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Aug 21, 2017

"The road to the Force is through the breath" George Lucas / "Breathe, Just Breathe" Luke Skywalker to Rey in TLJ

rey contemplating life in the last jedi

George Lucas did a 2005 interview with Rolling Stone which focused on the character of Darth Vader.

Rolling Stone asked a question which got a very cool response:

RS: One of Vader's favorite ways of dispatching people is by strangulation. Is that because of his inability to breathe without the iron lung?

Lucas: Well, it's a bigger metaphor than that. Strangulation is always a theme. Life is breath. It's a powerful idea in Buddhism: Cutting off life is cutting off breath. The road to the Force is through the breath.

It's the last line that rang a bell with me.

Did you watch the first The Last Jedi teaser trailer?

What does Luke say to Rey?

"Breathe, just breathe". 

Luke is training Rey in the ways of the Force. She is learning about it and Luke knows that by focusing on her breathing, Rey will become more attuned to it. 

Rey experienced this somewhat in her lightsaber dual with Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens. When Kylo reminds her of the Force, she  remembers it exists, takes a moment to focus and is then able to find strength from the Force. 

Luke is empowering her further, just as Yoda did himself. 

It's a nice call back to the thematic history of Star Wars.

Speaking of themes (and Mike Klimo's Ring Theory) note the top picture of Rey in The Last Jedi. Have you seen that anywhere else in Star Wars?

annakin back to us in attack of the clones

It's nice to see that The Last Jedi's director and scriptwriter Rian Johnson has a firm command of the themes of Star Wars. 

Aug 20, 2017

Lucasfilm's digital animators snuck the ANH 'Trench Run' into Attack of the Clones

You could watch the Attack of the Clones 1000 times and never spot this little but genuine easter egg. Look carefully at the gif below and you will see three tie-fighters in the formation of the one's that chased Luke and his buddies along the trench on the Death Star in A New Hope!

edit: can't get the video to work so check it out on reddit

The real question we have is George Lucas approve this nod?


Prince Harry and Wills confirmed as playing cameo roles in The Last Jedi


It's long been suspected given their set visit and wink winks from various people but John Boyega himself no less has confirmed the cameo of Princes William and Harry in The Last Jedi:


 “They came on set. They were there. I’m sick of hiding it. I think it was leaked, anyway. There were images. Every time I get asked, I have to dodge it. I’m tired of dodging it. They were there."

What does her Majesty the Queen have to say about this?

What's more is that Boyega also confirmed the rumour that Tom Hardy does a cameo in the movie too. 

There's actually plenty of cameos in the Last Jedi, including Gary Barlow from Britain's Best Boy Band of the 1990's, Take That! they will  both be playing Stormtroopers in the movie, we imagine they will not be as awesome as Daniel Craig was in his The Force Awakens cameo!

We should actually note that John words don't actually confirm the cameo....

Aug 13, 2017

How 19 great movies were direct influences on Star Wars

will to triumph star wars inspiration

At face value, Star Wars: A New Hope was a wholly original movie written by director George Lucas. It's script set new standards of movie making.

It was a fresh take on the old tale of a white knight and seasoned wizard rescuing the princess held captive in the evil Lord's castle.

And it had space ships, lots of spaceships.

But George Lucas is the first to state that his script for Star Wars was inspired by a whole lot of stories, myths and legends and so many movies. Lucas was a film student after all!

George was inspired by many things as he went about making his film. From Spock and Gandalf to Japanese cinema, he borrowed ideas in the forms of relationships, gods, religion and monsters, war all rinsed through the "Heart of Darkness" that always naws away at his mind.

A little bit of William Shakespeare was also thrown in for good measure. Most good authors do this!

This spilled over into his other Star Wars movies and so there's a lot of influences to cover. We'll focus mostly on movie references Lucas made but we can't leave out books like John Carter of Mars either!

Here’s some of the key influences that went into the original Star Wars film and the ones that followed.

He even took the odd quote verbatim and put in it a new context to great effect.

So then, The Dambusters


If you ever thought Wedge's "Look at the size of that thing" was a classic Star Wars line you'd be right. But if you thought it was an original scripted quote written by George Lucas, you'd be wrong. 

The quote was lifted straight from the classic war movie, The Dambusters.

This movie is loved by many a film maker (Peter Jackson nearly made a remake with Christian Rivers) and George Lucas loved it so much he nicked a key plot point from it and gave it a great spin.

The plot point in question is the part of the The Dam Busters where Allied bombers bounced bombs across the surface of the Ruhr River to explode against the base of a huge Nazi dam. The pilots had to get their launch just right or the bomb would not blow the dam's structure at the right point, causing the entire damn to collapse. 

Sound familiar?

That's right. It's the trench run and the firing of the torpedoes at the tiny target of the Death Stars exhaust port!

Lucas even borrowed the line “Get set for your attack run!” from the movie and added it to his. 

Lucas then did an extremely clever coupling with the premise of the Gregory Peck headlined, The Guns of Navarone to add some real urgency to the proceedings of attacking a Death Star. 

The film is set on a fictional Greek island called Navarone in the Aegean Sea where the Nazis have built a pair of radar-controlled super cannons. The guns threaten the evacuation of British troops on nearby Keros Island.

This mirrors that the rebels left on on Yavin IV base are at risk of total destruction by the Death Star. 

In Guns of Navarone, Peck's squad of commandos race to destroy the Navarone super guns before the British transports get within their range. This also reflects the fleet's race to destroy the Death Star before it can open fire on Yavin IV. 

These two concepts worked quite well in tandem!

A final point about an inspiration from The Guns of Navarone, the Death Star’s laser-firing sequence follows quite closely the firing sequence for the super guns on Navarone shot for shot! And to think George's wife Marcia Lucas won the Oscar for editing Star Wars as a result..

Rick's Cafe from Casablanca sounds a lot like a cantina we know of...


ANH's Mos Eisley spaceport sequence 45 minutes into Star Wars basically a giant riff on the whole of Casablanca. 

The central focus of that movie, Rick’s Café was swapped out by Lucas for the Cantina, which is officially known as Chalmun's Cantina

You know how this goes,  it's a place where shady under-the-table deals are made in dark corners, there's Figuran Dan's  wing orchestra and alien barflies smoking pipes drink gosh knows what ever Chalmun pours them. 

Smuggler Han Solo is basically modeled on Humphrey Bogart’s world weary cynicism and they both seem to have fondness for using word “kid”. The famous line of "Here's looking at you kid" gets spun as "great  kid, don't get cocky".

Like he did with the Navaronne and Dambusters duel plot points, Lucas also shoe horned in some of Clint Eastward's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly into Cantina scene too. The Han Solo face off against Greedo is inspired directly from a scene set in a bar in that movie.

The Casablanca love does not stop there!


Han Solo demands 15,000 credits of Luke and Obi-Wan to fly them  to the planet of Alderaan. This matches strangely enough to the boat passage ticket fare out of Casablanca which costs the princely sum 15,000 francs!

How cute!

Did you know that Jabba the Hutt was originally written as a part of ANH? If you've seen the Special Edition of it, he's actually been added in using CGI over the actual human version of the character that was filmed with Han Solo. The part was originally cut as Lucas was never happy with it. 

Jabba's character is a direct homage to Sidney Greenstreet’s cunning and portly nightclub owner, Signor Ferrari – indeed the original concept artwork for Jabba even featured him wearing a fez hat like Ferrari!

ferrari from Casblanca inspired Jabba the Hutt


Lucas's own cult film, THX 1138 has a large influence


thx1138-original-movie-poster
Poster for THX 1138

Considered by many to be a classic science fiction film, Lucas built a world where humanity appears to be controlled by some kind of dystopian bureaucracy where robots serve as friendly faceless policemen.

The human populace controlled by this bureaucracy is devoid of family ties, freedoms and indeed they are 'managed' by mandatory drug control which causes obedience and reduces the sex drive of the population (humans are raised by farming methods).

The plot follows title character 'THX 1138' as he and his female 'mate' try to escape the rat race of the future. We discover how society functions as he rushes around discovering his true identify. Kind of like how Luke Skywalker eventually does his own.

It's clear that George Lucas has always been facinated by population control. His short films prior to this covered such subjects. If we relate this to power, we can see how the Emperor is demanding complete control over the entire galaxy. 

There's a part during the big chase where a back ground voice says I think over some kind of radio system "I think I ran over a wookiee back there on the expressway." We can only guess that this is what influenced the naming of Chewbacca's species!

While the Storm Troopers are largely inspired by Nazi's the Policemen in this movie are faceless, emotionless beings that share the same characteristics.

Film director Akira Kurosawa and his Hidden Fortress


hidden fortress poster
Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress was released in 1958 and became popular in the United States with the ‘film crowd’ and Lucas eventually studied it in film school.

The movie tells story of a general and a princess, fighting their way home through enemy lines in feudal Japan with the help of a pair of bumbling peasants.  

Does that sound similar? 

What if you replaced the pair of peasants with R2D2 and C3PO? 

A princess? 

A General who fought in the Clone Wars?

Yep, Lucas took the two bickering peasants and swapped them out for what became one of the most famous cinematic pairings in history.

George Lucas explained in an interview:

 “I remember the one thing that really struck me about The Hidden Fortress,” he said, “the one thing I was really intrigued by, was the fact that the story was told from the two lowest characters. I decided that would be a nice way to tell the Star Wars story.

Take the two lowliest characters, as Kurosawa did, and tell the story from their point of view. Which, in the Star Wars case is the two droids, and that was the strongest influence."

It's also the movie that gave Lucas the idea for the famous scene ending screen swipes.

It’s no surprise then that Lucas deftly slipped in a visual reference to Akira Kurosawa’s famous Seven Samurai film into Revenge of the Sith. In the above image, as Yoda brings his hand to his head, this is directly referencing Akira's movies. 


Nazis! I hate these guys!

The Triumph of the Will  was a German propaganda documentary  film a 1935 German propaganda film directed, produced, edited, and co-written by Leni Riefenstahl.

It chronicles the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, which was attended by more than 700,000 Nazi supporters - a key moment is Hitler entering the rally, walking up through the throng of Nazis. 
compare ending of star wars to triumph of the will

Does that look long walk seem familiar?

We totally speculate that this was just the kind of film that Lucas would have seen at film school. He was ballsy enough to take that imagery and use it for the Star Wars medal ceremony where Chewie, Luke and Han walk up to receive their medals from Princess Leia!

Lucas was not actually afraid to take notes from the Nazi era - Stormtroopers are so named for the German soldiers and Darth Vader is basically dressed like a leather clad Nazi!

The Force Awakens scene where Admiral Hux addresses his troops on Star Killer base also harkens back to this era and the imagery associated with Nazi propganda. 

The Searchers and John Wayne


Recall the scene in which Luke approaches the burned-out farm and finds Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen left murdered and burning by the Storm Troopers.

This scene is shot in such a way that it echoes a similar scene in The Searchers, in which the young hero (not the Wayne character) also returns to his family’s farm to find the buildings burned and his own aunt and uncle murdered. 

The lift is direct and obvious.

The Searchers also features a young man drawn into a relationship with a relentless father figure, who seems made of evil as he hates the Comanche (but he's really just after revenge for they murdered his mother)...

Now, where have we heard a story like that before?

Ben Hur


That pod race in The Phantom Menace?

It was bigger than Ben Hur but Ben inspired it.

The fateful moment when Sebulba's own pod racer connects with young Anakin's pod is nearly a shot for shot remake of Ben Hurs’ climactic moment when Messala accidentally locks wheels with the Ben Hur character.

Lawrence of Arabia


If you’ve seen this film, you’ll remember it features a lot of sand. As does a planet called Tattoine. 

Stars Wars blog notes:

“Many moves from David Lean’s epic were cribbed for sequences on Tatooine. The shot of Mos Eisley from the distance as Luke and Obi-Wan look from on high reminds one instantly of shots looking down at Damascus.

Shots of Tusken snipers looking down at speeders moving below echo the same sorts of shots in Lawrence of Arabia”.

Sir Alec Guinness also has a role in that film too…..

Attack of the Clones makes a very deliberate nod to Arabia in Attack of the Clones. 

Remember this scene to the right where Padme and Annakin have a chat about politics? 

Clones was shot in the exact same location and mimics a conversation the characters Dryden, Brighton and Allenby have.

Flash Gordon


Legend has it that George Lucas sought to make a film version of Flash Gordon following American Graffitti.

Flash Gordon was full of sci-fi adventures where the hero traveled to space with a laser holstered to his side a mission to rescue a princess from a very very bad man (Ming the Merciless). Again, does that sound like a similar theme?


Lucas grew up with the serial and wanted to make a film about something he loved. 

He however had no luck getting the rights to make a movie and set upon writing his own film, which he began calling 'The Star Wars'.

What Star Wars really borrows from Flash Gordon is the concept of a fairytale in which futuristic technology stands in for the traditional role of magic (think magician Merlin’s role in many stories). 

Lucas enjoyed Flash Gordon so much it was inevitable other elements crept into the movie. 

While the ‘swipe’ scene transitions were stolen from The Hidden Fortress, that famous Star Wars title crawl marching up the screen in yellow was taken directly from the Flash Gordon serials. 

Lucas also borrowed the concept of a Cloud City!

If we briefly turn our mind to the last act of Return of the Jedi.


The movie 633 Squadron film features a heavy squadron being sent to Norway to bomb a V-2 rocket fuel plant as the main mission. A crucial side plot has Norwegian resistance fighters seeking to disable the anti-aircraft guns that protect the fuel plant. 

Does that sound familiar? 

Think Han Solo's mission to disarm the shield generator on the small moon of Endor...

Edgar Rice Burrough’s and his Princess of Mars novels


John Carter of Mars book cover
Mr Carter
Burrough’s series of novels about Princess Dejah from Mars and a soldier from Earth called John Carter were written over one hundred years ago but their effect has resonated through many artistic works, including Flash Gordon. 

You can imagine then when Lucas learned about that inspired Flash Gordon's adventures that he read up on that too!

While Star Wars was really inspired by George Lucas’s love of the Flash Gordon serial, the real inspiration comes from science fiction author Edgar Rice Burroughs.

His nearly 100 year old stories about a human that travels to Mars and falls in love with a beautiful princess are often argued as being responsible for the whole ‘green men from mars’ thing and Star Wars...

Of the film itself, Forrest Gump director Robert Zemeckis apparently turned down the chance to direct, quipping "George already pillaged all of that" with the "Star Wars" films.

In other words, most of the best elements of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars fantasies had already been "borrowed" for Lucas' space saga, and just because the film.


Lucas made no bones about how he was inspired by Rice's work and said in 1977:

“Originally, I wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie, with all the trimmings, but I couldn’t obtain all the rights.

So I began researching and found where (Flash Gordon creator) Alex Raymond got his idea: The works of Edgar Rice, especially his John Carter series of books."

Indeed, the first draft of the Star Wars follow up, The Empire Strikes Back was written by science fiction author Leigh Bracket.

She was quoted as saying:

 “I was introduced to Edgar Rice Burroughs at a very young age . . . That changed the course of my life . . . My fascination for Mars came from the fascination for his Mars.”

Check out this comparison:

leia and dejah gold bikini inspiration
Dejah versus Leia
Dejah Thoris, the Princess Of Mars herself, was commonly described and depicted as wearing golden bikinis and showing a lot of skin.

Is it a surprise then that ANOTHER princess wore a golden bikini in Return of the Jedi?

Probably not, so Good one George.

George also took a bit of 'naming' help from Burroughs...

Ever wonder where the word Jedi came from?


While it may have an Asian language link, the monarchs found on the planet of Mars are a titled Jed (king), Jeddak (emperor) and Jeddara (empress) respectively.

So one can assume Jedi may have come from Edgar Rice. On Barsoom a 'padwar' is a low-ranking officer.

This is not too far a stretch from 'padawan', an apprentice Jedi, is it not?

Did you ever see Attack of the Clones? 


Carter vs Clones
Did you notice that the John Carter had a similar scene in Attack of the Clones where the hero had to battle strange alien beasts while chained to the ground?

If you thought John Carter was ripping off Star Wars, think again, as Burroughs wrote this scene over 100 of your Earth years ago!

Adventures with an old and tired wizard


JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings has influenced just about a million book writers and even features in many Led Zeppelin songs so why would George Lucas not have taken some inspiration? 

At one point in the the third draft of Stars Wars Obi Wan Kenobi 's character was speaking  direct lines from Tolkien's novels. 

While that never actually filmed, it served to show that Lucas had been thinking about the White Wizard so it can be argued that there is a bit of Gandalf in the foundations of the character of Ben Kenobi.

The Maschinenmensch and Metropolis


Fritz Lang's silent movie has been described as a 'German expressionist epic science-fiction drama film'. 


The Star Wars take away here is the inspiration for C3PO.  Metropolis features a robot called Maria, a Maschinenmensch robot.

Maschinenmensch and C3PO design comparison


 Concept Designer Ralph McQuarrie used the look of this robot as part of his initial design work for C3PO and the rest is history. 

Intial C3Po sketch inspired by the Maschinenmensch
McQuarrie's early concept of C3PO and companion R2D2

How did the Millennium Falcon get its name?

This next influence is a bit random, so bear with us. The conceptual design of the Millennium Falcon was covered by Kitbashed and they have come up with a great theory on how the Falcon got its name.

how the milenium falcon got it's name
So there we have it - the Millennium Falcon's name was probably inspired by a combination of talking Falcon from The Maltese Falcon and combining it in a round about way with The Eagle space ship from Space 1999.... 

That's the second movie that Humphrey Bogart has been mentioned in this essay...

Nosteratu!

General Grievous's movement actions from Revenge of the Sith were inspired by a famous film vampire!

Star Wars analyst Mike Klimo has found a 2005 account from Entertainment Weekly which described that the movements of Grievous were in part inspired by Nosterfaru from the 1922 film of the same name.


This article suggests that to be the case and also throws in that Fagin from the classic Oliver Twist film also had a part to play as inspiration for a character who also ‘moves in the shadows’.

According to animation supervisor Jamy Wheless, they not only studied Nosferatu but also Bruce Lee films in preparation of the fight sequence.

Forbidden Planet



Forbidden Planet poster with Robby Robot
This was a movie I had heard of for many years due to it being the origin of one of the more famous robots in science fiction  Robbie the Robot.

What an incredibly strange and wonderful movie!

Released in 1956 this was the first big budget science fiction film of the Hollywood era. Apparently a bit of a flop, it quickly gained cult status and is now considered a classic science fiction movie.

While quaint by today's standards it features strong science fiction themes crossed with star crossed would be lovers. Some research for this movie reveals that it was loosely based on William Shakespeare's The Tempest which you can see play out fairly well.

So, what the film's influence on Star Wars?

Robby the Robot is a key take-away.

When he first meets the spacemen from Earth, he volunteers: 'I am at your disposal with 187 other languages along with their various dialects and sub-tongues'. Effectively then he was a protocol droid, the same as golden rod C3PO.

Let's be clear though, Metropolis served as the inspiration for C3PO's look (more on that movie later).

There is a direct reference to this film in The Phantom Menace.

When Qui-Gon Jinn stabs the blast door with his lightsaber and the door melts this a nod to the invisible ”monster from the id” which melts through the metal doors. 

Legendary Star Wars supervisor John Knoll (he came up with the Rogue One film concept) stated in the commentary for The Phantom Menace DVD that the “The melting door scene is a direct homage to Forbidden Planet. We looked at the melting Krell door in Forbidden Planet as inspiration.” 

Here's an overlay of the two scenes (hat tip Mike Klimo): 

forbidden planets tie to phantom menace.

George Lucas also commented on this point “At the beginning of The Phantom Menace, I kind of reverse the classic monster coming through the door motif so now it’s the aliens, the droids, and all the villains who are faced with these two sort of invincible creatures. I kind of enjoyed the idea of making the good guys invincible and the bad guys cower in fear.

As a side note, we read that Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was hugely inspired by Forbidden Planet. Speaking of Star Trek, let's finish with a final reference to:

Spock, that guy with blue blood from TV


You know when Alderaan gets smashed to a million tiny pieces by the Death Star and Obi Wan gets some really tough ‘feels’ and says "I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced." 

Yeah, Spock did that first. It's the only Star Trek reference we are aware of in the Star Wars movie canon. 

Live long and prosper indeed...


Aug 12, 2017

The 5 'war movies' featuring Nazis that had a direct influence on Star Wars

will of triiumph star wars medal ceremony

If you ever thought Wedge's "Look at the size of that thing" was a classic Star Wars line you'd be right. But if you thought it was an original scripted quote written by George Lucas, you'd be wrong.

The quote was lifted straight from the classic war movie, The Dambusters.

The scripted of A New Hope was inspired by many things. Gandalf. John Carter of Mars. And even Spock from Star Trek directly inspired Obi-Wan's famous quote about a million voices... 

So back to The Dambusters


This movie is loved by many a film maker (Peter Jackson nearly made a remake with Christian Rivers) and George Lucas loved it so much he nicked a key plot point from it and gave it a great spin.

The plot point in question is the part of the The Dam Busters where Allied bombers bounced bombs across the surface of the Ruhr River to explode against the base of a huge Nazi dam. The pilots had to get their launch just right or the bomb would not blow the dam's structure at the right point, causing the entire damn to collapse. 

Sound familiar?

That's right. It's the trench run and the firing of the torpedoes at the tiny target of the Death Stars exhaust port!

Lucas even borrowed the line “Get set for your attack run!” and the how many guns questions from the movie and added it to his:


Lucas then did an extremely clever coupling with the premise of Gregory Peck headlined, The Guns of Navarone to add some real urgency to the proceedings of attacking a Death Star. 

The film is set on a fictional Greek island called Navarone in the Aegean Sea where the Nazis have built a pair of radar-controlled super cannons. The guns threaten the evacuation of British troops on nearby Keros Island.

This mirrors that the rebels left on on Yavin IV base are at risk of annihaltion by the Death Star. 

In Guns of Navarone, Peck's squad of commandos race to destroy the Navarone super guns before the British transports get within their range. This too mirrors the fleet's race to destroy the Death Star before it can fire on Yavin IV. 

These two concepts worked quite well in tandem!

A final point about an inspiration from The Guns of Navarone, the Death Star’s laser-firing sequence follows quite closely the firing sequence for the super guns on Navarone shot for shot! And to think George's wife Marcia Lucas won the Oscar for editing Star Wars as a result..

Rick's Cafe


You might not think of it it a war movie but the beloved Casablanca film that stars Humphrey Bogart is set against the back drop of war (Nazis again!) so while many would consider Casablanca a romantic movie, we can treat it as a war movie!

The Mos Eisley spaceport sequence 45 minutes into Star Wars basically a giant riff on the whole of Casablanca. 

The central focus of the movie, Rick’s Café was swapped out by Lucas for the Cantina, offically known as Chalmun's Cantina

You know the drill, shady under-the-table deals are made in dark corners, there's Figuran Dans's  swing orchestra and alien barflies smoking pipes. 

Han Solo is basically modelled on Humphrey Bogart’s all-encompassing cynicism and they both seem to have fondness for the word “kid”. The famous lone of "Here's looking at you kid" gets spun as "great  kid, don't get cocky".

Like he did with the Navaronne and Dambusters duel plot points, Lucas also shoe horned in some of Clint Eastward's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly into Cantina scene too. The Han Solo face off against Greedo is inspired directly from a scene set in a bar in that movie.

Side note - Bobba Fett from Empire Strikes Back was inspired in part by Eastward's Man with No Name from those Spaghetti Westerns. Captain Phasma's cape in The Force Awakens? It's worn just like The Man with No Name...

The Casablanca love does not stop there!


Han Solo demands 15,000 credits of Luke and Obi-Wan to grant them passage to Alderaan. Strangely enough the boat passage fare out of Casablanca, costs the sum 15,000 francs! Exchange rates and all... 

Did you know that Jabba the Hutt was originally written as a part of ANH? If you've scene the Special Edition of it, he's actually been added in using CGI over the actual human version of the character that was filmed with Han Solo. 

Jabba's character is a direct homage to Sidney Greenstreet’s cunning and portly nightclub owner, Signor Ferrari – original concept artwork for Jabba even featured him wearing a fez hat like Ferrari.

ferrari from Casblanca inspired Jabba the Hutt

If we briefly turn our mind to the last act of Return of the Jedi.


The movie 633 Squadron film features a heavy squadron being sent to Norway to bomb a V-2 rocket fuel plant as the main mission. A crucial side plot has Norwegian resistance fighters seeking to disable the anti-aircraft guns that protect the fuel plant. 

Does that sound familiar? 

Think Han Solo's mission to disarm the shield generator on the small moon of Endor...

The Hidden Fortress


hidden fortress poster
Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress was released in 1958 and became popular in the United States with the ‘film crowd’ and Lucas eventually studied it in film school.

The movie tells story of a general and a princess, fighting their way home through enemy lines in feudal Japan with the help of a pair of bumbling peasants.  

Does that sound similar? 

What if you replaced the pair of peasants with R2D2 and C3PO? A princess? A General who fought in the Clone Wars?

Yep, Lucas took the two bickering peasants and swapped them out for what became one of the most famous cinematic pairings in history.

George Lucas relates:

 “I remember the one thing that really struck me about The Hidden Fortress,” he said, “the one thing I was really intrigued by, was the fact that the story was told from the two lowest characters. I decided that would be a nice way to tell the Star Wars story.

Take the two lowliest characters, as Kurosawa did, and tell the story from their point of view. Which, in the Star Wars case is the two droids, and that was the strongest influence."

Keen eyed fans may notice the way the film swipes from one shot to another. 

This was an idea that Lucas borrowed directly from the film.

It’s no surprise then that Lucas deftly slipped in a visual reference to Akira Kurosawa’s famous Seven Samurai film into Revenge of the Sith. In the above image, as Yoda brings his hand to his head, this is directly referencing Akira's directorial skills. 

Nazis! I hate these guys!


Triumph of the Will was a German propaganda film a 1935 German propaganda film directed, produced, edited, and co-written by Leni Riefenstahl.

It chronicles the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, which was attended by more than 700,000 Nazi supporters - a key moment is Hitler entering the rally, walking up through the throng of Nazis. Does that look familiar?

compare ending of star wars to triumph of the will


We totally speculate that this was just the kind of film that Lucas would have seen at film school. He was ballsy enough to take that imagery and use it for the Star Wars medal ceremony where Chewie, Luke and Han walk up to receive their medals from Princess Leia!

Lucas was not actually afraid to take notes from the era - Stormtroopers are so named for the German soldiers and Darth Vader is basically dressed like a leather clad Nazi!

The Force Awakens scene where Admiral Hux addresses his troops on Star Killer base also harkens back to this era and the imagery associated with Nazi propganda. 

There are many other movie and book influences on Star Wars. We haven't even mentioned Flash Gordon, the Dune movie, Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia or even Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet!

Aug 10, 2017

Is Orson Krennic's name a reference to Orson Welles?


Is Orson Krennic's name a reference to Orson Welles?


Orson Welles is a name that conjures the notion of movie making greatness.

His greatest filming success was a movie called Citizen Kane and it is often referred to as one of the greatest movies ever made. Seriously, it's up there with the Godfather and Star Wars on most film critics lists. 

Orson Welles
The great Orson Welles
Not just a director, Welles was a writer and actor. His performance as part of the legendary 1938 radio broadcast "The War of the Worlds" so terrorised his listeners that there was panic on the streets at the suggestion the Earth was being attacked by invaders from Mars. 

So this man was a genuine movie legend at the the time that Lucas was putting together his little space saga known as 'The Star Wars' and he considered using Orson Welles as the voice for Darth Vader.

After all, this man's voice supposedly convinced radio listeners the world was being assaulted by aliens from another planet!

Starwars.com reports:

"Orson Welles was considered to voice the Empire’s chief enforcer, appropriate in light of his superb acting prowess and legendary radio dramatization of The War of the Worlds, the latter’s unforeseen fallout a defining moment in sci-fi history. But bringing on Welles would have violated Lucas’ rule to utilize established actors. As a result the spot opened up for Jones."

And so James Earl Jones became legendary in his own right.

Jones has been quoted as saying of the Welles suggestion that it was more than an idea Lucas had and that he went as far as contacting the man:

“I understand that George did contact Orson Welles to read for the voice of Darth Vader before he contacted me. I was out of work, and he said, ‘Do you want a day’s work?"

So here's the question.

Is Orson Krennic's name a reference to this part of Star Wars that never actually happened? 

Orson is a fairly rare name - indeed other than Krennic, the only other time I've heard it is in reference to Welles.

If this theory is true, that's some pretty sweet Star Wars trivia to know!

Every THX 1138 references made in Star Wars and Indiana Jones

thx1138 references in star wars and indianna jonesBefore there was Star Wars ,George Lucas had already made a wee name for himself as the director of a wee science fiction film called THX 1138. The moderate success of this movie allowed him to kick on to a completely different kind of film, American Graffiti.

Over time, THX-1138 has become a cult classic film. This is mostly due to the people finding it due to the success of Star Wars and loving it. Our review shows that some 40 odd years later, it's still a decent movie. Lead actor Robert Duvall went on to become very famous.

And because that movie is clearly a part of Lucas' heart and soul as an early film maker, he began to make cool references to it in his Star Wars movies.

Here's a list of all the THX 1138 references made in the Star Wars films.

A New Hope
  • Princess Leia was kept captive on the Death Star in cell number 2187. This was a deliberate choice as 2187 is the year that the Lucas directed film THX 1138, was set. The Force Awakens took this even further and used the number as Finn's designated Stormtrooper number FN2187.
  • 138 is the number of the cell block on the Death Star that Luke Skywalker claims to be transferring Chewbacca from.
  • The Imperial Stormtrooper suit Luke Skywalker stole in the Death Star belongs to a Stormtrooper with the registration TK-421, but this was scripted and appears in the novelization as THX 1138. 
  • When C-3PO asks Han and Luke what they should do if they are discovered in the hangar control of the Death Star, the monitor behind the robots shows "THX/1138".
The Empire Strikes Back
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980): In an approximation of the 1138 meme, General Rieekan issues the following order: "Send Rogues 10 and 11 to Station 3-8". Which must be the cleverest use of the movie number in this list!
Return of the Jedi
  • The number 1138 is inscribed on the side of bounty hunter Boushh's helmet.
The Phantom Menace
  • 1138 can be seen on the back of the battle droid that Jar Jar Binks hits over the head after the destruction of the droid control ship.
Attack of the Clones
  • When Mace Windu orders a clone pilot to land in an assembly area, 1138 can be seen on the back of the pilot's helmet in LED lights.
  • As Padmé tumbles down a sand dune, 1138 can be briefly seen inscribed in the sand.
 Revenge of the Sith
  • Although not spoken or seen in the final film, CC-1138 is the numerical designation for Commander Bacara, one of the clone troopers seen in the Order 66 sequence.
  • The original DVD release contained an Easter egg where a short video clip of Yoda break dancing is shown when the numbers 1-1-3-8 are entered on a remote control.
The Force Awakens
  • A stormtrooper is referred to by the designation 1138 during the battle at Maz Kanata's castle. 
  • Finn's Storm Trooper 2187 is also a reference to the movie in that it was the year it was set. 
Rogue One
  • Darth Vader's bacta tube first appears at 1:13:38
The Last Jedi

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Bonus Indianna Jones film references

Given Lucas wrote and produced these movies, Indianna Jones got in the action too.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

  • The number is heard spoken through an intercom in German, "Eins-eins-drei-acht". 
  • The wing number on a plane also reads THX-1138.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

  • 1138 is shown in Roman numerals (MCXXXVIII) in Dr. Jones' notebook in the library scene. 

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

  • A car in the opening scene has a license plate reading THX-138.

Indeed the Indianna Jones movies were not shy about referencing Star Wars in general!