You've surely heard of The Wizard of Oz. but, did you know it helped to inspire Star Wars? Many people know it as the famous old movie that starred Judy Garland as Dorothy and a dog called Toto.
- Both Luke and Dorothy live with their aunt and uncle on a farm.
- They both are looking for something more. Luke wants to go to the Academy to fly things and likes to stare into the Binary Sunset and ponder such things. Dorothy states her aspirations when she sings “Over the Rainbow.”
- They each have complementary farmhands. Hunk, Zeke, and Hickory for Oz and C-3PO and R2-D2 respectively.
- Each has their world turned upside down. Dorothy's is literally thrown around by a tornado, and Luke's by Darth Vader's stormtroopers murdering his family (which was actually a call out to John Wayne's The Searchers). Sidenote: Wayne has a cameo “line” in A New Hope.
The two characters also become surrounded by familiar companions.
- Chewbacca steps in for the Cowardly Lion.
- C-3PO steps in for The Tin Man (and both enjoy some oil for their joints early in each film! “Thank the maker”).
- R2-D2 steps in for Toto. Both don't speak English and one could argue that R-TWO D-TWO is a play on TO TO.
It is very important to bear in mind that the duo of R2 and C-3PO were directly inspired by characters from The Hidden Fortress, so don't think Lucas is wholly copying from The Wizard of Oz.
George Lucas has previously said that he took facets of Luke's personality and made them into characters, and that's how he came up with Luke's friends and companions. That's pretty much what happens in The Wizard of Oz.
An amusing parallel is that when Darth Vader kills Obi-Wan Kenobi, only Kenobi's robes remain as his body has disappeared into the Force. When Dorothy accidentally kills the Wicked Witch of the West, only her robes remain after the water is thrown on her. In each case, both scenes have become very famous movie moments.
Indeed Lucas said with almost a sense of annoyance about the matter:
“Oh, he just took The Wizard of Oz and turned it inside out. But if you look at those two movies, they are totally different ideas. I mean, you can see certain similarities between almost any two movies. But coming up with a basic idea and developing it and making it work is very difficult and not to be underestimated.”
So let's give him a fair due on that point. But don't be fooled, in Return of the Jedi, Lucas did a fabulous homage to this scene:
Like Dorothy and her new friends went off to the Wizard's Emerald City, C-3PO and his little buddy R2 headed off to Jabba's Palace, with each party not really knowing what their fates would be.
There's actually an amusing story about the production of The Force Awakens that relates to The Wizard of Oz…
We suspect this might have been particularly a cheeky attempt at bribery from Fisher because Reynolds apparently sold the shoes in 2011 – well before The Force Awakens script was written!
For a more expert consideration of The Wizard of Oz's influence on Star Wars check out these links:
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.