Thursday, August 28, 2008

Luke Skywalker = Samurai

While to some of you this may be old news, I was surprised to read the other day that Tarantino is not the only director to take his ideas from old Kurosawa films. Turns out, George Lucas has also admitted to the influence of the japanese director on his very own Star Wars: A New Hope. 

I had no idea, and frankly, I was a little upset at first. I felt disoriented and confused. Star Wars has always been to me the original and complete telling of the hero's paradigm. But to hear that the first sparks of creativity for Lucas' opus were not his own threw me for a loop.

Since then I've calmed a bit. Most of the internet sources claim that Lucas only loosely based C-3PO and R2-D2 on Kurosawa characters. I think I can live with that. If it had been Han Solo or, god forbid, Obi-Wan, I would have been a bit more distraught.

Hidden Fortress, the Kurosawa film of interest, is next in my queue and, rest assured, I will give my full analysis right here on Action Direct once I've watched it. Stay tuned.


Sean Ferrell said...

yeah, im surprised you havent heard that before. in the star wars geek packages he discusses his influences in some detail. the greatest among them is definitely kurosawa, although flash gordon reels and comics were also important. in my mind, kurosawa's juggernaut cinematic vision debased so much of the distant and dishonest crap that came before and after. (not including The Lost Weekend, or Night of the Hunter, among others.) it was a new level of self-awareness and honesty in film. if not for lucas' ability to capture this spirit, he might have made something that looked more like Flash Gordon (1980). [rent this one for a flat out awful trash sci fi with an over-the-top bad costumes and soundtrack - you will hear the refrain forever: "FLASH! OH OH!"]. for that matter, kurosawa also deeply influenced all those other young guys who ended up being pretty awesome: speilberg, scorcese, coppola, etc.
the other thing im thinking is that star wars is a great amalgamation of classic themes, like you said, but that great stories have cropped up all along that do this. some examples are The Odyssey, Beowulf, E10, The DragonBall Epic, Heike, Romeo and Juliet, Harry Potter, Pulp Fiction, Gilgamesh, etc. so it happens that oft repeated themes are applied to new and interesting circumstances (or simply a contemporary (or futuristic setting)) such that they seem classic and fresh.
all that said about kurosawa, lucas added an incredible immediacy that kurosawa didnt even know he lacked.

jordan said...

Yeah. Gilgamesh--first known recorded literature about a man and his friend on a quest for immortality. written in 2100 BC. The original hero quest theme. For a guy who is enthusiastic about action films, you sure don't know a lot. go read some Shakespeare, that will strengthen your knowledge of entertainment. In the 20th and 21st century there is no longer originality; it died long ago. Now we simply revive old tales and retell them anew.