It’s Star Wars day (May 4th), so I thought it would be the perfect time to go over the movies that inspired George Lucas to go and make 1977’s Star Wars.
I should also probably call the movie by its other title, Star Wars: A New Hope, but I personally prefer just calling it Star Wars.
1977’s Star Wars was groundbreaking, of course. However, there were movies that came before it that served as sources of inspiration for creator George Lucas.
He’s actually been pretty open about his inspirations over the years.
I suppose I’ll have to give the game away a little here, but Lucas had the idea for a science-fiction film in the vein of Flash Gordon around the time he completed his first film, THX 1138 (1971).
So there’s your first inspiration, the Flash Gordon serial movies and comic strips. They was a huge inspiration for George Lucas, but there are many others.
George Lucas wanted to make Flash Gordon, not Star Wars
He actually wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie, but couldn’t get the rights to the characters.
Here’s what told American Cinematographer about this:
I wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie, with all the trimmings, but I couldn’t obtain the rights to the characters.
So I began researching and went right back and found where Alex Raymond (who had done the original Flash Gordon comic strips in newspapers) had got his idea from.
I discovered that he’d got his inspiration from the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs (author of Tarzan) and especially from his John Carter of Mars series books.
I read through that series, then found that what had sparked Burroughs off was a science-fantasy called Gulliver on Mars, written by Edwin Arnold and published in 1905.
That was the first story in this genre that I have been able to trace.
Jules Verne had got pretty close, I suppose, but he never had a hero battling against space creatures or having adventures on another planet.
A whole new genre developed from that idea.
Science-fiction was still pretty new in cinema, all things considered, and Lucas wasn’t only inspired by other sci-fi movies.
Much of his inspiration for the Jedi came from Japanese cinema, and it’s pretty clear to see when you watch the movies.
The Jedi are basically Samurai, and they share many of the same values as those noble warriors did.
Lucas has spoken about his fascination with Japanese cinema and culture and how he weaved it into his sci-fi adventure epic, which he then subbed the Skywalker saga.
Anyway, that’s enough chitter-chatter. It’s time to get onto the movies that helped inspire George Lucas to make the very first Star Wars movie of all time.
- Metropolis (1927)
- Triumph of the Will (1935)
- The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
- Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars (1938)
- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940)
- Casablanca (1942)
- The Dam Busters (1955)
- The Searchers (1956)
- The Hidden Fortress (1958)
- Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Star Wars is basically The Hidden Fortress set in space
These movies are all pretty well references in 1977’s Star Wars, and together they made a rather wonderful film.
It’s interesting how the majority of films on this list aren’t science-fiction.
This goes to show that Star Wars’ roots aren’t really set in the genre.
It’s much more set in epic adventure movies.
This is probably why the movie is often referred to as a ‘space opera’.
You could say that Star Wars is just The Hidden Fortress meets The Wizard of Oz set in space.
These movies and the stories they tell are timeless.
I really do believe that’s also why Star Wars’ popularity has lasted this long.
It kind of forgoes the sci-fi movie tropes in favour of story and characters.
That, as far as I’m concerned, is the main reason why people always gravitate towards these Star Wars movies.
What do you make of this list?
Will you be checking out any of these movies that inspired the Star Wars films this evening?
Let us know in the comments below, and May The Fourth Be With You.
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