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



↠ 10 rare facts about Darth Vader

May 6, 2019
darth vader concept art


10 things you may not know about Darth Vader, the most tragic figure in Star Wars

  1. Darth Vader has only 8 minutes of screen time! Even Hannibal Lecter had more! 
  2. Vader’s famous heaving breathing sounds were recorded by Ben Burt whilst he breathed into an aqualung.
  3. In the original drafts of Star Wars, Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker were definitely different people - it wasn’t until the development of the Empire treatment that the two were combined as one character. People still argue to this day that Lucas always knew Vader was Luke's father!
  4. During the finale of Return of the Jedi have a careful listen when Darth Vader picks up the Emperor and throws him down the Death Star shaft. This is the only occasion when you’ll hear Jedi theme music playing when Vader is on screen. This reflects his return to the light side of the Force.
  5. Vader's costume was somewhat inspired by the Nazi Regime's look.
  6. Despite his reputation for killing many people and being one of the biggest bad asses in the galaxy, Vader had the most limbs severed from his person in the film series!
  7. James Earl Jones was the voice of Vader but fans probably didn’t know that during the original screenings of the film as his name wasn’t included in the credits as it is today. This is apparently because he didn’t want his name to be associated with a film that he thought was going to be a flop.
  8. Lord Vader’s famous leitmotif theme music is known as The Imperial March and was not introduced until Empire Strikes Back. 
  9. The famous reveal of the father and son relationship between Vader and Luke is often misquoted as "Luke, I am your father". The line is actually "No, I am your father". It's kind of like how Star Trek's Captain Kirk never actually said: "Beam me up, Scotty".
  10. While Return of the Jedi saw Luke return the favour to Vader and cut his arm off, the idea for it actually came from the expanded universe novel, ‘Splinter of the Mind's Eye’.
  11. Ben Burt produced Vader's breathing sound effect by placing a microphone inside the mouthpiece of a breathing apparatus and recording it being used by a human.

The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

May 4, 2019
the art of rise of skywalker cover


The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker


Publisher: Abrams
Author: Phil Szostak
Art: Lucasfilm Art Department
Format: Art of
Description: The official behind-the-scenes concept, production, and post-production art for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Go inside the creative process behind the most anticipated film of the century. The latest trilogy in the Star Wars film series brings the Skywalker Saga to a close and The Art of The Rise of Skywalker will take readers into the creative process behind visualizing the epic worlds, creatures, characters, costumes, weapons and vehicles of the landmark conclusion more than 40 years in the making.


This book will be released shortly after the film's release so as to not cause any spoilers.

The 8 best Chewbacca quotes from the 4 Star Wars films he's ever Raarrwwrararrrrrrrrr ed in!

May 2, 2019
Raarrwwrararrrrrrrrr!  chewbacca

While Chewbacca doesn't speak a line of English in the Star Wars films, he is an eminently quotable character. His growls, snarls, grunts and guttural cries have conveyed a lot of meaning in the four films that he's appeared in.

Often Han Solo has done the translation for the viewer but if youtake the emotion delivered in the growl and the characters motions and the context of the scene and you'll see that Chewie is quite the nuanced character

Here are his most famous quotes from each of the eight movies he has appeared in.

A New Hope

Raarrwwrararrrrrrrrr!

Empire

Raarrwwrararrrrrrrrr!

Jedi

Raarrwwrararrrrrrrrr! 

Revenge of the Sith

Raarrwwrararrrrrrrrr! 

The Force Awakens

Raaawwweweweeer!

The Last Jedi
Raarrwwrararrrrrrrrr!

Solo
Raarrwwrararrrrrrrrr!

The Rise of Skywalker


If you want some more Star Wars quotes, try the best lines of Darth Vader, what Kylo angsts about and what C3PO chips in with!

Peter Mayhew has died aged 74


A sad day for Star Wars, actor Peter Mayhew had died aged 74.



Peter helped make Star Wars what it is with his iconic character of Chewbaccca, everyone's favorite walking carpet. 

His family advised of Peter's passing on his Twitter account:


Peter was long celebrated by the Star Wars fandom as a genuine person who loved his Star Wars community and fans right back. In recent years he popped up on Reddit in many conversations about Star Wars, bring great insight and wit to the discussions.

peter mayhew


Peter retired from the character and handed over the batten of Chewbacca to Joonas Suotamo during the filming of The Force Awakens. 



The Phantom Menace is turning 20 years old. Here's 20 bits of trivia!

phantom menace 20 years anniversary

I doubt I'll ever forget the time when trailer was released for the Phantom Menace some 20 odd years ago.

I was a university student in Palmerston North hanging out at my mate's flat. He started downloading it and man that damn thing took hours on dial up!


And 'Holy Smoke, Batman', that trailer was great and that duel saber of Darth Maul became a legendary Star Wars moment before the film had even been released!

The Phantom Menace was released in theaters on May 19, 1999, almost 16 years after the premiere of the previous Star Wars film, Return of the Jedi.

When the film came out, I saw it three times in two days. 

So to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the first Star Wars prequel here's 20 pieces of trivia!

  1. Darth Maul has ten horns on his red head
  2. The production sets were built only as high as the tops of the actors' heads and computer graphics filled in the rest. But it was realized that Liam Neeson was so tall that they needed to build things taller and this cost the production another $150,000 in construction costs.
  3. Qui-Gon Jinn is 1.93 meters tall.
  4. Phantom Menace is the only film in the series in which the top-credited actor plays a non-recurring character, and in which the top-credited character dies.
  5. Contrary to popular belief, the city where Qui-Gon discovers a young Anakin is not the famous spaceport of Mos Eisley, but a different place called Mos Espa. Qui-Gon's description of Mos Espa is almost the same, if not the same word for word, as Obi-Wan's description of Mos Eisley during A New Hope.
  6. Jabba the Hutt who had a brief cameo during the pod race scene is listed as being played by "himself"
  7. While Ray Park is famous as playing the Sith Lord, Peter Serafinowicz actually voiced the character. Benicio Del Toro was originally cast to play Darth Maul but he abandoned the role after George Lucas decided to trim Darth Maul's screen time in the film.
  8. The sound of the hovering battle tanks used by the battle droids in The Phantom Menace was created by running an electric razor around a metal salad bowl and then digitally lowering the pitch.
  9. Phantom Menace was the first Star Wars film to be released on DVD and despite 'fan hate' it was a massive seller.
  10. The blue haired slave girl that can be observed beside Jabba the Hutt before the pod race wears the same slave costume worn by Princess Leia in The Return of the Jedi.
  11. Qui-Gon Jinn's communicator is a repurposed Gillette Sensor Excel Razor for Women.
  12. Natalie Portman's voice was digitally altered to further distinguish between Padmé and Queen Amidala to confuse the audience who may have not picked the deceptive ploy. In addition, at the time of the film's release, the producers ran a disinformation campaign to suggest that Portman played both Padmé and The Queen at all times.
  13. The pod race scene was directly inspired by the chariot race in Ben Hur and featured several moments that matched moment for moment.

    qui gon jinn liam neeson
  14. Liam Nesson signed on without seeing the film script.
  15. The shipping title of Phantom Menace was "The Doll House"
  16. "Phantom Menace" was the name of a villain in the "Flash Gordon" comics. Which shouldn't surprise too many people as George Lucas has often cited Flash Gordon as one of his inspirations for making the original Star Wars.
  17. E.T. creatures made a cameo appearance in The Phantom Menace
  18. Ron Howard, who starred in Lucas's American Graffiti before he became a director in his own right turned down the chance to direct TPM and also famously defended the film when it came out.
  19. The word "light-saber" is never uttered in the film and is ultimately the only Star Wars film where the word is not used. "Laser sword" is mentioned once.
  20. Darth Maul only speaks only three lines for a total of 31 words which is less than the Terminator did in the original film!
  21. Warwick Davis, who famously played Wicket as a child in Return of the Jedi, actually had 3 cameo parts!

The enduring appeal of R2D2 and C-3PO

May 1, 2019
r2d2 c3po in TESB

Did you know that R2D2 and C-3PO are the only characters to appear in all 9 Star Wars main trilogy films?

It's actually 10 if you count their appearance in Rogue One and let's not forget C3PO's turn in The Clone Wars movie either...

They've been on their own TV show, starred on the moments and had their tin cans featured on cereal boxes, trading cards and everything in between

What is the reason for their enduring appeal? 


There are many reasons for this but let's begin at the beginning as all stories should.

The Hidden Fortress as an inspiration for the droids


When George Lucas was a film student he was introduced to the films of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. This study proved to have a strong influence on George and Kurosawa's ideas and styles found their way into George's early work.

The film Hidden Fortress has had a key impression on the development of Star Wars when Lucas borrowed that film's concept that the story was told from the point of view of two bumbling peasants.

Lucas converted that idea into the first Star Wars film being told from the point of view, a pair of robots which ultimately became the famous gold and white and blue pairing of R2D2 and C-3PO. 

And just like that those two robots became a staple of the Star Wars diet. Not just there for comedy relief with their fantastic banter and memorable quotes but at times had central roles in helping Luke Skywalker overcome his various challenges.

These aren't the droids you're looking for

these arent the droids looking for


It's about 20 minutes into the movie when Obi-Wan Kenobi utters his immortal quote to the Stormtroopers in Mos Eisley who are looking for our escapees "These aren't the droids you're looking for".

It gave the first real glimpse that there was something extra special about Obi-Wan, was he truly a wizard and not such a crazy old man?

That line has stayed in pop culture for over 40 years now - and it's part of why R2 and Threepio have managed to stay in the Star Wars consciousness.

And being part of the Star Wars family means you stay in the family (until JJ Abrams decides balls of orange and white are better).

 R2D2 was always ready with an insult and C3PO would give it right back


R2 and Threepio argue and fuss over each other almost like an old couple, especially in the original trilogy.

Often they would find themselves in a strange situation and R2D2 would communicate some pithy comment or insult and C3PO would give it right back at him, case in point this classic from the opening scene of A New Hope when they were about to evacuate the Tantive IV with the stolen plans:

"Don't you call me a mindless philosopher you overweight glob of grease!"

The true stuff of friendship!

early prototype of R2D2
George Lucas with an early build of R2D2

Facts and trivia about R2D2 and Golden Rod


  • Despite creating him as Anakin Skywalker, C3PO only shares a brief moment on screen with Darth Vader. In The Empire Strikes Back, when Han is being frozen into carbonite. Vader gives no indication of recognizing his creation but to be fair, protocol droids in his configuration are everywhere.
  • 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. You may not have recognized him?!
  • 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 and then Anakin, Bail Organa, Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker and for a time, Jabba the Hutt... 
  • 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 A New Hope.
  • In early script drafts, R2D2's name was simply A-2.
  • R2D2’s height is 96cm tall.

Anthony Daniels and a friend
Anthony Daniels and a friend

The Forbidden Plant also inspired C3PO's creation


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.

Released in 1956 this was one of the first big-budget science fiction films.

Apparently a bit of a commercial flop, it quickly gained cult status with repeat showings 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.

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'. 

George Lucas probably borrowed this concept for C3PO.

I'm not sure if it's my dirty mind but at one point in the film, 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.

We're off to see Jabba the Hutt! The wonderful Hutt of Tattoine


One of our favourite moments with these two droids is in Return of the Jedi when they are framed on their way towards Jabba's palace:


Notice anything?

No?

How about if we add this?

a new hope wizard of oz reference

Yep, we're pretty sure Lucas and director Richard Marquand used our droids in homage to the Wizard of Oz!

What is the design inspiration of C3PO?


Ralph McQuarrie designed C3PO by taking liberty with the Maschinenmensch the film Metropolis:




Here's an early concept draft:

concept draft of C3po and r2d2

The influence of R2D2 and C3PO on films and culture

The 80s were good for Star Wars and with Lucasfilm pushing hard on the merchandise sales, our driod friends we everywhere. 

Even Steven Speilberg got in on the act and included them on a hieroglyphic in the original Raiders of the Lost Act:

r2d2 c3po indianna jones

Speilberg also managed to sneak in an R2 unit into Close Encounters of the Third Kind which he was making at the same time as Lucas was producing ANH:

r2d2 easter egg in close encounters

Indeed, Lucas and Speilberg famously swapped points on those films so Speilberg has made a tidy sum of money from a film he didn't make! 

JJ Abrams was such a big fan of R2, he also snuck him into his reboot of Star Trek.

Robots also appear to be pretty hard to do as cosplay:

worst c3po cosplay

terrible starwars cosplay


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