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April 1991


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
M Tepper <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 5 Apr 91 15:06:58 EST
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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>        Recently on SciFi Lovers Digest, it was mentioned that Lucas's
>source of inspiration for the entire Star Wars saga was derived from the
>Arthurian Legends. I have never seen a reference to this in the past and
>was greatly intrigued. Unfortunately I am not well versed in the
>Arthurian Legends, but I have read up on Lucas, and at least his
>biography makes no mention of such influences.
Well, Jayson, I think I know my Arthurian legends passably well, and I don't
see much of a connection either. In fact, I really can't think of _any_
correspondence between the Arthurian legends as told in such books as
_Morte d'Arthur_ and _Star Wars_ though I'd be interested if anyone
came up with one.
>        During Bill Moyers' interviews with Joseph Campbell at Skywalker
>Ranch, there were numerous references to typical biblical influences on
>Star Wars (ie. the garbage compactor monster being an allegory for Jonah
>being swallowed by the whale, etc.), as well as Lucas saying that he
>wanted to create modern day hero's for todays kids.
>        *** (And if I might add a side note, Lucas has been quite
>successful, at least for me. I recall being in a difficult situation,
>and asking myself "what would Christ or some other wiseman do in this
>situation, maybe someone like Obi Wan Kenobi?". It may sound silly, but
>it really was a subliminal thing -- todays film makers (at least the
>good ones) are creating a mythology for modern society.) ***
I have my own huge screaming problems with Campbell, but certainly some of
what he has to say in _The Hero With A Thousand Faces_ is appropriate to
thinking about _Star Wars_ mythically.
What _I_ find most interesting about this whole conversation is that I was
always under the impression that _Star Wars_, like the Indiana Jones films,
was conceived of as an updated spoof and homage to the Saturday morning
serials. Obviously that's more visible in the Indiana Jones films because
they're not scifi, but compare _Star Wars_ to the old action serials and I
think you'll see similarities. This raises for me the far more important
question of how the film product is received, and especially how a film
like _Star Wars_ gets both sedimented into a particular reading and
commodified/turned into a basis of commodification (that's not clear but I
mean the _Star Wars_ industry...)  What sort of meanings are we producing
from this and other films, and how? are, I think, the questions to ask...
but I'm afraid that doesn't answer _your_ question...
M Tepper
Brown University