Conceptualisations of History in George Lucas’ ‘Star Wars’ Saga

‘Conceptualisations of History in George Lucas’ ‘Star Wars’ Saga’ by Canaan Perry. Suggested citation below article.

George Lucas’s Star Wars saga is one of the most successful series in western cinema history. According to Brabazon it “has been a primary popular cultural social formation for a[n] [entire] generation.”[1] Set in a futuristic, past tense “used universe” Star Wars is deeply imbued with historical understandings and conceptualisations in nearly all facets of its construction ranging from its narrative portrayal of the archetypal political cycles of tyranny and rebellion[2] to the simulated weathering effects that stain the rebel spaceship models used in the production of the special effects shots. The derivate nature of the films further contributes to this sense of history as it reveals a deep historical understanding of narrative construction and formulation incorporating American and European narratives whilst also showing a predilection for psychological and anthropological notions of folklore and myth. Despite the nostalgic dimension inherent in the films they are also engrained with modernist anxieties regarding the moral and immoral uses of technology and thus conceptions of alienation within a western hyper-capitalist order. In addition, Lucas has also included within his saga an historically informed critique of the nature and dangers of human interaction within spheres of political and economic power. This essay will survey some of the historical dimensions inherent in Lucas’s Star Wars Saga in relation to its deployment of historical imagination and understandings as well as some of the broad historical features and influences that informed the creation of the text.

To begin here it will be useful to reconstruct and fathom some of the key features of the social and artistic climate that Lucas was emersed in when he first penned the Star Wars universe, that being, early 1970s America. This will be helpful as it will facilitate a deeper understanding of some of the saga’s content and cultural resonances. In relation to context as well as artistic intent Geraghty claims that Lucas’s:

“vision was to resurrect myths and legends that had once defined society but had since been forgotten because people had more pressing social problems to deal with: the economy was at an all time low, the Vietnam War had just finished with no clear victor, and Watergate caused scandal within a government that had already lost public confidence. America was in definite need of a cultural tonic…”[3]

This view is reinforced by the narrative that accompanies the documentary Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy (2004) which states that during the early 1970s:

“Americans felt deeply mired in the present. It was a time of economic inflation and rising oil prices and the nation had grown cynical about its heroes and its leaders…On the big screen Hollywood’s view was equally grim. The films of the 1970s were gritty and often downbeat: a reflection of America’s social and political upheaval. Instead of old fashioned heroes the screen was dominated by hard-nosed anti-heroes who broke all the rules.”[4]

Although this documentary’s account, like the preceding explanation, contains a favourable predisposition which seems to favour Lucas’s “vision” it does suggests that he was working against a backdrop of disparagement, social critique and general uncertainty. The cultural revolution of the post 1960s period where traditional power structures had been challenged, America’s involvement in the Vietnam conflict which as McMahon states was/is “[a]rguably the second most traumatic, contentious, and problematic event in U.S. history”[5] after the Civil War, a tumultuous economic downturn and the Watergate scandal compounded to produce a broad artistic milieu of confused, concerned and sometimes violent reactionary ideals.[6] Murray explains that “film in the ‘70s became a canvas on which writers, directors and actors translated national concerns (Vietnam, Watergate, sexual politics) into personal works of art.”[7] It must have thus appeared to some of these artists of the period, to borrow a statement from Hill, that, the world had been “turned upside down”[8] as a new breed of character: the anti-hero, like Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry (1971), set about reordering the perceived racial and sexual urban chaos within their representational milieu. The “passing of the west”[9] thus seemed to have brought the old gunslinger of Wild West mythology into the modern cityscape. Another example of this violent reaction to the erosion of pre-1960s moral “boundaries” can be found in the depiction of the degenerate pill popping, pornography watching, vigilante character Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese’s neo-film noir Taxi Driver (1976). Travis proclaims in voice-over narrative: “listen you fuckers, you screw heads, heres a man who would not take it anymore, who stood up against all the scum, the cunts, the dogs, the filth, the shit, here’s someone who stood up.”[10] Travis declares he is going straight, starts working out, buys guns and then goes on a one man mission to save a twelve year old prostitute from the clutches of her pimp. It is intriguing that he proceeds to do this after receiving some inspiration from a character, played by Scorsese (=the artist) himself, who enters Travis’s taxi and states that he his going to shoot his wife in the head with a Magnum pistol for sleeping with a “nigger.” We can thus see that Lucas was embedded in a culture where a backlash to black civil rights, feminism, reordered sexual politics, new left ideologies and a general fear of government “internal conspiracies”[11] mixed with perceived notions of economic uncertainty and socio-political confusion to produce a pessimistic artistic/cinematic milieu. In addition, early 1970s films also proliferated dystopian visions which evoked images of the apocalyptic. Movies like Planet of the Apes (1968), Towering Inferno (1974) and Earthquake (1974) amongst others inspired audience dreams of chaos and Armageddon. With reference to the nuclear age and the era under discussion Franklin eloquently suggests that:

“[a]midst a planet of revolution, America’s leaders, equipped with pushbuttons to annihilate civilization, seemed ignorant of the past and oblivious to the future…Our only hope for salvation seemed to lie outside ourselves, perhaps the godlike aliens [of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) could] remould…us.”[12]

Thus in some cases science fiction seemed to potentially offer an audience something hopeful perhaps something beyond the trappings of the pessimistic hyperrealist cinema of the early 1970s.

So, it was in a climate of anti-heroic, neo-Wild West vigilantes and apocalyptic visions described above that Lucas set about reinvigorating classic myth and some perceived lost morality from the past in an attempt to influence the discourse of the present through a historically contextual reordering of “the traditional pattern of the mythological hero’s quest.”[13] Although Lucas’s first feature film THX 1138 (1971), discussed briefly below, is primarily dystopic there is some of the more positive mythological ethos inherent in his second feature American Graffiti (1973) which can also be read as an attempt to document the American mating ritual of “cruising” and the changes in Rock ‘n Roll culture that occurred at the beginning of the 1960s. Lucas states that in the early 1960s “Hippie culture [and] drugs [had arrived] cruising was gone and I really felt compelled to document the whole experience of cruising and what my generation used as a means of meeting girls.”[14] In Graffiti radio Disk Jockey Wolfman Jack anticipates Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda as the wise guru and the quest revolves mainly around the character Curt Henderson[15] who leaves small town USA to go to college and see the “great big beautiful world.”[16]

It is this mythological dimension that is also inherent in the Star Wars sequence that is one of the most apparent historical elements as the saga’s highly derivative construction alludes to and draws from a wide, varied body of myth[17] which in itself must entail an historical understanding. Whilst drawing from a mythic corpus Star Wars incorporates universalist, western and particularly American modes of story telling. Collins refers to this mythic amalgam as a “pastiche of myth.”[18] With regards to this Braudy explains that:

“when Lucas was writing the script of Star Wars he was heavily interested in Joseph Campbell. What Joseph Campbell was interested in was to see the connections between myths; the myths of different cultures…[to] try to find out what were the threads that tied all these very disparate cultures together”[19]

In an interview Lucas himself acknowledges that he:

“did research to try to distill everything into motifs that would be universal. I attribute most of the success [of Star Wars] to the psychological underpinnings which have been around for thousands of years. People still react to the stories the way they always have.”[20]

Reflecting this ethos the films take place “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” or as often stated at the beginning of fairy tale narrative “once upon a time.”[21] Collins argues that the controlling myth which Lucas utilises is the European legend of King Arthur. This is, in part, because Luke Skywalker has a dynastic heritage to the ancient and noble Jedi order and is released from the false identity as a mundane farm boy because he accepts the “magic sword” (=Excalibur) from Obi-wan Kenobi in A New Hope[22] which the old Jedi describes as “an elegant weapon for a more civilised age…before the dark times; before the Empire.”[23] In addition, Collins notes that Lucas also draws heavily from twentieth-century American adventure fiction especially pulp science fiction and the frontier stories of the Wild West. Certainly, the world of Coruscant which appears in Episodes I-III and the end of Episode VI in its latest cut; an “entire planet [that] is one big city,”[24] seems to resemble Asimov’s Trantor in the Foundation series and Han Solo appears to be straight out of the stock western as he “handles his laser gun with all the skill of Wyatt Earp in a number of shoot-outs.”[25] Furthermore, the space battles between Imperial and Alliance ships evoke “earlier cinematic depictions of World War II aerial dogfights between fascist and allied forces.”[26] However, at the core of the films there is a more fundamental historical conceptualisation of myth and its (re)generation. Lucas claims in the voice over commentary to A New Hope that:

“my original inspiration on…[Star Wars] was…to use mythological motifs to create a whole new kind of myth that was very updated and contemporary so I used the Saturday Matinee serial as my vessel to put this barrel of mythological motifs together.”[27]

Consequently, Luke’s and his father’s journeys can be interpreted at an elemental level which, in part, promulgates a static view of human nature, although, as Lucas notes above, the stories rely on a modern matrix which seems also to acknowledge the fluidity of human nature over time. These elemental heroic journeys are ones of “initiation (through ordeals/trials), and recovery and return (to a triumphant victory).”[28] One could also include redemption in the case of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader as he is restored to his previous good self by destroying the Emperor at the saga’s climax. These journeys are historically related to ancient narratives of “internal human maturation, with emotional and psychological battles…expressed in terms of obstacles such as monsters to be tamed and military combats to be won.”[29] The Star Wars saga can hence be read as an attempt to revitalise elemental notions of narrative and reassert them through a modern vehicle in order to bring fragments of some perceived lost past into the discourse of the present. There are both psychological and anthropological dimensions to Lucas’s myth generation yet it also relies heavily on historical understandings as it borrows from a disparate and varied corpus of narratives that span large sections of history. That the films were/are so popular attests to Jameson’s view that there is an American yearning to return to more innocent times.[30] However, as Jameson also notes this cultural engagement with nostalgia maybe indicative of an inability “to focus on…[the] present.”[31]

Yet, the saga is more than just a reinvigoration of old stories or an attempt to commodify the past it is also an historically informed left-leaning political critique. One of Lucas’s primary kernels of inspiration for Star Wars came from an historical interpretation of the Vietnam War as he states in the audio commentary to the Phantom Menace that:

“having grown up in the shadow of the Vietnam War the issue of a primitive society confronting a technologically advanced society has fascinated me because that was the main event that was going on…during my college years and the fact that human determination and human spirit could overcome these vastly superior armies actually I found to be rather inspiring as a human being. I think that is one of the main themes that has gone through all of the Star Wars films.”[32]

So during the creation of Star Wars it was this primary theme: one that explores the spaces of collective American trauma,[33] the Vietnam conflict, which became intermixed with a larger political critique that according to Lancashire involves a:

“commentary on American and international politics and economics, past as well as present, and on the rise and fall of political empires in…an ongoing, cyclical process in human history, based on greed/appetite, aggressiveness, hatred, and fear.”[34]

Kaveney suggests that Star Wars fails to engage interestingly with the historical process arguing that for Lucas “history is entirely a function of biography – the Republic falls and is replaced by the Empire solely…because Palpatine is, and Anakin Skywalker becomes a bad man.”[35] However, Kaveney’s statement fails to account for the historical knowledge of politics that is imbued within the films and the metaphorical significance of personal political corruption as it relates to the political system as a whole. Star Wars presents an “archetypical political situation (rebellion against tyranny)”[36] which resonates loudly with the American history and the American self-image myth of it being a “freedom loving nation which originally established itself by rebelling against an oppressive British Empire”[37] Yet, the films also depict the shift from democracy to dictatorship and the (dystopic) role of corporations within in the sphere of political influence. Discussing the politics of Star Wars in the audio commentary of Revenge of the Sith Lucas notes the anxieties which inform his political critique stating that they were:

“based on history. All of Star Wars is reasonably political…sometimes the politics are confused and muddled in terms of the way people see it which is the way most people see politics but it is because people are confused and muddled people don’t want to have anything to do with it. Of course if they don’t want anything to do with it that’s why they end up turning to somebody to take over and clean it all up. So the involvement here of the Trade Federation and the Commerce Guilds and all these corporations who are basically having too much influence over the Senate which…[prevents] them…from being…able to do their job is actually what starts this whole mess and Palpatine is able to utilise that corruption and that greed on the part of the Trade Federation to further his purposes. He is the one that is encouraging the Trade Federation to separate from the Republic and take a bunch of the systems with them…but all that doesn’t really become apparent till you see that he has been using everybody and everything to…achieve the ultimate power.”[38]

Furthermore, in the commentary which accompanies Attack of the Clones Lucas elaborates on the tyrannical seeds that potentially exist within democratic state formations where democracy can transform into dictatorship. Lucas claims that:

“this idea of democracy being given up…in a time of crisis; you see it throughout history whether its Julius Caesar or Napoleon or Adolf Hitler. You see these democracies under a lot of pressure…in a crisis situation who end up giving up a lot of the freedoms they have and a lot of the checks and balances to somebody with a strong authority to help get them through the crisis…its not the first time a politician has created a war to stay in office.”[39]

This situation resonates clearly with our time however it also reflects the milieu of the text’s original conception when Richard Nixon was trying to amend the American constitution in order to stay in office. More generally though, it alludes to the potentiality of fascism and totalitarianism emerging in all strains of political formation and thought even within a liberal sphere. One of the key messages in Star Wars, which is based on historical precedent, relates to this connection between political naivety, disinterest and complacency and the danger it may present for a democratic order in times of “crisis:” a situation which itself may be manufactured and/or utilised for political expediency by an authoritarian demagogue.

The politics of Star Wars is also imbued with a critique of “unrestrained economic or political greed.”[40] The new prequels in particular, Episodes I-III explore the dystopic nexus between “the intergalactic Banking Clan”[41] the Trade Federation, the Commerce Guild, the Techno Union and the Corporate Alliance and the representational political sphere of the film. These space capitalists, whose greed is manipulated by Palpatine/Darth Sidious, are represented by sick and dilapidated looking aliens. Even though it should be remembered that Lucas himself is now the head of a large corporation, the inclusion of this critique of human greed resonates with contemporary and historical concerns about the escalating power and influence of big scale Capitalism and the immorality/amorality of self-interest as a primary mode of cultural organisation. Greed as an antagonistic force however has always been at the centre of the Star Wars saga. Han Solo, totally “fixated on financial reward,”[42] is a self-interested character in Episode IV as is Lando Calrissian in Episode V, however these characters are ultimately redeemed when they reject the value systems of their old selves. The texts are also populated with other greedy figures like scavenging Jawas, unrestrained Tusken Raiders, Bounty Hunters and the obese, slug-like Jabba the Hutt (=greed/lust incarnate).[43] The culmination of this is that that the films, as Lancashire suggests, provide us with a reflection on the:

“dark-side profit/appetite emphasis of contemporary First World democracies: with the focus on an America whose leaders emphasize corporate profit making as an ultimate good and rely for security and power on innovative and massive military technology.”

Thus, there is a strong left-leaning economic and political critique about greed both personal and systemic which is at the heart of the Star Wars message. This political view however is also inherent in another of the saga’s main thematic concerns: technology.

Much like Lucas’s first feature THX 1138 (1971), a film which depicts a future subterranean world of humans living in an oppressive and alienating technological milieu,[44] the Star Wars movies also explore the thematic binary of humanity and its relationship to machinery. In doing so the films speak to modern post-capitalist concerns regarding the place of technology (=the human creation) in relation to the human (=the creator) in a hyper-industrialised world order where:

“[o]wing to the extensive use of machinery and the division of labour, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character…He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous and most easily acquired knack, that is required of him…”[45]

Within this framework that Marx describes, that being the “state of society in which the process of production has the mastery over the man, instead of being controlled him,”[46] the figure of Darth Vader comes to embody humanity ultimately estranged from any authenticate, whole self. This is because Vader represents an unearthly interface between decayed/damaged partial humanity and technological life support apparatuses and prosthetic appendages, or as Kenobi’s character declares to Luke: he is a being “more machine than man; twisted and evil.”[47] In the novelisation of Return of the Jedi this depiction of Vader’s estranged humanity is echoed in the third person narration as it states that “Vader felt complete at the Emperor’s side. Though the emptiness at his core never left him.”[48] Furthermore, in the voice over commentary that accompanies The Phantom Menace Lucas elaborates on his interest in his continued exploration of the humanity/technology binary claiming that:

“I like technology, I use technology, but at the same time I understand the failings of technology. You can’t rely on technology for everything so I have this dual nature in the movies: the friendly human good technology of Artoo and Threepio and the evil technology of the battle droids…I am constantly playing with those two ends of the dilemma…I am trying to promote the human spirit even if it exists in a droid.”[49]

Although, the films are themselves highly technological constructions which in their own respective contexts relied on the most advanced technical knowledge available in order to represent their artificial universe, as Meyer notes, the texts “explicitly and implicitly criticize faith in technology at every possible turn.”[50]

A clear theme that emerges is that “technology is not to be trusted, for it corrupts human capacity and judgement.”[51] Consequently, the technology utilised by the Rebel forces appears inferior to the Empire’s super weapons. Indeed it is the small, battered and filthy rebel fighters that destroy the Empire’s apocalyptic Death Star in Episodes IV and VI. It is Luke who turns off his computerised targeting device in A New Hope and instead “trust[s] [his] feelings”[52] to aim his proton torpedo at the two metre wide exhaust port. Meyer also notes that:

“[t]he Empire’s equipment never fails; its weapons never misfire, the scanners never report false information and the faceless stormtroopers (also part of the machinery of oppression) never disobey. Yet the Empires forces are always frustrated by the smaller forces, less sophisticated weapons…”[53]

The film’s protagonists seem to invest time and care in their technology incessantly modifying it to suit their requirements. In The Empire Strikes Back one of the rebel soldiers says that they are “adapting [their speeders] to the cold.”[54] The shots that depict the rebel hangers often reveal them to be hives of maintenance and work, Chewbacca attempts to reconstruct the dismembered C3-PO in Empire, and R2-D2 who is identified as a “malfunctioning little twerp”[55] is rebuilt after being damaged in A New Hope. Han Solo’s Millenium Falcon is described by Luke, when he first sees it, as a “piece of junk”[56] and is “constantly beset by all kinds of technological failures,”[57] like its faulty hyper-drive. However, the Falcon is utilised to escape Imperial pursuit on a number of occasions through innovative, human improvisation like entering a dangerous asteroid field and landing on the back of the command tower of an Imperial Star Destroyer in order to avoid detection. This contrasts sharply with the mass production ethos inherent in the Empire’s and Trade Federation’s technological epistemology as all of their equipment appears brand new, or lacks the weathered appearance of the rebels paraphernalia, is produced en mass and is endlessly utilised with an expendable throw away mentality like the Imperial commanders who themselves “function as replaceable cogs in the Imperial machine,”[58] murdered by Vader for their failures and replaced in battlefield promotions by “terrified underlings.”[59]

The films thus explore a modern philosophical, post-capitalist concern relating to the moral use and place of technology in relation to its human creators. The Empire is depicted as subsumed by its technological constructions; the epistemologies of their mass production ethos have become embedded in their own hierarchies and ways of knowing and the objects of their creation have thus come to subjugate them whereas the rebel forces utilise technology as an appendage to their own innovative ends: their aging used technology is ample to achieve the ends that they require of it. The rebels, at least in part, appear to have mastery over their creations whereas figures like Vader are lost in a dehumanising interface with the machine that Marx describes in the aforementioned quotation.

So it has been argued here that the Star Wars saga contains many historical understandings. Firstly, the films, relying on historical knowledge, draw heavily on a varied body of myth, incorporating American elements of the western, the war film and pulp entertainment with older European narratives as well as conceptualised/theorised universalist threads. It has also been suggested that the artistic milieu which Lucas was operating in when he first conceived Star Wars was one of pessimism, uncertainty and reaction which must have partially influenced the saga’s apparent nostalgic ethos which entailed an intention to restore/reinvigorate some elements of a past order in the realm of the contemporary. However, it has also been argued that these films contain reasonably left-wing criticisms about our own context because of the content of the political and economic critique which is encoded in the films. Also, the metaphysical aspect which explores the relations between humanity and its technological creations can be read as Marxist as it brings into question notions of the philosophical regarding the relationship between humanity and its own systems and creations.


[1] In Tara Brabazon “We’ll Always Have Tatooine? Star Wars and Writing a Popular Memory,” Australian Journal of Communication, vol.26, no.2, 1999, p. 1. Will Brooker argues that this “endurance is due partly to an extension of the ‘official’ narratives, most obviously through the sequels, director’s cuts and prequels, but also through secondary texts such as CD-ROMs, comics and novels, which often bear only a quasi-canonical status due to their sanctioning by a production company but lack the director’s ‘personal’ authorial stamp.” See “Internet Fandom and the Continuing Narratives of Star Wars, Blade Runner and Alien,” in Annette Kuhn (ed.), Alien Zone II: The Spaces of Science Fiction Cinema, London: Verso, 1999, p. 50.

[2] See Anne Lancashire, “Attack of the Clones and the Politics of Star Wars,” The Dalhousie Review. vol. 82 iss.2, 2002, pp. 235-253, <;, (accessed 25 August 2006).

[3] In Lincoln Geraghty, “Creating and Comparing Myth in Twentieth Century Science Fiction: Star Trek and Star Wars,” Literature/Film Quarterly, vol. 33, no. 3, 2005, pp. 196-197.

[4] Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy, dirs. Edith Becker and Kevin Burns, Twentieth Century Fox, 2004, on Star Wars Trilogy: Bonus Material, 20th Century Fox, 2004.

[5] Robert McMahon, “Contested Memory: The Vietnam War and American Society,” Diplomatic History, vol. 26, iss. 2, 2002, pp. 159.

[6]Geraghty, “Creating and Comparing Myth,” p. 197.

[7] See Steve Murray “Television Review: Movies of the ‘70s Swept Away Old Hollywood [Home Edition]” Atlanta Journal – Constitution, 20 August 2003, <; Fmt=3& VInst=PROD& VType=PQD& RQT=309& VName=PQD&>, (accessed 25 August 2006).

[8] An allusion to Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the English Revolution, London: Temple Smith, 1972.

[9] James M. Curtis describes this passing of the old Wild West as it is represented within Lucas’s American Graffiti. See “From American Graffiti to Star Wars,” Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 13, iss. 4, 1980, pp. 595-596.

[10] Taxi Driver, dir. Martin Scorsese, Columbia Pictures, 1976.

[11] In Fredric Jameson, The Geopolitical Aesthetic: Cinema and Space in the World System, Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1995, p. 19.

[12] In H. Bruce Franklin, “Visions of the Future in Science Fiction: Films From 1970 to 1982,” in Annette Kuhn (ed.), Alien Zone: Cultural Theory and Contemporary Science Fiction Cinema, London: Verso, 1995, p. 19.

[13] Lancashire, “The Politics of Star Wars.”

[14] The Making of American Graffiti, dir. Laurent Bouzereau, Universal Pictures, on American Graffiti/More American Graffiti: Drive in Double Feature, dirs. George Lucas and B.W.L Norton (1973, 1979) 2004.

[15] In Curtis, “From American Graffiti to Star Wars,” p. 592.

[16] “Chapter 43: The Wolfman,” American Graffiti.

[17] Fredric Jameson notes that Star Wars pays “homage to a great number of films and film types.” In “Postmodernism and Consumer Society.” Hal Foster (ed.), The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, Port Townsend: Bay, 1983, p. 105: cited in Geraghty, “Creating and Comparing Myth,” p. 198.

[18] See Robert G. Collins, “Star Wars: The Pastiche of Myth and the Yearning For A Past Future,” Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 11, iss. 1, 1977, pp. 1-10.

[19] Leo Braudy, in Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy.

[20] See, Ibid.

[21] Collins, “Star Wars: The Pastiche of Myth,” p. 2.

[22] Ibid., p. 3.

[23] “Chapter 14: Your Father’s Lightsabre,” Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope, Twentieth Century Fox, (1977, 1997) 2004.

[24] “Chapter 27:Arrival on Coruscant,” Star Wars Episode I, The Phantom Menace, dir. George Lucas, Twentieth Century Fox, (1999) 2001.

[25] In Collins, “The Pastiche of Myth,” p. 6.

[26] Lancashire, “Politics of Star Wars.”

[27] “Chapter 4: Artoo’s Mission,” Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope.

[28] See Lancashire, “Politics of Star Wars.”

[29] In Ibid. Northrop Frye claims that “the quest-romance is the search of the libido or desiring self for a fulfillment that will deliver it from the anxieties of reality but will still contain that reality. The antagonists of the quest are often sinister figures, giants, ogres, witches and magicians, that clearly have a parental origin; and yet redeemed and emancipated paternal figures are involved too; as they are in the psychological quests of both Freud and Jung.” See “Third Essay: Archetypal Criticism,” Four Essays, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957, p. 193.

[30] Jameson, “Postmodernism and Consumer Society,” p. 116: cited in Geraghty “Creating and Comparing Myth,” p. 198.

[31] Jameson, “Postmodernism and Consumer Society,” p. 117: cited in Ibid., p. 197.

[32] In “Chapter 36: Wipe Them Out,” Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace, (1999) 2001.

[33] McMahon notes that “[t]he persistent conceptualization of the Vietnam War as a haunting, tragic event for the United States has become a staple of…retrospectives…” In “Contested Memory: The Vietnam War and American Society,” p. 160.

[34] See Anne Lancashire, “Politics of Star Wars.”

[35] Roz Kaveney, From Alien to the Matrix, London: I.B. Tauris, 2005, p. 113.

[36] Lancashire, “Politics of Star Wars.”

[37] Ibid.

[38] “Chapter 34: Birth of the Empire,” Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith, dir. George Lucas, Twentieth Century Fox, 2005.

[39] “Chapter 37: Emergency Powers,” Star Wars: Episode II, Attack of the Clones, dir. George Lucas, Twentieth Century Fox, 2002.

[40] Lancashire, “Politics of Star Wars.”

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Geraghty’s description of this film is succinct and applicable here. He states that THX 1138 “depict[s] a future dystopian world where humans were reduced to bottom-line budgetary numbers…” See “Creating and Comparing Myth,” p. 197.

[45] Karl Marx, “Manifesto of the Communist Party,” The Communist Manifest, ed. Frederic L. Bender, New York: W.W. Norton, 1988, p. 61.

[46] Karl Marx, Capital: A New Abridgement, David Mclellan (ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 50.

[47] “Chapter 15: A Certain Point of View,” Star Wars: Episode VI, Return of the Jedi, dir. Richard Marquand, Twentieth Century Fox, (1983, 1997) 2004.

[48] See James Kahn, “Return of the Jedi,” Star Wars Omnibus, London: Warner Books/Little, Brown and Company, 1997, p. 398.

[49] In “Chapter 36: Wipe Them Out,” Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

[50] In David S. Meyer, “Star Wars, Star Wars, and American Political Culture,” Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 26, iss. 2, 1992, p. 106.

[51] Ibid.

[52] “Chapter 45: Assault on the Death Star,” Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope.

[53] Ibid.

[54] “Chapter 4: The Rebel Base,” Star Wars: Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, dir, Irvin Kershner, Twentieth Century Fox, (1980, 1997) 2004.

[55] “Chapter 6: Lost in the Desert,” A New Hope.

[56] “Chapter 25: The Millenium Falcon,” A New Hope.

[57] Meyer, “Star Wars, and American Political Culture,” p. 107.

[58] Ibid, p. 106.

[59] Ibid.

Author: Canaan Perry

Suggested citation: C. Perry, ‘Conceptualisations of History in George Lucas’ ‘Star Wars’ Saga’, Space Zoetrope: Commentaire Filmique, Litteraire et Culturel, Available URL:
-in-george-lucas-star-wars-saga/, 2007.


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