Star Wars Trivia

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…

4 comments

  1. OK, I’m sure you know this already, but you know that Lucs basically admitted to ripping off Kurisawa’s The Hidden Castle and just replacing the japanese lelemtns with sci fi ones right ?

    Seriously, watch the Kurisawa film and then watch Star Wars if you really want an overwhelming sense of how close the Japanese and Star Wars is.

  2. Daryl
    Indeed, that was one of the big discussion I had with my roommate. She stood firmly to say that the story sounded much like a Kurosawa movie, but was unable to tell me which one. And since I hadn’t seen Kakushi toride no san akunin (I think the English title is The Hidden Fortress) for ages, it didn’t really come to me.
    After looking it up a little bit: it makes sense.
    However, according to Lucas (and I would tend to agree), the biggest contribution from Kurosawa’s movie was the use of two minor characters (the two peasants in Fortress became two droids in Star Wars) to recount the story…
    Interestingly, what struck me much more was “cultural” details (at least their interpretation by Lucas and the authors), rather than the general story line…

    Anyway, I’m hardly an established authority on SW, as you can see… But thanks for pointing that out!

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