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    Dune and Star Wars

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    Re: Dune and Star Wars

    Postby Omphalos » 04 Sep 2014 11:50

    I was tired of Ewoks before that movie had finished rolling.
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    Re: Dune and Star Wars

    Postby Jodorowsky's Acolyte » 08 Sep 2014 16:12

    georgiedenbro wrote: As others have mentioned, it seems that Kurosawa's "Hidden Fortress" was the main story plundered to make Star Wars, with Flash Gorden, pulp serials and other sci-fi space-cowboy material providing the style. I don't believe Dune was much of an influence on Lucas to speak of, other than occasional minor things like moisture farming.


    That's something I've tried to tell my brethren, too. He is totally indebted to Akira Kurosawa for the way Star Wars is made, and it just boggles my mind how he combined the material of Flash Gordon with Kurosawa's film style.

    In speaking of Flash Gordon, I just collected the complete film serials. They're campy, stiffly acted, and perhaps not too cheap, but it was entertaining in the way it was awkwardly carried out. In the original version, Flash was a polo player, so I wish they had Flash fighting Ming's hordes with an alien-forged polo mallet.

    I also don't really believe any of the stuff claimed about Lucas studying Campbell or any study of mythology. I don't think Lucas studied much of anything in the making of Star Wars.


    Joseph Campbell would disagree. In Bill Moyers' interview with Campbell in The Power of Myth, Campbell found Star Wars to be a "perfect" cinematic embodiment of mythology. He noted in all the little things, such as Luke's coming to Mos Eisely, the escape from the garbage chute, Luke being told to "use the Force," and the unmasking of Darth Vader. Lucas was an avid student of his, and he did know his mythological archetypes. I agree that Lucas' original ideas don't translate so well, and that he needs editing to make his dialogue sound reasonably human. Just because not all his ideas come out right doesn't mean he doesn't know his mythology. Because of Lucas' expertise, he has been called upon by friends for advice, such as Jim Henson who needed story advice for Labyrinth.... Okay, maybe that wasn't such a good example.... But the Indiana Jones films are other good examples of mythological archetypes implemented well on film.

    The original scene breakdown for Star Wars was a scene-for-scene copy of Hidden Fortress. Scene for scene. R2 and 3PO were copied off the two protagonists of that film, the other characters (Obi-Wan, Leia, Luke, etc) copied one for one from the characters in the Kurosawa. If Lucas had proceeded with that film he would have been sued for everything and been ruined.


    Luke's character didn't come from The Hidden Fortress. Obi-Wan, Leia/Padme, R2D2, C3P0, and Darth Vader did come from that film, but the rest came from other avenues. The spear duel between General Makabe and the Vader-character is so inspired, I wish Lucas took pointers from that scene for the lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan and Vader. As a side note for my Jacurutu brethren: watch the beginning of The Hidden Fortress: you'll realize what R2 was really saying through his bleeps through his greedy stupid peasant counterpart.

    Luckily he was saved by a cadre of famous people he knew who helped him to change and develop his script, including Francis Ford Coppola. After all the editions, rounds of his friends giving him 'feedback' (see: "Dude, you can't publish that. Here are some ideas. Change it."), and working on it, a draft resembling the movie was finally made. None of the iterations resembled Dune or really borrowed anything from it that I could see.


    Yep. Lucas has a lot of trouble getting his ideas out right by himself. Because he surrounded himself with yes-men who thought everything he wrote was freaking brilliant, the writing for the prequels was not as good as the original trilogy's.

    Omphalos wrote:I was tired of Ewoks before that movie had finished rolling.


    The only thing that embarrassed me about the Ewoks was their song at the end of the movie. Still, they're far more preferable than the Gungans (which is ironic, because the Gungans were originally said to be more badass than the Ewoks: they were wrong).
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    Re: Dune and Star Wars

    Postby Cpt. Aramsham » 11 Sep 2014 11:03

    Jodorowsky's Acolyte wrote:In speaking of Flash Gordon, I just collected the complete film serials. They're campy, stiffly acted, and perhaps not too cheap, but it was entertaining in the way it was awkwardly carried out. In the original version, Flash was a polo player, so I wish they had Flash fighting Ming's hordes with an alien-forged polo mallet.


    It might be worth pointing out that Flash Gordon was first of all a comic strip. Not that I know to what extent Lucas was influenced by the film serials vs. the comic version. (The comic has recently been rebooted, by the way, and the new version is supposed to be surprisingly good.)

    I also don't really believe any of the stuff claimed about Lucas studying Campbell or any study of mythology. I don't think Lucas studied much of anything in the making of Star Wars.


    Joseph Campbell would disagree.


    Yes, and the influence is well documented and acknowledged by Lucas:

    "When I started out making the movies, I was working toward making it modern mythology. I had studied anthropology in college, and social sciences was my major before I got into film. So, I'd taken a class in mythology and read some of his stuff there. I did more research before I wrote the screenplay for Star Wars. I read and reread Heroes of a Thousand Faces and a few other things he did. That was the extent of the influence he had on me."

    By the way, early drafts are great, really fascinating stuff, but they don't tell the whole story of what was going through the writer/director's head. There's a reason why Lucas didn't just go ahead and film the first thing he wrote down, and it's not reasonable to attribute all subsequent changes to outside influence. Often as a writer, you just have to write down something, even if you know it's not quite what you want, just so you can have something concrete to look at and work with. Later script rewrites, then, don't necessarily mean that your original idea changed (though of course ideas do inevitably change as you work them out in more detail), they can in many cases represent an attempt to get closer to the ideal version in your head.

    So just because an early draft or treatment followed the plot for The Hidden Fortress quite closely, that's not to say that Lucas had no other idea for the film beyond "Hidden Fortress in space," or that he seriously intended to film that draft as written. It seems from various accounts that he started out with a notion of the kind of film he wanted to make (which evolved over time), an early version of the setting, character notes, and some specific things and themes he wanted to include. What he didn't have was a plot structure he was happy with, so he borrowed that from The Hidden Fortress, and then gradually adapted it to fit the universe he was developing and the kind of story he wanted to tell – and in response to feedback, of course, as the script went through its multiple drafts.

    As for the claim that "no one really wrote Star Wars" and that it was a kind of group project, there's a big difference between providing feedback, even suggesting ideas (which is routine on any major writing project), and actually writing a script, scene by scene and line by line of dialog.
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    Re: Dune and Star Wars

    Postby georgiedenbro » 11 Sep 2014 11:39

    Capt. Aramsham wrote:As for the claim that "no one really wrote Star Wars" and that it was a kind of group project, there's a big difference between providing feedback, even suggesting ideas (which is routine on any major writing project), and actually writing a script, scene by scene and line by line of dialog.


    Lucas repeatedly has claimed (even recently) that he's not a writer. At the time of dreaming up Star Wars he said he didn't know how to write a screenplay and needed help. He got it. I don't mean to give him zero credit for Star Wars; I think he is a man of wonderful imagination and with a terrific will to solve technical problems in film-making. But he's no writer. No one who knew how to write would think to copy another screenplay scene by scene; it's just unthinkable. Lucas knew the kind of movie he wanted, knew the setting, and knew the genre, but didn't know how to make up a story of his own with his own ideas in it; so he took one from someone else. Remind you of any other hacks? But Lucas was a hack only as a writer; he was great otherwise.

    Need proof of my claims? Look at the screenplays for the prequels. Jesus. Great ideas, but written through dialogue that could be bested by a film student. Watch The Phantom Edit and see someone else clean up Lucas' mess and make a considerably better movie.

    I still don't believe any of the anthropology stuff made that much of a difference for Lucas. Sure he may have read it and taken classes, but at the end of the day he just wanted a grand space opera. I think that very little in A New Hope could pass muster for Lucas having taken mythology theory and crafted its structures into his film as an artisan. Most of what was in that movie was lifted from elsewhere, and even if Luke was his own idea I still don't give Lucas much credit for being some kind of theorist.

    You just need to listen to Lucas bluster about all the things he 'planned in advance' while making Star Wars and you know he's a self-deluded liar. He claims things like he foresaw Luke and Leia as siblings (a lie), that he knew all along Vader was his father (doubtful, despite the vader=father etymology), that he planned for it to be a 9-part series beginning at part 4 (not true, only made up later retroactively), and that it was always Vader's story all along (total BS). Once you realize he's totally full of it and bloated by fame and ego it's hard to take seriously any claim he makes, especially that Star Wars was a result of some kind of studious approach.
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    Re: Dune and Star Wars

    Postby Cpt. Aramsham » 11 Sep 2014 19:44

    georgiedenbro wrote:Lucas repeatedly has claimed (even recently) that he's not a writer. At the time of dreaming up Star Wars he said he didn't know how to write a screenplay and needed help. He got it.

    I'll gladly admit that Lucas' primary talent is not screenwriting, but let's not forget that by the time he was developing Star Wars, he'd already written two movies that had been produced, one of them a cult film, the other a major hit. Saying he's "not a writer" and "didn't know how to write a screenplay" are relative statements. We should all be so incapable. (And yes, he had co-writers on those movies, but they were both essentially his.)

    I don't mean to give him zero credit for Star Wars; I think he is a man of wonderful imagination and with a terrific will to solve technical problems in film-making. But he's no writer. No one who knew how to write would think to copy another screenplay scene by scene; it's just unthinkable.

    First of all, I question whether he really did copy it "scene by scene." Does your book actually say that, or is it your inference? Second, that's not at all unthinkable. Artists pilfer and copy all the time. A Fistful of Dollars is practically a scene-by-scene remake of Yojimbo. Disney's Beauty and the Beast copies vast swathes of Cocteau's version. Avatar and Dances with Wolves are eerily similar. Assault on District 13 is closely based on Rio Bravo. Etc. etc. And these are just (famous) movies that got made, mind you. There are undoubtedly many, many more that started out using a favorite film as a template but evolved from there.

    I still don't believe any of the anthropology stuff made that much of a difference for Lucas. Sure he may have read it and taken classes, but at the end of the day he just wanted a grand space opera. I think that very little in A New Hope could pass muster for Lucas having taken mythology theory and crafted its structures into his film as an artisan. Most of what was in that movie was lifted from elsewhere, and even if Luke was his own idea I still don't give Lucas much credit for being some kind of theorist.

    I don't really see your point here. Even if some particular element of the movie was "lifted from" (i.e. inspired by) something else, Lucas still had to decide that yes, this was something that belonged in the movie, something that fit. (He didn't make Luke an Earthling polo player, or R2D2 a would-be rapist.) To say that part of what went into those decisions was Campbell's myth pattern is not to proclaim Lucas some sort of scholar in anthropology.

    Have you ever read The Hero with a Thousand Faces? It's not some abstract book of deconstructivist theory (Campbell does draw on Jungian theory, but it's pretty light and accessible); it's basically Campbell saying "here are a bunch of myths that are pretty similar, these are the key elements of them, and this is why I think those elements are important." He literally provides a checklist of stuff that a mythic story "should" have. Since Star Wars follows the recipe very closely, and Lucas has said he studied it in trying to figure out how to make a mythic story, what is there to doubt?
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    Re: Dune and Star Wars

    Postby georgiedenbro » 11 Sep 2014 20:44

    My point basically is that Lucas utters so many falsehood about his conception of the film in the development stages - and most of them are retroactive claims about things that he had only decided on much later but claimed to have known 'all along' - that I don't take his word for anything. Partly I don't think he actually remembers the truth, and the other part is that he lacks all humility and would rather be seen as a god of foresight rather than just say "yeah man I didn't know where it'd go but thank god it worked." I sort of just oppose Lucas' ego trip more than anything else, I'm a huge Star Wars fan otherwise.
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    Re: Dune and Star Wars

    Postby Cpt. Aramsham » 12 Sep 2014 03:34

    By that logic you shouldn't accept that Star Wars was influenced by The Hidden Fortress either, since the evidence for that is exactly the same: people have noticed close similarities, we know Lucas had been exposed to it, and he says it was an influence.

    Only you've decided (for some unfathomable reason) that in one case it shows he's a hack, and that the other is a brag, so the first must be true and the second false.

    To bring this back on topic, this is relevant to Dune because Campbell's hero pattern is one source of overt similarities between the film and FH's book. (Herbert, of course, deliberately put in as many elements of hero/savior myths as he could.)
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