Monday, June 19, 2017

Star Wars Ripoffs

"My fellow Americans, I have a dream."

Star Wars The Phantom Menace.

Gungan people's underwater city: The Deep.

Undersea biped predator: Godzilla.

Statue in Coruscant conference room: The Exorcist (opening scene).

Statue in Anakin Skywalker's Room: E.T.

The Whole Plot: (the original) Star Wars A New Hope.

Galactic Republic: The Roman Republic.

Naboo Architecture: Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical and even Westminster Abbey.

Naboo Sculpture: Greek, Roman, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical and Impressionistic (one statue after Auguste Rodin).

The fact that Anakin Skywalker has no father: how Jesus was conceived in Matthew and Luke.

The very name "Skywalker": the Acsension of Christ in Luke and Acts. Jesus Skywalker!

Anakin's Nickname "Ani": Little Orphan Annie.

Anakin's departure from his mum: a similar scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (although Charlie comes back).

Trade Federation costumes: Mediaeval outfits of the Roman Catholic Church and of Catholic scholars.

Speeder Race on Tatooine: Chariot Race in Ben-Hur (hat tip to Bill Miessner).

Battle between Gungan forces and the Droid army: old westerns' battles between Union forces/cowboys and Indians.

Anakin's good shooting: Annie Get Your Gun.

Star Wars Attack of the Clones.

Title ==> Send in the Clones ==> Send in the Clowns. Yes?

Crawler reference to several thousand systems threatening to secede, basically the whole premise of the movie: The War Between the States.

Crawler reference to "The Army of the Republic" and the chancellor's call for "a Grand Army of the Republic" at 1:35 into the film: The Grand Army of the Republic.

Grand Army of the Republic Hall
in Scituate, Mass.
Coruscant city scenes: Metropolis.

C3PO (also in the original Star Wars): Robot in Metropolis, Dr. Smith from Lost in Space.

The Robot in Metropolis.
Romance between Padme Amidalya and Anakin Skywalker: Romeo and Juliet

Diner in Coruscant city: so many 80's 50's diners.

Coruscant City Jedi Library: The Boston Athaeneum.

Coruscant City Jedi Library.
The Boston Athenaeum.
The rainy ocean planet Kamino, clone factory public relations persons: Close Encounters.

Kamino, circles in factory reception room: crop circles!

Kamino, clone foetus gestation area: Brave New World (the novel, not the movie).

Kamino, flying bird: Jurassic Park, pterodactyl.

Trade Federation planet Geonosis, entering the factory complex, where the walls come alive: The Matrix.

Geonosis, attempted execution scene: Roman ludi (games), specifically exposing to wild animals and the bestiarii (condemned persons fighting wild animals).

Star Wars Revenge of the Sith.

There are fewer ripoffs I can remember considering this is a very sad, moving film. But here goes:

This movie appears to be a reprise and foreshadowing of The Empire Strikes Back.

The Clone Wars: The War Between the States.

The parachute droids: the gremlins in Gremilns.

The falling of General Grievious's ship to Coruscant: Titanic.

The chancellor's powers: emergency powers appropriated by Abraham Lincoln during The War Between the States. Also in Attack of the Clones.

The falling weight at General Grievious's hideout: Monty Python karate sketch 16 Tons.

Handover of a lightsaber to Obi-Wan Kenobi: handover of Gen. Robert E. Lee's lost Special Order 191 to a Union Officer, who forwarded it to Gen. George B. McClellan in the War Between the States.

Chancellor's address to the Senate announcing the transformation of the Galactic Republic into the Galactic Empire is delivered in a very cartoonish manner. Before this Palpatine was presented as a very slick politician. The more cartoonish evil is presented as, the more unbelievable the film--in my estimation.

Yoda throwing the Emperor: Spaceballs, Dark Helmet being thrown by the braking from Ludicrous Speed to sublight speed.

Emperor's winged ship: Batman (the comic and the movie), how the protagonist descends.

Failing to credit Global Warming for the much cloudier and more active atmosphere of Tatooine at the end of this prequel. This next to last scene even had thunderstorms on the far-off horizon.

Star Wars Rogue One.

This is a insert between George Lucas's prequels and the original trilogy.  Lucky for us, Disney, who bought Lucasfilm before this was produced, did not completely overdo it. Other plusses are the bittersweet ending and the diversity of humans in this movie, something Lucas overlooked almost entirely.

Jedi Holy City on the moon of Jeddah: Mecca. The city itself is very Middle Eastern in its look and feel.

Splinter group off the Rebel Alliance on Jedha, which I called Jedisis: any modern real-life insurgent group, or any one from antiquity such as the Judaean people's fronts (hat tip to Monty Python's Life of Brian) described by Josephus in his Jewish Wars.

Jedi religion itself: alternatively Islam in its holy city and Bhuddism in the oriental  blind spiritual warrior Chirrut Îmwe's "I am with the Force and the Force is with me."

Star Wars a New Hope.

Originally it wasn't called "A New Hope", just Star Wars. This is the one that made the rest possible! 😊 It's a lot better than it might have been, considering the scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor (the editors got an Academy Award for this). Yet George Lucas decided to change things in it and add things to it.

Genre: Flash Gordon.

C3PO: robot in Metropolis and Dr. Smith from Lost in Space.

Jawas: Munchkins (Wizard of Oz).

Luke Skywalker's line "teleport me off this rock": Star Trek, USS Enterprise transporter room and its teleportation device .

Need I say more?
Leia held captive by Darth Vader / Governor Tarkin: Dorothy being held by the Wicked Witch of the West (Wizard of Oz), and many other stories with damsels in distress.

The Death Star: looks awfully similar to a Panasonic Ball Radio.

The sets, especially those featuring the advanced technology, look very Irwin Allen-ish. But they actually expected this to be a sure-fire flop, and not a smashing film. Hence the budget which Lucas had to top off with his own money.

Cantina scene when Han Solo shoots Greedo: George Lucas took it upon himself to change the scene in a digital re-edit so that Greedo shoots first, for no reason. In the 1977 original version, Han shoots Greedo in a surprise move, which establishes his character: what sort of person we're dealing with. The way Lucas aimed the blaster bolt, Greedo would have missed point-blank range without Han moving a muscle. But to make double sure Greedo misses, Lucas has Han Solo jerk his whole upper body--torso, neck and head--further out of the way like a department store dummy would. The torso jerk was completely unnecessary to the do-over, it reminded me of SNL's sketch for Haddaway's What Is Love? which inspired A Night at the Roxbury, All this re-edit to to Greedo being shot was totally unnecessary (tip o' the' hat to Hello Greedo) . RIP-OFF!

Star Wars the Empire Strikes Back.

This is another sad, sad movie, and the first sad Star Wars movie. 😢  As such it is also the best rated movie of the whole bunch (Phantom Menace being the worst). I think the real test of an excellent movie maker are his sad movies, not just or necessarily those with a happy ending.

Bespin Cloud City, whole: The city of Boston shown in the albums of the rock group BOSTON, The Emerald City from the Wizard of Oz.

Bespin Cloud City, Millenium Falcon landing platform gate: Airport terminals designed in the Art Deco style. Example: Shushan Airport, New Orleans, La.

Bespin Cloud City, interior rooms and corridors: European Art Nouveau architecture, specifically the work of Victor Horta. (In my opinion the windows in the 1997 enhancements were a necessary addition.)

Shots of the Emperor: in the original, the Emperor could have been anybody. In the 2004 do-overs, this anybody was replaced with the visage of the actor who played Palpatine in the prequels (also done in Return).

Star Wars Return of the Jedi.

Okay, there are some serious ripoffs in here. Also some do-overs---some necessary, others completely and utterly unnecessary.

Tatooine, Jabba the Hutt's house: the set to Barbarella.

Tatooine, Jabba the Hutt's only friend Ephant Mon: The Elephant Man.

Ephant Mon

Tatooine, Jabba the Hutt's hookah: Barabarella, "We're smokin' a man!"

Tatooine, girl group entertaining Jabba the Hutt: Pointer Sisters? This is from the "improved" 1997 version.

Tatooine, evil midget gremlin that laughs a lot: Gremlins, Sesame Street, The Muppet Show (it's that obvious!).

Yoda's line, "Night Must Fall" Title of the play and movie of the same name.

Shots of the Emperor: same as Empire. In addition, the insane expression is the same as in Revenge and even the yellow color of his eyes in the scene where he proceeds to kill Luke by electrocution are exactly the same as in the scene of Revenge when he tried to kill Mace Windu the same way.  Yes, I know they used the same actor for this one as they did for

Speeder chase: Chariot race in Ben-Hur, auto race in Grease (the movie).

Ewoks: teddy bears. Did someone have an unmet need in the merchandising department??? They copuld have used African Americans but that would have been too "frightening" for Whites and too racist for Blacks.

Luke's line "like my father before me": from the lyrics, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.
Spirit of Anakin Skywalker in the 2004 do-over of the 1997 "improved" version: The Portrait of Dorian Gray. The original with Sebastian Shaw as the middle-aged Anakin Skywalker was perfectly fine--people don't have their looks remain the same as they age. Yet for some reason Hayden Christiansen was substituted instead. Fool and knave, George Lucas! Keep the scene the way it was and don't change it! The four city celebration scenes (Bespin Cloud City, Tatooine Mos Eisley, Coruscant Metropolis, Naboo Capital City): They weren't there originally and were totally unnecessary for the plot.

Star Wars The Force Awakens.

The ripoffs to this film basically revolve around the utter cartoonishness of the evilly evil evildoers of evil, otherwise known as "The First Order" which, according to the plot, arose from "the ashes of the Empire." This cartoonishness George Lucas almost completely restrained himself from indulging in until Revenge, which at least gave his (pre-Disney) films plus Rogue One a sense of plausibility. But Americans generally are a Manichaean lot, believing ourselves individually and collectively to be good and our opponents evil no matter how bad we act (ex's.: Sherman's March to the Sea, Sand Creek Massacre) or how graciously and virtuously our opponents act.

But a major character---Han Solo---is killed off and the ending is bittersweet so we know this film does have some redeeming qualities.

Subplot revolving around the Starkiller: A New Hope, Death Star subplot. And how this Starkiller destroys planets when compared to how the Death Star destroyed them is totally over the top, even for a nine-part movie mythos where objects with mass travel faster than the speed of light... as does light itself.

The First Order: Nazi Germany, the only cartoonishly evil power of real-life in our parents and grandparents' time. Its visible leader himself is a ripoff of Adolf Hitler, himself cartoonish and far too real.

Kylo Ren: ripoff of Darth Vader---and although Ren displays powers Vader could only dream of, Ren is still not as powerful as Vader ever was.

Supreme Leader: Emperor Palpatine, and The Wizard of Oz himself. I expect that in a future episode Rey will expose the real Supreme Leader, who will then cause his larger-than-life version to bellow, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! The great and powerful Supreme Leader has spoken."

Which means Rey is Dorothy Gale from Kansas!

Star Wars The Last Jedi.

This has yet to be released, yet already Disney has polluted this film with its imagineering: when Rey goes into a dark, watery cave like into a flotation tank, Yoda appears, bringing a thousand balls of light with him.  This never happened with the appearing spirits in the old Star Wars films, why should they start now?

Anyway, that's my short list of Star Wars ripoffs. Mind you, I like Star Wars, even love it, ripoffs and all (okay, I admit it--I didn't and still don't like Phantom Menace). Star Wars is the defining myth of our time, tailor-made for the Russian soul-- that nation is going to become the next great civilisation according to Oswald Spengler, if global warming doesn't get us all first--and a collection of great works of art.  And George Lucas, by his actions, has treated it as just a bunch of movies to be changed at will and Disney has turned it into just another Disney children's film franchise.

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