So like a lot of kids growing up, I was a big fan of star wars. I would play Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast on the Gamecube and I even had the original trilogy box set on VHS…
But enough about what decade I was born in. Point is, Star Wars has been a source of entertainment for me throughout my whole life. It’s just generally cool. The robots, the high octane fight scenes, the amazing set designs and cinematography. It’s filmmaking at its most ambitious, and the result is really cool to see.
And recently I watched the newer films with a bit more of an education than I had as a kid, and I must say, I was confused.
Because here’s the thing: The rebels are fighting for the Republic. So why the hell is the leader of the republic a princess?
I get the parallel they were going for, Empire vs. Republic, it’s a reference to the civil turmoil following the assassination of Julius Caesar. Populists vs. Aristocrats. It’s a great theme for the moral conflict between democracy and tyranny. Makes a lot of sense… until the monarch shows up.
Because if Vader is Luke’s father, and Leia is Luke’s sister, then that means Vader is Leia’s father too. In fact I looked this up just to be sure, and it’s true.
Which means, Vader must be a king. Otherwise why would Leia be a princess, right? Moreover, that also means Luke is a prince. They’re all part of the royal family.
The uhhh… republican royal family.
Now I decided to do some digging to figure out where this republic came from and how it works, and I was given this helpful chart:
As you can see, there’s nothing about any monarchy. BUT, Leia is from Alderaan. And so is Darth Vader and Luke. The films recognise that Aldeeran did have a royal family, and they were both born into it. So far so good. Except for one thing. If Luke and Leia are fighting the first order in the new films, then that means they’re 290 years old.
Admittedly, Star Wars history is dated according to two calendars, namely the C.B.C Dating System and the Lothal Calendar. Which, in my opinion, is preposterous. But nevertheless, I’m doing the research.
Now as you can see on the timeline, all the first order stuff is right at the end, and the beginning of the republic is at the beginning. So obviously logic would dictate that the existence of the monarchy must predate the republic, otherwise it would be a… well, public I suppose.
This is what prompted me to ask “What’s the deal with Star Wars?”
And upon looking into this I feel like the obvious answer is that the script went through lots and lots of drafts and revisions, even between the trilogy films. As a result, many sweeping changes occurred that still left remnants of the older scripts.
But I also learned something interesting in doing this, which is what the older scripts were like. The Star Wars films we know are very different from George Lucas’ original ideas. For one thing, Star Wars is often mistaken for a science fiction film. It’s not, it’s a Science Fantasy film. The distinction is difficult to make out in the Star Wars franchise, but the early scripts were a lot more heavily disposed towards fantasy.
For one thing, Vader was not meant to be the father. That was a plot twist even to the makers of the films. Instead Leia’s and Luke’s parents were supposed to be King Kayos and Queen Breha of Aquilae. Very fantasy sounding. Also they were supposed to have two additional sibblings, namely Biggs and Windy.
Because we’ve all heard of Biggs and Windy, right? Those famous steeple characters of the Star Wars franchise? Of course we have.
Actually Biggs is featured as a minor and heavily revised character, albeit a childhood friend of Luke’s.
A similar remnant is also Leia’s surname, namely Leia Organa. That’s a reference to how at one point she was born on a different planet called Organa Major, but they changed that to Alderaan but still kept her surname.
61 million dollar film budget and yet apparently no room for proofreaders.
Still, this isn’t about nitpicking, this is about looking at the interesting stuff regarding the Star Wars that never was. Where Luke Skywalker wasn’t even going to be Luke Skywalker. In the original concepts they considered making him a woman and a dwarf.
So to all the weird incels out there who are complaining about Rey, let me tell you: Count your blessings.
Moreover Lucas likes his historical parallels and also made a lot of commentary on contemporary issues at the time of making the film. In an interview he said that the rebels were inspired by the Viet Minh and that the Sith were based on the Waffen SS. The films drew strong influences from the then ongoing Viet Nam conflict, and in many ways, compared the US Government to the Galactic Empire.
George Lucas in general was never much of a jingoist and often held an open minded view towards the Eastern Bloc. I don’t think he was ever a communist, but he was cosmopolitan and could recognise how the Soviet Union was a nuanced place with good things as well as bad things, just like any other society.
To quote his interview with Charlie Rose:
“You are forced to make a particular kind of movie,” Lucas said to Rose, complaining about the need to make profitable films. “I used to say this all the time when people — you know, back when Russia was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. And they’d say, oh, but aren’t you so glad that you’re in America? I said, well, I know a lot of Russian filmmakers, and they have a lot more freedom than I have. All they have to do is be careful about criticizing the government.”
And it really shows how fragile US liberals are, because this relatively benign criticism of corporate publishers was met with ire and spite from various pundits and talking heads. The very idea that the Soviet Union wasn’t just a universal inferior to the US in every possible regard is something that American liberals get very offended by, being superior to some foreign savage is like a drug to them. If it’s not the Soviets, then it’s black people, or latinos, or arabs or indians or whomever else.
It’s also funny to me because of the inherent irony here. Because several high street publications attacked George Lucas for this. Basically printing the same yankee boilerplate reminding the world of how US opponents are all worthless animals, and America is number one etc. etc.
So it seems to be that when you speak to the media in the US and have some opinion to remark upon, then be careful that you don’t criticise corporations, because they will send out a legion of pundits to denounce you as immoral and ignorant, and then they call this free speech. Apparently free speech is when a massive burgeoning institution aggressively discredits and suppresses the expressions of dissenting individuals.
So I find some truth in George Lucas’ remarks. He bruised the fragile egos of media CEOs, who then went out of their way to beat the viper’s nest with a stick and mobilise all their little op-ed contributors who proceed to orchestrate themselves through offensive impersonations of writers.
So I do think he is very poignant in how Star Wars criticises the US and its imperialism. The fact that he has been so maligned for it, in spite of how its actually very mild criticism shows that he was clearly hitting a nerve and revealing a fundamentalist belief.
Because most of the social commentary from the Star Wars films is more or less an iteration of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s thoughts on the military-industrial complex. If a former general and US president makes such remarks, then perhaps they shouldn’t be very controversial.
So the next time you see one of the dozens of op-eds denouncing George Lucas for being seditious and unpatriotic, just remember that all they do is prove his point, and that corporations are very much enemies of democracy. They always have been, from the East India Company to the Congo Free State. Corporations have always been the most outrageously brutal tyrannies when given full control of the state mechanism.
And I think one reason George Lucas hit a nerve is because it exposes a past that the US hasn’t quite reconciled. And if you don’t believe me, then take a look at the flag of the East India Company from 1707: