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With Star Wars: A New Hope celebrating the 40th anniversary of its theatrical release this year, this is as good a time as any to dig into the film’s history.

Knowledgable film lovers often cite Akira Kurosawa’s 1958 film The Hidden Fortress as a key influence on the young George Lucas, as the plot of that film heavily informs the original Star Wars. In it, two squabbling peasants become involved in the rescue of a princess, similar to how C-3PO and R2-D2 would get caught up in the mission to free Leia and deliver the Death Star plans.

As Wookiepedia shows, the first script treatment for Star Wars — a 1973 story synopsis that Lucas shopped around Hollywood — hews even closer in plot to The Hidden Fortress, with Lucas having straight-up plagiarized a description of that movie from a book called The Films of Akira Kurosawa by the late film historian and Japanophile Donald Richie.

But the Japanese roots of Star Wars run deeper than one artist stealing/borrowing from another (as all artists do, to the degree that they are influenced by one another). Let’s explore some of those influences: some well-known, others less perhaps so.

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Star Wars Revenge of the Sith Original Ending

Even though Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith is the best of the prequel trilogy in the Star Wars saga, it’s still a far cry from measuring up to the original trilogy. One of the biggest issues with the final chapter in the story of how Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) became Darth Vader is how the former Jedi’s relationship with his secret lover Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) comes to an end.

On one hand, seeing Anakin’s judgment clouded by the dark side, so much that he nearly kills her, is a powerful tragedy. But the fact that Amidala ends up essentially dying because she “lost the will to live” is a bit silly. It doesn’t help that Padmé, who was once a strong, independent leader, never willing to walk away from a fight, just cries and whines when Anakin clearly isn’t himself anymore. But in the original ending, she didn’t take Anakin’s betrayal the same way. In fact, in the Revenge of the Sith original ending, Padmé made some bold moves to stop him. Find out more below. Read More »

George Lucas Museum

In January it was revealed that George Lucas had finally found a home for his Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles. A presentation to the Los Angeles City Planning Commission has unveiled new renderings for the $1-billion project. See how the project has changed since the proposal, after the jump.

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Star Wars Original Cuts - Return of the Jedi

Every now and then a new rumor emerges that the original cuts of Star Wars are on the verge of getting a home video release without all the Special Edition modifications George Lucas has made over the years, some of which were made even after the new version of the movies hit theaters in 1997. Sadly, fans are always left disappointed when it doesn’t come true.

Due to issues with the rights to the original Star Wars trilogy, as well as the supposed difficulty of getting the original versions in a format that can easily be converted to a high-definition video format, it might be a lost cause. But even if there was the possibility of making it happen, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy seems to indicate that she doesn’t want to mess with what George Lucas has already done to the original Star Wars trilogy. Read More »

Star Wars Celebration 2017

Later this week, I’m heading to Orlando, Florida for Star Wars Celebration 2017, which runs from April 13 to April 16, 2017, at the Orange County Convention Center. Some big Star Wars announcements and reveals are expected to come out of the convention, and we’ll be covering it live. So stay tuned for our coverage beginning Thursday and running through the weekend.

But before we get to that, let’s run down what I think is going to happen (and what I think definitely will not happen). Here are my Star Wars Celebration 2017 predictions.

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George Lucas

The list of truly effective video game jump scares is a short but powerful one. The dogs bursting through the windows in Resident Evil. The woman with the broken neck in Fatal Frame. Freddy Fazbear in Five Nights at Freddy’s. The aliens in Rescue on Fractalus! Wait…what’s that last one?

Yes, it turns out that an 8-bit LucasArts game originally released for the Atari 800 contains what may be the first (and still most effective!) jump scare in video game history…and George Lucas is partially responsible.

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Japanese Star Wars Panasonic Commercials

Ever since Star Wars made a comeback in the 1990s thanks to the rise of the Expanded Universe, Kenner action figures and the arrival of the Special Edition of the Star Wars Trilogy in theaters, we’ve been inundated with new Star Wars merchandise. Whether it’s the prequels, TV shows or the new era of Star Wars movies, we’ve been getting new Star Wars merchandise non-stop for years. But back in 1987, Star Wars was essentially dying.

It had been 10 years since the first Star Wars hit theaters and four years since Return of the Jedi arrived. Believe it or not, the popular Star Wars toyline in 1985, and things like Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and the Droids and Ewoks animated series left a bad taste in the mouths of fans. But over in Japan, George Lucas was still able to capitalize on Star Wars by filming a series of Panasonic ads in honor of the original movie’s 10th anniversary, and you can watch them below. Read More »

legends of tomorrow

I haven’t been keeping up with The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow (there are only so many hours in a day!), but the news that a young George Lucas would be a character in the back half of season 2 is the kind of thing that makes me want to track down and utilize a some extra television time in my life. The episode, titled “Raiders of the Lost Art,” aired last night as the second season’s winter premiere and executive producer Marc Guggenheim explained how this crazy idea to pass.

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Legends of Tomorrow George Lucas episode

It’s not just Star Wars actors who get dramatically de-aged through Hollywood magic. Sometimes it happens to Star Wars creators, too. A young George Lucas will reportedly appear in an upcoming episode of Legends of Tomorrow, with a significant change in his early career proving to have drastic effects for all the Legends. In Lucas’ case, however, it won’t be CG wizardry that makes him young again — instead, the show has cast Sweet/Vicious actor Matt Angel to portray him.

Find out exactly what the Legends of Tomorrow George Lucas episode will be about below.  Read More »

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‘Star Wars’ Actors and Filmmakers Mourn Carrie Fisher

Star Wars Actors and Directors Mourn Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher passed away yesterday at the age of 60. Although best known for her work as Princess Leia Organa in four Star Wars movies, she was so much more: a tremendous writer, an incredible wit, one of Hollywood’s most prolific script doctors, and a brutally honest personality whose openness about mental illness provided hope and inspiration for many.

The fact that we can build an entire article around her colleagues saying nice things about her speaks volumes.

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