Why Star Wars?

The Dissolve’s Keith Phipps:

From a certain point of view, to borrow a phrase from a different movie, Star Wars isn’t an attempt to escape from Vietnam, but an attempt to recontextualize it, with the United States slotted into the role of the Empire, and the Rebellion standing in for the NVA and the Viet Cong. By the time the film reached screens, this source of inspiration was so deep in the mix—buried beneath everything from Joseph Campbell to Bruno Bettelheim to The Wizard Of Oz—that it hardly counted as subtext anymore. But it’s still fundamentally a story about revolutionaries standing up for what’s right, and its Vietnam-inspired origins complicate the notion that Star Wars was ever purely an escapist enterprise. No matter how long ago and how far, far away you set a story, the real world has a way of creeping in.

Of all the many influences on George Lucas for Star Wars, Vietnam wasn’t one that came to mind before reading Keith’s piece. Yet he makes a fairly persuasive argument.