Monday, 4 May 2015

“Evil is Everywhere” The Politics of George Lucas and the Representations of War and Totalitarian Power in the Star Wars Prequels.

Star Wars is a topic of conversation that keeps cropping up in my life. The fact that I am usually the one who so often works it into the conversation is besides the point. It is a passion for so many and with today being May the 4th, you can see a lot of people wearing this love on their sleeves.

Several years back I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on Star Wars and George Lucas. It was something I was very proud of (not to mention something that I was very happy to receive my grade for!) and the content has been an area that has frequently came up in Star Wars conversations with friends since. On mentioning this piece I have been asked several times to email it to people to see more of what I was talking about, so finally I thought what better date than to share it with everyone else online who may be interested?!

Of course when I finished writing this in the spring of 2011 the Star Wars saga was in a very different place; the movies were dead, The Clone Wars were really starting to kick into gear and we were waiting on WW2 adventure Red Tails and the 1313 video game (something which many gaming fans are still holding out hope for). This time almost seems like a distant memory before the bright new hope of Disney and a franchise that looks like it will continue long into the future.

Again this was my final dissertation at university so it would certainly class as a bit of a long, and now slightly outdated read, it's also written in an academic style but hopefully it won't be too dry to get through. I'd love to hear whatever your thought's on it! Please feel free to get in touch on twitter - @chrisjallan. So relax, put on some John WIlliams, pour yourself a nice tall glass of blue milk and enjoy!

“Evil is Everywhere”
The Politics of George Lucas
and the Representations of War and Totalitarian Power
in the Star Wars Prequels

By Chris J. Allan

A Dissertation presented at Northumbria University for the degree of B A with Honours in Film and Television Studies, 2011.

Chapter One - Introduction

In 1977 the film Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (Dir. Lucas) was a huge critical and commercial success; it propelled its colourful cast of characters to household names, its principle cast to celebrity status and its writer and director, George Lucas, to the forefront of the Hollywood elite. Lucas is considered to be a very successful independent director as well as a ground-breaking filmmaker for the important films he has made and the filmmaking techniques and pioneering technology he has been involved with. Baxter states that Lucas has “become a legend” (1999, p. 7) going on to say that the filmmaker has “created something remarkable. An empire. A fortune. A myth” (ibid.).  Lucas is a filmmaker who has been given a great deal of praise and appreciation for his work but also someone who has gained certain degree of notoriety.

The success of the Star Wars saga is something that continues in many forms to the present day, with the release of the prequel trilogy between 1999 and 2005, the on-going animated television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008 - present) as well as numerous video games, comic books and various other forms of merchandise. However, as a filmmaker Lucas has had a wider career beyond Star Wars, most notably with the hugely popular Indiana Jones series of films which he has been involved in with director Steven Spielberg. Lucas is also a filmmaker who enjoyed some early independent successes with his various short films, as well as THX-1138 (Dir. Lucas, 1971) and American Graffiti (Dir. Lucas, 1973). Lucas has also been pivotal in setting up digital effects studios which have been revolutionary in Hollywood cinema. The ground breaking companies Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) and Skywalker Sound, which were originally established for working on the first Star Wars film, have since gone on to be involved in visual effects, sound design and the production of hundreds of films, and have gained a great amount of praise and acclaim for their work. The award winning Pixar animation studio also evolved from the creative crew of the Lucasfilm Computer division, further showing the visionary talent Lucas has nurtured and encouraged though his companies.

This dissertation will act as a study of Lucas’s life and career utilising biographical accounts of his life from George Lucas: A Biography by John Baxter and Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas by Dale Pollock. In using these texts to establish a timeline of Lucas’ life, this study will be able to address various events that relate to the wars and conflicts that have been a part of his life and his problematic relationship with the notion of totalitarian power. This will then lead to a further exploration of the ways in which George Lucas’ political views and opinions on war and totalitarian regimes, particularly the effect that World War II had on him and how this shaped his life and his filmmaking style. Using Phil Melling’s arguments in The Adversarial Imagination (2002) this study will explore how Lucas as an American has been raised in an environment obsessed with warfare and why this has been an element of his entire life.

In the first chapter there will be a brief overview of Lucas’ life and career. This will explore how his personal life and various decisions in his early career, his interests and his hobbies have played a part in his work. It will also explore his personal relationship with war and the military and how this too has gone on to heavily influence his filmmaking career. Von Gunden notes that “Lucas makes films to see them realized” (1991, p. 56) and whilst this description perhaps most obviously relates to the action, adventure, science-fiction and fantasy elements of Lucas’ films, with elaborate set pieces of visual interest and spectacle, it is interesting to think that it has also manifested itself in his ideas relating to war and politics and how this too has been reflected in his films. Additionally this chapter will explore Lucas’ films in relation to other interpretations of war films and war related subject matter made by Lucas and as well as his filmmaking peers of the baby boom generation.

This chapter will also try to address where Lucas’ opinions lay in regards to notions of politics, war and the threat of totalitarian regimes, and how this has influenced his filmmaking decisions and is reflected in his work. This chapter will study some of Lucas’ political beliefs and a viewpoint that would seem to be fairly liberal, with the example of his active support for President Barack Obama in recent years. This section will also explore Lucas’ opposition to the previous Republican president George W. Bush, especially during his second term in the run up to the 2008 election. Additionally this will lead on to looking at his opposition to recent issues of American warfare, most notably the aftermath of 9/11 and the outbreak of the War on Terror with Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the political circumstances surrounding these events. This recent activity leads to speculation about whether his position on war in general has changed and if he has become more opposed to war and conflict in recent years, although still retaining a fascination with war and totalitarianism.

The second chapter will be looking at the recent prequel trilogy of Star Wars films: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (Dir. Lucas, 1999), Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (Dir. Lucas, 2002) and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (Dir. Lucas, 2005). As a case study this will prove to be interesting as they explore Lucas’ take on the rise of a totalitarian regime and more general conflicts of politics and politicians. Whilst the original series of Star Wars films has established the narrative of what happens after these prequels, these new instalments document the shift of political power and explore how a totalitarian regime emerges and, most importantly, show Lucas’ interpretation of these ideas. This chapter will also further explore more contemporary issues such as the aftermath of 9/11 and the George W. Bush administration who were in government at the time. It will then analyse the various war allegories and comparisons which are addressed in the prequel trilogy films, why they are utilised and what affect this has.

In the concluding chapter of this study there will be an overview of the analysis of George Lucas and how through his filmmaking career his fascination with World War II, the threat of another war breaking out and how the influence of politics has manifested itself into his films’ narratives. This will lead to discussion of the nature of his films, what message they are trying to convey and how they can be seen as Lucas giving a message of warning to younger generations, which is still being reflected in his work with upcoming films and television programmes. It will also look at the possibilities of why the reception of the Star Wars prequel films has been mixed, especially in relation to the huge cultural impact of the original Star Wars films. This section will look at George Lucas’ filmmaking legacy and how his impact is something which can provide a truly important message in popular culture.

Chapter Two: “So this is how liberty dies?” 
– The Life, Career and Politics of George Lucas

Today, George Lucas is considered a pioneer of cinema; as well as being directly responsible for some of the most critically and commercially popular films in the history of popular cinema with the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, he can be credited with building a company which has enhanced and changed the landscape of modern day popular cinema and popular culture. It is interesting to examine how popular culture in the post-war period had an effect on Lucas’ early life.

George Lucas was born in Modesto, California in May 1944 and as a child growing up in post-war America it would seem that Lucas had a life shadowed by war. The importance and impact of the Second World War is discussed by Kaes, who argues that “the further the past recedes, the closer it becomes. Images, fixed on celluloid, stored in archives, and reproduced thousands of times, render the past ever-present…all of us, whether or not we have lived through the Hitler era, have partaken of its sights and sounds in a host of documentary and feature films” (1989, p. ix). This highlights the implications that the war would have had on Lucas, despite his generation never having participated in the actual conflict but rather experienced the aftermath in society and reflected on film, acting as a message, reminder and warning for those who see them. The cultural experience of living in a post-war environment may have influenced Lucas to refer to World War II and contemporary wars in his work in order to educate and warn people about the real threat of war.

Whilst the Second World War is one of the most defining events of the twentieth century with repercussions that are still evident in the present day, its impact could be seen to relate to Melling’s theory of America as a society which is constantly in need of a tangible Other, and that war itself “defined much of the American imagination” (2002, p. 182). With Melling arguing that American society needs to have an enemy through which they can define themselves, he also expresses the belief that this national feeling manifests itself throughout the lives and work of many Americans. This theory is also often evidenced in Hollywood cinema with Melling saying that in film “action against real or imagined enemies remains the imperative that continues to excite the popular imagination in the current age” (ibid.). Being born towards the end of World War II, the theme of war indeed seems to be something that has over shadowed Lucas’ personal and professional life, this connection with war seems to be a weight that Lucas has had to bear throughout his life for numerous reasons. This experience is something that Lucas has had to live with and is a situation that has confronted those of baby boom generation; the generation of people who were born towards the end of the war and the years following the end of the Second World War. The threat of another World War on such a great and devastating scale was something that many feared after 1945. A life living in a post-atomic bomb world meant that Lucas was part of a generation burdened with the fear of war at any time; this was a threat that was constantly being enforced in popular cinema at the time. Jerome Shapiro discusses the theory of atomic bomb cinema and the numerous forms it has taken with both American and Japanese interpretations of the subject matter ranging from realist narratives to more fantastic science-fiction based films. With these types of films dominating popular cinema and popular culture throughout the 1950’s and 60’s it is likely that Lucas will have grown up with these depictions of war and nuclear threat to some extent. Shapiro further discusses that “because the bomb cuts across every gender, race, ethnicity, class and cultural, national, and ideological boundary, atomic bomb cinema serves as the perfect model for understanding how the politically powerless respond to their situation” (2002, p. 2). So the fear of the bomb and nuclear war was a threat that bound a generation together. It would seem that the impact of these films connected with the actual realities of growing up in the wake of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan at the end of the Second World War, and the dangers of a potential future nuclear war is something that further defined Lucas’ connection with the time period and the impact of these events. It was something he couldn’t escape in his everyday life and in popular entertainment. Growing up in a world with a looming threat of the Cold War with Russia would have also been something Lucas had to deal with in his youth, with America and the Western world constantly at threat from a possible outbreak of war.

An event during the Cold War, the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, was viewed as a key moment of threat to the Western world. The confrontation revolved around America and Cuba deploying various nuclear missile placements within firing range of each other’s borders, this arms race resulted in national alert levels being raised as the possibility of nuclear conflict increased. Although this particular crisis ended with a military stalemate the event itself raised public awareness of both American and Soviet government nuclear missile placements and the potential effect warfare with these arms could have had, the aftermath of which would have been devastating. The legacy of the Cuban missile crisis is the possible effects that it would have had and how this kind of warfare would have drastically changed the balance of power in world politics. This event would seem to further exacerbate American national fears of nuclear war, and for Lucas seeing this potential nuclear disaster unfold through national news coverage would seem to further build upon his personal relationship with warfare and politics.

The Vietnam War was a conflict that emerged in the mid 1950’s and lasted until the mid-1970’s revolving around the threat of the Communist North Vietnam against South Vietnam and their anti-Communist allies. America’s involvement in this war was a huge area of controversy, particularly their deployments of troops in the 1960’s. The main body of the opposition to America’s involvement in the war came from the counter culture movement, the popular opinion of the war was very low in America and this discontent was further exemplified by challenging speeches by people such as Martin Luther King Jr, student protests and marches across America, as well as in popular music with artists such as Bob Dylan recording protest songs. Lucas was undoubtedly affected by the counter culture’s reaction to Vietnam from growing up and being a student in the 1960’s around the time of the conflict, and the concepts of totalitarian power, war, including jungle and guerrilla warfare, would be something he explored in his filmmaking career.

Lucas is an active supporter of the American Democratic Party. In recent years this is an important viewpoint as it not only defines certain policies and decisions that he supports but it would seem to set him against the decision to go to war with Iraq and Afghanistan in the War on Terror, something which was started by the previous Republican government. In the run up to the 2008 United States election Lucas gave his opinion about the Presidential campaign in an interview with The Huffington Post, in which he referred to Democratic leader Barack Obama as “a hero in the making” (2008). Discussing how Obama was someone in American politics that could really make a difference and do as well to be known as a “hero” would seem to imply that Lucas was highly enthusiastic about Obama becoming President and replacing the Republican government who were then in office.

In his teen years Lucas had a keen interest in cars and drag racing. He was aiming to become a professional racing driver, and spent much of his time working on cars and racing on the underground circuits in California. However, in June 1962 Lucas was involved in a car accident where he was almost killed; this incident abruptly ended his dreams of becoming a professional driver. However, his passion for cars would later be shown most obviously in his 1973 film American Graffiti as well as seen in the podracing sequence in The Phantom Menace and the city chase scene in Attack of the Clones with both of these vehicle types being reminiscent in various ways of the hot-rod style cars that Lucas had loved.

The prospect of a life in the military is something that Lucas then went on to consider after some further time in education. It is possible that from growing up in a post-war environment of 1950’s America Lucas had forged a strong personal connection to war and it could be believed that he thought it should be his duty to serve in the army. So, in 1967 he attempted to join the United States Air Force, but was turned down because of his numerous speeding ticket violations. He was later drafted for military service in Vietnam but failed the medical examination when it showed that he had diabetes. However, despite never actually serving in the military, his connection to the army and war would seem to be something that Lucas would never escape from. It could perhaps be seen that Lucas has a sense of guilt over not having served his country, especially being from a generation of Americans where many were drafted to into the war in Vietnam. These aspects of his life would be something that Lucas would eventually go on to further explore in his film career.

Lucas attended the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts (USC), a university which was one of the first in the United States to have a school dedicated to film and filmmaking, which now has many notable filmmaking personalities in its alumni including Lucas and his frequent collaborator Steven Spielberg. During his time at film school Lucas made various short films often taking inspiration from the French New Wave, cinéma vérité and other experimental film movements. Other cinema influences for Lucas included the work of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa as well as the famous Western director John Ford. The interest Lucas had in these iconic filmmakers can clearly be seen in films such as the original Star Wars with visual references to Ford’s seminal film The Searchers (Dir. Ford, 1956) being visible in how Lucas framed shots on the desert planet of Tatooine, in that they were similar to shots on the homestead in Ford’s film. References to Kurosawa can be seen in the warrior and monk lifestyles that the Jedi Knights lead in the Star Wars series being similar to those of the traditional Japanese Samurai often shown in Kurosawa’s films.

During his time at USC Lucas directed various short films, one of these shorts which was remade by Lucas as his first full length feature was THX-1138. This experimental science-fiction film depicts an Orwellian take on the idea of the totalitarian state, a place where the people are controlled by being administrated drugs and the robotic-masked security guards. Dale Pollock describes THX-1138 as a “bleak, depressing film…austere and unemotional” (1990, p. 95). This can be read as an almost clinical exploration of life within a totalitarian regime examining the brutality of life in a heavily controlled dictatorship. Pollock quotes Lucas on the film as saying that “fear of the unknown is what keeps people in line” (p. 94), this explaining why the filmmaker believes people can be susceptible to the lure of the order of totalitarianism. 

Whilst Lucas’ next film American Graffiti did not directly deal with the topic of war it still can be seen as dealing with issues related to Vietnam. Set in 1962 the film presents the end of the “Cruising” era in American popular teenage culture with the characters coming of age and beginning life outside of education. However it is the pre-credit title card that shows an interesting insight into writer and director George Lucas. From the information on the card we learn that a character was killed in a car accident, a fate that almost befell Lucas himself, one character is shown living the mundane life of an insurance agent and another character was reported missing in action, presumably in the Vietnam War. It would seem as though the fates of these three characters were the possible life outcomes for Lucas if he had not gone into filmmaking, and indeed the lead character of the film, Curt is said to be living as a writer, most closely mirroring Lucas’ life.

War allegory relates to the idea that a story is used to convey an important message; this story often has its characters learning from the mistakes of the past to eventually “do right”. Considering Lucas’ interest with war it is without question that war allegory is something which can be seen throughout his film career. For example, the first three films of the Indiana Jones series take place during the 1930’s and all deal in some part with the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. Although this is not usually crucial to the plot or heavily explored in what is generally a family friendly series of adventure films, it is interesting to note how the historical relevance and threat of the Nazis is utilised for an easily definable Other for the heroes in the film to defeat.

The idea of war is something which has been represented throughout the whole Star Wars saga and has been explored in various ways by Lucas. The totalitarian regime of Hitler in Nazi Germany can be compared with the character of Palpatine in the Star Wars films. From the character’s beginnings in The Phantom Menace as a manipulative politician getting elected to Chancellor and with further manipulation seen in Attack of the Clones where Palpatine is granted with “Emergency Powers” to legitimize his new clone army. This power builds and leads to his eventual position of control as the Emperor in Revenge of the Sith, and with this shift from a democracy to a dictatorship we see Palpatine power crazed and ruthless. The Emperor is only mentioned in A New Hope as the figurehead of the Empire who has recently dissolved the Senate, further establishing his power. The Emperor has a brief appearance in The Empire Strikes Back (Dir. Kershner, 1980) through a Hologram projection to warn Darth Vader of the threat of Luke Skywalker, but it is with Palpatine’s appearance in Return of the Jedi (Dir. Marquand, 1983) that it is clear that he is feared and obeyed by all of those in his regime from the officers aboard the Death Star to his legions of soldiers.

As well as his personal connections to war Lucas also has an interest in war films, which can be seen in his filmmaking with his films making allegorical and stylistic references to the military past whilst they also entertain. Brooker notes how the spaceship dogfight in Star Wars was created using “inventive cannibalisation and poaching…retaining a passion for editing, he had composed a prototype of the final dogfight sequences from every war movie he and Gary Kurtz could videotape from television” (2009, p. 37), so with this rough editing reel made up from footage of classic World War II films such as The Dam Busters (Dir. Anderson, 1955) and 633 Squadron (Dir. Grauman, 1964), Lucas had a template for the climactic spaceship battle for A New Hope. An example of this editing reel can be seen on the documentary Empire of Dreams (Dir. Becker and Burns, 2004) where Lucas further expresses why these particular cinematic dogfights were inspiration both visually and symbolically for the Rebels attack on the Imperial Death Star. It is interesting to compare these battle scenes from the original Star Wars film to the war sequences in Attack of the Clones. These sequences towards the end of the film tend to display a more contemporary style of shooting action and also a style that is seen in contemporary war journalism. This kind of documentary filmmaking and modern day news coverage has been a mainstay on news channels in recent years with the developments in handheld camera technology. In many ways this style reflects back to Lucas’ interest in the cinéma vérité movement in that it is a naturalistic and realist approach which effectively makes the battle look more real and chaotic when switching between and focusing upon different areas of the conflict.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Dir. Spielberg, 2008), the fourth instalment in the series, is set in the mid-1950’s and the threat of Communist Russia is made highly apparent throughout the film, from the power hungry Russian villains to the anti-communist march happening on the university campus. The fact that on the university campus there is an anti-communism rally occurring not only visually establishes the scene as being a campus in the 1950’s where rallies such as these actually happened during the decade but also reflects the political unrest of the time for a modern audience. In an early scene of the film, the time that has passed since the third instalment of the film series is explored and it is mentioned that during the Second World War the character of Indiana Jones was a war hero for the Allies. However, whilst he is being interrogated by American agents Indiana Jones is accused of possibly being a Communist sympathiser. During this time period various people were black listed for having Communist connections or for being Communist sympathisers which made it impossible for them to get work in America. Specifically the threat of being black listed is something that affected Hollywood as various people within the filmmaking community were listed and couldn’t work in the American film industry for many years, often having to go abroad to get filmmaking work. This is something in film history which would undoubtedly be a point of interest for the film scholars such as Lucas and his frequent collaborator Steven Spielberg, and likely why it was referenced in the film.

Similarly to Lucas, the co-creator of and director for the Indiana Jones series Steven Spielberg seems to have a prominent relationship with war. Spielberg was born in 1946 and was also part of the Baby Boom generation born in the wake of the Second World War. From growing up in this generation much like Lucas, Spielberg too will have spent his early life shadowed by a world that was still recovering from World War II and living under the threat of the Cold War and the Atomic bomb. Not only with the Indiana Jones series of films but with the award winning Schindler’s List (Dir. Spielberg, 1993) and Saving Private Ryan (Dir. Spielberg, 1998), it is apparent that the era of the Second World War is one that Spielberg too has a great interested in and indeed much like Lucas he has had a successful film career exploring this interest. Not only does Spielberg have a connection to the war from growing up as an American citizen in the aftermath of the war and under the threat of the Cold War but he a further personal connection in that he is Jewish, a religious faith who were particularly persecuted by Nazi Germany. This is something which undoubtedly reinforces his emotional relationship with the subject matter.

It is interesting to compare the work of American directors such as Lucas’ post Second World War work in cinema with that which was being made in West Germany in the 1970’s. The New German cinema was made up of a generation of filmmakers who had grown up with a distrust and resentment for their parents’ generation because of their connection to the Nazi regime. With films such as The Marriage of Maria Braun (Dir. Fassbinder, 1979) being produced there was a grim sense of brooding and resentment in German cinema at the time. Lucas, whilst also deals with post-war concerns he has done so in a very different way through the science fiction and fantasy genres. It is interesting to contrast the post-war generation of American filmmakers with those who were involved in the New German Cinema movement, whilst their films were often realist and bleak in America the filmmakers were starting to make blockbusters such as Star Wars, which were considerably more uplifting stories which could be enjoyed by people of all ages. The implications and effect war can have resonates in cinema generations after the event itself and indeed despite which side of the conflict you were raised in. The sense of regret is not something that is necessarily shared by the new Hollywood directors such as Lucas who could be seen to have the freedom to explore subjects more positively as they grew up in a country that emerged from the Second World War as the victors. Most obviously for Lucas this can be seen in the original Star Wars film where the heroic Rebels defeat the Empire by the end of the film. However this freedom has also given Lucas as a filmmaker the chance to explore his interest in the political threat and the potential lure of totalitarianism, which countries such as Germany have suffered. With American filmmakers of the time exploring their relationships with war in the Hollywood mainstream of cinema they further differentiate themselves from the films of the New German Cinema as they approach war allegory in a manner which is more positive and heroic and often dealing less with issues of guilt.

Whilst continually being grounded with an allegory relating to the Second World War Lucas has also had a streak of representations of contemporary conflicts in his films too. An example of this can be seen in Return of the Jedi where the subject of the war in Vietnam seemed to be a theme that was explored by Lucas with a jungle planet and its natives featuring in films finale, this is where perhaps an allegory can be seen with Lucas comparing the jungle warfare of Vietnam with the outbreak of war in the woodlands seen in the film. Not only was this a conflict which was a huge area of controversy for America during the time that Lucas was writing the original Star Wars series but interestingly was also a conflict Lucas was almost a part of if he had been successfully drafted into military service, and one which had remained a subject of interest for him. Baxter discusses how Lucas was originally going to direct the seminal Vietnam War film Apocalypse Now (Dir. Coppola, 1979), Baxter quotes Lucas on his vision for the film, saying that it wasn’t to be “about massacres or anything like that. It’s about Americans. Like a super-John Wayne movie” (1999, p. 140), this would seem to show Lucas conforming to Melling’s theory in that the American soldiers in the film would have very much been depicted as the heroes of the conflict over the threat of the enemy Other. Baxter also notes that visually the film would have very much reflected Lucas’ interest of shooting in a cinéma vérité style, with war being shown in a very real and graphic way. Despite the fact that eventually he never directed the film, it is Return of the Jedi and its sequences of jungle warfare that could be seen as Lucas addressing his connection to Vietnam as he never got the chance to do so first-hand with Apocalypse Now or in the conflict itself.

Additionally it could be seen that there are comparisons to the events of 9/11 and the War on Terror in the final Star Wars film, Revenge of the Sith. In a USA Today article Lucas is quoted as saying that the film “isn’t the Iraq war” (Jacobson, 2005), whilst at the films premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Perhaps this is not Lucas actually saying the film has no connection to the on-going War on Terror but perhaps trying to distance himself and the film from the problematic subject and a matter that would have still been a very emotional one for many Americans and people connected to the tragedy of 9/11. It could also be seen that Lucas is trying not to connect the film with current political events so that he is not seen with a political bias that may put-off potential audiences who don’t share his more liberal Democratic Party views. However, it could certainly be read that the film does have similarities to these events.

Thematically, Revenge of the Sith can perhaps be seen as one of the darkest films in Lucas’ canon. The film shows Palpatine’s rise to the position of Emperor with a political strangle hold on the galaxy, Anakin’s grim demise and his fall to the Dark Side as well as the purge of the Jedi Order. Whilst the films narrative was always intended to be bleak, setting up the Empire before the “New Hope” of the following film, Revenge of the Sith was perhaps made yet more bleak with Lucas’ cynicism for politics of the George W. Bush administration translating into the most dark and cynical film of the Star Wars saga. Mulligan notes how science fiction films and television “brought a darker narrative to an audience who had been barraged with the media coverage of the September 11th attacks in America, and the consequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq” (2008, p. 52). This can definitely be seen with Revenge of the Sith reflecting bleak times in the real world with a darker vision with his film.

Flanagan discusses how Lucas ultimately approached making these new Star Wars films almost two decades since the last film instalment, noting that “with Star Wars, Lucas finds himself in an odd position of serving a demanding, difficult-to-please fanbase that will inevitably pay to see the film anyway, hardly a scenario that encourages creative risk” (2002, p. 334). However whilst the narratives of the film might not be every fan’s vision of what they wanted to see, the process of making three self-financed blockbusters is not likely something Lucas would have attempted half-heartedly and if he didn’t want to make them. And so he could be merited for taking a great creative risk and using the Star Wars franchise as a platform to explore his strong war opinions and the issue of politics and corrupt governments. It would seem that on a personal level these films represent a story that Lucas wanted to further explore but also to entertain audiences whilst making them conscious of the threat of warfare.

With the original Star Wars film Lincoln Geraghty claims that “the concerns over national politics, overpopulation and energy shortages that had once weighed heavily on the films of the early 1970s had been forgotten as George Lucas…took moviegoers to another place” (2009, p. 60). Geraghty argues that whilst the films vision of spectacle and fantasy captured a generation’s imagination it took cinema audiences away from problems and concerns that existed within the real-world and in the audience’s everyday lives. Interestingly however it was with the new series he brought the politics in the fantasy to the foreground and with the freedom of the Star Wars franchise being Lucas’ own independent and self-financed series of films he can make them as political as he wishes them to be, but whilst still retaining the action and sci-fi fantasy elements associated with the Star Wars series.

The upcoming Lucasfilm project Red Tails (Dir. Hemingway) would seem to continue Lucas’ fascination and working interest with the time period of the Second World War. The film tells the story of the first group of African American pilots who fought in WWII. It seems as though this film will continue Lucas’ exploration of the time period as an area he still has a great interest in.

Chapter Three: “I am the Senate”
- A Case Study of War in the Star Wars Prequels

The Star Wars prequel trilogy is an interesting case study in regards to Lucas’ filmmaking career for various reasons. The three films not only demonstrate an interesting return by Lucas to the series he created, but it also shows an artistic and creative freedom from Lucas that he is allowed through self-financing. With the freedom to deal with issues that he wants to, it can be seen that these films explore Lucas’ thoughts on politics and war and give the filmmaker the chance to reflect upon the impact these events have had on his life and the lives of others.

Ian Scott notes that the original Star Wars films were “escapism…returning to the screens” (2000, p. 124), he goes on to state that he thought that Star Wars and other blockbusters of the era brought an end to important political conspiracy films for almost a decade, however this could certainly be argued that a political undercurrent was present throughout the original Star Wars series. It is also interesting to note that whilst the political element to the original Star Wars films was not the main focus of the narrative, these prequel films would be steeped in political intrigue and corruption as Lucas explored various political themes and ideas. As previously mentioned the story that follows these prequel films has already been established with the tyranny of the Empire shown in full force in the original Star Wars films under Emperor Palpatine’s control. However, the importance of the narratives focus on the politics of war and the building of totalitarianism is crucial as an exploration of the wars that have surrounded Lucas’ life and representing and reflecting his invested interest in them. The films too can be seen as reflecting Phil Melling’s theory of America as a nation under siege and under threat because the film shows an established and good Republic being corrupted and wrongly taken over, for audiences this shows an insight into an enemy and discovering a new threat of war which they can relate to.

The over-arching story of the Star Wars prequel trilogy is one that is steeped in political corruption and deception. In Episode I – The Phantom Menace we begin to see the eventual downfall of the Republic with Palpatine eventually being elected as Chancellor after he suggests a vote of no confidence in his predecessor. Episode II – Attack of the Clones shows the further rise of Palpatine’s power and the creation of his grand army of soldiers. Particularly during the finale of the Attack of the Clones and the majority of Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, that deals with the Clone War we see an interesting representation of politics in a time of war, politics that are constantly being manipulated and influenced by Palpatine which ultimately lead to him becoming the Emperor, a dictator over his new Empire. The story of the political corruption in the Star Wars prequels is all orchestrated by the character of Palpatine, this overarching narrative of subverting the existing political system from within spans decades and the entirety of the prequel trilogy, Palpatine is The Phantom Menace to democracy and the Republic that the title of the first film refers to.

As previously mentioned, war allegory is the idea of a story that can be interpreted to mean something or convey a message or meaning, and this is something that is apparent throughout the prequel trilogy of Star Wars films. Perhaps most notably in these films we see the rise of a totalitarian regime and the message that is being delivered is a cautionary one to the perils of dictatorship and war. The most obvious comparison to the political rise of the character of Palpatine in the real world is the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany. Hitler is a figure in 20th century history whose legacy has had a profound effect on modern society, as the dictator’s influence is still remembered for the atrocities which he committed.

The concept of totalitarianism relates to the political idea of one leader being in complete control. Frank Bealey defines totalitarianism as “a totality of control by the state…in the totalitarian state all political, economic, social, cultural and intellectual activities should be directed towards fulfilling the aims of the state. There is no pluralism. Nor is there Democracy” (1999, p. 322). Whilst the term was first popularized in modern politics to discuss Mussolini in Fascist Italy, it was utilised by Hitler in Nazi Germany and also by various Communist countries. The totalitarian regime that is depicted in the narrative of the Star Wars films, that of the Galactic Empire, is similar to these real-world governments in many respects, most obviously for the figure head dictator associated with these regimes, the loyal legions of soldiers and the actions they undertook at the will of their dictator, as well as the general negative connotations they hold in modern society. Interestingly however it could also be seen that these leaders and dictators would not necessarily have classed themselves as such or as doing wrong at all, it is likely that they would have believed that what they were doing was what was best for them and their people too.

The characters of Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Jedi Master and Padmé Amidala, a Senator in Republic are both shown lamenting the death and demise of democracy with the wake of the Galactic Empire and the total control of the galaxy which is being given to Emperor Palpatine. In their respective scenes both characters, who are seen as the heroes within the Star Wars films, are shown as clearly objecting to the movement to a totalitarian government. Additionally, part of Palpatine’s plan in his rise to power as Emperor is “Order 66”. This military order is issued to the Clone Troopers for the removal of the Jedi presence in the Galaxy. In Star Wars the Jedi are represented as cultural, intellectual and peace keepers, and so what they stand for is something that Bealey noted cannot exist within a totalitarian regime. To enforce this cull of the Jedi Knights, Palpatine states that the Jedi were plotting to overthrow his government in a coup against the Republic. From this section of the narrative and the events leading up to it, certain parallels with the re-militarization of Germany in the 1930’s can be made with the film. After the events of the First World War, Germany was made to have a set of strict legal and military restrictions under the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Treaties with the aim of preventing future conflicts. However the impositions on Germany were not successful and were unpopular in the country, and when Hitler rose to power little over a decade later he began to rebuild the German military in an exchange for a pact on border control. The other nations in Europe and around the world were in many cases to slow or late to react to these breaches of the deal with Germany which eventually lead to the outbreak of the Second World War. This situation can be compared to the character of Palpatine secretly orchestrating the creation of an army; even though he initially uses this army as a means of defence its purpose ultimately becomes one that serves his evil rule and dictatorship. In Star Wars the Jedi would here represent the other allied nations, for some time they had known that there was a disturbance in the galaxy and the presence of an enemy Sith lord, but through their discussing the situation and possible threats, dithering over how to deal with their problems and their general naivety of not realising that the enemy was amassing right in front of them, for the Jedi it was their time wasting and deliberation that ultimately lead to their destruction. In the real world this can be compared with the rise of Germany under the Nazi Party and the potential power that they could ultimately have had if they won the war.

It is also in the speech announcing “Order 66” to the Senate in Revenge of the Sith where Palpatine announces that the Republic will become a Galactic Empire with him as their one leader. This statement is met with cheers and jubilation by the rest of the Senate. Padmé says “So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause”. Her statement would seem to reflect Lucas’ vision of how a country can be swept up by the manipulation of a politician and do something that they believe is right and in their best interests at the time, it is in the following films of the saga that we see how bad this political shift turns out to be and how damaging the rule of Palpatine is. This section of the film could also be seen to reflect the infamous stories of Stalin’s rule in Soviet Russia where the audiences at his speeches were forced to clap and support their leader at an excessive level from fear that disloyalty or not being seen supporting their leader would result in them being executed. This rise of the Empire is a further element of the Star Wars series that reflects the rise of Hitler in the real world. When he convinced the people of Germany that he was a political force that was good for the nation he ultimately turned the country into a dictatorship and sparked the atrocities of the Second World War. This scene would seem to be pivotal in Lucas’ interpretation of a totalitarian regime in that it shows the tipping point of a democracy, and with the following part of the Star Wars series already established in the original films we know the damage that this shift in the balance of power will have.

Looking at the penultimate scene of Attack of the Clones we are shown the new Clone army of the Republic being watched over by Chancellor Palpatine, with his newly elected emergency powers and a small group of Republic senators. The Clone Troopers are shown marching in regiments, with rows and rows of soldiers in perfect uniformity preparing for the oncoming Clone Wars. This scene in particular would seem to be very reminiscent of the Nazi propaganda films of Leni Riefenstahl. Most notably with one of the infamous scenes of the Nazi rally in the documentary Triumph of the Will (Dir. Riefenstahl, 1934) which shows Hitler’s powerful and influential speech to hundreds of marching troops and Nazi supporters at the Nuremberg Rally. The Clone Troopers that are shown in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith have very similar armour designs to the Galactic Empire Stormtroopers of the original Star Wars trilogy. To those who have seen the original Star Wars films it will be obvious that these troopers of the Republic will eventually become the soldiers of the Empire. The importance of the term Stormtroopers is because it is something which itself originated in Nazi Germany. Translated into German these Nazi soldiers were known as the Sturmabteilung and were often also referred to as the Brown Shirts. The rise of the Nazi presence in Germany is something which is associated with these Brown Shirts, most notably with the infamous Night of the Long Knives of 1934 where the soldiers purged political adversaries and critics of the Nazi regime. The presence of villains called Stormtroopers in Star Wars evokes a memory of the Nazi soldiers of World War Two and would seem to immediately identify them as the enemy, which would also seem to share particular further parallels to the Jedi purge of “Order 66” in Revenge of Sith with the soldiers being shown ruthlessly killing the unsuspecting Jedi Knights.

In the opening narration of Revenge of the Sith it states that there are “heroes on both sides” and that “evil is everywhere”. These phrases seem to pose a complex view of the war depicted on-screen in the film. It would seem that the complexities of war, even in Star Wars series, aren’t as simple as the good fighting the forces of evil. It is interesting to relate this to Lucas’ view of the war with him perhaps reflecting on his possible life in the military; perhaps considering if he would have thought the wars he was participating in were justified, particularly in regards to the Vietnam conflict. These statements would also seem to show Lucas reflecting upon on the positive and negative aspects of both sides of the Clone War, not only the idealistic view of the Republic heroes that are depicted in his film but perhaps also seeing some benefits to the theories of the Confederacy against the Republic, the problems which are inherent in democracy and perhaps also the positive side of the order in totalitarianism. It is interesting to note John Orr’s discussion of the rise of films revolving around the Cold War, “Soviet cinema…found equivalents for popular consumption, with the nationalities of heroes and villains reversed” (2000, p. 50) this demonstrates that films from either side of the conflict depicted its characters as the heroes of the war. In Revenge of the Sith, Lucas could be seen objectively looking at both sides interpretation of the conflict, and in doing so seeing the good and bad aspects of both.

It could also be said that the character of Anakin Skywalker is shown as a victim of war related post-traumatic stress, reference to this can be seen in the Guerrero and Jamora article where they talk about the “fall and redemption of…Anakin Skywalker” (2007). It could be seen and argued that war has changed the character from the more innocent and naive boy we see in The Phantom Menace and the love struck teen in the early scenes of Attack of the Clones to someone on the verge of an emotional breakdown and paranoia because of this on-going war. For Anakin the stress of war manifests itself into distrust and discontent because he is kept apart from his wife by the warrior lifestyle he has been forced into. Eventually Anakin turns against his master Obi-Wan Kenobi and sides with Emperor Palpatine, these events lead to Anakin killing his wife Padmé. Anakin becomes Darth Vader when he makes his transition to the Dark Side, and although he eventually finds redemption by the end of the Star Wars series, he is a character who is considered one of the greatest villains in the history of cinema. It is interesting to consider if this is an exploration by George Lucas of the life he may have had to lead if he had joined the military. American Vietnam veterans in particular have a certain stigma associated with them in popular culture for often suffering from post-traumatic stress and other psychologically damaging effects from their time in the war, which sometimes caused veterans to behave anti-socially or even violently when back in American society. This is something which could be seen to relate to the strain and anguish that the character of Anakin is put through during the Clone War. Obviously the story of Anakin Skywalker is a fantastic one due to the fantasy and sci-fi nature of the films but the concerns and tribulations that the character is put through because of this war can be seen as very real, and they also reflect the elements that could have been part of Lucas’ life, the stress, hardship and the loss that war can bring.

It is interesting to consider the events of 9/11 and how Lucas has reflected on this modern event and the politics that surrounded it whilst still predominantly focusing upon the Second World War. America after the events of 9/11 in many ways was a very different country, with this being an event which caused a dramatic change in worldwide politics and these huge cultural effects of those terrorist attacks became greatly relevant to the present day. It could be argued that 9/11 and its aftermath surpasses the cultural relevance of WW2, atomic bomb cinema, Vietnam and the Cold War, at least as a defining cultural event for a younger generation who are further removed from the Second World War. Consequently, it would seem unlikely that a director with interests in political and war concepts such as Lucas would ignore this, and so elements of this event can be seen as reflected in the film. What sets 9/11 apart from events such as World War Two is that with modern technology it was a heavily mediated event with lots of news coverage, often with coverage often running round the clock on various news channels across the world. With the advent of more modern media there is also online coverage on official news sources as well as peoples mobile phone footage of events, various blogs and social networking sites which have given people the chance to have a constant source of news coverage, this type of news coverage was prominent in 9/11 and in the War on Terror that followed.

In a 2005 USA Today article Harlan Jacobson interviews Lucas after the Cannes Film Festival premiere of Revenge of the Sith about the topics of 9/11, the War on Terror that followed it and the presidency of George W. Bush. In the interview Lucas however can be seen as distancing himself from current politics to some extent, seemingly with the intent to not alienate sections of the potential Star Wars audience who would likely be going to see the new film. In the article Lucas is quoted as saying when writing the original outlines for the Star Wars prequel series in the 1970’s the current Iraq War didn’t even exist and that “we were just funding Saddam Hussein and giving him weapons of mass destruction”, whilst avoiding discussing the current situation in any real detail Lucas here demonstrates a clear hostility towards certain American foreign policy decisions and how the country had dealt with figures such as Hussein.

A year later in a 2006 article in Variety, David Cohen references how Revenge of the Sith had been seen as a critique of the George W. Bush administration and their mishandling of the events of 9/11 and the following Iraq War. In response Lucas is quoted as jokingly saying that “Some people have said Revenge of the Sith is coming true. I say I didn’t mean to make this all happen”. Lucas again goes on to state that he has been influenced by various moments in modern political history which have had an effect on him such as the Vietnam War and the presidency of Richard Nixon. Despite the tongue in cheek attitude of this article it would seem apparent that the themes that Lucas had been exploring with Revenge of the Sith were being recognised by people and the parallels it made were making people discuss and explore the issue further themselves. Indeed, later in the article Lucas also goes on to state that “you’ve got to remember that the rebels win in the end. Darth Vader is vanquished. Don’t forget the ending. Don’t get stuck on Episode III.” This additional insight shows a degree of optimism from Lucas for the future. Perhaps most notably this can be seen as a presidential election was forthcoming in 2008 and so Lucas would have seemed to be hopeful for a Democratic victory.

Towards the climax of Revenge of the Sith there is a wide landscape shot of the planet Coruscant with the Jedi temple prominently shown within the frame. The temple building is shown with the dark smoke bellowing from its damaged structure creating a stark visual contrast against the blue skies of the Coruscant city landscape. This imagery would have seemed to be designed with the intent of evoking memories of 9/11 and the dramatic impact the event had. In regards to how this particular scene in Revenge of the Sith could be seen as a tool to elicit an emotional response to the film, Ott states that “dramatizing the moral dangers and pitfalls of unrestrained fear…furnishes viewers with a set of symbolic resources for managing their social anxieties” (2008, p. 14), making viewers relate with the characters who are confronting a situation of threat and chaos. In American culture the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre were seen as being symbolic of success, business and capitalism, pivotal aspects of what is important in Western civilization. The temple building that is depicted in the Star Wars prequels could similarly be seen as an important symbol in the film as it represents the spiritual home of the Jedi Knights. In Star Wars the Jedi are seen as the keepers of peace and order in society and so it could be seen that destroying this building is similar to destroying the World Trade Centre, as what they represented is an American symbol of hope and freedom. It is interesting to consider why the event of 9/11, a demonstration of terrorism against Western style politics, society and commercialism has been appropriated in Revenge of the Sith. Whilst it has been noted that the Star Wars saga is a story which is partially inspired by World War II, The Cold War and Vietnam, it seems inevitable that it too would become something that incorporated and reflected upon a monumental event such as 9/11 in the real world.

The final film in the Star Wars saga, Revenge of the Sith can arguably be seen as an anti-war film, particularly in regards to the contemporary issue of the Iraq war and the War on Terror. With Lucas perhaps seeing the Bush administration and the knee-jerk reaction to the War on Terror as the real threat, a threat from within, much like what Palpatine, The Phantom Menace had been all along. Further relating to Phil Melling’s idea of the American people having a constant fascination with war and desiring an enemy, the Star Wars saga can be seen as reassuring as even though at the end of Episode III the galaxy is facing perhaps its darkest hour, by the time of Episode VI the evil that has been a threat has been vanquished.

Chapter Four - Conclusion

It would be remiss to say that the work of George Lucas has not been greatly influenced by the world at war which he was brought into and the repercussions which that war had till the present day. It is something that he has had a lifelong interest in and something that has become intertwined with his filmmaking career.

In this dissertation when exploring the reasons why Lucas has been so interested in war and his concern over the possible threat of the having to live through the atrocities of a conflict like the Second World War again; it seems clear that there is a shadow that looms over his life, a shadow of war that he does not want to have to pass on to younger generations. This being combined with the fear of the Cold War and the threat that the Atomic Bomb posed in his early life as well as the conflict in Vietnam it would seem that war was something that those born into the Baby Boom generation had to engage with. It would seem that Lucas’ work has in many ways conformed to the theory of Melling as he has been a filmmaker who, despite the variety of film projects he has been involved with, he has always returned to the theme of war and the threat against the safe vision of the American way of life. By looking at Lucas’ filmmaking legacy we can see his interest in war, the power of totalitarianism as well as the influence of the documentary films by Leni Riefenstahl as well as the many other war films that he took filmmaking inspiration from. Through his career decisions and self-financing Lucas has always had the possibility to explore the concepts of war and totalitarianism and what they meant to him. The threat that Lucas documents in his films, particularly the new Star Wars prequels, show that he yearns for an era of peace, prosperity and a time without political corruption and greed, and why the pitfalls and tragedies of war should be avoided. However this isn’t to say that Lucas’ message is necessarily consistent either; with the filmmaker himself almost going into military service he can be seen to have mixed feelings about various conflicts that have happened throughout his life. These differing opinions could be seen as a particular stance on certain issues, such as the general unpopularity of the Vietnam War or even perhaps showing that Lucas doesn’t necessarily know how he truly feels about conflict himself. Looking at the quotes from Lucas in the Variety and USA Today articles it is also apparent he doesn’t directly give his opinions on modern issues of war and current affairs, this was possibly a tactic as to not deter fans who didn’t agree with Lucas’ political viewpoint away from seeing the newest instalment of the series. It could also simply be that some filmmakers do not always want to let everyone know what their films are about and can often leave it up to the audiences interpretations. The concept of war is however undeniably something that has constantly been a fixture in Lucas’ films, from THX and American Graffiti to Star Wars and Indiana Jones, it is a topic that has very much occupied the entirety of his filmmaking career.

The Star Wars prequel trilogy serves a useful purpose in exploring Lucas’ personal and working relationship in regards to war and politics. The films are interesting for various reasons including that they mark Lucas’ return to directing after more than two decades as well as the culmination of the talents that the filmmaker has assembled throughout his company including those at ILM and Skywalker Sound. Additionally in regards to Lucas’ personal investment in war, the films show an in-depth view of his take on how corrupt politics and manipulation can lead to rise of totalitarianism and a full scale war, and arguably show his most rounded and objective look at war from both sides of the argument in any of his films.

There has been a great deal of speculation regarding the reception that these recent Star Wars films have received. Both fan and critical reactions to the prequel films are generally mixed, especially when compared to the praise given to the original films. It could be seen that his interest in war and its relationship with political upheaval was damaging to the overall story for these films. Baxter speculates that “the characters in Phantom Menace spent far too much time talking politics and not enough establishing human relationships. The friendships that lay at the heart of the first three films, insofar as those films had a heart, were absent here.” (1999, p. 400). It would seem that there could be various reasons for this mixed reception, it could be argued that these films had to live up to unrealistic expectations of fans and the heightened sense of nostalgia that they have for the original series. This seems to be the argument that Brooker makes in Using the Force (2002), where he sides with comedy programmes such as Spaced (1999 - 2001) which lampoon the prequel films. However, in response to these criticisms it could be argued that these new films in the series have more complex narratives and are perhaps not as simple or straightforward as the good fighting the bad as was the case in the original Star Wars trilogy. This is still an area of active discussion and debate amongst Star Wars fans and critics in magazines, fanzines, websites, conventions as well as being the focal point of the recent documentary The People Vs George Lucas (Dir. Philippe, 2010).

Today, the future of the Star Wars franchise is most prominently being explored in The Clone Wars. Under Supervising Director Dave Filoni the animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Dir. Filoni, 2008) and the following series is further exploring the Star Wars universe that Lucas created in the time frame between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Lucas himself seems to have an integral role in the series suggesting episode plots and working alongside writers and directors on the programme to expand upon their ideas and further explore issues he dealt with in the Star Wars films. Part of the writing team for the programme includes Katie Lucas, one of George Lucas’ three children. As her involvement with the Star Wars brand continues through writing on The Clone Wars series it will be interesting to see if she shares her father’s interest in subjects revolving around war or if she brings her own personal subject matter to the franchise.

Additionally, with the forthcoming Lucasfilm release of Red Tails (Dir. Hemingway) based on the true story of the Tuskegg Airmen, the first group of African American pilots fighting in the United States army it is interesting to look at Lucas’ future with war related film projects. Lucas has himself written the story outline for the film as well as being credited for filming various re-shoots for the finished film when Hemingway was busy with another project. Lucas has had passion for the project for some time with the film itself being in some form of development at Lucasfilm since the late 1980’s. Additionally, with Lucas taking over directing duties for the first time since Revenge of the Sith it would certainly seem that he is eager to further explore the war stories and that his interest in the Second World War time period is still a matter that is of importance to him.

For over three decades George Lucas has been a figure in filmmaking who has made several timeless classics, can be seen as partially responsible for the rise of the modern blockbuster and also a filmmaker who has benefitted a wide array of feature films with his involvement in the ground breaking companies Skywalker Sound and ILM as well as in the huge impact his own films have had upon popular culture. Ultimately, it would seem that throughout of his career George Lucas has explored his personal relationship with war, politics and the power of a totalitarian leader in various ways in an array of films. Whereas these have ranged from allegories to more obvious references and homages to dealing with real world subject matter they have all been important in conveying the message of the threat of war and totalitarianism, by looking at the after-effects of the Second World War or the events that happened in his lifetime such as The Cold War, Vietnam and recently 9/11. Stephanie Wilhelm poses the question “how seriously can the audience take Lucas’ representation of a democratic republic turned evil empire?” (2006, p. 182), her argument would seem to speculate that perhaps Star Wars is a franchise that is too much orientated towards children to be seen as a serious commentary on politics and modern warfare. However it could be argued that whilst Star Wars can perhaps be seen as a modern fairy-tale or fable from Lucas, with its narrative presenting an anti-war warning to avoid the political mistakes and resulting war of the generation that came before him which has shadowed his life. The massive influence of Lucas’ Star Wars series in popular culture is undeniable, reaching audiences both young and old, and if it has made some people consider and debate the purpose of war and discuss the political concepts of totalitarianism and corruption in politics then it could be seen as being a personal success for Lucas in delivering his message regarding the threat of war and the damage it can create.


  • 633 Squadron (1964) Directed by Walter Grauman [Film]. Century City, California: United Artists.
  • American Graffiti (1973) Directed by George Lucas [Film]. Los Angeles, California: Universal Pictures.
  •  Apocalypse Now (1979) Directed by Francis Ford Coppola [Film]. Century City, California: United Artists.
  • The Dam Busters (1955) Directed by Michael Anderson [Film]. Paris: Pathé.
  • Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy (2004) Directed by Edith Becker and Kevin Burns [DVD] San Francisco, California: Lucasfilm.
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) Directed by Steven Spielberg [Film]. Hollywood, California: Paramount Pictures.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Directed by Steven Spielberg [Film]. Hollywood, California: Paramount Pictures.
  • Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Directed by Steven Spielberg [Film]. Hollywood, California: Paramount Pictures.
  •  Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) Directed by Steven Spielberg [Film]. Hollywood, California: Paramount Pictures.
  • The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979) Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder [Film]. Cologne: Westdeutscher Rundfunk.
  • The People Vs George Lucas (2010) Directed by Alexandre O. Philippe [Film]. Los Angeles, California: Exhibit A Pictures.
  • Red Tails (2011) Directed by Anthony Hemingway [Film]. Prague, Czech Republic: Partnership Pictures.
  • Saving Private Ryan (1998) Directed by Steven Spielberg [Film]. Universal City, California: Dreamworks.
  • Schindler’s List (1993) Directed by Steven Spielberg [Film]. Los Angeles, California: Universal Pictures.
  • Spaced (1999 - 2001) Directed by Edgar Wright [DVD] Channel 4.
  • Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) Directed by George Lucas [Film]. Los Angeles, California: 20th Century Fox.
  • Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) Directed by George Lucas [Film]. Los Angeles, California: 20th Century Fox.
  • Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005) Directed by George Lucas [Film]. Los Angeles, California: 20th Century Fox.
  • Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) Directed by George Lucas [Film]. Los Angeles, California: 20th Century Fox.
  • Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Directed by Irvin Kershner [Film]. Los Angeles, California: 20th Century Fox.
  • Star Wars:  Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) Directed by Richard Marquand [Film]. Los Angeles, California: 20th Century Fox.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) Directed by Dave Filoni [Film]. Burbank, California: Warner Bros.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008 – Present) Directed by Various [DVD] Cartoon Network.
  • THX-1138 (1971) Directed by George Lucas [Film]. Burbank, California: Warner Bros.
  • Triumph of the Will (1934) Directed by Leni Riefenstahl [Film]. Berlin: Universum Film AG.

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