Star Wars Ring Theory Proves George Lucas Knew What He Was Doing the With Prequel Trilogy

Star Wars may have a deeper narrative than you previously thought. George Lucas said to Vanity Fair in February 2005:

“The interesting thing about Star Wars – and I didn’t ever really push this very far because it’s not really that important – but there’s a lot going on there that most people haven’t come to grips with yet. But when they do, they will find it’s a much more intricately made clock than most people would imagine.”

This epic essay by Mike Klimo demonstrates how all of the first six Star Wars movies are unified in ways that many people have quite likely never fully grasped. It's amazing that it took until 2014 for Klimo to put it all together.

The crux of the essay is that the six movies have a deliberate internal “ring” system where the stories flow in a rhythmic pattern.
While this post is reducing the essay to a very basic form, the premise is that the movies relate to each other in the manner shown below:
So the cadence of the story of Star Wars follows a pattern of ABC CBA where each letter relates to the corresponding movie in terms of the themes and patterns that occur in them.

The essay is detailed in its thinking – perhaps a little too smart for its own good in places and may overreach in others – however it does an extremely fine job of demonstrating the similarities in each of the movies, the callbacks to each other that they make and the “meaningful coincidences” that permeate the films.

We do really suggest you take 20-30 minutes to have a read.

If you decide not to, here are some interesting takeaways from it that explore the relationships between the movies.

The essay covers things in way more depth with some great use of comparative images from each movie.

Phantom Menace’s Relationship to Return of the Jedi

  • The movie's beginning scenes are very similar. The Phantom Menace features Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan delivering the Chancellor’s demands in hopes of settling a conflict between the Trade Federation and Naboo. Return of the Jedi features “brobots” C-3PO and R2-D2 delivering Luke Skywalker’s message in the hope of settling the conflict between Jabba the Hutt and Han Solo. Both scenes feature the infamous Star Wars quote “I have a bad feeling about this.”
  • The trap that Emperor sets for Luke and his friends in Return of the Jedi is the result of him confirming to himself that his “flaw of compassion” strategy will work as it did when he enticed Amidala to come to him in The Phantom Menace. He learned that compassion and fear can be used to his advantage, and he did the same over Luke in Return of the Jedi.
  • Both Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace’s finale feature a saber fight, a space battle, and a land battle.
  • C-3PO's eyes are fixed by Anakin, Salacious Crumb eats one.
  • The pod race in The Phantom Menace and the speeder bike chase in Return of the Jedi occur at the halfway point of both movies.
  • In terms of the broader story of Anakin’s destiny, which started in The Phantom Menace, it is only fulfilled when Luke fulfills his (kind of a ring within a ring moment).
green sabers
Images Courtesy of Lucasfilm

The Inverted Relationship of Attack of the Clones and the Empire Strikes Back

  • Attack of the Clones begins with three small ships accompanying a larger ship and The Empire Strikes Back features an ending where the Falcon escapes being chased by three tie fighters.
  • Attack of the Clones starts high in the clouds and ends in caves. The Empire Strikes Back starts low (swamps of Dagobah?) and ends high in Cloud City.
  • Anakin uses Padmé as bait to lure out an assassin. Vader uses Han, Leia, and Chewie as bait to lure out Luke, each trap leading to the intended trap victim blowing out throw a window.
  • Obvious reference points are the Fetts, an asteroid belt scene, and C-3PO getting dismantled (“die Jedi dogs!”).
  • The bounty hunter losing her arm at the beginning of Attack of the Clones mirrors the wampa losing his arm at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back. Both moments serve to foreshadow a Skywalker losing a limb in said movies.
  • Anakin finding his mother and killing everybody in the camp is the same emotional journey that Luke goes through when he enters the cave on Dagobah. Both scenes reflect both the father and son’s descent into their own personal darkness.
  • If one considers the first act of Return of the Jedi as the last act of The Empire Strikes Back (which kind of makes sense), other similarities include the monsters in the arena and Jabba’s pit, a Skywalker using a green light saber for the first time, a Fett dying moments after a jet pack malfunction, Padmé and Leia using a chain to kill a beast and a common sexual element in terms of those female characters clothes (the bikini, however, being more overt than Padmé’s naked midriff, but sometimes less is more).
  • The two movies are opposites in that The Empire Strikes Back featured its great battle at the start, while Attack of the Clones' great battle occurred at the end as the Separatists tangled with the Republic. In a similar manner, The Empire Strikes Back’s color palette changes from blue (Hoth) to red (Cloud City skies) and Attack of the Clones begins with blue (Coruscant and Kamino) and ends with red (Geneonis).
r2d2 robotarm sith hope
Images Courtesy of Lucasfilm

The Pairing of Revenge of the Sith and a New Hope

  • The beginning is the end. In Revenge of the Sith, the Invisible Hand ship serves as Palpatine’s throne room when he orders Anakin to execute Count Dooku and then escapes. This mirrors the last half of A New Hope when Luke rescues Leia from Vader.
  • In Revenge of the Sith, a clone pilot gives the order, “Set S-foils in attack position.” In A New Hope, after the X-Wing pilots report in, Red Leader orders his men to “Lock S-foils in attack position.” Many other comments are variants of each other.
  • R2-D2 uses his arm tool while in the trench run in A New Hope and during the space battle in Revenge of the Sith.
  • During some shenanigans on the Invisible Hand that mirrored the events on the Death Star, Grievous mocks the Jedi with “That wasn’t much of a rescue” which practically is dripping the same sarcasm that Leia delivered with “This is some rescue!”
  • Other mirroring moments include Luke realizing why the Jawas were slaughtered to rush and find his family dead, Obi-Wan and Yoda encountering dead children as they enter the Jedi Temple, and C-3PO driving Padmé and Luke to various places.
  • General Grievous being mostly a robot with breathing difficulty reflects the introduction of Vader and his famous breathing technique.
  • The last act of Revenge of the Sith and the first act of A New Hope famously both feature the sword fights between a Skywalker family member and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
  • Vader’s late appearance at the end of Revenge of the Sith ties nicely with Vader’s early entrance as he boards the Tantive IV at the beginning of A New Hope.
  • C-3PO says the last and first line of each movie.
  • Yoda sensing the death of hundreds of Jedi after Order 66 is given mirrors Obi-Wan sensing the death of the people of Alderaan.

So, as we said, these are just some of the elements that we found interesting in the essay.

You might like to read this interview with Mike Klimo – it offers some sweet insight into how he went about writing the essay.

If this wonderful theory is true, the way George did it is by getting a strong story going with the original trilogy and when he was doing the prequels he was able to write the scripts to suit the ABCCBA relationship.

What do you think of this ring theory? It seems pretty strong.

Rogue One also continues this concept a bit. Where A New Hope started with Darth Vader dressed in black being surrounded by his white Stormtroopers, Rogue One reverses this with Krennic dressed in white being surrounded by his black-suited Death troopers.

Here are some more examples of the visual symmetry that Lucas put into Star Wars.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Editor in Chief at Wealth of Geeks | + posts

Paul Rose Jr is the Editor in Chief of Wealth of Geeks & manages the Associated Press program for The Insiders network. He has worked as TV News Producer, Forensic Analyst, and Train Conductor, among many other things. He’s the former TV Editor for InfuzeMag and owns more books, DVDs, and comics than most people have seen in their lifetimes. When he’s not writing or editing on Wealth of Geeks, he exercises his creative muscle writing screenplays and acting in film and television in Los Angeles, CA.