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Post #1402214

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Star Wars is Surrealism, not Science Fiction (essay)
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Date created
12-Jan-2021, 7:03 AM
Last modified
5-Mar-2021, 8:04 AM
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I’d like to add a little addendum of sorts to acknowledge that early on in its inception Star Wars leaned much more towards hard sci-fi, taking more inspiration from works like Frank Herbert’s Dune than the mythological concepts we now associate with the franchise. EC Henry made an interesting video explaining just how much “hard” science actually made it into the first movie; Star Wars is More Scientific than You Realize (5 min. long). It is also quite clear that Lucas clearly flip-flopped between fantasy and sci-fi if you read through the early drafts of Star Wars, with most noticeably the Force, or rather “the Force of Others” being quite vague and loosely philosophical in the 1st draft. Early on the Force was much more in line with The Voice or The Weirding Way from the Dune novels, where it had more to do with perfectly controlling ones senses in order to detect things normal people could not. Even Leia is in the 3rd draft was casually referred to as “knowing the art of mind-control” when Luke and Han discuss the possibility of her cracking under interrogation. Ben Kenobi’s mind trick in the finished film also carried over elements of The Voice from Dune, and compared to later films even the more fantastical Force abilities on display weren’t too far off from the kind of telepathy people would have seen in countless sci-fi stories at the time, most notably in Star Trek. Ben’s disturbance in the Force moments was as a matter of fact lifted directly from an episode of Star Trek (S02E18 The Immunity Syndrome) where Spock senses the death of hundreds of Vulcans across several light years, simply explaining it away as a Vulcan’s deeper understanding of the universe. It’s also important to note that at the time of the making of Star Wars it was widely believed that proving the existence of telepathy was just around the corner, and concepts like Extra Sensory Perception was generally treated as legitimate science.

In the second draft of The Star Wars we see Lucas shifting more towards Campbell’s monomyth and introduced more magical concepts like Kiber Crystals and the prophecy of “the son of suns.” Both of which would show up in later Star Wars contents, the most famous and controversial one being the Prophecy of the Chosen One in The Phantom Menace, a film that recycled several names and ideas from the early drafts. The 4th and final draft of Star Wars backed down a little from the mythological elements in the previous drafts, but compromised by not returning to the Dune-like science fiction of the 1st draft. By the time Lucas had made The Empire Strikes Back and given us a ghost, levitation, visions of the future, magic caves, and Yoda (who at the time was described as the “embodiment of the Force”), it was clear that Lucas had finally committed to creating his own abstract monomyth for the space age, and not a science fiction series.