Aug 11, 2018

Yoda's Akiro Kurosawa reference in Revenge of the Sith

Yoda Seven Samurai reference

Revenge of the Sith featured a very cool reference to one of the films by a Japanese director that inspired the original Star Wars film.

We have mentioned before how Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress was a major influence on George Lucas.

It’s no surprise then that Lucas deftly slipped in a visual reference to AkiraKurosawa’s famous Seven Samurai film.

As 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 Kambei Shimada’s motion in the Seven Samurai. 

Pretty cool when you know to look for it! 

The influence of Frank Herbert's Dune novel on Star Wars

the effect Dune on A New Hope

A look at how the Dune book 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 but not the direct plot.

If you wanted to be fairly uncharitable your 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. Indeed Lucas's 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... later Han Solo became a smuggler 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

A New Hope

  • Princess Leia’s name is arguably inspired by the Princess Alia
  • Star Wars features a desert planet called Tatooine. Remind me what kind of planet Arrakis was in Dune?
  • The Jawa sandcrawler Jawas was 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.

The Empire Strikes Back

  • 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 which cause 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

Return of the Jedi

  • 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.
  • Indeed a lot of the whole Jabba The Hutt Palace scenes appear to have been inspired by the Children of Dune sequel.
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

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 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'.

Three: Denis Villeneuve looks set to direct a remake of Dune. He's well placed to do so following the success of his Blade Runner sequel and the fantastic Arrival. 

Facts about Yoda

What species is Yoda and other questions

When people generally think who is the coolest person in the Star Wars universe they often think of Han chilling out with Greedo or Lando dealing with some immense stress when he realises the shield is still up but I'm pretty sure a lot of fans think master Yoda is one of the coolest characters in the films.

He was pretty chilled out when he took on Count Dooku. He wasn't too phased as he took on Darth Sidius and he was fairly nonchalant when he realised Anakin had turned.

Of course that's arguable...

We first met the green goblin in Empire as a funny little dude trying to steal Luke Skywalker's lunch only to reveal himself as the fabled Yoda. The Yoda, it turns out, who was one of the greatest Jedi to have ever lived and ultimately perhaps one of the few Jedi to actually alter the course of the history of the realm he lived.

While it might be hard to unlearn what you may have leaned about Yoda, here's some interesting facts and stories about his development, his place in the Star Wars canon and some of his most memorable quotes.
  • Puppeteer and film director Frank Oz is the voice for the most famous little green guy in cinema history. 
  • Famously Oz also the voice of the Muppet’s Miss Piggy,  It was because of Oz's talents that he developed with Jim Henson that saw him get the call up. 
  • A very early draft of the script of Empire saw suggested that Luke Skywalker would travel to the 'Bog' Planet where he would encounter a frog-like Jedi named Minch, who teaches him the ways of the force. That's right, Yoda was frog-like and was going to be called Minch!
  • Yoda’s species has never been mentioned. In official records he is simply an ‘unknown species’.
  • Yoda died when he was 900 years old having lived a long life of training many Jedi, including most of the ones found in all the films at one stage or another.
  • The little master is 66 cm tall. As a comparison, R2D2 stands taller at 96 cm!
  • For the prequel Attack of the Clones, Yoda was performed by Oz.The next two prequels featured a CGI Yoda and the DVD release of Clones saw a CGI version replace the puppet. 
  • While many think Yoda had Darth Sidious beaten in his famous duel in  Revenge of the Sith, it was actually Mace Windu, a former student of Yoda who firmly beat the Sith Lord (of course Anakin came in and ruined it all..)
  • Oz returned for The Last Jedi to bring back the character. On screen Yoda was a mix of CGA and puppetry.
  • When Yoda puts his hand on his head in Revenge of the Sith, this is a nod to famed director, and major influence on George Lucas, Akira Kurosawa.
  • Yoda is famous for his phrasing and his zen like quotes. Here's a selection of the best:
    • Do or do not. There is no try.
    • Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.
    • You must unlearn what you have learned.
    • When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good, you will not, hmmm?
    • There is another...

The Force is strong with these cosplayers

From time to time we feature some Star Wars cosplay so when we saw this foursome's awesome effort, it was destined to grace this site's pages!

star wars costumes 
This was no slap dash Star Wars, this was a well planned sortie. These fans clearly spent a fair amount of time getting this kit together.

Great job guys !! 

Aug 3, 2018

Close Encounters of the Third Kind's R2D2 Easter Egg

Keen Star Wars fans will probably know of the famous deal between George Lucas and Steven Spielberg in which they swapped 'points' on Star Wars and Close Encounters. It led to Speilberg making millions of dollars off Star Wars.

Lucas and Spielberg were actually very good friends and they actually went on to make four Indiana Jones films together.

Given their friendship, Speilberg out a Star Wars Easter egg in his movie. An upside down R2D2:

r2d2 easter egg in close encounters

Pretty cool. Spielberg went on to make several Star Wars references in his films with Lucas. The first Indiana film, Raiders of the Lost Act also had a sneaky C3PO and R2D2 hidden in the hieroglyphs.

The name of the club in Temple of Doom was 'Club Obi Wan' and in E.T. a child was dressed as Yoda for Halloween. Lucas returned the nod in The Phantom Menace when he showed a whole group of E.T. in the Senate!

Jul 29, 2018

Has Adrianne Curry done the best Star Wars cosplay ever?

adrianne curry kicking jar jar binks costume

Cosplayer Adrianne Curry sums up what many people think of Jar Jar

Your wife probably will recognize Adrianne Curry as one of the original winners of America's Next Top Model.

Any cosplay fan will tell you Ms Curry loves to serve herself up as a bowl of cosplay any chance she gets. She doesn't mind tapping into the dark side either.

And she loves Star Wars so why shouldn't a top model put on the Princess Leia golden slave bikini and take down Jar Jar?

curry leia cosplay Adrienne curry starwars

Strike a pose Adrianne. Vogue. Vogue. Vogue.....

gold bikini leia costumes girls adrianne curry

But to answer the question, is this the best Star Wars cosplay?


This is.

Bet you didn't know a bloke called Moebius was the inspiration for ESB's Imperial Droid

Kitbashed has done it again with a flash of brilliance in demonstrating how (for this author) one of the coolest things in The Empire Strikes Back came to be in the film.

I'm talking about the Imperial Probe Droid that finds the Rebel Base on Hoth. Some keen folk call it the Viper droid or Probot.

So every usually goes on about how Ralph McQuarrie or Joe Johnston had the most artistic sway over how the Star Wars universe looked and felt. And this is true, but on this occasion, another very famous person contributed in the most minor way but that contribution left a pretty cool mark on Empire.

Mobieus draw a very small robot in the corner of a frame in what became a well-known piece of science fiction called The Long Tomorrow:

imperial droid found in the long tomorrow by Mobieus

As to how the production crew of The Empire Strikes Back came to use the robot, Kitbashed ponders:

"The story supposedly goes (which is my way of saying that I’ve heard, but have so far found no evidence of) that the production team received permission from Mœbius to use his design. That may be true, after all Mœbius did himself go on to produce a number of drawings in the Star Wars universe, and Dan O'Bannon had worked with him, etc. But given how most of the other inspirational borrowings for Star Wars have gone down, I see little reason to believe that this one would be any different."
So there we have it. Another example of Star Wars taking an idea from another piece of media and making something awesome.

Extra for Experts:

Leigh Bracket, who is credited on Empire also wrote a story called The Long Tomorrow, her story was different in nature being set in a post apocalyptic America. It was published in 1955.

Jul 27, 2018

16 crazy facts about the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special. Did you know about the sex simulation scene?

Star Wars Holiday Special Facts

I have watched the Star Wars Holiday Special one-time only and that’s the way it will probably stay.

If I have two memories of the film, it’s Princess Leia and the gang singing a terrible song about ‘Life Day’. The other is the awesome cartoon contained within the movie that shows Bobba Fett riding some kind of dinosaur.

That was awesome.

However, the film should really be named as ‘George Lucas’ Folly’ for it was huge misstep.

Legend has it that Lucas is quite embarrassed about it now and I think noted Star War novelist Kevin J. Anderson’s quote sums it up best:

"Well, I know that George Lucas doesn't like it at all—when I was working on The Illustrated Star Wars Universe, he told me that he would be happy if every copy could be tracked down and burned..."

So there we have it. The movie should be burned.

But hold on. There’s some gold in the TV’s most infamous Christmas Special, so let’s have a look a look at what glitters….

But first we have to get this piece of trivia out of the way:

Chewbacca has a son called Lumpy. He’s travelling to see him so they can celebrate ‘Life Day’ together.

Feel free to quit reading this article now as we cannot top this fact!

  • The show aired in the US on November 17, 1978, on CBS for the first and only time. 
  • Jefferson Starship, a very popular band at the time, released a single of "Light the Sky on Fire" that proclaimed "as seen and heard on the CBS-Star Wars Holiday Special. It’s bloody awful.
  • Given it's canon (!!!) the Special is the first time the Wookie planet of Kashyyyk for the first time. The next time we saw this was in Revenge of the Sith when Yoda visited to help with the Clone War.
  • Future Golden Girl  Bea Arthur played Ackmena a gruff bartender at the Mos Eisley Cantina. This was an opportunity for her to sing a song but frankly the best part of this moment is the chance to see some of the original bar flies that were visiting the Catina in ANH for a longer period.
  • If you’ve actually gone an watched the show, you’ll have noticed that the Wookies lived in giant wooden houses at built into trees. This idea originally came from the design work of the legendary Ralph McQuarrie – the guy that did all the original concept design work for A New Hope.
  • Future King of Comedy Richard Pryor has a part as a bar tender as well! From behind the bar he answers the phone in the manner as part of gag with some alien creatures.
Bea Arthur and her Cantina friends.

  • The show was probably the only variety special in American television history to feature a sex simulator scene. Chewbacca’s father engages in what could be described as holographic phone sex using a device called The Mind Evaporator. The sexy holographic lady was played by Diahann Carroll who at the time was well known for her Julia television series and the film Claudine. Watch from this moment and enjoy the trippy ride and ‘just relax, just relax’.
  • Lucas didn’t really have too much involvement in the project – he helped sketch out an initial story and the producers took it over and went nuts and turned it into a variety show. Well, they had to have been nuts right?
  • Chewbacca’s father is named Attichitcuk and his wife is called Mallatobuck. His son Lumpy’s proper name is Lumpawarrump.
  • The Happy Life Day song by Princess Leia is based on John William’s original Star Wars theme tune.
  • The special formally only aired one time in the United States in a date that will live in infamy, being 17 November 1978. To put that in historical context, the day after the horrific Jonestown Massacre occurred.
  • Film industry legend Stan Winston created the Wookiee family.
  • The Chewbacca family could wear their costumes for 45 about minutes due to the heat generated when wearing them. Then they’d have the heads taken off, and be given oxygen and fluid.
  • The Boba Fett cartoon sequence was nine minutes long as was intended to be used to introduce the character that would be making an appearance in The Empire Strikes Back. The animation is considered to be quite good and the only truly redeeming thing about the Holiday Special.
  • It’s called “The Faithful Wookie”. Watch it here.
  • The style of the sequence was modelled on the work of Jean “Mobieus” Geraud, a popular French artist. This was apparently at the request of George Lucas. This is where it gets interesting. If you think back to the Imperial Probe Droid that finds the Rebels on the Hoth planet in Empire, you might be surprised (or not!) to learn the droid’s look was inspired a small drawing of a droid from a scene in Mobieus’ ‘The Long Tomorrow’.
You might like to check out this sweet list of Star Wars trivia.

Carrie Fisher will appear in Star Wars IV

I'd just as soon as kiss a Wookie!
Here's the official cast release which confirms two key things:

1. Billie Dee Williams will return as Lando Calrissain
2. Film footage of Carrie Fisher will be used to include Leia.


Star Wars: Episode IX will begin filming at London’s Pinewood Studios on August 1, 2018. J.J. Abrams returns to direct the final installment of the Skywalker saga. Abrams co-wrote the screenplay with Chris Terrio.

Returning cast members include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd. Joining the cast of Episode IX are Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant, who will be joined by veteran Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian.

The role of Leia Organa will once again be played by Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” says Abrams. “Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us. We were never going to recast, or use a CG character. With the support and blessing from her daughter, Billie, we have found a way to honor Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”

Composer John Williams, who has scored every chapter in the Star Wars saga since 1977’s A New Hope, will return to a galaxy far, far away with Episode IX.

Star Wars: Episode IX will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Michelle Rejwan, and executive produced by Callum Greene and Jason McGatlin. The crew includes Dan Mindel (Director of Photography), Rick Carter and Kevin Jenkins (Co-Production Designers), Michael Kaplan (Costume Designer), Neal Scanlan (Creature and Droid FX), Maryann Brandon and Stefan Grube (Editors), Roger Guyett (VFX Supervisor), Tommy Gormley (1st AD), and Victoria Mahoney (2nd Unit Director).

Release is scheduled for December 2019.

Jul 22, 2018

How 19 great movies were direct influences on Star Wars

will to triumph star wars inspiration

Famous films that influenced Star War

At face value, Star Wars: A New Hope was a wholly original movie written by director George Lucas. Its 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 whatever Chalmun pours them. 

Smuggler Han Solo is basically modelled on Humphrey Bogart’s world-weary cynicism and they both seem to have a 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 shoehorned 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

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 identity. Kind of like how Luke Skywalker eventually does his own.

It's clear that George Lucas has always been fascinated 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 background 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 the 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...


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...