The upcoming History Channel Special Star Wars – The Legacy merely hints at Lucas’ “homages”
or is it just plain plagiarism?

The Special points out similarities between the outfit worn by Harrison Ford in the first Star Wars flick to the one worn by Gary Cooper in High Noon for instance, but never really addresses it. It doesn’t even so much as utter the word “space opera” throughout its entire running time.

Luckily when things borders too much on uncomfortable hagiography someone like Kevin Smith is on hand to make some flippant remark to shrink proceedings down to their proper size. Because, let’s face up to it, Star Wars began life as “something for the kids” but as its impressionable devotees grew older hero worship of Lucas grew and grew.

Lucas himself contributed some hot air and gas to the proceedings. In his first interviews immediately following the first movie Lucas never so much as mentioned Joseph Campbell, the author whose influential work on Jungian myths supposedly influenced Lucas in his creative decisions. That only came later as the series of films grew in stature.

In fact, while Lucas would like to give the impression that he intended the series to be an epic six films long, the truth is that he was so sure that the first film would be a box office flop that he never so much as gave a single thought as to any sequels.

When the 1977 Star Wars became the biggest Hollywood hit of all time – even outstripping Jaws at the box office Lucas suddenly found that much like Indiana Jones remarked in Raiders of the Lost Ark, another Lucas creation, he had to make it up as he went along.

"Luckily when things borders too much on uncomfortable hagiography someone like Kevin Smith is on hand . . ."

This is witnessed by the various continuity and plot errors made in the various films, some of which Lucas later tried to rectify in the myriad of “special editions” that sought to iron things out in later years. When Lucas wrote the first Star Wars he probably had no inkling that Darth Vader was Luke’s father or that Leia was in fact Luke’s sister. How else does one explain the rather icky and incestuous tension and rivalry between Han Solo and Luke Skywalker for the affections of Princess Leia? Most famously Lucas shortened a romantic kiss shared by Luke and Leia in the first film whilst evading stormtroopers in the Death Star.

Lucas probably only thought up the “Leia is Luke’s sister” angle whilst wrapping up Empire Strikes Back when he realised that it was the only way to settle Han’s and Luke’s romantic rivalry during the rushed events of Return of the Jedi.

So do the commentators here read in too much in what was intended as a children’s entertainment (and angered long-time fans when it was exactly that with Phantom Menace)?

Probably. Lucas probably never consciously dredged up all the myths that the commentators in this documentary ascribe to him. However the Star Wars films (especially the original three films) had a huge impact upon people’s imagination through the clever way in which it sliced and diced familiar and unfamiliar visual cues combined with what was groundbreaking special effects at the time.

So it is really no surprise that 30 years on that the History Channel no less would dedicate an entire special to it.

And, um, how is the Special? Actually well-worth seeing for what the various academics (Camille Paglia), film-makers (Peter Jackson, Kevin Smith) and “celebs” have to see, pointing out aspects which surprised even this somewhat cynical and jaded hack.

Plus, there’s an abundance of footage from all six films and liberal use of John Williams’ rousing symphonic Star Wars score. Sure, this probably explains why Legacy often plays it safe otherwise Lucas film would probably have never given permission for them to use all the material at hand but it all makes one wants to go out to your nearest video store and rent all six flicks again. Yes, even The Phantom Menace . . .


Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed
World Premiere
Monday, May 28th 9 PM ET
The History Channel




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