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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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han solo updates

The untitled Han Solo movie went through massive upheaval last week, losing its two directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller three weeks before the end of production and gaining a new director in Ron Howard a day later.

But despite fan apprehension surrounding this entire project, the people at Disney and Lucasfilm seem to be working around the clock to ensure that the film will be salvaged and assure fans that it will be a Star Wars movie worth seeing.

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Ron Howard on Han Solo Directing Gig

This week has been a whirlwind for Star Wars fans — the news that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were fired two-thirds of the way through production of the untitled Han Solo spin-off movie hit the Internet on Tuesday. Just as quickly, it was announced that Ron Howard would step in to finish directing the film.

But the man at the center of it all has remained largely silent as the fans and hot takes swirled around him. Now, Howard has spoken up about taking over the Han Solo directing gig, offering a humble response to the burden that has been placed on him.

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Star Wars concert

If you’re a regular reader of this site, chance are pretty high that you’ve seen the Star Wars movies more times than you can count. But I guarantee you’ve never seen them quite like this before. If you’re going to be in or around New York City this fall, the New York Philharmonic will be performing John Williams‘ iconic scores live during screenings of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens. Billed as the world’s first-ever live performance of the score along with the movies, this sounds like an event fans won’t want to miss.
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ron howard directing han solo

Ron Howard is stepping in to direct Lucasfilm and Disney’s untitled Han Solo movie, taking over the production after original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were fired with three weeks left to the production.

Find out more about Ron Howard directing Han Solo after the jump. Read More »

Phil Lord and Chris Miller Directing The Flash

The galaxy — far away and nearby — was shocked when directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were suddenly fired from Lucasfilm’s Han Solo prequel, with only several weeks left in the production. While Lord and Miller, who had previously directed irreverent comedies like 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie, were unlikely choices to helm a major Star Wars blockbuster, they seemed like a good fit — fresh blood to invigorate the old-school approach of Lucasfilm and Disney.

It’s always unfortunate to see talented directors out of work, but according to reports, that may not be long for Lord and Miller. Before leaving the Star Wars spin-off, the directing duo had apparently met with DC Films under Warner Bros. to discuss another troubled blockbuster production: The Flash.

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Phil Lord and Chris Miller

Huge news from a galaxy far, far away: 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller have stepped down from directing Lucasfilm’s Han Solo film with only a few weeks left in the production. If you just sensed a great disturbance in the Force, this is why. Read about how Lord and Miller not directing Han Solo will impact Lucasfilm’s movie below.
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The Last Jedi extra scene

Director Colin Trevorrow’s latest film, The Book of Henry, spent the past few days being absolutely hammered by critics, sitting at 25% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this writing. But the director seems to be taking all of the negative press in stride, tweeting “Be proud of everything you paint, even if Mom doesn’t put it on the fridge.” In the wake of The Book of Henry’s failure in the eyes of critics, many reviewers have expressed concerns about the future of the Star Wars franchise, since Trevorrow will be directing Star Wars: Episode 9, the third film in the new trilogy that began with The Force Awakens.

Meanwhile, it sounds as if Trevorrow – who is also co-writing Episode 9 with his writing partner Derek Connolly – has been hard at work trying to make the best Star Wars film he can. In a new interview, the director revealed that he asked Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson to add “one extra thing” to that movie in order to set up something that will happen in Episode 9. Read about The Last Jedi extra scene below.
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Mark Hamill - Star Wars The Last Jedi Disagreement

Towards the end of last month, a slew of Star Wars: The Last Jedi details came from Vanity Fair’s big cover story, but there was one new piece of information that caught fans off guard.

During an interview, Mark Hamill brought up a conversation he had with director Rian Johnson:

“I at one point had to say to Rian, ‘I pretty much fundamentally disagree with every choice you’ve made for this character. Now, having said that, I have gotten it off my chest, and my job now is to take what you’ve created and do my best to realize your vision.'”

Some fans took that in a negative way, but Hamill has taken the time to clarify that’s not how he feels about the situation anymore. Find out what else Mark Hamill had to say about his The Last Jedi disagreement below. Read More »

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/Response: Your Favorite Movie Vehicles

mad max fury road war rig

(Welcome to /Response, the companion piece to our /Answers series and a space where /Film readers can chime in and offer their two cents on a particular question.)

Earlier this week, the /Film team wrote about our favorite movie vehicles. We then opened the floor to our readers: what is your favorite cinematic mode of transportation? And you let us know!

We have collected our favorite answers (edited for length and clarity) below. Next week’s question: who is your favorite movie mentor figure? Send your (at least one paragraph, please) answer to slashfilmpitches@gmail.com!

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