The visual and poetic Symmetry of Star Wars

May 22, 2020
color connection padme emperor

Star Wars has a certain rhythm and rhyme.

It's a visual poem where themes echo and rebound.

Where the colors compare and contrast and bode both hope and dread. 

When voices air similar beats.

There are plenty of callbacks and references to each film.

Common moments happen at the same time in the film's pacing as they did in their mirrored scenes.

This occurs across all 9 saga films but especially the first 6 of which George Lucas acts as the poet or Great Bard

Star Wars aficionado Mike Klimo will happily explain this to you as 'Star Wars Ring Theory'.

And there's no denying the above when you look at these comparisons between the films which show the extent of the visual symmetry that the first 6 Star Wars films that George Lucas helped write, direct and produced have.

Lucas should be more widely credited for the six Star Wars stories he told - here's the proof why as put together by Mike Klimo on his most interesting Instagram.

His posts have a lot of detail about common connections between the films, and plenty of comparisons of how Lucas was inspired by many movies as he made his films - for example, did you know that Return of the Jedi had a small homage shot to the Wizard of Oz? 

So, with full credit to Mike (and George Lucas) here's some visual symmetry and poetry of the Star Wars films:

thirty of us went after her. four of us came back.

a great disturbance in the force
Feeling a great disturbance in the Force.

This pose of Mace Windu is a deliberate homage back to when we first met the cocky and arrogant Han Solo. While Han's personality was not his undoing, Mace's ignorance of the spread of the Sith was his (and that of the Jedi).

mentors in star wars
Jedi and Sith, looking after their protege
Frize Framing

Klimo writes: "When Palpatine reveals himself as the Sith Lord Darth Sidious in Revenge of the Sith, there is a wall sculpture, or “frieze,” hanging in the background of Palpatine’s office. 

In Return of the Jedi, there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it wall sculpture on Jabba the Hutt’s sail barge that depicts the slimy gangster surrounded by slave girls. (You can see it right after the first skiff guard falls into the Sarlacc Pit.) 

In “The Art of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith,” Erik Tiemens, concept artist on the film, notes: “The idea behind the archaeological frieze in Palpatine’s office is that it depicts an event. [George Lucas] was very clear about making it a dynamic and somewhat gory scene of Jedi and aliens and warriors fighting each other.” It foreshadows what is to come at the end of the film and parallels back to Return of the Jedi. 

Poor C3P0 didn't catch too many breaks in Star Wars. 

When Han Solo wasn't trying to shut him off, Poe Dameron was trying to get his mind wiped so they could learn Sith secrets in The Rise of Skywalker - and all the while his mechanical body took a few hits. 

When we first met him he had a silver leg and the parallels in Attack of the Clones and Empire are quite notable - and let's not forget his red arm in The Force Awakens. 

Die Jedi Dogs! 
help -me -obiwan -kenobi

Klimo reveals: "When cleaning R2-D2 in the original Star Wars film, Luke Skywalker accidentally stumbles across a hologram of Princess Leia pleading for help, a vital message that draws Luke into a quest to rescue her. In Sith (A New Hope’s corresponding episode in the Star Wars Ring Theory), director George Lucas reinterprets this crucial plot point, rather brilliantly, as Anakin Skywalker’s nightmare about Padme dying in childbirth. 

Much like Leia’s holographic message, the vision of Padme will draw Anakin into a life-saving quest. And if you listen carefully during Anakin’s first nightmare, Padme cries, “Anakin, help me,” which, of course, echoes Leia’s “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” 

In addition, the holographic message is played twice in A New Hope, the second time with Obi-Wan Kenobi in his hut. In Sith, we witness two of Anakin’s nightmares, with Obi-Wan appearing in the second one"

It's also worth noting that director Rian Johnson cleverly incorporated Leia's plea into the plot of The Last Jedi by using R2D2 to deliver the message for the second time to Luke, but this time meaning Luke was Leia's only hope. 

anakin's nightmares revenge sith

There are plenty more connections made between the films, check out the symmetry of Revenge of the Sith to A New Hope - and for the curious fan, here's 510 facts about Star Wars.

Who is Jonathan Hales, script writer for Attack of the Clones & how he saved George Lucas

attack of the clones production art Obi Wan and Jango

Johnathan Hales and his role saving the script of Attack of the Clones

Keen eyes may have noticed the name Jonathan Hales as being credited as a script writer on prequel film Attack of the Clones.

While the story was Lucas’, Hales was called in to help with the third draft as time was up – filming was due to start and the script was not yet finished – what a mess!

Hales was tasked with saving the film.

When it was a live site, Secret History of Star Wars noted that Lucas’s first “rough draft - not yet even a proper first draft-was completed in March of 2000 and it was typed up as he was boarding the plane to leave for the studio since production would begin in June.”

Given Lucas was directing and there were pressing production duties, Hales was roped in to help write the finer details of the movie.

He was a writer for Lucas’s Adventures of Young Indiana Jones and clearly had his trust to get the scripting job done.

Production was well advanced and it was in a position that producer Rick McCallum described to as like trying to build a skyscraper without a foundation. Ultimately the final production script was only able to be read by the actors three days before filming!

So what contribution did Hales make? 

The Secret History of Star Wars (now a defunct website) surmised that given Lucas also re-wrote Hales' last polish, his contribution to the script was “tenuous”.

This may not be a fair assessment as Hales did receive a full screenwriter's credit and under the Writers Guild of America screenwriting credit system, a screenwriter must contribute more than 50 percent of an original screenplay or 33 percent of an adaptation to receive credit.

Despite the suggestion of Hale’s work being mere polish (well, if that’s the case, how did he not pick up on the Anakin's sand quote business? Or did he write that line into the script himself?) Lucas must have been happy enough with his contribution to the script as Hales continued to do a fair bit of writing of the Adventures of Young Indiana Jones series.

All this aside, Lucas gave Leigh Brackett a credit for The Empire Strikes Back, despite evidence from Lawrence Kasdan suggesting her work did not contribute materially to the final version of the film.

As an aside, some famous film re-writes or script doctoring moments have gone uncredited including Star War's very own Carrie Fisher as a script doctor for Hook, Sister Act, Lethal Weapon 3 but even Fisher couldn't save Last Action Hero.

In such circumstances, script doctors often deliberately go uncredited, even when they do major work.

But what is this business referred to as script doctoring and why is this discussion suddenly taken place?

To answer the latter, it's an interesting tangent and it gives a good reason to talk more about Star Wars. The first part of the question refers to a scriptwriter taking an existing script and giving it 'another go' with a major restructure or simply tidying up some pacing issues, improving dialogue, fixing scene that wasn't quite working or coming up with a more suitable ending.

Did you ever hear of a scriptwriter called Tom Stoppard?

If you've ever had a cup of tea in his living rooming, you'd have probably noticed his big shiny Oscar gathering a fine layer of dust on the mantlepiece. He won it for a delightful film called Shakespeare in Love.

Tom Stoppard also has a massive connection to George Lucas which fans will be amused to consider.

George Lucas once asked Stoppard to do a  re-write of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - he did the final version of the film but is uncredited - screen writing credit is shared between 5 people but not Stoppard.

Now if we go cast back to Revenge of the Sith, the film turned out a lot different to what was original script - and we're referring to the fall of Anakin Skywalker to the dark side of the Force here. As the film was pieced together Lucas felt Anakin's turn was too abrupt and not logical.

Lucas did two sets of extra pick up filming to ensure his new story line of Anakin turning to the dark side of the Force was in response to his need to save Padme's life.

So who helped Lucas get this very late piece of story incorporated into Sith?

It must have been Stoppard who is credited as being the uncredited scriptwriter that saved the film.

This was a secret let out of the bag by Hayden Christiansen in an interview with Playboy.

So there we have it.

A small insight into Hale's work on Attack of the Clones leads us to learning that Carrie Fisher is an actual script doctor herself and that one of the most famous scriptwriters in history, Tom Stoppard helped Lucas with Revenge of the Sith. The connection there is because Stoppard worked a turn on Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.

Hollywood is clearly a 'who you know' industry!

We wonder what is the best ph meter for brewing that Darth Vader ever used?

That time Harrison Ford lost his wallet...

May 21, 2020
harrison ford lost wallet story

Here's a friendly story we saw relayed about Harrison Ford!

We all know how a large part of the Star Wars films are filmed in London. This story to relates Harrison Ford and his time in London filming The Force Awakens:

"While escaping work for half an hour, I walked into the Elephant and Castle just off Kensington High Street and who else but Harrison Ford is in there, full lycra running gear on, having a half pint on his own.

"I go to the bar, get my drink and nervously say hi and briefly tell him what a hero of mine he is. He was very polite and I left him to his half. He then left the bar five minutes later but left his wallet on the table. (Who knows where he would have put it in all the lycra he was wearing anyway.)

"I grab the wallet and run up the road shouting 'Harrsion!' He turns back and I hand him his wallet and he says 'I guess you're my hero now.'"

20 subtle moments you might have missed in The Last Jedi

May 4, 2020
cool plot points in the last jedi

Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi was an action ride and a half - but there was a lot of subtlety that could have been easily missed, regardless of your opinion about the merits of the film...

Here's some wee plot points that one could easily have missed amongst all the excitement.

  1. The Falthier boy jockey at the end used the Force to pick up the broom... he was the result of the Spark after all. 
  2. When Rey reaches out and touches the rain on the Island, this is her first experience of rain. When she is drawn into the dark side of the island, that's probably her first time submerged in salt water or perhaps even swimming. Remember, there was not a lot of water on Jakku.
  3. When Rey is following Luke up the stairs did you spot the giant sea monster breaking the surface of the ocean below them?
  4. Rey stole the Jedi books and hid them in the Millenium Falcon. You can see them in the draw in the end of the movie
  5. Yoda burns down the tree so Luke does not discover this. That trickster!
  6. As the Force Tree burns, its flames appear to make the Rebel Alliance symbol. This could be interpreted as the Jedi rising 'from the ashes' 
  7. In the prequel Rogue One, Jyn Erso reads out the list of data file names - one is 'hyperspace tracking' - this shows it was a 'thing' in the Star Wars universe and not just a gimmick for the movie. 
  8. Kylo tricks Snoke buy turning both sabers at the same time and thinking about killing his enemy - Snoke missed that Kylo wanted to rule for himself and was thus his enemy. 
  9. When Luke is projecting himself to Crait from the Island there are two clues for the viewer to understand this. The first is his beard is brown and he appears younger - this is the same look as when he last saw Kylo Ren at the 'Jedi Acadmey'. The second clue is while Kylo's feet where disturbing the red salt during the confrontation, when Luke walked over it, no red salt was disturbed. 
  10. Rogue One director Gareth Edwards has a cameo as one of the last Rebels on Crait - you can catch him in the trenches. 
  11. Finn and Rose actually completely fail in their mission! Twice! First they fail to execute the hyper drive plan, and second when Rose crashes into Finn, she exposes the rest of Rebels to certain death (she had no idea Luke would turn up to rescue them).
  12. Admiral Ackbar was killed in the bridge explosion.
  13. The classic line "I've got a bad feeling about this" was not said by a human but apparently BB-8.
  14. There's no indication whether code breaker DJ, survives or not. 
  15. No light sabers actually cross each other in the heat of battle, a first for a main trilogy Star Wars film. 
  16. When Luke raps Rey over the knuckles, that's a call back to when Yoda trained Luke.
  17. Luke Skywalker's mechanical hand features a damaged area where his hand was shot by a laser blast during the rescue of Han Solo in Return of the Jedi.
  18. When Poe Dameron introduces himself to Rey, the classic "I know" line is used.
  19. Rose and Finn are arrested for a  '27-b-stroke-6'. This is a reference to Terry Gilliam's film Brazil.
  20. When Rey and BB-8 are reunited on the Falcon Rey notices that his antenna had been repaired and gently plays with it. This is a call back to The Force Awakens when she made the original repair. 
  21. When Rey says to Luke "I need someone to show me my place in all this" half her face is in the light, the other in the dark. Which is suggestive of the light and dark sides of the Force. This lighting technique was done in The Force Awakens on Kylo when he was bathed in red and blue in his face of with his father Han Solo whilst the light of the sun was failing. George Lucas employed the same technique in Revenge of the Sith when he had Anakin in the shadow and Obi-Wan Kenobi in the light. Lucas also played with the dark and the light and Luke's place in the Force in the Return of the Jedi when it was revealed his black costume had white underneath.
the dark side and the light shadow on rey
The dark side and the light!

Best ever Darth Vader coloring in page!

It seems that everyone loves coloring in these days. It's all the rage. Genuine, fully grown adults buy whole books and color them in as a form of relaxation or therapy. Even the Star Wars coloring books are selling like hotcakes on Amazon.

Some insist on keeping the felt-tip inside the lines. Some colorists insist on doing everything just perfect.

Others just want to watch the world burn:

Darth Vader colouring picture

Jawas - They're gonna need a bigger barge

Apr 26, 2020

Jawas - that's a pretty good remake of the classic Jaws poster. They're gonna need a bigger barge though...

Everything you need to know about Greedo

Apr 24, 2020
greedo accosts han solo

Going somewhere, Solo? 

And with that seeming casual question, Greedo stepped into Star Wars infamy as the bounty hunter that got close but no cigar in his attempt to claim Jabba the Hutt's bounty that rested on the head of space pirate Han Solo.

After some light banter in the Cantina, Solo shot Greedo establishing that Han Solo was a badass and was probably the pilot Ben Kenobi needed to help him haul Luke's ass to Alderaan.

But who was Greedo?

Where did he come from?

And how did he find Solo?

What makes the green fellow tick?

This concept art below from Ralph McQuarrie suggests that Greedo was intended to be a tall lizard like fellow that sported a green tail and an animal like demeanor.

greedo cantina concept art
"Oota goota, Solo?"
In the end, Greedo became an over cocky leathery green fellow that was 'Gorn like' but without the scary factor. Greedo was certainly not a foe that Captain Kirk would have been scared of, and as we know, neither was Han Solo.

Fun Fact: JJ Abrams used this concept art for the Force Awakens and the green furry guy can be spotted in Maz Katana's bar.

Greedo was a bounty hunter from the planet Rodia. Although his Greedo's father was reknown for his bounty hunter abilities, the younger Greedo had little of his father's talents.

His legacy to Star Wars was heightened when George Lucas changed the Special Edition of Star Wars to make it appear that Greedo shot Han first but missed.

Arguments have raged across the interwebs ever since.

Fan boys have raged, T-shirts have been printed.

The change made Solo's turn from an anti-hero to the guy that saves the day seem less important as he was no simply just a good guy with no moral ambiguity. Fans argued this diminished the character.

Here's the oft quoted exchange between Greedo and Han Solo:

Greedo: [In Huttese to Han] Going somewhere, Solo?
Han Solo: Yes, Greedo. I was just going to see your boss. Tell Jabba I've got his money.
Greedo: It's too late. You should have paid him when you had the chance. Jabba's put a price on your head so large, every bounty hunter in the galaxy will be looking for you. I'm lucky I found you first.
Han Solo: Yeah, but this time I've got the money.
Greedo: If you give it to me, I might forget I found you.
Han Solo: [stealthily going for his blaster held at his side] I don't have it with me. Tell Jabba...
Greedo: Jabba's through with you! He has no use for smugglers who drop their shipments at the first sign of an Imperial cruiser.
Han Solo: Even I get boarded sometimes. Do you think I had a choice?
Greedo: You can tell that to Jabba. At best, he may only take your ship.
Han Solo: Over my dead body!
Greedo: That's the idea... I've been looking forward to this for a long time.
Han Solo: Yeah, I'll bet you have.
[Han blasts Greedo, shooting first, then heads out, tossing the bartender a coin]
Han Solo: Sorry about the mess. 

Actually, that's all you need to know about Greedo, the rest is expanded universe bollocks (actually its called Star Wars Legendary Canon now). 

The trivia behind the concept art of 'Attack of the Clones'

Apr 20, 2020
jango fett slave 1

attack of the clones art bookAttack of the Clones came out on 16 May 2002 and seeing as that's close enough to a 20 year anniversary, I had a look through my 'The Art of Star Wars, Episode II - Attack of the Clones' book.

There is more than just amazing concept art in there, it has plenty of facts and trivia about how the film came into being.

Author Mark Cotta Vaz shines a good insight into how George Lucas would make decisions about what creatures and space ships and costumes would go into the film - it's an interative process that largely appears to have worked.

It also shows some of the challenges that producer Rick McCallum faced and how his production team overcame them.

1. The Clone Trooper classrooms are a reference to Luca's first film, THX-1138

ryan church clones

The cloned troopers (from Jango Fett's DNA) were taught in giant classrooms.

Artist Edwin Natividad stated 'it's assembly line learning, no individuality. There's no personal attention, they're just soldiers being trained'. They are literally a factory production line of humans  Iain McCaig confirms they confirming the idea was they were going 'back to George's THX days'.

And this is what totally happened in the final film:

attack of the clones thx 1138 reference

There's a lot going on during the Kamino sequence - the introduction of the clones, Jango and Bobba Fett, and throughout it all, a strong thematic parallel with the Empire Strikes Back.

2. The design of Coruscant

The idea of an 'Imperial City' was dabbled with as an idea by George Lucas during the pre-production of Return of the Jedi. It even had a name, Had-Abbadon. Lucas his now-famous concept designer Ralph McQuarrie to come up with some ideas:

imperial city ralph mcquarrie

First mentioned in the Thrawn 'Heir to the Empire' novels by author Timothy Zahn and spied at the end of Return of the Jedi celebration scenes and an in bit of The Phantom Menace (refer The Jedi Temple), Attack of the Clones was Star War's first chance to truly flesh out the planet of Coruscant.

George Lucas challenged the design team to make the city to look better than Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner (which funnily enough starred Harrison Ford who had become a box office A-list celebrity at that point following his two Star Wars roles and his massive Lucas produced hit, Indiana Jones).

A key feature was that personal vehicles could not be found on the lower streets. Only public transport existed. The planet's lower level inhabitants were modelled to look like they were part of a 'rough trade' or took part in criminal elements. This was in strict contrast to the upper levels where the nightlife was 'decadent'.

Here's an early design idea by Marc Gabbana:

Marc Gabbana coruscant design idea

3. Anakin's Yellow Speeder

The yellow 'speeder' that Anakin Skywalker uses when he and Obi-Wan Kenobi chase the assassin Zam Wesell, is, of course, a reference to the yellow hot-rod that featured in George Lucas's second film, American Graffiti.

shuster speeder design attack clonesJay Shuster had designed his concept shortly before a meeting with Lucas.

He thought maybe Lucas had seen some elements of Anakin's TPM pod-racer, Lucas certainly loved the exposed engines and it was the director himself who ordered the speeder have a paint scheme like the hot rod in his 1973

Here's a screen comparison of the two films by Mike Klimo:

comparison of the yellow car in american graffiti to Attack of the Clones

4. When a Sith Lord is not a Sith Lord but Ventress

When Lucas was bedding in the script for AOTC, at one point, the Sith Lord that became Count Dooku was considered to be a female. Artist Dermot Power came up with this design:

dermot power female sith lord ventriss

When Lucas decided that Dooku was his man, Power's design was ultimately used as the inspiration for the Clone Wars character, Ventress

ventress original design

Power said of his work: "My first drawing had her was;k down the stairs. I gave her a slim upper body clad in armor or leather, widened her hips, gave her a heavy belt and baggy pants for a grounded feeling - like watching a samurai."

It's amusing the art book does not acknowledge this design became Ventress, but this of course makes sense as the book came out well before Ventress's official entry into Star Wars canon. 

5. The Arena Battle Monsters

obi-wan battles the acklay in ATOC
Obi-Wan Kenobi takes on the Acklay
Harking back to John Carter of Mars, Ray Harryhausen and perhaps a few gladiator movies, Padme, Anakin and Obi-Wan are forced to take part in their own execution by three deadly creatures.

monsters in the area geonosis

The Acklay became so when George Lucas asked Iain McCaig to combine to sketches he had done - designed liked to a velociraptor and a praying mantis.

The Nexu was once a lion that could breathe fire and the 'Reek' was inspired by the dinosaur species Placerias from the Triassic period. 

The Battle of Geonosis

Attack of the Clones is a bit of a convoluted mess.

We all get it, and those that don't well they love it so good for them. What's not really up for debate is how awesome the last 40 minutes of the film is. After the arena battle and Yoda flies in with his cloned army  (apparently with no qualms about using humans as meat puppets) to save the day - and then a battle ensues proper which makes for some great action scenes amidst the chase with Count Dooku.

Here's some cool concept designs that went into the battle:

air attack geonosis

battle of geonosis clone troopers
yoda geonosis concept art

ryan church geonosis artwork

jedi fight concept art

reek attack concept 

Other fun facts learned from reading 'The Art of Star Wars, Episode II - Attack of the Clones' :

  • Padme's costumes in The Phantom Menance were inspired buy actual costumes from Mongolia. For Attack of the Clones, Padme was dressed with a more Elizabethan era style. 
  • The centipede like mechanical monsters sent into Padme's room by Zam Wessel are called 'kouhuns'.
  • Jango Fett's Slave 1 ship was designed to look similar to the Millenium Falcon, as if it had been made in the same era, or even by the same manufacturer. 
  • Kit Fisto was originally designed in mind as a Sith Lord and only became green once made a Jedi. 

Order the book from Amazon:

My top 5 'extended' moments Star Wars

Apr 18, 2020

luke attacks vader

I thought I would share my favorite moments from Star Wars - these are the scenes and extended acts that I just love.

They are not the short moments of action like 'these aren't the roids you're looking for' or the Millenium Falcon bursting out the mouth of a giant space slug... though as a moment, that is quite the thrill.

The first act of Return of the Jedi where they save Han Solo

The Return of the Jedi was the first Star Wars movie I saw on the silver screen. I was really excited to go and see it as my friend George, who lived across the road, had seen it the day before and as we climbed the huge tree in his front yard he could not stop talking about it.

I had never been envious in my life.  

Anyways the film delivered. 

The first act of the film, is the rescue of Han Solo. As an eight-year-old, this is giddy fun where Luke argues with a giant slug and R2D2 hides a lightsaber in his head. When it fires into the air and Luke catches it and ignites a GREEN saber, for me, that is the definitive Star Wars moment. Luke's at his most badass and (at that point) practically single-handedly saved Han's life and the lives of everyone else who also came to rescue Han. 
'Now let's move it fly boy' was one of the greatest lines Leia ever spoke, until they edited the line in the later release.  

Now this is pod racing!

now this is pod racing
Concept design by Doug Chiang

Some people hate that line.

Probably because they hate themselves (and haters are just always gonna hate). But that line, so obvious at face value, sums up what The Phantom Menace is, a thrilling fun ride across the universe.

The scene is also a direct homage to Ben Hur, yet bigger. It also shows us that this young kid Anakin is the real deal. 

Duel on Mustapha

duel on mustpha

Sure, Yoda was going toe to toe with a Sith Lord at the same time but Obi- Wan Kenobi battling his best friend Anakin Skywalker was the emotional high point of Revenge of the Sith. 

Over many years the two Jedi Knights had some of the greatest adventures any Jedi ever had until destiny intervened and placed the two of them in mortal combat. Anakin, a newly avowed Sith and General Kenobi who had lived a selfless life for the greater good.

They could not stop till the other was dead, the one of course who had the higher ground - physically and morally. 

 "Well then you are lost" - probably the moment when Obi-Wan's heart broke.

When Poe Dameron shot like a hundred Tie Fighters Out of the Sky (and a few on the ground)

It's a short moment but it announced to the world, that Poe Dameron was a damn good pilot and he was perhaps worthy as the new 'Han Solo' for this third Star Wars trilogy. It also looked pretty damn cool. 

That's one hell of a pilot indeed!

Luke vs Vader: The Final Duel

We started with Return of the Jedi and we will finish it just as Luke finished off Vader

As a kid, the clash of red versus green sabers was just a hugely exciting fight of good versus evil. As an adult, it's a glorious moment of right versus wrong, wrath versus redemption, and through it all, Luke Skywalker become a Jedi, after Ben Kenobi gave him a gentle nudge in the right direction in ANH. 

The final moments of the battle surge with John William's amazing score (known as 'Final Duel (Jedi's Fury)'. The music grows and grows as Luke overcomes the greatest Jedi in history and finally severs his arm, returning the favor from Empire. Luke has defeated his father, but has he turned to the Dark Side? He looks at his own mechanical arm and then at his dying father, more metal than flesh. 

No, Luke is a Jedi, like his father was before him. 

It's simply our favourite moment in all of Stars.

Here are more extended moments that we enjoy!

  • Empire's introduction to Yoda on Degobah
  • The last 20 minutes of Solo. 
  • The last 20 minutes of Rise of Skywalker
  • The stand off between Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi 
  • The arena battle on Geonosis in Attack of the Clones

Dune's influence on Star Wars

Apr 13, 2020
the effect Dune on A New Hope

How 'Dune' influenced George Lucas' first Star Wars film script

We have covered many times that George Lucas soaked up a thousand different inspirations from books and films that he wove into the grand tapestry of Star Wars.

We've looked at war films, country and westerns,  Akira Kurosawa and even the novels of Edgar Rice Burrows.

We have however always shied away somewhat from Frank Herbert's Dune.

Let's fix that.

Forget that Dune was made into a movie in 1984 by David Lynch, it's the novel that had the influence on Lucas and his development of the original Star Wars script or "Journal of the Whills" as it was once titled.

While there should be no doubt about the influence that it had on Lucas, we cannot find a single article or quote by the man wherein he refers to Dune. But make no mistake, the comparison of some of the ideas in both movies are unmistakable...

Indeed Herbert himself has been said to have jokingly formed the "We’re Too Big to Sue George Lucas Society" when he recognized elements from his own works and many other writers in the film.

And let's be clear, Star Wars does not have the same story as Dune. It took elements and themes and paralleled them but not the direct plot.

If you wanted to be fairly uncharitable you could argue that A New Hope is basically Akiro Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress set on Dune.

Spice Up Your Life

In the first draft of Star Wars, the drug ‘spice’ was very much a central theme of script.

Lucas's first version of Princess Leia was not fleeing from the Empire with the stolen plans for the Death Star but rather, holding a cargo of the drug 'melange' spice...the later script noted Han Solo smuggled of spice...

And let's not forget that young Luke Skywalker once had the belief that his "father didn’t fight in the Clone Wars, he was a navigator on a spice freighter.”

Here's a comparison of some direct lifts and inspirations

princess irulan dune madsen

Dune's influence on A New Hope

  • Princess Leia’s name is arguably inspired by the Princess Alia.
  • Star Wars features a dry dessert planet called Tatooine. Remind me what kind of planet Arrakis was in Dune?
  • The Jawa sandcrawler Jawas was possibly inspired by the mining vehicles Arakin’s used. 
  • The Skywalker family were moisture farmers in a similar vein as the 'dew collectors’.
  • The 'Jedi Mind Trick' is very similar to how the sisterhood of the Bene Gesserit can use The Voice to influence the actions of others.
  • In ANH, Luke Skywalker practices his lightsaber training against an automated training remote. This seems a direct lift from the part where Princess Alia works on her sword skills against an automated training dummy.
  • Spice mining...

space slug empire dune

The Empire Strikes Back was influenced by Frank Herbert

  • In Empire Strikes Back, the Millennium Falcon just manages to escape from the jaws of giant, space slug that was living in a space asteroid. In Dune, there are giant sandworms a giant one of which causes a bit of similar havoc when one attacks the Duke's vessel. 
  • In ESB, the villain turns out to be hero's father. In Dune, the villain out to be hero's grandfather
  • Alia can connect her mind to her brother Paul Atredies physically. Kinda like what happens when Luke calls out to Leia after he's fought Darth Vader.

jabba inspired by dune emperor

How Return of the Jedi was inspired by Dune

  • Return of the Jedi’s Jabba the Hutt looks like a giant slug with a fat face and arms. This character may have been inspired by The God Emperor of Dune, Leto Atreides the Second who funnily enough was a 15-foot long slug. That novel was published in 1981, two years before the release of ROTJ. We do appreciate that Jabba was originally conceived in ANH as a human.
  • Indeed, a lot of the whole Jabba The Hutt Palace scenes appear to have been inspired by the Children of Dune sequel.
  • The sand desert where the Sarlaac Pit resides is called the Dune Sea
Mortal Engines author Philip Reeve shared his views on Dune influencing Star Wars when he was discussing the definition of 'space opera':

"Star Wars was, of course, a love-letter to the genre, full of motifs which come straight out of pulp fiction and the rockets hips’n’ray guns serials of 1930s cinema.

It also borrows heavily from Frank Herbert’s novel Dune, which I read when I was about twelve, mad about Star Wars and looking for something similar.

I was far too young to get Herbert’s mix of Orientalist fantasy, desert ecology and flaky 1960s mysticism but, as with Star Wars, that combination of swords and starships appealed to me. "

Let's not forget Lawrence of Arabia having an influence on Star Wars

Both Dune and George Lucas were inspired by the story of Lawrence of Arabia which was a spiritual journey of sorts that took place in a desert. Lucas was most definitely inspired by the David Lean movie and use shots from it for both the original and prequels films.

We say this to show that though the book came before the film, they both share common inspirations. Indeed, 19 other movies went into the creation of Star Wars.

Speaking of the Great Bard...

We should acknowledge that a lot of Shakespeare's plays influenced Frank Herbert as he developed Dune - so while many of the family dynamics in Dune and the 'saga' of it all, can be compared and contrasted with Star Wars, one could perhaps argue the driving force of Shakespeare ripples underneath the surface quite strongly in Star Wars regardless of Dune's influence.

Indeed, to dismiss Shakespeare's work as an influence on George Lucas would be a mistake. Though Lucas may not have been directly taking paragraphs out of Shakespeare (unlike which he did for Tolkien!) his admiration of The Forbidden Plant exposed him to what was basically The Tempest set in space. Given Lucas's love of films by Akiro Kurosawa, he most likely saw 'Ran', which was a remake of King Lear!

Shakespeare actually has a lot to answer for - it was his line from Othello that inspired the name of the Mortal Engines novel!

Extra for Experts: 

One: We mentioned above that David Lynch directed the movie version of Dune.

We think it's a pretty good science fiction movie, though a patient watch is needed. You know how things come full circle?

George Lucas actually met with Lynch to discuss the possibility of Lynch taking the director's chair for Return of the Jedi! Lynch turned him down which led to Richard Marquand having a crack.

Two: There's a large feeling out there that Lucas was perhaps inspired by the film script of a Dune film that never got made by director Alejandro Jodorowsky. That this version of Dune got so close to being made is the stuff of legend and can be seen in the documentary called 'Jodorowsky's Dune'.


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Sicario director Denis Villeneuve is writing and producing a remake of Dune. He's well placed to do so following the success of his Blade Runner sequel and the fantastic Arrival.
Here's the first image from the Dune remake, a picture of Timothee Chalamet who is playing Prince Paul Atreides. Looks a lot like the Star Wars sequels eh?
Timothee Chalamet dune remake as Paul Atreides

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