Saga What makes this saga what it is?

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Julius Vernon, Jan 9, 2013.

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  1. Julius Vernon Jedi Grand Master

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    Nov 7, 2012
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    I've been thinking a lot lately about what makes Star Wars so fantastic. The elements behind it that directly or indirectly inspired George Lucas to create such a fantastic galaxy.

    I had thought a lot about the inspiration of Akira Kurosawa (I decided to recently watch Dersu Uzala and rewatch Hidden Fortress just because of this).

    I had thought about the old serials and even tried to watch some old Flash Gordon, but I only got through a couple of episodes because it's obviously not of the highest quality.

    I had thought about the Arthurian Legends and I don't know a whole lot about them aside from general knowledge. I believe @Echo-07 knows a fair bit about them.

    I realize there are similar specific threads out there, but from a high level to a detailed level what inspiration are you aware of or do you see yourself? What about literary sources of inspiration?

    What specific Kurosawa elements have inspired SW? I know at least two scenes in Dersu Uzala extremely similar to scenes in SW (the two suns of Tatooine similar to the moon/sun shot in DU and Dersu saving the captain from the cold a la Han saving Luke in Hoth).

    Hidden Fortress has a lot of similarities, saving the Princess, the bumbling idiots who are similar to our bards (the droids), the swashbuckling samurai who encompasses elements of both Han and Luke (the similarities are even more striking in the first draft of the script for Star Wars).

    Of course the serial similarities are vast. ANH as a whole flows as a serial. The PT is full of little homages, Kenobi chasing Grievous on the varactyl, the droid manufacturing sequence, etc.

    What scenes, themes, characters, plots, etc. do you see coming from these or other elements?

    Discuss.
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  2. Count Yubnub Force Ghost

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    I think it was Echo-07 who recommended I watch "Excalibur" to catch up with the Arthurian legends (which I still haven't done, but I will).

    At a high level, Joseph Cambell's work was obviously a major source of inspiration.

    In terms of more specific scenes, AOTC in particular seems to have a lot of direct references to other movies (including Lucas' own THX-1138 and American Graffiti). The basic plot itself is very similar to that of the old Bond movies (and even has a Bond villain as its main villain). Here are some shots that seem specific references:
    - Padme running through the Naboo meadows: The Sound of Music
    - Anakin searching for his mother: The Searchers
    - Coruscant chase: Metropolis, Blade Runner, and The Fifth Element
    - the Dooku shot when he disappears into darkness (right after when he says "If may be difficult to secure your release") seems to be a shot that appears in every single Dracula movie
    - shot of Palpatine overlooking clone troopers: Triumph of the Will
    - shot of Obi-Wan fighting acklay: Ray Harryhausen stop-motion
    - the shot of Anakin and Padme rolling around in the meadows could be a reference to Wuthering Heights... I think.

    Also:
    - shot of Gungans emerging from swamp is taken from a shot that's in one of the Samurai trilogy movies, I think Samurai I;
    - there was a thread a while back explaining how the Han-Leia dialogue in ESB was mostly taken from Gone with the Wind (the novel, that is)

    ROTS is based on classic drama, including its 5-point dramatic structure. The self-fulfilling prophesy that's the basis for the story also occurs a lot in classic drama, e.g. MacBeth and Oedipus.

    More later
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  3. Julius Vernon Jedi Grand Master

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    @Echo-07 I also need to watch Excalibur (I've seen so many films, but I haven't seen that one, embarrassing I know), what should we read to become more well versed in the Arthurian legend?

    @Count Yubnub Great points. Some of these I hadn't thought of but seem obvious upon your pointing them out. I think the Gungans emerging from the swamp you reference is from Samurai I (Musashi Myamoto if I recall correctly).

    Joseph Campbell was something I thought of after my post and I'm glad you bring it up. I think the ties to mythology are where some of the real richness comes through.

    It's also interesting how much of the entire saga is contained in the original drafts. From Naboo being under siege to the precursor of Ewoks/Wookies.
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  4. Iron_lord Chosen One

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    The ANH medal ceremony is also often compared to that.
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  5. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

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    I don't know those films, but it is also similar to a scene in Kumonosu-jo ( a film which also has a fortress with a large imposing door not unlike Jabba's palace ).

    The cantina encounter - "I have the death sentence on twelve systems", Ben cuts off an arm - is taken right from Yojimbo ( a film which also has a character hiding under floor panels like in the Falcon in ANH ).

    There are influences from Kakushi-toride no san-akunin in addition to the ones cited in the first post. The film uses the ideas of a decoy princess and greed as a powerful ally, later to be seen in TPM; the princess being rescued is "a handful" ( remind you of anyone? ); it has a spear fight between two old rivals which prefigures the lightsaber battle on the DS 1; the loser of the fight, the Vader parallel, returns disfigured and is subsequently redeemed. ( And of course the phrase Motti is in the process of saying when Vader chokes him is "hidden fortress". )
    Last edited by Arawn_Fenn, Jan 9, 2013
  6. Echo-07 Force Ghost

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    Well, I don't think you need to read anything. Excalibur is based on Sir Thomas Mallory's "Le Morte D'Arthur" which is considered pretty canonical Arthurian myth. It establishes Camelot, the Knights of the round, Uther Pendragon, Arthur Pendragon, Merlin, Gwenevere, Sir Lancelot, Gawain, Gallahd, Percival, the Holy Grail, the Lady of the Lake, and of course Excalibur. And of course Morgana and Mordred episodes. The Movie Excalibur is a film classic. Watch the R rated version for a little more adult flavor but nothing too graphic by today's standards. And lastly, keep your eyes peeled for 3 very prominent actors that you know but probably didn't know that were in this movie.

    Of course there have been other Arthurian movies -- First Knight with Connery and Gere I found to be boring and scrubbed of all psychological importance. Also King Arthur with Clive Owen and Kiera Knightly was suppsed to be a "realistic portrayal" of the man who supposedly inspired the legend. I found it contrived and harder to believe than the myth itself. Disney's The Sword in the Stone. A family-oriented take on kid Arthur. BUT Excalibur is heads and shoulders above all else IMO dealing with Arthur.

    Also, I've been thinking about this topic tonight at work. I know George has always maintained that the Samurai are inspirations for the Jedi. That may be partly true but I think historically speaking, whether intended or not, the Jedi actually reflect the KNIGHTS TEMPLAR more than anyone else. The Knights of the Temple of Solomon, part of the plot ot Indy and the Last Crusade, were Knights who vowed an oath of poverty. These former noblemen combined their wealth into the order. The travelled in pairs on one horse and were considered "warrior monks" who upheld [Christian] peace and justice to true believers who made pilgrimmages to the Holy Land. There;s been a lot of different stories and myths surrounding the Templars but on face value they look more like Jedi than any other order in history IMO.

    A movie that i think is absolutely awesome is Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven. If people havne't seen it I highly recommend it. BUT watch the longer director's cut. It's well worth it for the richness of detail and depth of story. Stars Orlando Bloom and Eva Green and another actor you may recognize. It's based in reality but of course has a mythological undertone.
    Last edited by Echo-07, Jan 10, 2013
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  7. Iron_lord Chosen One

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    The purge of the Templar could be compared to Order 66.
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  8. Julius Vernon Jedi Grand Master

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    As I've been studying this out, I came across this:

    I've thought of these elements as watching the films, but it's great to see Lucas put it in those words.
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  9. Count Yubnub Force Ghost

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    Yeah, Lawrence of Arabia. A couple that come to mind:
    - the shot where Luke and Obi-Wan overlook Mos Eisley (and Obi-Wan says ""Mos Eisley Spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villain.")
    - the tracking shot of Padme and Anakin walking at the Theed palace, which was shot at the Plaza de España in Seville in Spain, is a more-or-less direct copy of a similar tracking shot in LoA shot at the same location.


    Come to think of it, LoA was a major influence on Frank Herbert's "Dune"--in turn, "Dune" seems to have a major influence on Star Wars as well; allegedly Herbert considered suing Lucas.
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  10. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

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    Metropolis is another apparent influence on the saga, in ways both obvious and subtle.
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  11. Ord-Mantell70 Jedi Grand Master

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    Campbell's work wasn't really a source of inspiration. Sure Lucas knew about it and read "Hero with a thousand faces", as he studied Anthropology and Mythology at college.

    When he laid out the story of Star Wars, he simply realised that, inconsciously or subconsciously, he had followed the same patterns analyzed by Campbell about legends, myths and stories common to every Culture.

    But it would apply to most of the stories where a "Hero" can be found.
    Last edited by Ord-Mantell70, Jan 11, 2013
  12. Count Yubnub Force Ghost

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    IIRC the man himself has stated otherwise.
  13. Ord-Mantell70 Jedi Grand Master

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    He stated he did research before writing the screenplay and re-read Thousand Faces and few other works. That was the "influence". ("George Lucas, the well-rounded interview" - Well Rounded Entertainment)

    But He didn't borrow anything from Campbell's work consciously. He was following his own inspiration and realised it would stick very closely to the classic models of the hero's journey ("A long time ago : the story of Star Wars" - BBC documentary 1999).

    That's what I meant.
  14. Count Yubnub Force Ghost

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    Yeah, OK, but didn't he only describe his writing ANH there?
  15. Julius Vernon Jedi Grand Master

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  16. Julius Vernon Jedi Grand Master

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    I've been reading up a bit on the Wizard of Oz parallels with Star Wars. This from D.B. Keller:

    I personally think a lot of the similarities aren't even subconscious as much as coincidental. I think it's highly likely that GL liked the structure of the group of protagonists in Oz, and adapted that to continue in SW, but I think things like the disguising of protagonists in the guard's gear, the vanishing body, the awards ceremony, etc. just work in both films and it's unlikely that GL directly lifted these from Oz.
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  17. Darth_Monkey_Boy Jedi Grand Master

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    Everytime I see that scene, especially when they do the dive, I always think of "The Fifth Element". I thought it was just me!
  18. Ord-Mantell70 Jedi Grand Master

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    I dont think so. It basically applies to the whole, at least the original trilogy.
  19. CommanderXGhost Jedi Youngling

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    Oct 19, 2012
    My opinion?

    -Mandalorians (Jango, Boba, other various Mandalorians throughout the EU, etc.)
    -Imperial Storm Troopers/Republic Clone Troopers.
    -Jedi/Sith
    -Bounty Hunters and other various Criminal Underworld types,
  20. natureboy76 Jedi Grand Master

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    Dec 11, 2009
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    The universal myths passed down for ions in the form of stories and grand adventures. Star Wars is everything a grand story should be. It is funny, perilous, sad, romantic, mythic, adventurous and imaginative fantasy. Of course I like the rest of you, are quite biased lol.
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