Mar 5, 2014

Was Gandalf the inspiration for Obi Wan Kenobi?

gandalf fan art

It is a burden he should never have had to bear...

When asked about the inspirations for Star Wars, fans would probably be quick to come up with Flash Gordon, Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Hidden Fortress or John Wayne’s The Searchers. But not so many would come up with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. But this guy did and makes a good point about this piece of Tolkien prose:

"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”

Actually that’s not the writing of Tolkien, it’s from scene 39 of George Lucas’ third draft of Star Wars. Yes, George had paraphrased something Gandalf said for Obi Wan Kenobi.

Here's the original:

“What do you mean?“ he said. ”Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?"

Lucas cut Obi Wan's question to Luke from his draft as perhaps he had used it for inspiration and couldn't make it work. Or it was too close to the original text. Either way, Tolkien was at least a small part of what went through Lucas’s mind as he drafted his space opera.

But is Gandalf really the inspiration for Obi Wan? And by extension the Jedi? Yes and No.

Kitbashed notes, “That Gandalf and Obi-Wan share traits is perhaps better written off to the fact that both draw on the stereotypical wizard of fairytales and fantasy. Granted, Tolkien planted the seed for all modern fantasy with The Lord of the Rings, and so Gandalf is in many ways the stereotypical wizard because he was the first wizard; but he himself was based in large part on Merlin of the Arthurian legends.”

And given that Lucas was mostly inspired by stories and characters found in film and television mediums, it would seem unlikely that Gandalf was a direct inspiration, especially as Lucas took the loose concept of Jedi (Jedarks) and Sith from Edgar Rice Burroughs.

More things Kenobi:

Is Wedge Antilles really Obi-Wan Kenobi's Uncle? Yes, from a certain point of view.
The best Obi-Wan quotes this side of the galaxy (it’s far, far away)

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