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

Aug 12, 2017
will of triiumph star wars medal ceremony

How the Nazis helped shape Star Wars

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

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

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

So back to The Dambusters

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

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

Sound familiar?

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

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

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

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

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

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

These two concepts worked quite well in tandem!

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

Rick's Cafe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Casablanca love does not stop there!

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

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

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

ferrari from Casblanca inspired Jabba the Hutt

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

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

Does that sound familiar? 

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

Nazis! I hate these guys!

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

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

compare ending of star wars to triumph of the will

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

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

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

There are many other movie and book influences on Star Wars. We haven't even mentioned Flash Gordon, the Dune movie (OK, we've done that one now!), Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia or even Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet!

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