In an interview with James Cameron in 2019, George Lucas evoked the political contours of his intergalactic saga, as an obvious echo according to him of the Vietnam War…
It’s always good to dive back into the archives of the Star Wars galaxy, which never lack anecdotes surrounding the creation of the universe of George Lucas. The following was precisely told by the person concerned in 2019 in the book James Cameron: History of Science Fiction, (published in France by Mana Books) in which the director of Avatar spoke with 12 major filmmakers about their vision of the genre, its impact and its evolution. These exchanges were also filmed.
Below is an excerpt from the interview between George Lucas and James Cameron, discussing the political influences of Star Wars:
“It’s not science and aliens and all that stuff that I focus on. It’s how people react to all that stuff” Lucas explains. And to draw an interesting parallel between the uprising of the American colonies against the British Empire at the time of the War of Independence, and the Rebel Alliance of his saga, which he assimilates to the resistance of the Vietcong during the Vietnam against the Empire, which is none other than a cinematographic counterpart of the United States.
“The irony is that, in both cases, the little guys won. The highly technical empire — the English empire, the American empire — lost. That was the whole point!” he continues.
For the record, moreover, in the audio commentary of Return of the Jedi, George Lucas already specified that the Viet Cong also served as an inspiration for the Ewoks, who use their primitive weapons and guerrilla tactics to fight off the invaders of the Empire.
Lucas spoke out very early on against the Vietnam War. Although he was called up, he was discharged after medical examination, due to diabetes; the same disease that killed his paternal grandfather. Already in 1973, he wrote a note about Star Wars, in reference to the Vietnam War, where he mentioned his scriptwriting intentions, talking about “a big tech empire going after a small group of freedom fighters”.
Even before he embarked on his intergalactic adventure, he had the desire to make an anti-war film on Vietnam, in a documentary style, to be called… Apocalypse Now, on the advice from John Milius. A project that finally passed into the hands of Francis Ford Coppola, to give birth in 1979 to the monument of the 7th Art that we know.