2 Hour Annotated Star Wars Film Reveals the Cinematic Influences Behind George Lucas’ Classic Film

Last week we brought to your attention a short video detailing the ways George Lucas’ classic Star Wars draws from the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa, borrowing costuming and directorial nods. But like any great artist, Lucas stole from more than one source. His groundbreaking space epic incorporates influences as diverse as John Ford’s classic western The Searchers and the comparative mythology of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces, among many, many others. How on earth did Lucas synthesize such a variety of different genres into the unified whole that is Star Wars? To begin to answer that question, Michael Heilemann has put together the annotated Star Wars you see above, “a work-in-progress mashup of Star Wars with many of its sources of inspiration, playing as a feature-length presentation.” As The Onion’s A.V. Club describes it, “the video illuminates the astounding breadth of material that was banging around in Lucas’ head as he assembled Star Wars. It’s the kind of thing that ought to be on a special-edition Blu-Ray release but never will be because of copyright issues.”

Heilemann, Interface Director at Squarespace, edited the film as part of his research process for an ebook called Kitbashed, an exhaustive study of “how George Lucas and his artists perfected the process of transforming existing books, comics, movies and ideas into the fantasy spectacular that is Star Wars.” The title of Heilemann’s project comes from a word that means “using existing model-kits to detail spaceship models for films,” with some connotations of both the “mashup” and the “hack.” Lucas’ achievement, however, is much more than either of those words suggest, according to Heilemann, whose journey into the films revealed to him their “underlying complexity and seemingly infinite depth.” Far from attempting to “reveal how Star Wars is in reality completely unoriginal,” Heilemann hopes to show readers, and viewers, that “the creative process that brought forth Star Wars is nothing short of amazing.”

Read more about Kitbashed at its official site.

Via AV Club

Related Content:

How Star Wars Borrowed From Akira Kurosawa’s Great Samurai Films

Star Wars is a Remix

Watch the Very First Trailers for Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back & Return of the Jedi (1976-83)

Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers Break Down Star Wars as an Epic, Universal Myth

Hundreds of Fans Collectively Remade Star Wars; Now They Remake The Empire Strikes Back

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness.



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  1. Joesixpack says . . . | June 2, 2014 / 6:04 pm

    Can we just admit that “Star Wars” was simply a lucky accident? Lucas had all the same influences for every film he he’s done since, yet each of them has fallen quite flat. It seems his greatest handicap has been in believing that he’d found “the formula” to making compelling films. His (and the rest of Hollywood’s) adherance to this formula has virtually hogtied American Cinema for the past thirty five years.

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