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Still Watching the Skies: Bonus Episode “Star Wars 40th Birthday”

Posted on Aug 7, 2017 by | 0 comments

Robert and Cody note that it’s the 40th birthday of STAR WARS and decide to celebrate the occasion. Rather than talk about a film that probably has more appreciation than any other on the internet, we decided to take a different tack and talk about three films that are key influences on STAR WARS; TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, THE HIDDEN FORTRESS, and THE DAM BUSTERS.



First up, visually depicting the power of an evil technocracy, is TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, Leni Riefenstahl’s infamous documentary about the 1934 Nazi Party Congress featuring Adolf Hitler and a cast of hundreds of thousands of Nazi supporters. We remark on the visuals, but is there anything else to hold on to and analyze? What kind of documentary is it anyways? How does it compare to documentaries of the time?

After the heaviness of a propaganda film on Hitler, things look up quite a bit with Akira Kurosawa’s lively 1958 tale of rescuing a princess, THE HIDDEN FORTRESS. Shot in glorious widescreen and featuring Toshiro Mifune and two peasants who bear a more than coincidental resemblance to R2D2 and C3PO it’s a grand adventure. Similarities to STAR WARS are, of course, discussed but more importantly we delve into the differences, both in theme and characters.



Finally, it’s time for a daring flying raid and we turn our sights on to 1955’s THE DAM BUSTERS, based on a true story and featuring a truly unfortunately named dog. We explore the origins of “the boffin” the English research scientist, as assayed by Michael Redgrave. We discuss “the mission” as central character. And we grip our armrests for a thrilling climax.


We also try to put these influences into a larger context, including how George Lucas approached integrating older sequences and how the new movies do, and why we feel one version is superior to the other.


But, to get the full context of our discussion of George Lucas’s recontextualizing you’ll have to give us a play below or Download the episode. Also, feel free to let us know what you think by commenting below or Email Us at [email protected] as we appreciate feedback.

Later this month, we discuss the one and only ZARDOZ from 1974. Will the podcast survive? We hope you’ll join us to find out.

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Robert Reineke
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