George Lucas' Work On Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones Was Inspired By A Soviet Film Pioneer

Many filmmakers and fans over the years have cited "Star Wars" creator George Lucas as an influence on them. The world he designed has changed not only the landscape of film but the shape of pop culture for decades. However, Lucas was, in turn, influenced by one of the medium's pioneers, particularly in "Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones." 

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly for issue #654 in 2002, Lucas spoke about writing the script for "Attack of the Clones" in 1999 and how he was influenced by Soviet director, writer, editor, and film theorist Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948), specifically his "musically influenced processes." For Lucas, it was about tying things together with themes. He said, "I create themes, and I repeat those themes, in different chords and different arrangements, like little bits of chorus." To tie the visuals to familiar moments, he, according to the article, tried to "cite the original trilogy" with lines, images, and moments. 

Eisenstein was known for his use of visual metaphor and a montage of emotional elements and images, particularly in his first two full-length features, "Strike" and "Battleship Potemkin," in 1925; the latter's Potemkin Stairs scene seemingly influencing the Jedi Temple scene in "Revenge of the Sith." 

Emotional images

Eisenstein is known for films promoting the Soviet State, like 1925's "Strike," "1925's "Battleship Potemkin" (which you can watch for free on Wikipedia), and 1944's "Ivan the Terrible." He was born in Latvia, which was then part of the Russian Empire, and moved to France, then back to Russia to work in theater and, later, film. He continued to travel around the world, studying and making films and teaching at the State Institute of Cinematography in Moscow. 

His creative focus was on technique in film, which he often wrote articles about. You might recognize some of his images, like that of a baby carriage rolling alone down steps from "Battleship Potemkin" or the helmet-covered faces of the foot soldiers in "Alexander Nevsky." The latter appears to have influenced some of the costuming choices in Star Wars.

Lucas even endowed faculty chairs at his alma mater USC School of Cinematic Arts, with one of them being named after Eisenstein in 2014. During the event, according to USC's news site, Lucas said that using Eisenstein's name and that of film greats George Méliès and Williams Cameron Menzies was to communicate to students that they shouldn't "forget the basics." He continued by saying, "Don't get enamored with new technology ... it doesn't change anything. The art of what we do is exactly the same. The goal that we have is exactly the same as George Méliès, Williams Cameron Menzies, and Sergei Eisenstein. It's beyond technology. It's the art of movies."

All of the "Star Wars" prequel films are currently streaming on Disney+.