6 movies that directly influenced the making of Star Wars

Jun 3, 2019
I was looking for a movie to watch the other night and I googled for a list of the best science fiction movies. I found a list which looked to be interesting.

Two movies caught my eye.

Forbidden Planet and THX 1138.

This seemed like a good pair to watch as I'd never watched either and one was by George Lucas and I knew the other was an influence on George as he made Star Wars.

So first up was THX 1138. I then watched Forbidden Planet which I thoroughly enjoyed.

And then I thought, I should watch all the movies that are on the record as having inspired George Lucas and his Star Wars films.

I should note that Lucas was a magpie of sorts and took inspiration from many sources including Edgar Rice's John Carter of Mars novels and Flash Gordon serials. I'll not cover them hear but acknowledge they too have had a strong influence over the Star Wars movies.

So this is, a quick review of the movies that in some shape or form George Lucas was inspired by or pinched  key plot points and designs from.

I'll try and limit each review to a maximum of 500 words or less. 

First up, I'll review Lucas's own film, THX 1138


thx1138-original-movie-poster
Poster for THX 1138

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

The human populace is devoid of family ties, freedoms and indeed are controlled by mandatory drug control which causes obedience and reduces the sex drive.

This is literally population control where reproduction is carefully managed. 

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 identity.

George applied later applied this naming concept to Stormtroopers and the concept was more fully fleshed out in The Force Awakens when we learned Finn was only named as Poe refused to call him FN-2187.

For this viewer, this was not new territory. We've read many science fiction novels and seen many films such as this. We wonder however how interesting this movie may have been to a fresh young mind in 1971. 

Apparently, it was not a popular movie but following the release of Star Wars 6 years later, it's merits have slowly been discovered by viewers. I understand it's considered a bit of a cult film now. 

If I had one gripe, the last half an hour before the 'big chase' is quite long and slow. While some points of discovery are quite chilling (his mate's organs appear to be recycled after she is put to death) it's a hard grind to get to the end. 

If I may spoil the ending, the faceless robot Policeman gives up the chase of THX 1138 when he is ordered to do so because the allocated budget to capturing him has been exceeded by 6 percent and it is considered cost effective to let him go! It's a brilliant way to end the movie as the whole point of the movie is to demonstrate population control as governed by bureaucracy.

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 what influenced the naming of Chewbacca's species!

I enjoyed this movie and can see how Lucas was shaping up as a director. I recommend if you quite like sci-fi movies and are prepared to sit through a little bit of plodding along at points.

Bonus movie inspiration: I suspect the liquid Terminator from T2 was inspired somewhat by the silver faced robot policemen.

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 (before R2D2 and C3PO came along!) 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.

The graphics and special effects were fun to see and they must have been considered pretty fabulous aback in the day. I had a hunch about it this, and sure enough the movie received an Oscar nomination for its effects.

So, what was it's influence on Star Wars?

At face value it's hard to see. Robby the Robot is the key take-away. When he first meets the spacemen from Earth, he volunteers that he could speak to them 'I am at your disposal with 187 other languages along with their various dialects and sub-tongues' which Lucas probably borrowed for C3PO. Let's be clear though, Metropolis served as the inspiration for C3PO's look (we'll watch that movie later OK?)

I'm not sure if it's my dirty mind but at one point Robby cannot be found because he was giving himself an 'oil job' which could have been a lewd joke by the filmmakers. A loose Star Wars connection is that C3PO would later have an oil bath at Luke's farm.

Nielsen and Francis from Forbidden Planet
Nielsen and Anne Frances as Alta
Of note, Forbidden Planet was the film debut of actor Leslie Nielsen, who people of my age were first introduced to in The Naked Gun spoof movies.

Forbidden Planet was a fun movie to watch. The big reveal at the end was pretty ho hum for a person who has seen 1001 space movies but the concept was brave enough for the time and one other film makers have since copied.

From some further reading, it would seem that this movie had a bigger impact on Gene Roddenberry and his work with Star Trek than it did Lucas and A New Hope.

The Searchers


If you'd asked me to name a John Wayne film that I had actually seen, I think I would be hard pressed to actually name one.
John Wayne's The Searchers movie poster
He had to find her...

So I was pleased to realise that Wayne, featured in The Searchers. This is a great Western featuring the search for two kidnapped women, being Wayne's characters nieces.

Featuring classic sexist tropes, a cliched sherif, wonderful cinematography and stereotyped Indians, this film hangs on the charm and rogueness of John Wayne.

There is also a dark underbelly to this film that sits just underneath the sprawling vista. There's racism, forbidden love, prejudice, blind anger and malice, just bubbling way, much of which comes to the boil at the fantastic ending.

I loved this movie and understand why it is considered a classic film.

So what influence did it have on Star Wars? 


To my mind, it's the return to the homestead that has been attacked. After leaving the farm to chase cattle rustlers, it turns out to have been a rouse. Ethan Edwards (Wayne) and Martin return to find the buildings burning and their loved ones dead, raped and murdered and left to burn.

Which echoes quite strongly to what Luke sees on his arrival back to the moisture farm, his fears realised and Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru have been murdered and their bodies burnt.

There's some other themes that share a similar tone. Ethan was on the losing side of the war, as was Obi-Wan Kenobi (kinda).

Obi-Wan and Luke Skywalker make a similar matching pairing to Ethan and Martin, one being the vastly experienced campaigner, the other the handsome young man with a sudden mission thrust apon him.

The Guns of Navarone


guns of navarone movie poster
Original movie poster
I'd never heard of this movie until Kitbashed noted how had an influence on George Lucas.

It's a long war movie starring the impeccable Gregory Peck playing 'Mallory' as he leads a band of soldiers to seek and destroy to giant guns that overlook a strait of water that is a crucial strategic asset during WWII.

The idea is that Peck's mission is to destroy these guns to allow the US warships passage through the strait to rescue 3000 soldiers marooned on an island. The Germans are planning to attack that island and kill the men so timing is crucial.

The destruction of the guns is the key to everything.

Does that seem familiar?


Yes, Lucas was indeed influenced by this concept and adapted it somewhat for the finale of Star Wars. The Death Star (with its supergun) must be destroyed in time before the Rebel base is blown to smithereens.

That's pretty much the only influence The Guns of Navarone really appears to have on Star Wars that I could take away from the movie.

It is a fantastic movie. Peck as Mallory is an inspired character just oozing guile and brains against some pretty 'friendly' German troops. That man just possesses a cool-as-fuck gravitas.

There are some great conflicts between the characters and their German opposites and they serve for a great discussion about the evils of war and the things that men (and woman) do in times of great stress.

Q.E.D indeed, David Niven, Q.E.D indeed.

Metropolis


Metropolis movie poster
The oldest film in this list, stretching back to a 1927 release. It has been described as a 'German expressionist epic science-fiction drama film'. Directed by Fritz Lang, it's a silent movie to boot.

I quite enjoyed this movie too (there are no bad movies on this list!). Once I got used to the narrative of a silent movie I was able to enjoy the story which is basically the classic story of a brave individual up a against a giant corporation. 

For it's time, the special effects were brilliant.

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

Maschinenmensch and C3PO comparison
 A side by side comparison of C3PO and the Maschinenmensch


I saved perhaps the biggest influence for last: The Hidden Fortress

The name Akira Kurosawa may ring a bell with film aficionados. He's considered one of the great filmmakers and his work is hailed by many film critics. He caught Lucas' eye while he was at film school and that was that. 

Hidden Fortress film poster.
The Hidden Fortress is arguably the film that had the most influence on George Lucas.

Let's take a step back and have a look Star Wars for a moment, let's consider the plot.

It's a story seen through the eyes of two robots who help a princess fight an evil overlord. 

And that's the story I saw as I watched Hidden Fortress. It's the tale of two bumbling idiots as they help an exiled Princess take on an evil General.

Lucas arguably lifted the whole plot!

He also nicked Kurosawa's scene wipes and sprinkled them throughout his own movie, making them his own as the general American (and the world!) didn't watch Japanese films!

But it's not just Hidden Fortress that Lucas borrowed from. He took many ideas from Kurosawa's films:
  • The famous fight were a certain alien gets his arm cut off in the in the Cantina by Obi-Wan Kenobi is straight from Yojimbo
  • The hiding-under-the-floor trick is a lift from Yojimbo's sequel, Sanjuro
  • The Empire Strikes Back features a lot of the plot and imagery from come from the Oscar-winning Dersu Uzala.
  • There's a moment in Revenge of the Sith when Yoda rides in a gunship. He runs his hand over his head, sadly pondering how has Jedi Council's request of Anakin to spy on Palpatine has riled Anakin. This mimics character Kambei Shimada’s motion in the Seven Samurai, one of Kurosawa's most famous movies.
  • Rian Johnson also continued this Kurosawa influence in The Last Jedi.

Other movie influences on Star Wars


There are plenty of other noteworthy films which I have not specifically watched for this essay including Ben Hur, The Dambusters, and Lawrence of Arabia each of which has had some direct influence on inspiration on George Lucas' movies.
  • For Ben Hur, the comparison between the chariot race and the pod race are unmistakable. 
  • Dambusters features a bomb being landed in an impossible place, like Luke's Force inspired torpedo blast shot to destroy the Death Star.
  • Lawrence of Arabia serves as the inspiration of the sand backdrop of Tatooine. We also understand that Lawrence of Arabia director David Lean studied 'The Searchers' for inspiration on how to film landscapes.
  • One more Lawrence of Arabia reference was snuck into Attack of the Clones. That part where Padme and Anakin 'walk and talk' is filmed in exactly the same place (Plaza de España in Seville) as to how the same scene happens in Lean's movie. 
  • The Seven Samurai (Kurosawa again) casts a long shadow over Star Wars - while it's arguable that the concept of Jedi came from John Carter of Mars, the way the Jedi carry themselves with a noble dignity arguably comes from this movie.
  • The Cantina scene in ANH was probably inspired by the events that happened in Rick's Cafe in Casablanca (and also that nick from Yojimbo). And Han Solo's use of 'kid' when he talks to Luke is possibly borrowed straight from Humphrey Bogart's character. Speaking of Bogart, have you ever wondered how the Millenium Falcon got its name?
  • The medal ceremony at the end of A New Hope is apparently inspired by Nazi propaganda film, Triumph of the Will. Indeed, Nazism inspired much of Star Wars. Think of Darth Vader's costume design, that speech General Hux gave in The Force Awakens and of course, even the name Stormtrooper was lifted straight out of Hitler's playbook.

Star Wars was literally a 'block buster'

May 25, 2019
Fans Queueing to see Star Wars in 1977


Star Wars was a true block buster - people queued for hours to see the movie

Following on the fins of the original blockbuster Jaws, here's a picture that that shows people queuing to see the original Star Wars movies in 1977.

Check out how it was advertised as being a 70mm print and in 6 track stereo sound!

Star Wars, as it was simply known back then, was not your typical movie blockbuster like today.

It did not have a huge publicity campaign like say a Finding Nemo or Man of Steel, it simply started out as a normal movie opening at 43 locations across the United States and not some few thousand like modern times. Word of mouth spread very quickly as to how could this movie was.

It went, in the modern internet sense, viral and people very quickly became infected with just how good the movie was! And pictures like the above were the result. The rest is history as people loved the film and started queuing to see the film again and again. Word of mouth spread and the media picked up on the movie. Like Jaws, it literally became a blockbuster as seen by these pictures of people lining up around the block.

queue stat wars 1977


In 70mm reports that Star Wars was "An immediate sensation, "Star Wars" (which TIME Magazine proclaimed "The Year's Best Movie" only five months into the year) accumulated incredible per-screen averages and broke numerous box office and attendance records at the few locations lucky enough to have been playing the movie. The film industry was abuzz, and exhibitors everywhere couldn't wait to get their hands on a print. The film's distributor, 20th Century-Fox, had the lab cranking out prints as fast as they could as they accelerated their plans for a broad, nationwide release of the film."

Eventually, the film was shown at over 1000 film theatres across the States and became the greatest box office hit in history, beating Jaws that came two years before in 1975.

lining up to see star wars

Who is Joe Johnston and why is he so important to Star Wars?

Joe Johnston Star Wars


Whadda ya know, Joe?



Joe Johnston is fairly famous in Hollywood circles as a director of some pretty big movies. Jumanji. The Rocketeer. Jurassic Park III and a small film called Captain America: The First Avenger. 

Before all of that, Johnston actually made his name as an effects artist hired by George Lucas to work on the Star Wars films.

Here's some key points:
  • While Ralph McQuarrie is known as the concept artist, it was Johnston that designed many of the space ships. 
  • Boba Fett fans love Joe because he played a large part in the design look of Empire’s most popular bounty hunter. He also was influential on the design of Yoda.
  • As an effects artist and art director he made his mark and Lucas made sure to keep him around him – so much so that Lucas gave him the job of Art Director for Indianna Jones for which he won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
  • Johnston in some form or another worked with Lucas and Steven Spielberg for much of the 1980s before he made the leap from Art Director to simply being a director for Honey, I shrunk the Kids.
  • A final piece of triva is that Joe appeared as an Imperial Gunner and Storm Trooper in A New Hope. 


Who is Aayla Secura from the prequels?

Ayala Secura in Revenge of the Sith
Look behind you love...

Which actress played Aayla Secura in Star Wars prequels?


As usual, we are going to play the sex sells card on this one as it seems the only reason people visit In a far away galaxy is to look for pictures of Princess Leia in a certain slave bikini. Or Oola.

Aayala Secura - she's become a bit of a fan favourite with those who actually enjoy the Star Wars prequels (you could call these people the silent majority if you will). So who is she, what makes the blue Twi'lek tick and who plays her in the movies?

Let's start with her official bio from Star Wars website:

'With an athletic build, an exotic beauty, and blue skin, Aayla Secura stood out among the many faces of the Jedi ranks. A cunning warrior and Jedi Knight during the rise of the Clone Wars, Aayla fought alongside Clone Commander Bly on many exotic battlefields. Having mastered the emotional detachment necessary in the Jedi Order, she always tried to pass on what she had learned to others.'

Which is nice and all but most fans first met Aayla in Attack of the Clones.

So did George Lucas create this Jedi?


No, he did not. Aayla Secura was first brought into the Star Wars saga by Dark Horse Comics as part of the expanded Star Wars universe. George Lucas took a liking to the character and decided to use her and she was added to the script of Attack of the Clones near the end of the writing process.

I heard she died. Is this true?


Yes, she died in the events of Order 66 on Felucia where her Clones turned on her and shot her from behind. You can catch this in Revenge of the Sith.

Who played Aayla Secura?



Amy Allen played Aayala Secura
Amy Allen played Aayala in Clones and Sith 

Amy Allen played the character. Amy was part of the production crew for many films and wound up work at Lucasfilm. This work was parlayed into playing an extra in The Phantom Menace as a Twi-lek. Come time for someone to play this new character in Attack of the Clones, Amy was called on.

Amy Allen also appears in three different guises during the Outlander Club sequence in Attack of the Clones. She was filmed during principal photography standing near the video screens in one outfit, and digitally cloned by ILM to appear in two different places at the same time. These 'two' characters were later identified as twins Mya and Yma Nalle. 

During later pickup shots Amy appeared behind Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen as they discuss the changeling, wearing a hat and thick braids. This patron was later named Lela Mayn.

Just goes to show it's all about who you know in Hollywood.

Is Aayala the sexiest twi-lek to have appeared in a Star Wars movie?


Well some might argue that Oola is...

Fans love Aayala and the best way to show Star Wars love is to do cosplay!



Aayla Secura cosplay star wars



Aayla Secura cosplay babe

The ten best pieces of Ralph McQuarrie Star Wars concept art

vader fights luke concept art

Ralph McQuarrie Star Wars concept art


When George Lucas was thinking about and writing his early version of The Star Wars he would put his ideas down onto a yellow legal pad with a pencil.

While his stories were amazing, he needed to be able to show people how his film The Star Wars could look.

He engaged the services of an artist called Ralph McQuarrie and the rest is history.

Ralph took George's ideas and concepts and turned the words into the world that became Star Wars. Ralph did the robots, the villains, the landscapes and the heroes.

His drawings lead to so many iconic things being in Star Wars and thus his influence on the world is very marked.

Sadly McQuarrie died some years ago but we can celebrate his work by examining the top ten pieces of concept art he drew for Lucas.

c3po early concept design


This early draft picture of C3PO and R2D2 is perhaps the most significant work that Ralph did as it set the standard for everything else.

Lucas wanted the story to be told from the point of two robots (he was inspired by the bumbling duo in The Hidden Fortress) and after some experimenting with robot design, this was one of the images that Lucas took with him when he met studio executives as he pitched his film.

For C3PO, McQuarrie had pretty clear direction from George as to his design:

"Back when I was doing the initial concept artwork for Star Wars, George had photographs of the Metropolis robot, which he said he'd like C-3P0 to look like, except that I should make it a boy”.

original design of the Millennium Falcon

This is an early design of the Millennium Falcon, the cockpit and 'style' of the ship made it to the final design (which legend has it was based on a suggestion from Lucas that it resemble a pickle stuck to a bun).

The Falcon has become one of the most iconic ships in the Star Wars franchise - it's up there with the Death Star and Luke flying around in his X-Wing.

luke starkiller mos eisley concept drawing


This is Luke Starkiller looking over Mos Eisley as he was known at the time of drawing.  Note the speed racer, C3PO and most importantly two suns floating in the sky.

The two suns went on to famously feature in one of the most iconic Star Wars moments when Luke stared into them:

luke starring at two suns

The Death Star was destroyed by Luke's torpedoes in A New Hope.

Jedi originally was intended to repeat the formula with not one but two Death Star's being built above a plant called Had Abbadon. Here's what Ralph came up with as the conceptual design:

death star stations over had abbadon

Chewbacca is the furriest of all the warriors in Star Wars. His original designs by McQuarrie were not quite the final product you can see in the move but Star Wars Rebels fans will be pleased to note these early designs have been used for the character known as Zeb.

original concept designs of chewbacca

Here's an early concept of Han Solo about to be brought asunder by the bounty hunter Greedo. Check out C3PO and R2D2 to the left, an early design of a Storm Trooper and something that looks like an owl! Oh and Greedo had a tail.... This character actually appeared briefly in The Force Awakens - look for it at Maz Kanata's castle.

greedo han solo concept art design

A Jedi to be getting his training by Master Yoda in the swamps of  Degobah.

luke and yoda training concept artwork


Is there any thing less iconic in Star Wars than Luke Skywalker taking on the Empire all by himself down the trench run while Vader is taking pot shots at his X-Wing? No. There is not and McQuarrie's influence cannot be denied. The final look of the trench was more detailed but there is no denying that the X-Wing looks pretty damn cool:

trench run concept design star wars

If The Empire Strikes Back is considered one of the greatest science fiction movies ever made, then it was Ralph's design work for the battle of Hoth that helped made it so awesome. Here's Luke contemplating his navel after his snow speeder crashed on the icy tundra.


luke crash empire concept art


mquarrie rebel base ice caves


This giant space tit joke has lasted the ages, but you'll have to agree, Empire looked awesome.

space nipple gun from empire concept art

So these are just ten of McQuarrie's great designs for Stars Wars, there's plenty of awesomeness to be found, heck we didn't even cover Luke and Vader duelling in Cloud City:

luke faces vader in Empire drawings
No, I am your father!


11 R2D2 & C3PO facts and trivia

May 22, 2019

Trivia about C3PO and R2D2


The droids everyone are looking for are the odd couple of the Star Wars franchise.

One's a cheeky astromech, the other a golden protocol droid whose a stickler for the rules.

R2D2 and C3PO have been there from day one since they were given some secret plans by Princess Leia with a mission to get them to Obi Wan Kenobi -  in fact they were around when Anakin Skywalker was an idealistic cherub who was into pod racing.

This is to say these androids have had many adventures and given viewers many laughs!

Here's some cool facts and trivia about them, the actors that fit into the tin suits and how they came to be the most heroic robots in the galaxy.
  • George Lucas took a lot of his inspiration from a film called The Hidden Fortress. It featured a pair of bickering sidekicks who served as comic relief and crucially managed to help keep the plot ticking along. Lucas adopted this concept and applied it to the robots. This is quite amusing as it appears in real life that Kenny Baker and R2D2 didn't get on too well - it's well documented that Daniels has been quite vocal about Baker's attitude.
  • Anthony Daniels, who voiced C3P0 and climbed into the tin suit, is the only actor to appear in all 9 Star Wars trilogy films - you may also count The Clone Wars animated film and Rogue One apperances too! 
  • Kenny Baker did not actually film anything for Revenge of the Sith, his parts were a mix of CGI and footage recycled from Attack of the Clones.
  • C3PO's most famous quote is perhaps "I suggest a new strategy, Artoo: let the Wookie win." which pretty much speaks for itself! As a side note, that game between Chewbacca and R2D2 was never finished. When Finn bumps the table in The Force Awakens, it's the same game of Dejarik from A New Hope! That game is also referenced in the Han Solo film. 
  • A lot of people miss it, thinking the C3PO is totally golden but his right knee down is silver. In The Force Awakens, he had a red arm for most of the film. 
  • R2 stands at 96cm tall. 
  • Ralph McQuarrie designed C3PO by taking liberty with the Maschinenmensch the film Metropolis:


  • R2D2 was infamously given the ability to fly in the prequel films which bugged many fans (despite the fun he had on screen). This was rather roughly explained in other fiction that after the Clone Wars the company responsible for the development of his boosters went out of business. When his rocket boosters were damaged they were unable to be repaired.
  • R2D2 and C3PO were snuck into a scene in Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark as well as JJ Abrams' two Star Trek films.
  • The characters were so popular they had their own animated television series for a short time and once appeared in episodes of The Muppets and Sesame Street where R2 oddly appeared to fall in love with a fire hydrant!
  • R2D2 served several masters - starting with Padme, Anakin, Bail Organa, Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker and for a time, Jabba the Hutt... In the expanded universe R2 accompanies the decendants of Skywalker on many adventures.
  • The two robots are the subject of Obi Wan's most famous quote, "These aren't the droids you're looking for". This line has became a common phrase used to indicate that the issue or matter being discussed is not relevant, often said with a knowing wave of the hand...
  • When Obi-Wan finds General Grievous on the planet Utapau, his first words are, "Hello, there." This is exactly what said when he first met R2-D2 in ANH. It's now a famous internet meme...
  • Here's some early concept art which focuses on the Cantina scene in A New Hope. Check out  the design of our robots to the left and that green guy in the middle is Gredo, the guy who shot second:


Did you think this was a good list? Here's 101 facts about Star Wars!

How the Wizard of Oz inspired the story of A New Hope

May 19, 2019


You’ve surely heard of the Wizard of Oz? 

Many people know it as the FAMOUS OLD MOVIE starring Judy Garland as Dorothy and a dog called Toto. 

It was of course originally a book that took the world by storm in 1900 when it was published and it grew into a publishing empire for author Frank L Baum.

For a book to become a smash hit in 1900 and the years later, it must have been a pretty magical tale.

It was 39 odd years later when the Hollywood movie was released. It was a popular movie at the time but it came into its own as the years went by due to repeated showings on American TV and it became a cultural touch stone where even 60 years later, the movie was remade by Tim Burton and Wicked is a hugely popular broad way musical.

And even George Lucas managed to get caught up in the magic of the movie. 

It was noted film critic Roger Ebert who quickly noticed how Lucas had perhaps drawn inspiration from the 1939 film when he write in his 1977 review of what as then still called Star Wars:

"Star Wars" is a fairy tale, a fantasy, a legend, finding its roots in some of our most popular fictions. The golden robot, lion-faced space pilot, and insecure little computer on wheels must have been suggested by the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz." 


Let's begin with Luke Skywalker. 

If we posit the equation that 'Luke = Dorothy', we can begin to unlock some of the parallels between the two characters.
  • Both Luke and Dorothy live with their aunt and uncle on a farm
  • They both are looking for something more. Luke wants to go to the Academy to fly things and likes to stare into the Binary Sunset and ponder such things. Dorothy states her deal when she sings Somewhere over the rainbow.
  • They each have complementary farm hands. Hunk, Zeke, and Hickory for Oz and C–3PO and R2-D2 respectively.
  • Each has their world turn upside down. Dorothy's is literally thrown around by a tornardo, and Luke's by the Vader's stormtroopers murdering his family (which was actually a call out to John Wayne's The Searchers).
The two characters also become surrounded by familiar companions.
  • Chewbacca steps in for the Cowardly Lion
  • C–3PO steps in for The Tin Man (and both enjoy some oil for their joints early in each film)
  • R2-D2 steps in for Toto. Both don't speak English and one could argue that R-TWO D TWO is a play on TO TO. 

It is very important to bear in mind that the duo of R2 and C3PO were directly inspired by characters from The Hidden Fortress, so don't think Lucas is wholly copying from Oz.


George Lucas has previously said that he took facets of Luke’s personality and made them into characters, and that that’s how he came up with Luke’s friends and companions. And that's pretty much what happen in Oz. 

An amusing parallel is that when Darth Vader kills Obi-Wan Kenobi, only Kenobi's robes remain as his body has disappeared into the Force. When Dorothy accidentally kills the Wicked Which of the West, only her robes too remain after the water is thrown on her. In each case, both scenes have become very famous film moments.

At the end of the day Luke and Dorothy have both had a life changing adventure. the difference being that Luke's family is still dead and while Dorothy bested the Witch and outed the Wizard, the Empire lives on. 

I should be at pains to point out that Lucas has not taken point from point from the Wizard of Oz to write his script. He actually took hundreds of elements from books and film and real world issues and turned them into his own unique fairy tale, and arguably gone that had an even bigger impact on film than Baum's first book did on literature. 

Indeed Lucas said with almost a sense of annoyance about the matter:

‘Oh, he just took The Wizard of Oz and turned it inside out.’ But if you look at those two movies, they are totally different ideas. I mean, you can see certain similarities between almost any two movies. But coming up with a basic idea and developing it and making it work is very difficult and not to be underestimated.”

So let's give him a fair due on that point.

But don't be fooled, in Return of the Jedi, Lucas did a fabulous homage to this scene:



Can you pick what this is going to be?

Recall that R2D2 and C3PO are inspired by OZ and you get:

wizard of oz reference in return of the jedi


Like Dorothy and her new friends went off to the Wizard's Emerald City, C3PO and his little buddy R2 headed off to Jabba's Palace, each party not really knowing what their fates would be.

There's an amusing story relating to production era of The Force Awakens.

At one stage Carrie Fisher had not read the film’s script but was desperate too. She tried to bribe costume designer Michael Kaplan to divulge details with a chance to see the red shoes from the Wizard of Oz that Fisher’s mother owned. Kaplan while tempted, he kept his mouth shut and never saw the shoes.

We suspect this might have been a cheeky tale from Fisher because Reynolds apparently sold the shoes in 2011 well before TFA script was written!

For a more expert consideration on OZ's influence on Star Wars check out:

The best low budget Star Wars costumes ever

budget star wars costumes

Sometimes you just don't have money or resources to come up with the best ever Star Wars cosplay outfits and you just make do with what you have.

Sometimes you've got to come in on budget or the Emperor will simply not be pleased....

Here's some costumes that had a bit more effort put into them.





Should we care who Rey's parents REALLY are?

May 15, 2019
who are rey's parents

The Force Awakens introduced us to Rey and she told us she had a 'big secret' about where she was from and who her parents where. 

She'd lived on Jakku waiting for years in vain for their return. 

The Force flash-back showed her with Ankar Plutt holding her back as a ship took off from Jakku, with apparently her parents inside. 

The Force Awakens set this up big time, it even included a flash back to young Rey seeing her parents leave Jakku.  

And then the questions began.

Was she a Solo?

A Kenobi?

A relative of Padme from Naboo?

Luke's offspring?

Well Kylo Ren gave Rey an answer in The Last Jedi which rejected pretty much every fan theory there was. 

As Kylo is doing his emo best to gaslight Rey, he told her that he knew her parents were simply junk traders who sold her off for drinking money and now lay dead in a pauper’s grave on Jakku.

Rey seemed to agree.

This scene was intended to crush Rey's spirit and help make up her mind to join Kylo as he takes over The First Order, because his 8 pack ab set was clearly not compelling enough.

It's also intended to play into the thematic narrative of The Last Jedi that one doesn't need to be a Skywalker or from 'noble' heritage to be a world changer. 

Greatness can come from anywhere. 

Even slaves. 

Even the child of two drunks. 

So scriptwriter Rian Johnson is telling us to let the past go or as Kylo said, "kill it if you have to" (not that he clearly could when he saw Luke turn up on Crait). 

That's if we take the story at face value though. 

Anakin Skywalker was actually The Chosen One. His being a slave had nothing to do with him. Greatness was apparently Forced on him. 

Can we trust what Ren told Rey?


If Rey's family are dead in a grave on Jakku, why did Rey never learn about this when she was on the plant. Sure, it's a big planet but if they returned to Jakku one would imagine they would return somewhere close to homebase? 

It's Star Wars right. 

How did Ren know they were in a grave. Did he use the Force to sense it? 

As a viewer, when he told Rey what he knew, I could not believe him because of the context he was saying it in. He was trying to break Rey and get her to join the dark side, a place where the truth is not often told. 

One suspects though, Rian has set the path for Rey now and that whatever ever happens in Episode IV, she will be doing it without any help from her parents. 

Still, she's got that first experience with Luke as a Force ghost in The Rise of Skywalker to look forward to!

-

The real mystery that will never be answered is whether Ray tested her water with a ph Meter on Jakku.



How many times does Leia kiss Luke and Han in Star Wars?

May 7, 2019
What number of times do Han and Leia kiss?
I know.

How many times does Leia kiss Luke and Han in Star Wars?


You might think this is an odd question to ask but there's a famous kiss in The Empire Strikes Back between Leia and Luke where Leia tries to make Han jealous or envious.

Luke seems to love it...

The revelation that Leia is Luke's sister in Return of the Jedi makes that kiss seem kinda gross but hey, since we are thinking about the issue, let's count the kisses!

A New Hope


Two kisses for Luke - one for luck when they cross over the ravine trench by rope, and one when Luke returns from have successfully blown up the Death Star. The third is again for luck before he leaves to attack the Death Star.

for luck kiss gif


No kissy kissy for Han Solo.

The Empire Strikes Back


han solo kisses princess leia

Bear in mind the conversation Luke and Han have after they escape from the Death Star in ANH - Luke sways Han away from thinking that Han could ever have a relationship with her as he appears to like her himself...

Two for Luke - Han, and Leia are squabbling in Luke's recovery room and to make a point she gives Luke a quite passionate kiss - one that makes Luke feel pretty happy with himself and one that makes Han jealous:

luke and leia kiss star wars empire strikes


After Luke is safely on the Falcon after he has just fought Darth Vader, she gives him a sweet kiss of affection as he lies in the sick bay.

Han and Leia do kiss passionately for the first time on board the Falcon after they escape the attack on Hoth base. Han also gets a further two kisses from Leia, the famous one being just as he tells her "I know":

i know kiss empire

Return of the Jedi 



return of the jedi kiss


Han gets a kiss when Leia frees him from the carbonite block at Jabba's Palace and two more when they reunite at the Ewok village. He gets another two when Leia lets him know she's Luke's brother.

That means Leia kisses Han five times in Jedi.

The Force Awakens


Han and Leia do not kiss but that embrace lovingly.

So the final tally is Leia gives her brother Luke 4 kisses and Han Solo got 8.

Watch the kissing here:



But if the question is how many times is Han Solo kissed in Star Wars, you have to add the one that Qi'ra gave him in the Solo prequel movie which makes it 9.

Let's not also forget the famous poster for The Empire Strikes Back which was modeled on Gone With the Wind:

gone with the wind poster comparison to empire strikes back



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