"Star Wars" is one of the most influential movies ever created in the history of cinema. Its creator, George Lucas, drew on a multitude of influences from his childhood to create its plot, using everything from 1950s Japanese cinema to American comic books and science fiction films. Eventually Lucas concocted a heady mix of epic fantasy and space odyssey, completely unaware that it would take the world by storm.
George Lucas was born in 1944 in Modesto, California. He grew up obsessed with comic books and fantasy literature. As television and film began to grow in popularity and accessibility, Lucas became enamored with science fiction films and westerns. Later, as a high school student with below-average grades, Lucas became interested in cars and seriously considered becoming a professional race car driver until a near-fatal car accident changed his mind. After he recovered from his life-threatening injuries, Lucas decided to attend college and eventually enrolled in the University of Southern California's film program.
"Star Wars" was conceived partly due to a lack of good movies to see at the time: looking through the newspaper one night in 1971, Lucas saw nothing in the movie listings worth seeing. It seemed to him that the young children of that era didn't have the westerns and science fiction films that had captivated him as a young boy. He began thinking about "Flash Gordon," a science fiction adventure series that dazzled him as a child, and suddenly wanted to see if he could create a similar sort of space odyssey that would impress young people the way "Flash Gordon" had impressed him.
"The Journal of the Whills"
The desire for a big-screen space odyssey led George Lucas to write a short piece named "The Journal of the Whills" in 1973. The story revolved around a "Jedi-Bendu" named Mace Windy who decided to train an apprentice named C.J. Thorpe to be a potential "Jedi-Templer," with Windy eventually being chased out of the Galactic Empire by its jealous Imperial Leader. However, Lucas' agent thought the story was too confusing and suggested something simpler, so Lucas scrapped most of the story and retained only certain elements, such as the concepts of the Jedi and the Galactic Empire.
"The Star Wars"
Instead of trying to create something wholly original, Lucas decided to create a loose remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1958 film "The Hidden Fortress." It was set in 16th century feudal Japan, and was about a rebel princess and her general attempting to escape the clutches of an evil empire. Lucas' first synopsis of his script was a nearly verbatim copy of a synopsis of Kurosawa's film that he'd read in 1965, though he'd never seen the movie at that point. In retrospect, Lucas himself admitted that "Hidden Fortress" was an influence on "Star Wars" from the very beginning. Finishing the rough 14-page synopsis in May 1973, Lucas titled it "The Star Wars," which eventually became "Star Wars," and the rest is history.
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