luke's. Ultimately, unlike the other sources we examined, its impossible to pinpoint any concrete influence of Campbell's on Lucas' films and drafts: all his "insight" into fairytales, often taken to derive from Campbell, comes instead from Bettelheim. Ironically, while citing these scholars was seemingly done to give Lucas' film an air of intellectual legitimacy, all three authors would later prove to be hacks to some extent: Castaneda's works, though immensly popular, were already believed in his time to be works of fiction. Bettelheim had outright forged his academic credentials, and his book is a pastiche of Heuscher's Psychiatric Study of Fairy Tales. Campbell, like Bettelheim, was also a graduate of Literature, not anthropology, and has drawn heavy criticism from later folklorists for cherry-picking his examples, and for dubious authority: while citing a lot of examples from Indian mythology, he was not proficient in Sanskrit. Lucas himself, who admitted he never met Campbell or heard any of him talk until AFTER Return of the Jedi, gives him the backhanded compliment of being better lecturer than writer (he was neither), and later in life said he moved on from Campbell's Jungian views to "neuro-psychology."40 Secondary Sources: Autobiographical Star Wars is, not, ultimately, a very autobiographical film. Chris Taylor notes that Modesto is not a good model for Tatooine, being "verdant" and about a meagre hour's drive from both San Francisco and Hollywood. Even the ranch Lucas spent most of his teens growing in was ultimately five miles down the road from downtown, a far-cry from Owen's remote moisture farm. Its clear Lucas named Luke after himself, but he's ultimately best seen as a projection of Lucas, not as a self-portrayal. Lucas' stern father perhaps resembles Uncle Owen moreso than Anakin, and even at that Owen probably owes just as much to Western characters. The name "Vader" may or may not relate to an older jock who is believed to have bullied Lucas in junior high, named Gary Rex Vader. The most autobiographical scenes, of Luke hanging with his friends in Ancorhead, were only added at the insistence of Lucas' friend Hal Barwood and summarily cut from the film.41 In the intermediate drafts, Han Solo does strongly resemble Francis Ford Coppola. This would get filed-down in the final draft and in Harrison Ford's performance, but there's reason to assume Coppola's influence on Lucas' entire filmography is rather enormous: It was Coppola who first planted in Lucas' head the idea of making a filmmaking hub in the countryside, finally realised in Skywalker Ranch. It was Coppola who first turned to make films with the big studios, when he decided to direct The Godfather, paving the road for Lucas and American Graffiti. Lucas likes to take credit for convincing Coppola to take The Godfather to recoup debts from a screening of THX-1138, but that screening occured in November, while Coppola accepted the gig in September.42 Coppola also made a sequel, and even presented it as an integral "Part two" rather than a patched-on sequel, long before Lucas did so, and even the flashback sequences in Coppola's film can be seen an antecedent of sorts to Lucas' pursuit of prequels. Even the turn to gloomy, soap-opera-like melodrama in The Empire Strikes Back, as well as the talk of high-brow inspiration, is perhaps a reaction to The Godfather and the way Coppola's posse derided Star Wars as "twerp cinema." Small wonder that Jabba is described as a gangster ("Like Michael Corleone") or that Lucas considered stunt-casting Pacino as Han Solo. A strong argument could be made that Lucas turn to high-brow sources, as well as his insistence that the series was planned in advance, do impact the series. In the story conferences to Return of the Jedi, Lucas earnestly defends his story choices as being "the original story," which seems to have convinced Lawrence Kasdan. This turn, along with stories that make the film more of a "little engine that could" that it had been, and many affectations regarding what Lucas tried to do with the shooting style of the film, could be argued to affect Lucas' subsequent entries. We've already noted the (fairly superficial) turn to the visuals of 1950s and 1960s epics in the prequel trilogy, but just as importantly, we must ask the question: can a filmmaker who thinks so little of his audience's intelligence as to believe they'll fall for his tendetious stories of how he concieved Star Wars, make films that don't talk down to the audience as a film like Attack of the Clones indeed does?43 Secondary Sources: Musical Lucas claims to have written the script envisioning the music. This is a little dubious, since the only mention of music in the script is for the crawl, which merely calls for "war drums." In the event, the cut film was temporarily scored with Rosza's Ivanhoe; Holst's The Planets; Dvořák's 9th Symphony; Stravinski's The Rites of Spring, and (although Williams' denied this in 2003)44 Bernard Hermann's Veritgo. Other possible pieces may include Franz Waxman's score to The Bride of Frankstein, previously pilfered by the Flash Gordon serials, and a piece from Masaru Sato's score to Hidden Fortress.45 Although Lucas later denied this,46 when he first met John Williams in 1975, he intended for Williams to only score the Cantina band (which he temped with a Glenn Miller piece). The score was to be comprised of the same pieces of music the Flash Gordon serials used like Liszt's Les Preludes.47 Williams, however, convinced him to write an original score with recurring themes, approximately like the leitmotive or "leading motive" technique of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. In spite of that, and the fact that the film coincided with the revolutionary centenary production of The Ring, neither Williams nor Lucas cite it as an influence: Williams had heard a Ring (probably heavily cut) in Hamburg in 1966 while scoring Heidi, and not knowing German, found it inaccessible.46 His technique is only Wagnerian insofar as it derives from a generation of Wagnerian film composers (notably Korngold) that were themselves more influenced by Wagner's Lohengrin than by The Ring, and subsequently Williams' own use of the leitmotif is halfway between the mature leitmotif technique of The Ring and the reminiscence themes of Lohengrin. Any story resemblence, especially to The Ring but also to Lohengrin, is coincidental. In 1977, Lucas suggested that in a few places, he and Williams saw fit to reference the original temporary track consciously in the score:47so those places where Williams score (very seldom) steers very close to the temporary track are probably intentional. It has been suggested Williams' main titles owe to Korngold's King's Row, but Doug Adams concludes that its "may be stretching the point to dub Korngold’s theme the model",48 Williams' theme seemingly based on the Rosza piece, instead. Adams also questions whether Williams' intentionally referenced the Dies Irae plainchant in his score. Williams only quotes (albeit repeatedly) a four-note cell consisting of a halfstep down and up and then a fullstep down: a simple shape that anyone could intuitivelly hit upon by accident, especially in evoking the ominous. The scores of later entries seem to have mostly been tracked with pre-existing Williams pieces, although Williams seems to have grasped the homage to Ben Hur in The Phantom Menace and channelled something of Rosza there. Only Revenge of the Sith shows the touch of other contemporary scores, which were obviously put into the temporary track: The wailing soprano vocals in Padme's Ruminations is clearly temped with Lisa Gerard from Gladiator, while Anakin's Dark Deeds were clearly modelled on "The Treason of Isengard" from the Fellowship of the Ring original album. Footnotes Dale Pollock, Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas (Harmony Books: 1983), p. 141 ff. As it appears in the Episode I documentary, "All I need is an Idea" Webisode. James Whitebrook, George Lucas’ Plans for His Star Wars Sequels Were More Familiar Than You’d Think, Gizmodo, 12 November 2020. Staff. "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. Jonathan Rinzler, The Making of Return of the Jedi (Random House: New York, 2013. Enhanced Edition), p. 1566. 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 Rinzler, The Making of Star Wars (Random House: New York, 2007. Enhanced Edition), p. 117. John Baxter, Mythmaker: The Life and Work of George Lucas (Harper Collins: 1999), p. 33. Rinzler, The Making of Star Wars, p. 1669. Staff, Early Drafts of George Lucas’ Willow Are a Very Different Adventure, Consequence, 14 August 2018. Brian Jay Jones, George Lucas: A Life (Little Brown and Company: New York, 2019), pp. 42-45, NB 878-880. Jones biography also peels the histronics around Lucas' car-crash at 18 ("Lucas was actually in better shape than he looked", pp. 68 ff) and his community college education, noting anthropology was just one of multiple classes he took and that his grades were still "mostly Cs," p. 72). Michael Heilemann, Kurosawa, Kitbashed. Michael Kaminski, The Influence and Imagery of Akira Kurosawa, The Secret History of Star Wars, 2008. The Making of Return of the Jedi, p. 859, 93. The Wizard of Star Wars The Making of Star Wars, p. 523. Michael Heilemann, The Complete History of the Milennium Falcon, Kitbashed 2015. Alan Arnold, Once Upon a Galaxy: A Journal of the Making of the Empire Strikes Back (Ballantine: 1980). , p. 220 ff. Michael Heilemann, Giant Walking Machines, Kitbashed, 2015. Michael Heilemann, Edward Summer interview May 19th (Part 1), Kitbashed. Michael Kaminski, The Visual Development of Darth Vader, The Secret History of Star Wars, 2007. Michael Heilemann, The Birth R2D2, Kitbashed. Heilemann, "Amazing! Nothing Like it Ever!", Kitbashed. Heileman, Casablanca, Kitbashed. Michael Kaminski, Jabba the Hutt: "Wonderful Human Being", The Secret History of Star Wars, 2008. Andrew G. Why Did George Lucas Say His Ideas for Episode VII Were Abandoned?, Medium, 19 October 2021. Chris Taylor, How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise (Perseus Books Group: New York, 2017), p. 172 ff. 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. According to Jones (pp. 92-150) the order of the films was "LOOK at LIFE", Freiheit, Herbie (all 1965), 1:42.08, and after returning to graduate school, The Emperor (1966), Everyone Lived in a Pretty (how) Town and THX-1138-4EB (both 1967). Jones puts Lucas' viewing of Lipsett's film around his tenure at graduate school. Gary Jenkins, Empire-building: The Remarkable, real-life story of Star Wars (Carol Publishing: 1999), p. 37. Michael Kaminski, The Secret History of Star Wars: the Art of Storytelling and the Making of a Modern Myth (third edition, Legacy Books Press: 2008), p. 105. Kaminski, Saving Star Wars: The Special Edition Restoration Process and its Changing Physicality, The Secret History of Star Wars, 2009. Michael Heilemann, Like Father Like Son, Kitbashed. Rinzler, The Making of The Empire Strikes Back (Random House: New York, 2014. Enhanced Edition), p. 77, 105. Ibid. The Making of Return of the Jedi, pp. 377, 379, 725, 1030. Michael Heilemann, Fairytales and the Hero's Journey, Kitbashed. 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. From Star Wars to Return of the Jedi. Aljean Harmetz, A Pained Lucas Ponders Attacks on 'Willow', New York Times, 9 June 1988. The Secret History of Star Wars, p. 105. Jones, NB p. 902. 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 appeals" and even the rejection letters from United Artists and Universal say its a potential hit, albeit a risky one. 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. Jeff Bonds, God Almighty!, in Film Score Monthly (Vineyard Haven: CA, January 2003), Volume 8, Number 1, p. 10. Michael Heilemann, The Origins and Inspirations of John Williams' Star Wars score, Kitbashed. Alex Ross, The Force is Still Strong with John Williams, The New Yorker, 21 July 2020. The Wizard of Star Wars. Doug Adams, Sounds of the Empire: Analysing the themes of the Star Wars Trilogy in Film Score Monthly (Volume 4, number 5), pp. 22–47. Conclusions Lucas main influences are Galactic Patrol (via the 1972 Panther reissue), Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars (probably via a 1970 reissue of Coleman Burroughs' John Carter of Mars strip), 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: removing Earth from the setting, focusing the plot on the rescue of a princess, setting much of it on a desert planet, the styling of long episodes like the Jabba "short", hinging much of the conflict in Episode I on a conflict between two alien societies that join forces. 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: the two droids, the idea of escoring a princess to safety in Episode I, and some stylistic elements and shots, including the repeated imagery of severed hands, the japanese flair of the Jedi, some plot points for Return of the Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back. From secondary sources: the urban planet, the emphasis on spacing guilds in Episodes I and II, Luke and then 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 and Yoda as wizard mentors, the Tatooine dwellings as rounded, underground homes (from The Hobbit), the cloying tone of Return of the Jedi and reduction in onscreen violence from there through to 2005, possibly the "Freudian" reveal in The Empire Strikes Back (from "Uses of Enchantment"), the trench run, the WWII 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). In exploring Lucas sources, it is interesting to note how many of them were either fairly recent, or consisting of recent rereleases of genre classics: they mostly date from 1968 through to 1975. Furthermore, few of Lucas' primary sources are consistent with the "high brow" spin: 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. Lucas prefers Seven Samurai, and tries to construe ways in which his film derives from it, which it does not. 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 rather poetic that having been sold to Disney Star Wars, being based on these quixotic and comic-book-like sources, should have finally pivoted from the novelistic style of the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings (which Lucas aspired to between 1980 and 2005) film series, to a more comic-book-like picaresque style, ostensibly becoming the third major cinematic comic-book franchise alongside Marvel and DC. 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: either shows or films that had aired on television. It is again poetic that this franchise should have now become ostensibly a television franchise.
  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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