I think it was during an hopeless attempt to explain some utterly untranslatable nerdy joke to Eriko, that she admitted she had never seen Star Wars (talking about the original trilogy here, not that poor excuse for a pop-corn commercial they made recently). I thought about it, and realized I probably hadn’t seen all three episodes ever since I was a kid. Hence, tonight was Star Wars night, the first two episodes (kept Return of the Jedi for next time).
Watching it again and having to help Eriko with the story (we only had English subtitles) made me notice many funny details; some of these were quite obvious to me as a grown-up, and the rest is certainly widely known among fanboys circles. But anyway:
- The whole Japanese theme is definitely all over the place: Jedi only seem another name for Samurai, Darth Vader’s helmet is straight from the Shogun’s era and all their fights are conducted using some sort of space-katanas.
- The mystics/metaphysics angle, however, seems more inspired from Taoism than Bushido. In fact, if you take some of Yoda’s quotes and replace “the Force” by “the Tao”, I’m pretty sure you’ll find them verbatim in the Tao Te Ching
- There’s a blatant Shakespearean moment, in Empire Strikes Back, when the big hairy dude is left to lament with the lifeless parts of one of the droids (C3PO or R2D2, can never tell which is which). When he sits down and takes the droid’s head in his hands, you would probably hear him call out for Yorick if you could understand his growling…
- That one is actually a very widely known bit of trivia to anybody who’s lived in the Bay Area: these weird four-legged machines attacking the rebel base in Empire are exact replica of the cargo cranes you can see when you drive to Oakland from the Bay Bridge (they do look quite ominous too if you catch them at sundown).
I’m sure there are tons of other trivia to catch, but these really popped out when watching tonight…