genres are used to provide a classification for a movie, so in my mind they are fluid.
if you are trying to decide what part of a product catalog to list it in, you will be using one set of criteria, and will probably list it as Sci Fi
if you are talking to a friend and comparing Star Wars to any other sci-fi movie, you are then more likely to reach for more descriptive, specific genres, and will say that Star wars is more of a Space Fantasy than your typical sci-fi story.
One of the key tropes/hallmarks that makes most Epic Fantasy is the nature of the forces of evil. Not only is their leader corrupt and twisted, but the forces themselves are corrupt and twisted. In both mind and body. At times they stories verge on horror due to the nature of the evil that infest the armies and agents of the chief antagonist. And typically the side of good is relying on some great talisman. This deep and pervasive evil is completely missing in Star Wars. Palpatine is relying on the force, but also on human frailties. He plays politics and uses his skill in that area to maintain control while pretending to be the puppet instead of the puppet master. Stormtroopers are just soldiers. It is about humans subverted by an evil leader, not by evil itself which is where most fantasy takes you. The struggle in fantasy brings the good and evil battle into the world where Star Wars puts the battle internal to each individual. So to me, Star Wars is nothing like any fantasy story I’ve encountered. It is too rooted in reality.
In the OT at least, nothing of what you said about Palpatine is true. He is everything the corrupt and twisted force of evil you describe. Whether the stormtroopers are just soldiers doesn’t matter, as we don’t know anything about their nature. Although if you want to bring the prequels into it, the clones are very much suggested to be twisted corrupt drones who operate on Palpatine’s whim.
And the battle of good vs. evil is not just internal in Star Wars. The Force is explicitly a power that binds the fate of the galaxy together. Palpatine is not just “an evil leader,” he is a literal Force for evil itself - the dark side.
You also seem to have a weird definition for fantasy, wherein only the most rigid and narrow storytelling aspects fit the genre, whereas with your definition of sci-fi, pretty much anything goes. I guess I just don’t know How It Works when you’re in the unimpeachable world of publishing.
Just pure lunacy. It is one thing to disagree about what the primary genre is, but to pretend like it is only one genre, with no elements of any other genre present is just ridiculous. Either you’re being willfully ignorant/obtuse, or you seriously need educate yourself better on Lucas’s influences. He wasn’t just taking from “space operas,” and I think you know it.
Yes, but when you are talking about SF vs. fantasy, he was only taking from SF. I have never heard of a single fantasy that inspired him. Not one. Myths, yes. Samurai, yes, Cambell, yes. Fantasy, no. When it comes to genre, Star Wars is 100% science fiction with no fantasy influences at all. Not one. And as I’ve pointed out many times, myths and legends and even religion has been fodder for science fiction forever. He specifically drew from Flash Gordon (which was a copy of Buck Rogers so even if he didn’t directly borrow from Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon had already done that), Asimov’s Foundation, Herbert’s Dune, and Star Trek (which itself was a copy of Forbidden Planet - at least partially). The Star Wars universe benefits from this and the technology is solid and realistic (as much as any science fiction is).
To say that Lucas took more from Asimov than fantasy is not only absurd on the face it of, but factually untrue. I don’t recall ever hearing that Lucas was inspired by Foundation. There doesn’t seem to be any influence from Star Trek that I can tell (besides what not to do), and I’ll give you Forbidden Planet, but even then we mustn’t forget is just an adaptation of The Tempest.
On the other hand, one of Star Wars’s most well documented influences was Hidden Fortress, a fantastical fairy tale. Little spoken of, but Lucas also screened Fellini’s Satyricon - a fantasy drama - for his crew during the production of the original film. Not to mention Wizard of Oz, whose similarities in storytelling to Star Wars are incredibly obvious. With the myths and legends of Campbell, I’d think those all fall under the purview of fantasy (even if many weren’t technically written as such at the time, they have become the basis for the storytelling and structure of the fantasy genre). And then there’s, of course, Tolkien - not only is it common knowledge that Lucas took inspiration from him (and it’s easy to see the parallels), but there’s direct evidence of such in the third draft script (a near direct lift from the Hobbit):
What do you mean, ‘good morning’? Do you mean that it is a good morning for you, or do you wish me a good morning, although it is obvious I’m not having one, or do you find that mornings in general are good?
All of them altogether.
Your take that the Jedi are wizards ignores the decades of similar characters in science fiction. Your take that the force is magic ignores the decades of fantastic powers in characters in science fiction. Your take that the story structure is a fantasy quest ignores the decades of science fiction quest stories. You are focused on it being fantasy because Lucas said so and have this image of science fiction as a genre based on realistic science and we all know how well Lucas can BS and very little science fiction is based on realistic science but rather pseudoscience extrapolated from possibilities that can range from likely to near impossible. There is nothing in Star Wars that deviates from the Space Opera standards.
It’s one thing to say that none of the fantastical things in Star Wars disqualifies it as sci-fi, because there’s precedent for those things in sci-fi. But it’s another thing entirely to pretend that the fanatical things in Star Wars have nothing to do with fantasy at all and are “100% sci-fi.” No one in their right mind would look at a wizard character and think first of the handful of examples of that from “space operas.” That’s a fantasy archetype, plain and simple. To say it’s not is intellectually dishonest, at best. Anyone with any bit of sense would recognize that Ben Kenobi fits far more into the mould of Gandalf and Merlin than Gary Mitchell.
Which is to say nothing of the other genres that Star Wars encompasses. To simplify it all as “space opera” is incredibly reductive. And then to say that because it is “space opera” makes it 100% sci-fi is incredibly debatable. If anything I’d say space opera is too diverse a style to shoehorn into merely a sub-genre of sci-fi. And I really don’t give a shit how Amazon classifies them. There is no remotely infallible way to label and categorize everything. Especially once you have things that straddle multiple definitions, it’s entirely unfair to pretend like they can fit into just one category and fit perfectly there.
So we have one line of dialog in one version of the script that was cut. Okay. What other way did Tolkien influence Star Wars?
The influence is clear. The wizened mentor. The nobody kid hero. The secret mission to destroy an evil and powerful weapon. The rogue in the bar. Etc. Much of the commonalities are fantasy/fairy tale tropes and not specific to Tolkien but they are fantasy/fairy tale storytelling tropes and they are in Star Wars.
And I own Hidden Fortress and it is not a fantasy. Just a solid samurai drama.
Since apparently it’s a requirement to talk about it, yes I own it too and have seen it multiple times. Calling it a “samurai drama” is somewhat inaccurate, yes there are samurai in it but it is very firmly a fairy tale story with a mystical vibe (even if admittedly there are no explicit supernatural elements - though there are other Kurosawa and samurai pictures that contain as much).
From Foundation comes the galactic empire. Tyrannical Emperors. Great Imperial fleets fighting rebellion… basically most of the setting.
I’ve never heard of Lucas taking inspiration from Foundation. The similarities you state are things that are pretty common in all different types of genres, not specifically sci-fi. It’s entirely likely that both Lucas and Asimov took inspiration from historical and otherwise mythical Empires.
From Dune you get a desert planet, mystic religions with strange powers, the voice, and a young boy thrust into the spot light.
I’d say Dune faces a similar question to Star Wars in regards to genre classification.
From Hidden Fortress you get the journey (one of the drafts is virtually a direct copy of Hidden Fortress) and the droids (typical Japanese comic relief characters). And there is so much taken from Flash Gordon (Which I would say is the main inspiration for the entire idea of Star Wars) which has Ming the merciless, princesses, and epic fight against incredible odds, and so much more. Flash Gordon runs closer to (but not overlapping) fantasy than Star Wars does. Lucas made Star Wars much more grounded, gritty, and realistic.
Again, Flash Gordon is somewhat of a genre-bender. It fits into “space opera” but that is a very kitchen-sink sort of category, and not wholly science fiction, despite what Amazon and bookstores tell you.
And while it is true that Lucas started out wanting to simply do Flash Gordon, what he eventually came up with was much more unique and a pastiche of loads of other things - not just space opera serials. I’d say Star Wars’s rugged, grounded approach has more to do with the influence of western, war films and other non-genre pictures than sci-fi works. Remember that at the time Lucas’s decision to make it “gritty” was going against the grain of typical sci-fi.
I’ve always taken Owen’s use of the word Wizard in referring to Ben as an insult and not a reflection of his role in the story. In the Campbell structure, he is the mentor. He is less magical than he is mysterious. I’ve always considered the Jedi as powerful warriors and see the little force tricks as nothing terribly important for pinning the genre. In the end, nothing about the story is determined by exhibitions of the force. And wizard’s don’t typically do battle with swords. Ben is an old knight, not an old wizard. He is more veteran samurai than Merlin.
Yoda literally outright dispels the notion that Jedi are simply “powerful warriors.” As I’ve said before, the story is all about the Force, far beyond the “little tricks” you mention. And using a sword is by no means a disqualification for being a wizard. Not to mention, what you claim he is instead - a samurai - still has nothing to do with sci-fi. So any reasonable person would recognize him as a samurai-esque wizard, and nothing at all like the “ESP” using characters in other sci-fi you’ve mentioned (there are essential zero similarities of any importance to Gary Mitchell, who you constantly bring up).