The Leviathan Influenced Solo

(Welcome to The Movies That Made Star Wars, a series where we explore the films and television properties that inspired or in this case help us better understand George Lucas’s iconic universe. In this edition: The Leviathan)

Ruairí Robinson isn’t a filmmaker that’s a household name, but maybe he should be. He’s an Academy Award nominated Irish filmmaker known for his science fiction shorts. He was nominated in 2002 in the Best Short Film, Animated category with the film Fifty Percent Grey, but ended up losing out to Ralph Eggleston’s comedy short For the Birds. At one point, he was signed on to direct the live-action version of Akira, but that fell through. Most recently, he put together a short film called The Leviathan(2015)that was a proof of concept for a feature film he wanted to make.

It went viral and found itself inspiring the Star Wars universe in unexpected ways.

The Solo Connection

The Kessel Run is something that’s been talked about for the better part of forty years, ever since Han Solo casually mentioned running it in less than 12 parsecs in Chalmun’s Cantina. We’d imagined a hundred different ways in our imagination, whether reading about it in the books or trying to pull it off yourself in the Star Wars roleplaying games, but Solo: A Star Wars Story finally gave it to us.

“Jules Verne was the term the Kasdans [Jon and Lawrence, co-screenwriters] often used as it related to the Kessel Run and the obstacles that they were facing,” director Ron Howard said in the behind the scenes Blu-ray features. “We wanted mystery, we wanted surprises.”

Part of that Jules Verne inspiration came out in the form of Summa-verminoth, the massive space creature that tries to eat the Millennium Falcon as it tries to make its way away from the gravity well at the center of the Maw. But where else did Summa-verminoth come from?

ILM artists talked about going to creatures of the sea, squids and jellyfish. In his Twitter commentary that he made in lieu of an audio commentary for Solo, co-writer Jon Kasdan said that inspiration for Summa-verminoth came from many places. Excited by the idea, even Kathleen Kennedy went to her office to Google images of frilled sharks and giant squids. The most surprising place, though, was Robinson’s The Leviathan. “One thing we stumbled across while working on this was a fantastic short film/teaser directed by Ruairí Robinson called The Leviathan. You can find it on YoTtube and Vimeo. It has long-rumored to be turned into a feature and I sincerely hope it will be.”

Classic Look

The Leviathan is a remarkable piece of short cinema, drawing visual cues from Alien, Star Wars, and Jules Verne.

It takes you through a glimpse in the life of a group of what appear to be space whalers. They go about their day in a way that feels like a cross between Herman Melville and Alien, with dirty day-workers going about their dangerous business as though nothing were out of the ordinary. As they set out into the clouds, they stalk a beast that looks like a cross between a dragon and the space slugs from The Empire Strikes Back. Space whales, indeed. In fact, the final shot of the Leviathan feels very much like what would have happened had the exogorth’s in Empire actually snatched the Falcon during its escape. The film is gorgeous and its flight through the clouds offers reminiscence of the Falcon’s first approach and final departure from Cloud City as well.

When you look at it through the lens of Solo, though, it’s clear to see where they drew that inspiration.

The Leviathan

The Future of Leviathan

The Leviathan was made as a teaser in hopes that it would catch enough attention to become a feature film. But in the three years it’s been out, that’s still where it’s at. Why? I have no idea. Simon Kinberg and Neil Blomkamp signed on to produce back in 2015 and it still shows up as “In development” on the IMDb, but that’s where the trail goes cold. With as good looking as the short is, we can only hope that the renewed attention from Star Wars will kickstart the process and we can actually get that movie.

Availability: The Leviathan is available on YouTube.

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