The Rebels in ‘Star Wars’ Were Inspired By the Viet Cong, George Lucas Reveals
“Star Wars” might have been set in a galaxy far far away but the characters who played in its fantastical settings possess very human qualities.
This was how “Star Wars” creator George Lucas intended his heroes and villains to be. That’s why each of the main characters remained relatable despite the supernatural elements that surround them.
“It isn’t the science, aliens, and all that kind of stuff that I get focused on. It’s how people react to all those things,” Lucas was quoted as saying during a segment from James Cameron’s “Story of Science Fiction.”
In the clip, Lucas was discussing the contemporary political influences behind “Star Wars” with filmmaker James Cameron when he revealed that he based the heroes of “Star Wars” on real-life rebellions against powerful empires.
“We’re fighting the largest empire in the world, and we’re just a bunch of hay seeds in coonskin hats that don’t know nothing,” Lucas noted.
It was during this interview when Lucas likened America to “the Empire” and the Việt Cộng to “the Resistance” in reference to the events during the Vietnam War.
“The irony is that, in both of those, the little guys won. The highly technical empire — the English Empire, the American Empire — lost. That was the whole point,” Lucas says.
Meanwhile, in an audio commentary on the 2004 re-release of “Return of the Jedi,” Lucas said that the Việt Cộng also served as his inspiration for the Ewoks, who used their primitive weapons to defeat invaders, according to History.
Lucas has always been against the American intervention in Vietnam and has been very vocal about it, reports the New York Post. Referencing the Vietnam war, Lucas wrote a 1973 note on “Star Wars,” how it was “A large technological empire going after a small group of freedom fighters.”
Before he began working on “Star Wars,” he wanted to make a documentary-style antiwar film on “Vietnam” that was to be called “Apocalypse Now.” The project was eventually passed on to collaborator Francis Ford Coppola, who produced and directed the film and released it in 1979.
Aside from the Vietnamese resistance fighters, Lucas also drew inspirations from other historical influences such as the Japanese samurai and Shaolin monks for the Jedi fighters, Nazis and other fascist regimes for the Stormtroopers, Richard Nixon for Sheev Palpatine, and Ancient Rome for the political institutions.