A New Opus
Curiously, and luckily for Lucas and company, despite being a sweet, innocent and openly Ozian themed sadolescent film that wallowed shamelessly and wistfully in clean cut early Sixties nostalgia and Fifties rock and roll and was the complete opposite of the grittier and more violent, sexual, anti-Establishment and adult films of New Hollywood, AMERICAN GRAFFITI and its soundtrack-supposedly the first ever all rockin rebel soundtrack for a film-were eagerly embraced by audiences. Clearly, an easy going, good natured, harmonizing, healing and wistful film that reminded audiences of the peaceful years before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the tumultuous turmoil of the rest of the Sixties and then the Seventies and exorcised the memory of GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD and TWO-LANE BLACKTOP was just what audiences needed for escape. And escape they did, for a disillusioned world that was eager to heal the divisive wounds of the Vietnam War and leave behind the riotous tumult of the Sixties and the dark and apocalyptic pessimism of the Cold War abandoned their box populis eagerly soaked up the light hearted and innocently healing Ozian Force of AMERICAN GRAFFITI. Indeed, the film was a runaway success from the day of its release in Los Angeles on August 1, 1973, and played in some theatres for two years in those days before the multiplex.
Perhaps audiences were also using AMERICAN GRAFFITI to celebrate the sunny new spirit of the times, for with the signing of a peace treaty between the United States and Vietnam in Paris in late January of 1973, the youth of America were no longer being drafted to fight in the wicked war in Vietnam. Indeed, Spielberg’s allegorical and blockbuster beast bashing film, JAWS (1975), was also quite popular after being released one month after the evacuation of Saigon in 1975 as audiences celebrated the end of the war by heading into the theatres, reiterating the implication that the success of AMERICAN GRAFFITI was perhaps due in part to its release after the end of the hated draft. At any rate, AMERICAN GRAFFITI was also the most profitable film ever made up to that point, costing approximately $775,000 to make-an amount less than THX 1138-and grossing over $55,000,000 in its two year run. This made AMERICAN GRAFFITI the perfect antidote to the crushing failure of THX 1138, encouraging Lucas to believe again that his destiny lay in film art that would snatch bodies away from their THX 1138 television sets. The film’s success also implied that Lucas could influence audiences with healing and harmonizing Ozian themed films, an implication that inspired Lucas to continue with more of the same in his next film. Not bad for a movie that was filmed mostly at night in small towns north of San Francisco-after Modesto had kicked out the filmmakers after several raucous nights early in the production-in a little over six weeks in the summer of 1972.
Ironically for a film from a film artist whose goal was to break audiences free from their televisions and back into the Temple Theatre the film was also as popular on television throughout the Seventies as THE WIZARD OF OZ when it was released on the small screen. The film even inspired the creation of half heartedly allegorical television shows like HAPPY DAYS, LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY and SHA NA NA, the former marking the return to television of AMERICAN GRAFFITI star Howard as Richie Cunningham. AMERICAN GRAFFITI was even nominated for five Academy Awards for Best Direction, Best Editing, Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress. However, unlike THE WIZARD OF OZ, which won two Oscars, AMERICAN GRAFFITI came home without the hardware. For Lucas and company were stung by Hill’s knowing allegorical comedy, THE STING (1973), a seven Academy Award winning film that continued the trend of FINIAN’S RAINBOW and MARIO PUZO’S THE GODFATHER by allegorically roasting Old Hollywood in the symbolic form of a perhaps Kubrick linked mobster known as the ‘Big Mick’-played by Robert Shaw-and his old guard mobster establishment. However, as Gondorff and the Kid, the two con men who led the triumph of New over Old Hollywood, were played by Newman and Redford, and appeared to symbolize Coppola and Lucas again as had their characters in BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, Coppola and Lucas could take some consolation in the knowledge that their symbolic alter egos had still triumphed at the Oscars despite the failure of AMERICAN GRAFFITI to strike gold (Pollock 107-42 and 305-6). Ominously, however, for Coppola, Lucas and the rest of the world, John David Landis, a then unknown high school dropout and aspiring filmmaker who to this day insisted that his favourite film was the allegorical Nathan Juran film, THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958) [Elder, 222-31]-a perennial revelation which at least confirmed that his inner world was indeed that of an eternally giddy eight year old-emerged the same year in his first allegorical film, SCHLOCK (1973).
Even more ominously, SCHLOCK saw Landis rampaging, attacking and killing throughout the film as angry apeman, Schlockthropus. As the apesuit, designed by a young Rick Baker, evoked not just a pint size King Kong but the early humans seen in the Dawn of Man segment of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, the implication was that Landis was ironically saluting Kubrick’s film long rampage in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE the year before-and giving an affectionate nod to the allegorical and implicitly Lang and METROPOLIS addressing Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack film, KING KONG (1933), given its similar ending. An ominously ironic salute, given the real life death and mayhem that Landis would eventually cause on his set of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE. Indeed, SCHLOCK openly anticipated that real life mayhem in another eerie memory of the future, as we were told at the beginning of the film that the rampage of Schlockthropus had already left behind 239 bodies, 239 bodies that anticipated the 237 date of the TZ disaster. SCHLOCK also presciently anticipated the battles with the blockbuster beast that New Hollywood waged after the TZ disaster, despite the silly and light hearted nature of the film. Indeed, given that Detective Sgt. Wino and Officer Ivan-played by Saul Kahan and Joseph Piantadosi, respectively-two of the bumbling Keystone Kops that ineffectually tracked Schlockthropus down, looked and acted like Allen and Lucas, Landis not only implicitly roasted them, but also correctly anticipated in this first film that after initially creating more serious film art in their struggling early years, they would then use their film art to come to grips with the blockbuster beast after they had succeeded as film artists. And with the beastly Schlockthropus, as Chewbacca resembled the out of control apeman. Significantly, SCHLOCK was also the first allegorical Landis film to feature George Folsey jr., a supposedly steadying influence on Landis as he was ten years older and the son of noted cinematographer George Folsey sr., as both editor and executive producer. An important association, as Folsey jr. would go on to be the producer of the Landis episode of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE and unfortunately prove not to be a steadying and more seasoned influence by helping Landis illegally hire and use Chen and Le on his set the fateful night of the TZ disaster.
Despite this ominous emergence of Schlocklandis in the twilit background, the popularity of AMERICAN GRAFFITI allowed Lucas to free himself from the influence of Coppola like Milner freed himself from the threat of Falfa. A newfound freedom that did not bother Coppola too much, as he implicitly came to the defense of Lucas and himself by roasting Bertolucci for the implicit roasting he gave the Stinky Kid and himself in IL CONFORMISTA/THE CONFORMIST in the allegorical sequel, MARIO PUZO’S THE GODFATHER PART II (1974). Indeed, to affirm that implication, Coppola used Gaston Moschin to play Fanucci, the small time mob boss killed by Robert De Niro’s young Vito Corleone, as Moschin had played Clerici’s intrepid and eager beaver secret agent compadre, Manganiello, in THE CONFORMIST. However, while rising to defend Lucas from attacks by others, Coppola was not immune from embittered meditations on Lucas himself. Indeed, Coppola tried but failed to win over Lucas and woo him back as a partner in a new and reborn American Zoetrope studio at this time with a deal that Lucas could not refuse, and openly alluded to this unsuccessful conversation with Lucas in his other allegorical 1974 release, THE CONVERSATION.
In this sense, the failed attempt of Allen Garfield’s surveillance expert William P. Moran to persuade Gene Hackman’s Harry Caul to join him as a partner in a combined surveillance company symbolized Coppola’s failed attempt to persuade Lucas to re-join him at a new and improved American Zoetrope. Indeed, Hackman’s lean, silent and bespectacled San Franciscan surveillance expert Harry Caul-a name that was an anagram of Luca, evoking Lucas and the Lucas linked character Luca in MARIO PUZO’S THE GODFATHER-looked and acted like Lucas, complete with thick glasses, and an introverted and reserved manner. Garfield’s shorter, heavy set and garrulous New York surveillance man William P. Moran also looked and acted like the New York raised Coppola, underlining that the film openly continued the behind the scenes conversation of Coppola and Lucas.
THE CONVERSATION was also filmed in San Francisco like THX 1138 and parts of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, had the same odd, disjointed and surreal style of THX 1138-and even co-starred Duval as the mysterious Director- confirming that Coppola confronted Lucas in the film. The presence of AMERICAN GRAFFITI alumni like Ford and Williams and a scene that sarcastically blasted young cruisers in a vintage car while Caul, Moran and company were stopped at a stoplight at one point in the film also underlined that Coppola was lashing out at Lucas and his unexpected success in THE CONVERSATION. And the murder of Duval’s mysterious Director in the end no doubt symbolized Coppola’s desire to strike back at Lucas for refusing to rejoin him and defeating him with a good film that would re-establish Coppola as the Godfather of New Hollywood film art. Thus, Coppola announced with his two pronged 1974 assault that he had begun blasting Lucas in the Star Director Wars. And an ominous assault, for Caul’s flight to San Francisco as a result of three murders in New York caused by information he had innocently gathered with his surveillance work for a customer was another eerie memory of the future that anticipated the link of Lucas to the deaths of Chen, Le and Morrow in the TZ disaster. An ominous memory of the future repeated that year by the sight of Morrow’s police Captain Franklin involved in a dangerous helicopter pursuit of fleeing young hot rod outlaws in the allegorical John Hough film, DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY (1974).
Significantly, Coppola was not the only one to blast out cinematic salvoes, as their friend and fellow New Hollywood film artist John Milius was so thrilled to see an evil Coppola linked gangster leader triumph at the end of MARIO PUZO’S THE GODFATHER that he furiously blasted Coppola in his first allegorical feature film, DILLINGER (1973). Indeed, the grim, relentless and successful campaign of the perhaps Huston linked FBI man Melvin Purvis-played by Ben Johnson-to hunt down and kill the Coppola linked gangster John Dillinger-played by Warren Oates-and his gang made it abundantly and implicitly clear what Milius thought of New Hollywood directors symbolically linking themselves to evil criminals. Milius’ open and uncompromising embrace of the FBI and the police Force in DILLINGER clearly struck home with Lucas, for Lucas also openly and uncompromisingly embraced the Force in his third feature film. Perhaps helped along by Spielberg, who linked the squeaky clean and eager beaver Texas police Officer Slide-played by Michael Sacks-driving away in his box shaped car like Mann in DUEL to Lucas in his freshman and satirical allegorical film, THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS (1974), a film that evoked and came across as a kinder and gentler fusion of VANISHING POINT and Arthur Penn’s allegorical film, BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967).
Curiously, the film saw the return of Johnson as a sympathetic but seasoned and knowing and fearless Texas police officer. A seasoned and implicitly Ford linked Captain Tanner who noticeably worked with the implicitly Lucas linked Officer Slide to free him from being held hostage by a wild and out control young couple, a successful resolution that implied that on one level, Spielberg used THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS to congratulate Lucas on his success with the Ford inspired teen Western, AMERICAN GRAFFITI. Indeed, the fact that Sugarland and Hollywood both had a similar sound, and the same number of letters in each syllable, underlined the link between Hollywood and the Sugarland. The wild and out of control young couple who briefly held Officer Slide hostage, Clovis and Lou Jean Poplin-played by William Atherton and Goldie Hawn, respectively-reaffirmed Sugarland’s link to Hollywood, as the demented duo were implicitly linked to Spielberg and his own film art.
Indeed, the sight of Clovis being persuaded to flee prison four months before his release by his young, blonde, and, hence, implicitly Lolita and Hollywood linked wife Lou Jean, reminded us that Spielberg had been persuaded to leave UCLA film school months before his graduation by the lure of Universal fortune and glory. Thus, the massive uproar the escape and kidnapping of Slide stirred up in the ranks of the Texas police-an uproar that evoked the uproar in the US War Room over the wayward bomber in DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB-implicitly symbolized the uproar Spielberg stirred up in the ranks of New Hollywood by leaving film school before he earned his film art degree to work on commercial telefilms. This implication also implied that the sight of Clovis being shot down by a police sniper in the end symbolized Spielberg’s fear that his film art career would also be gunned down before it got a chance to start by New Hollywood scorn and hostile reviews of THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS.
A film art career that would be inspired by Hitchcock instead of Ford or Kurosawa, given that the film started with Lou Jean getting off a bus on a country lane in Texas to visit Clovis in jail, a beginning that evoked the bus that dropped off Cary Grant’s Roger O. Thornhill on a lonely country lane prior to being dive bombed by a crop dusting plane in the allegorical Hitchcock film, NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959). This Hitchcock influence was reaffirmed by the prison guard-played by Al Evans-who let Lou Jean into the jail to visit Clovis, for he resembled Hitchcock, not Ford. A film art career that was also still heading straight to the Twilight Zone, as THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS began with a highway sign reading ‘723 FARM ROAD’, and Officer Slide drove police car 2311. The fateful and prescient number 23 also turned up that year in the allegorical and Ozian themed film roasting John Boorman film, ZARDOZ (1974). Indeed, the thought provoking film was ‘…set in the year 2293.’ Thus, the sight of the Executioners of the Outland invading the exclusive Vortex community and killing all of its elite New and Old Hollywood evoking members, in the end, eerily anticipated audiences rising up in fury to overthrow New Hollywood in the 1977-82 era.
Perhaps inspired by the zany chaos of SCHLOCK, the same year Richard Rush released a zany and implicit roast of Coppola and Lucas in the symbolic form of wild and reckless San Francisco police detectives Bean and Freebie-played by Alan Arkin and James Caan, respectively-in his frenetic and THE FRENCH CONNECTION evoking allegorical film, FREEBIE AND THE BEAN (1974). The same year Robert Altman cheerily and implicitly predicted that Lucas and his reputation would be literally or symbolically killed in his attempt to lead New Hollywood, dying like Warren Beatty’s implicitly Lucas linked McCabe died trying to lead a small town hacked out of the British Columbia landscape at the end of the allegorical film, MCCABE AND MRS. MILLER (1974). For his literary part, King again eerily and presciently anticipated twilit events in his allegorical weird tale of terror, ‘Sometimes They Come Back’ (1974), which revolved around coming to grips with a twilit trio of ghosts.
Next year the allegorical roasting of Coppola and Lucas got even more nasty when Huston compared the two rogue film artists to two nineteenth century British fools, Peachy Carnehan and Daniel Dravot-played by Michael Caine and Sean Connery, respectively-who tried to have themselves installed as rulers of a mythical kingdom north of the India of the British Raj-as north as San Francisco was to Los Angeles-only to be destroyed in the process in his admonishing and cautioning allegorical film, THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING (1975). Milius also returned in 1975 and had his cinematic alter ego President Theodore Roosevelt-played by Brian Keith-take on the Coppola and Lucas linked Moroccan leaders, Mulai Raisuli and the Bashaw-played by Connery and Vladek Sheybal, respectively-albeit with more grudging respect than he showed in DILLINGER in his allegorical film, THE WIND AND THE LION (1975).
Curiously, Spielberg also showed up with even more respect for Lucas at least, having the Lucas linked shark expert Hooper and the embattled and Spielberg linked Amity Island Sheriff Martin Brody-played by Dreyfuss and Scheider, respectively triumph in the end over the blockbuster beast in the form of a ravenous and wily Moby Dick of a great white shark at the end of JAWS. Spielberg also implicitly and cheekily bit the hand that fed him by triumphing over the studio heads that lusted after those blockubuster beasts, as symbolized by the triumph over Mayor Vaughan-played by Murray Hamilton-the mayor of Hollywood cadenced Amity, who looked like Universal Studios head Lew Wasserman, the then boss of Spielberg.
Significantly, before the final triumph, the Moby Shark killed the irascible and Captain Ahab evoking Cap’n Quint-played by Shaw-captain of the Orca, the ship that Brody and Hooper hired to help them track down and kill the blockbuster shark. As JAWS evoked the allegorical Huston film, MOBY DICK (1956)-a film that implied that Hollywood’s desperate quest in the Fifties to have film artists inspire international Foreign Legion casts and crews to slay the television beast with big budget, full colour blockbuster films was just as doomed as the equally desperate quest of Captain Ahab to inspire the international Foreign Legion officers and crew of the Peqoud to slay the implicitly age of Empire linked great white whale-the implication was that the death of Quint also symbolized the death of the influence and popularity of Huston now that New Hollywood was established. In fact, given the fact that Shaw also played the Big Mick who lost it all at the end of THE STING, it was possible that the Big Mick was linked to Huston in that film, as well.
Unfortunately for Spielberg, however, while Lucas noticed the sympathetic nod to himself, he implicitly did not appreciate it or JAWS. Indeed, the Star Destroyers of the evil Empire that his symbolic alter ego, Luke Skywalker, would desperately battle throughout the Classic Trilogy looked like the great white shark of JAWS. This implied that Lucas was furious that Spielberg used a blockbuster film to slay the blockbuster beast in JAWS, instead of remaining committed to higher goals in film art like the rest of New Hollywood, and used the Classic Trilogy to defeat the blockbuster beast and the insidious Lord Spielberg. The fact that in his quixotic desperation to leave behind commercial television direction and join the blockbuster ranks of the film artists of New Hollywood, Spielberg persuaded Universal Studios and his boss Wasserman to turn the bestselling Benchley novel into JAWS making him the insidious Force behind the film rather than Wasserman was no doubt also held against Spielberg by Lucas.
Significantly, Lucas was not the only film artist to implicitly hate JAWS, as the film enraged the anti-commercial film art for film art’s sake ranks of New Hollywood and implicitly inspired a number of righteously furious cinematic responses. In fact, Lumet returned with Pacino the same year as the release of JAWS to implicitly roast Spielberg and THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS in the allegorical film, DOG DAY AFTERNOON (1975), which implicitly likened Spielberg’s madcap attempt to succeed in the world of film art to the equally madcap attempt by the implicitly Spielberg linked Sonny-played by Pacino-to rob a Brooklyn bank. Spielberg’s sunny hopes were further darkened by the decapitated and dismembered bodies of the victims of Moby Shark in JAWS, which ominously presaged the similarly decapitated and dismembered bodies of Chen, Le and Morrow in the TZ disaster.
Curiously, Kubrick also returned the same year, but not to roast Coppola or Lucas as in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Instead, he implicitly and tartly replied to Lean and RYAN’S DAUGHTER, and delivered an even more implicitly scathing and sarcastic message to Landis in his allegorical film, BARRY LYNDON (1975), underlined by all sorts of allusions to SCHLOCK. Indeed, Kubrick implicitly predicted-if not hoped!-that the attempt by the naïve and foolish Landis to succeed as a film artist would destroy him as surely and as decisively as the attempt by Ryan O’Neal’s equally naïve and foolish small town Irish rascal Redmond Barry Lyndon to succeed in the world of high eighteenth century society.
While no doubt relieved that the latest Kubrick offering was not interested in roasting him, Lucas would have been amused to see that Lynda Carter’s Princess Diana aka Yeoman First Class Diana ‘Wonder Woman’ Prince, who was originally implicitly linked to Elanor Roosevelt, was now implicitly linked to Marcia Lucas, while the man she lived to protect, Lyle Waggoner’s Major Steve ‘Uncle George’ Trevor, was implicitly linked to him throughout the allegorical Leonard Horn directed telefilm pilot, ‘The New Original Wonder Woman’ (1975), and throughout the subsequent WONDER WOMAN telefilm series. Indeed, Princess Diana’s home on Paradise Island evoked the Paradise Road site of the pentultimate drag race at the end of AMERICAN GRAFFITI to affirm the implicit intent of WONDER WOMAN. In a humourous blast to the past, a grandmotherly ‘Teutonic Woman’ played by Maida Severn who looked like Roosevelt and who showed up in the pilot to try to use a machinegun to overwhelm Wonder Woman’s ability to deflect bullets with her golden bracelets was an amusing nod to the original implicit link of Wonder Woman to Roosevelt. Superheroic tales that linked well with weird tales, for the fact that one of the final murders committed by a serial murderer in the allegorical King weird tale of terror, ‘Strawberry Spring’ (1975), occurred on March 23, 196? linked the number 23 to death in another ominous and prescient memory of the future. Twilit memories of the future that continued that year in the allegorical King novel, Salem’s Lot (1975), for high school English teacher Matthew ‘Matt’ Burke was haunted by the death of one of his ex-students, Billy Royko, who died in a helicopter crash in Vietnam two months before the cease-fire.
Not surprisingly, given how angry his fellow film artists were with Spielberg, Charles Grodin’s implicitly Spielberg linked and blockbuster fortune and glory lusting Fred Wilson was ironically stepped on and squashed by the implicit embodiment of the blockbuster beast, King Kong, at the end of the allegorical and implicitly Spielberg roasting John Guillermin film, KING KONG (1976). Indeed, nothing summed up the conviction at the time that Spielberg had lost his way than Wilson’s wild eyed, demented and fortune and glory lusting line-‘…Lights! Camera! !KONG!’-which he shouted in a Temple Theatre as he revealed Kong to the world shortly before he was squashed at the end of the film. Fittingly, but ominously, given that Landis had alluded to the original KING KONG in SCHLOCK, the new KING KONG not only evoked SCHLOCK and featured another apesuit by Baker-this one worn by Baker himself-the film even featured a radar technician who looked like Landis, and fellow crew members on the ship that sailed to mysterious and taboo Skull Island that looked like Coppola, Kubrick and Lucas, in a clear warning to them to also beware the twilit blockbuster beast!
The following year, Lucas would have also been pleased to see that Hitchcock came to his defense but warned him not to become obsessed with blockbuster profits in the satirical and Ozian themed final allegorical film, FAMILY PLOT (1976). Indeed, Hitch underlined his support for Lucas and his approval of AMERICAN GRAFFITI by the openly Ozian theme of FAMILY PLOT, which evoked the openly Ozian theme of AMERICAN GRAFFITI. Hitch also reiterated his support for Lucas by not only having Bruce Dern’s Lucas evoking George Lumley team up with a mischievous and pseudo-clairvoyant conwoman named Blanche Tyler-played by Barbara Harris-who looked like Candy Clark’s Debbie in AMERICAN GRAFFITI, but also by having the two give up on their madcap lusts for robbing people of blockbuster loot with clairvoyant confidence tricks after teaming up to get real and legal fortune and glory by capturing the insidious and Coppola linked kidnapper Eddie Snowbridge aka Arthur Adamson, whose apprehension implicitly equated with the triumph of Lucas over Coppola and MARIO PUZO’S THE GODFATHER with AMERICAN GRAFFITI. Clearly, Hitch liked MARIO PUZO’S THE GODFATHER as little as Milius. Indeed, the implicit meaning of FAMILY PLOT was confirmed by the presence of Black as Fran, Snowbridge’s partner in crime, reminding us not only of the San Fran base of American Zoetrope, but that Black had played Amy in YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW. Hitch also implicitly gave an approving nod to Spielberg in FAMILY PLOT, as the film alluded to ‘Eyes’ and DUEL.
In the sight of De Niro’s disgruntled taxi driver Travis Bickle shooting down Harvey Keitel’s Sport and two other men, in the end, in order to save Jodie Foster’s twelve year old waif Iris from a life of drug addiction and prostitution, Martin Scorsese also implied that he was blasting Spielberg and coming to the defense of the still young and innocent New Hollywood film art movement in the allegorical film, TAXI DRIVER (1976). But not with a symbolic alter ego, for the strange and troubled Bickle in his plaid shirts evoked the equally strange and troubled Lucas in his plaid shirts. Indeed, the sight of Bickle driving the nighttime streets of New York in a Yellow Brick Road coloured taxi evoked the sight of Milner cruising the nighttime streets of Modesto in his Yellow Brick Roadster in AMERICAN GRAFFITI and the film’s allusions to THX 1138-THXI DRIVER-reaffirmed the implicit intent of the film. Thus it was appropriate that Iris was almost an anagram for ‘sire’, reminding us that Lucas was the reigning box office King in 1976. Brian De Palma was also so implicitly furious that Spielberg’s embrace of the blockbuster beast was a huge mistake that would lead to New Hollywood being wiped out by being forced to make beastly blockbuster film, too, that he had the betrayed and vengeful symbol of higher film art, symbolized by Sissy Spacek’s Carietta ‘Carrie’ White, furiously wipe out a young high school graduating class linked to New Hollywood at the end of his furiously admonishing film, CARRIE (1976).
Indeed, the presence of a dorky teen who resembled and acted like Spielberg and who was scythed down with the rest of his graduating class by the righteous and telekinetic fury of Carrie at the prom at the end of the film-an ending that, curiously, evoked a similar end to SCHLOCK-implicitly confirmed De Palma’s outrage over JAWS-and that the dread Zone Wars had already begun in 1976, the two hundredth anniversary year of the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. Allusions to AMERICAN GRAFFITI in CARRIE also implicitly affirmed that De Palma had serious misgivings about the success of the second film of Lucas. Significantly, it was an appropriate choice of film, given all of the links to film and the ominous and eerie memories of the future in the inaugural bestselling and allegorical King novel, Carrie (1974), the first of many novels from King-the Mark Twain of allegorical weird tales of terror-to put the gory in allegory that inspired the film. Indeed, from Marshall and Morrow evoking teens named Frank Grier, Holly Marshall and Vic Mooney, and the fact that the name of Carrie White evoked New Hollywood actress Karen White-seen in YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW and FAMILY PLOT-and that Carrie destroyed her hometown of Chamberlain on the night of May 27-8-two days off of the May 25, 1977 release day of STAR WARS, King’s first novel was full of twilit memories of the future.
Making it fitting that Holly Marshall’s first name evoked Hollywood, and that both Carrie White and Chamberlain had the same three syllable cadence as Hollywood. And that the novel not only anticipated the film that would be inspired by the twilightmare unleashed by White, but featured Hitchcock like cameos of King in the form of teachers Edwin King and Mr. Stephens, given that he would soon appear in the films and telefilms to come based on his work. In fact, it was quite possible that King used the bitter and nasty teenage nightmare of Carrie to not only thrash and break free from his own weird sadolesence but to reply to the upbeat look at adolescence in AMERICAN GRAFFITI only the year before. If so, Carrie was the first, but not the last, time that Screamin’ Stephen King roasted New Hollywood in a furiously and bitterly satirical allegorical novel.
Significantly, the rock and roll loving King may be interested to know that twilit forebodings also hung over Led Zeppelin that year, for $203,000 was stolen from their hotel safety deposit box in New York City when they played Madison Square Garden in the allegorical Peter Clifton and Joe Massot film, THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME (1976), a link to the fateful number 23 that implied that a twilit dog had joined the legendary black dog to hound and harass the mystic and mythic rockers. Curiously, Bakshi also returned with more irreverent hand-animation and cheerfully predicted that Good would triumph over Evil in the allegorical film, WIZARDS (1976). Indeed, in the triumph of Good and implicitly Francis and Elanor Coppola and Lucas linked faeries Avatar, Elinore and Weehawk-voiced by Bob Holt, Jesse Welles and Richard Romanus, respectively-over the implicitly Kubrick linked Evil faerie sorcerer, Blackhawk-voiced by Steve Gravers-in a post-nuclear war fantasy future Earth, Bakshi implied his confidence that Coppola and Lucas would triumph over Kubrick in reality, in the end. A triumph that anticipated the next Lucas film, as Hamill voiced a character named Sean in WIZARDS.
However, while Lucas no doubt noticed the sarcastic allusions to himself and his film art in CARRIE, DILLINGER, FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, MARIO PUZO’S GODFATHER PART II and THE CONVERSATION, THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING and THE WIND AND THE LION-and the memorable score composed by John Williams for JAWS-he did not launch an attack on Coppola, De Palma, Huston, Milius or Rush in his next film. Instead, he stood by Coppola and De Palma and, determined to take on and take out Lord Spielberg and his blockbuster lusts, Lucas turned away from APOCALYPSE NOW again and decided to create another healing Ozian film like AMERICAN GRAFFITI that reached out to true film artists like Coppola and De Palma and blasted the new blockbuster outlook of Spielberg. A film that would also allow him to address three other insidious cinematic threats that emerged the year before the release of JAWS, particularly the gleefully and unabashedly sexual allegorical Michael Benveniste and Howard Ziehm film, FLESH GORDON (1974).
For FLESH GORDON was an implicit roast of the square and conservative Lucas and his equally square sound designer on AMERICAN GRAFFITI and THX 1138, Murch, as well as the the squeaky clean BUCK ROGERS trailer that appeared before THX 1138 and the equally squeaky clean AMERICAN GRAFFITI, all of which were out of step with the swinging Seventies. Indeed, the fact that FLESH GORDON began by indicating that it was a Graffiti Production Presentation in the opening title implicitly affirmed that intent, immediately and openly evoking AMERICAN GRAFFITI and Lucas. The fact that Gordon’s girl Dale Ardor-played by Suzanne Fields-looked, talked and acted like Debbie in AMERICAN GRAFFITI, reaffirmed that implication. An implication reaffirmed by the name of the actress who played Ardor, as Suzanne Fields evoked Suzanne Somers and Terry Fields. Thus, the desperate film long quest of the earnest and indomitable Flesh Gordon-as earnest as Lucas, and played by Jason Williams-and the Murch evoking Dr. Flexi Jerkoff-played by Joseph Hudgins-to take on and defeat the insidious and gleefully salacious Emperor Wang the Perverted-played by William Hunt-and prevent him from sexually liberating Earth with his dastardly and uninhibiting sex ray, was a ribald and raucous roast of the ridiculously strait laced Lucas and his sound editor Murch and their uptight and square films.
While hilarious, FLESH GORDON was implicitly hated by Lucas, for he carefully made a more sweet, innocent, healing and harmonious version of the film with far better special and visual effects courtesy of his own effects firm, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), in his next allegorical epic, STAR WARS. An epic that came complete with another insidious and perverse Emperor, an evil henchman whose face mask resembled the face of a robot insect fought by Gordon, and a hero in Luke Skywalker who looked like Flesh Gordon’s younger twin brother-helped along by the omnipresent makeup and mask expert Baker, back from SCHLOCK to work on Special Properties and Effects for FLESH GORDON and soon to collaborate with Lucas on STAR WARS. A fateful collaboration that included allusions to another insidious film of 1974, the allegorical L.Q. Jones film, A BOY AND HIS DOG (1974).
Significantly, given that the madcap misadventures of the solo wasteland rover, Vic-played by Don Johnson-and his shrewd and long suffering telepathic dog, Blood-wryly voiced by Tim McIntire-in a post-apocalyptic American desertscape often alluded to the equally madcap but less post-apocalyptic misadventures of Bernard Chanticleer and the Chanticleer family dog, Rover, in New York in YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW-indeed, both dogs were the same breed-Jones implied that he was gleefully roasting Coppola and his new status as a solo film artist due to the apocalyptic split with Lucas in A BOY AND HIS DOG. And also implicitly reassuring Coppola that being a solo rover free from the Stinky Kid was not a bad thing, given that the film ended with Vic and Blood alive and well and roving the desertscape again after Vic managed to escape from a creepy and suffocating underground society that evoked the creepy and suffocating underground society of THX 1138.
Unfortunately, Vic and Blood walked away from the camera and straight into the Twilight Zone, given that the name of Vic evoked that of Vic Morrow. An ominous link, indeed, given that Morrow appeared that year as the possibly Kubrick linked Franklin in DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY, which, as its story of an outlaw driver, mechanic and girl-Larry, Deke and Mary, played by Fonda, Adam Roarke and Susan George, respectively-was similar to TWO-LANE BLACKTOP, the implication was that it was yet another roast of Coppola, Lucas and their American Zoetrope film art. Lucas affirmed that he got the implied message of Jones, for solo Vic, sturdy Blood and the post-apocalyptic desertscape returned in the equally feisty form of Han Solo, Chewbacca and the desertscapes of Tatooine in STAR WARS. As did allusions to the third insidious film of 1974, the allegorical Douglas Slocombe film, SILENT RUNNING (1974).
For Slocombe implicitly linked Bruce Dern’s passionately anti-commercial econaut Freeman Lowell and his quixotic and doomed quest to prevent the destruction of the biospheres of the commercial American Airlines spaceship Valley Forge to the equally quixotic quest of Lucas to break free from the control of the Hollywood studios and create nothing but anti-commercial film art, particularly in THX 1138. A film whose implicitly anti-Kubrick and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY message would have resonated with Slocombe, as he worked on the post-production visual effects for the film. Indeed, Lowell wore a racing car driver like coverall throughout SILENT RUNNING that evoked the teen race car adventures of Lucas before the Great Crash of ‘62-albeit covered in U.S. national park and Smokey the Bear patches rather than car related patches to confirm his econaut status-affirming Lowell’s link to Lucas. The satirical and allegorical John Carpenter film, DARK STAR (1974), was also an implicit influence on the next Lucas film.
For Carpenter implicitly linked Lucas and Milius to Talby and Doolittle-played by Andrew Dre Pahich and Brian Narelle, respectively-two tragicomic members of the crew of the advance Terran scout ship Dark Star ADC 2239-5537. Carpenter also implied that the crew’s love of blowing up planets implicitly symbolized New Hollywood’s obsession with blowing up Old Hollywood, and predicted that Lucas and the rest of the New Hollywood brat pack would only succeed in blowing themselves up like the crew of the Dark Star in another prescient memory of the future. Indeed, an instrumental called ‘When Twilight Falls on NGC-91’ and the fateful numbers 237 in the serial number of the Dark Star affirmed the twilit and prescient nature of the film. Thus, it was all too fitting that triangular white space ships like the Dark Star, planet destroying weapons, psychedelic hyperdrives and parsecs should all return in STAR WARS-in fact, the influence of DARK STAR could be seen and heard in the name of the Death Star. Significantly, and unfortunately for the peace of mind of Lucas, the year after the release of A BOY AND HIS DOG, DARK STAR, FLESH GORDON and SILENT RUNNING brought not just JAWS but another ribald roast of Lucas-and Coppola-that was just as over the top as FLESH GORDON, in the irritating form of Paul Bartel’s allegorical road racing nightmare, DEATH RACE 2000 (1975).
Indeed, clearly inspired by the teenage speed racing exploits of Lucas, the road races that ended THX 1138 and AMERICAN GRAFFITI, the implicitly Coppola and Lucas linked trans-continental road race of TWO-LANE BLACKTOP, the hard driving and uncompromising road battle of DUEL, the full throttle exploits of the implicitly Roman Polanksi linked Kowalski-played by Barry Newman-and a white 1970 Dodge Challenger in the allegorical and implicitly Polanksi addressing Richard Sarafian film, VANISHING POINT (1971)-ominously, the sight and sound of police car 2473 hailing a police helicopter on the hunt for Kowalski at the beginning of the film made for another eerie memory of the twilit future-the fighting over a beautiful young Hollywood linked blonde in THE RAIN PEOPLE, and, curiously, SCHLOCK, Bartel implicitly and mischievously likened the new rivalry that had suddenly sprung up between Lucas and Coppola for the national title of box office king with the success of AMERICAN GRAFFITI and the Godfather films to the rivalry between the Lucas, Scarecrow and Wicked Witch of the West linked, black clad, caped, booted, masked, scary and intimidating Frankenstein-played by David Carradine-in his Ozian themed and AMERICAN GRAFFITI evoking Emerald City green and Yellow Brick Road painted blockbuster beast of a car, Monster, and the Italian gangster themed and, hence, Coppola linked, Machine Gun Joe Viterbo-played by Sylvester Stallone-in his wicked and machine gun mounted deathmobile, in a brutal and uncompromising trans-continental road race from New York to L.A.
Indeed, the film’s allusions to AMERICAN GRAFFITI and THX 1138-including the presence of Howard in the bleachers at the start of the Race in New York cheering on Mary Woronov’s Sarafian Rich linked Calamity Jane-and the Wolfman Jack evoking presence of real life DJ the Real Don Steele as the perennially excited, mayhem and violence loving, irritating and implicitly Friedkin linked television Death Race commentator, Junior Bruce, made the implicit allegorical interest in Lucas and Coppola clear in DEATH RACE 2000. And in Spielberg, whose symbolic alter ego, Martin Kove’s Nero the Hero, was quickly and fittingly bombed out of the Race, reminding us that the struggling young director’s first feature film, THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS, bombed at the box office. The film’s effect on Lucas was also implicitly clear, for the black clad, caped, booted, masked and intimidating Frankenstein-who pretended to be a callous and heartless Death Racer so he could win the Race and assassinate the Wicked, Death Race creating and Wasserman linked President (played by Sandy McCallum) at the closing award ceremony so as to free the future U.S. from his despotic tyranny and free New Hollywood film from the control of Wasserman-soon returned as the equally black clad, caped, booted, masked and intimidating Darth Vader who also turned out to be a good hero who would assassinate the evil, Death Star loving and Spielberg linked Emperor so as to free the galaxy from his despotic tyranny-and also New Hollywood again from the blockbuster beast-at the end of the Classic Trilogy.
Frankenstein’s beautiful and idealistic young navigator, Annie Smith-played by Simone Griffith-also soon returned as the equally beautiful and idealistic Leia-indeed, Leia even looked like Annie-while her first name returned as the Ani in Anakin Skywalker. The New Hollywood linked, bearded, scruffy, poor, idealistic and mostly young Rebellion that rose up from its hidden base to stop the Death Race in its tracks and assassinate the evil President, who revelled in the gratuitously violent race, also soon returned as the equally New Hollywood linked, bearded, scruffy, poor, idealistic and mostly young Rebellion that rose up from its hidden base to stop the Death Star and its sex ray evoking death ray, the evil Empire that built and used the Death Star, and assassinate the insidious Emperor that revelled in the gratuitous violence and nastiness of his Empire also returned in STAR WARS in an open and more kind and gentle fusion of the stories of FLESH GORDON and DEATH RACE 2000. Of course, Lucas was not the only young director who disliked DEATH RACE 2000, as the film, as well as AMERICAN GRAFFITI, DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY, EASY RIDER, TWO-LANE BLACKTOP and other American road movies, was alluded to thoughout Miller’s Mad Max films. Good guy stuntman Chuck Bail, best known for his work with Richard Rush, also struck back at DEATH RACE 2000 the year after its release with his kinder and gentler allegorical New York to L.A. road race film, GUMBALL RALLY (1976), in order to bring harmony back to the Temple Theatre.
A worthy but vain attempt to re-establish cinematic harmony, as the appearance of Landis in a bit part as a mechanic run over by Viterbo in DEATH RACE 2000 made it clear that the world of film art was still heading towards a fateful and disastrous encounter with the Twilight Zone-an encounter reaffirmed by the inclusion of a musical ode to the ‘Twilight Zone’ as the twilit third track on the Rush recording, 2112 (1976), in another ominous memory of the future. Significantly, DEATH RACE 2000 was not the only 1975 film that implicitly infuriated Lucas, for the sturdy and mystic Jedi Knights of STAR WARS evoked the madcap implicitly New Hollywood linked Knights and their quixotic quest for Oscar Grail glory in the allegorical Gilliam and Terry Jones film, MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1975). The intimidating and indomitable Black Knight-played by John Cleese-desperately fought in the film by King Arthur and his loyal squire, Patsy-played by Graham Chapman and Gilliam, respectively-also anticipated the equally intimidating and indomitable Darth Vader. The arrest of King Arthur and his equally loyal Knight, Sir Bevedere-played by Jones-by police at the end of the film before their obsession with realism in film would lead to more violence in the real world was also another ominous memory of the future that anticipated the TZ disaster. In addition, Lucas also alluded to Kurosawa’s allegorical film, DERSU UZALA (1975).
This was not surprising, as DERSU UZALA sourly addressed Lucas and the success of AMERICAN GRAFFITI and the rise of the rest of young New Hollywood. Indeed, it was noticeable that the opening Russian topographical surveying expedition to Siberia in 1902-the tripod supported surveying equipment evoking the tripods of film cameras-was led by a Captain Arseniev-played by Yuri Solomin-who resembled Arkin's Lucas linked Bean in FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, implying that Arseniev was also linked to Lucas. To reffirm that implicit link, it was noticeable that Olentiev and Seryoga, his second and third in command on the expedition, evoked Kurtz and Coppola, the producer and executive producer, respectively, on AMERICAN GRAFFITI. Several Siberian sunsets seen in the film also evoked the sunset seen at the end of THX 1138-and anticipated the binary sunsets in the STAR WARS films-reaffirming the implicit interest in Lucas in DERSU UZALA.
Thus, the arrival of Maxim Munzuk’s Dersu Uzala, a simple put profound and pure soul who gently but firmly made it clear to Arseniev and his fellow school and military taught Russians how naïve, foolish, helpless and hapless they were, and how necessary it was to learn from the school of life like him in order to truly respect the world and survive in the Dagobah and forest moon of Endor anticipating Siberian forest, and weather the worst storms and blizzards-and avoid the tiger, the film’s cunning and deadly blockbuster beast-implied that Kurosawa was also gently but firmly making it clear to Lucas and his fellow film schooled Americans of New Hollywood how naïve, foolish, helpless and hapless they were, how they also needed to learn important lessons from life that books could not teach-lessons that Kurosawa had learned the hard way as he did not go to film school-how they needed to be more respectful and careful if they expected to survive in the cutthroat film business and weather the storms of criticism and failure that beset all artists, and, last but not least, how they needed to keep their wits about them if they hoped to avoid creating beastly blockbuster films, evoking a similar message made by Ford in THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE. And to not forget the unschooled film masters who created film art when they were gone, for the passing of the unschooled Uzala at the end of the film implicitly symbolized the end of the era of unschooled film directors like Ford, Hitchcock, Huston, Kubrick, Kurosawa and Lang.
Significantly, this admonishing lecture from Master Kurosawa implicitly had a huge impact on young Lucas, given all of the many allusions to the film art of Kurosawa in the Classic Trilogy, and the samurai-like way and helmet of Vader. Clearly Lucas, like all young people, thought that he knew it all and did not need any dismissive lectures from any one of those evil malingerers over thirty that dared to stand in the way of Boomers in general and New Hollywood in particular, and was furious that Kurosawa, one of his idols along with Ford, should chastise him and treat him like a foolish little kid in DERSU UZALA. An implicit fury that would soon be revealed when Kenobi brought Luke back to his desert sanctum sanctorum in the Jundland Wastes in STAR WARS. For here the Ford linked and samurai-like Jedi Master would tell Luke that his father, Anakin Skywalker, had once been a pupil of his before he turned to evil. For this statement reminded us that Kurosawa was a dedicated disciple of Ford, implying that Lucas thought that Kurosawa was now an evil and symbolic ‘Dark Father’ in his sight for roasting him in DERSU UZALA. Literally, as the name Darth Vader was actually a Dutch phrase that literally meant Dark Father. In confirmation of this implication, Anakin Skywalker not only sounded like Akira Kurosawa, the name ‘Akira’ could even be made from the letters composing Anakin Skywalker, affirming the implicit link between Anakin and Akira.
In time, the insightful and inspiring Jedi Master Yoda and the dense forests of Dagobah also evoked the dense forests of Siberia and Uzala. Indeed, the fact that Yoda’s name evoked the ‘-yoga’ of Seryoga, a Russian member of the first expedition to Siberia, affirmed Yoda’s link to DERSU UZALA and Kurosawa, but in a more Lucas friendly way. This reminded us that AMERICAN GRAFFITI was often a kinder and gentler version of GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD and TWO-LANE BLACKTOP, suggesting that Lucas was continuing and establishing a tradition of more kind and gentle remakes that exorcised previous allegorical films that roasted himself and often Coppola with STAR WARS. In fact, mix DERSU UZALA, DEATH RACE 2000 and FLESH GORDON with AMERICAN GRAFFITI, BARBARELLA, HIDDEN FORTRESS, JAWS, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, THE SEARCHERS, THE WIZARD OF OZ, THX 1138, the allegorical Kurosawa films, SEVEN SAMURAI (1954) and YOJIMBO (1961), and you had most of the influences on STAR WARS.
But not all of the influences. For, significantly, in STAR WARS Lucas made the first of the many allusions that he would make throughout the Classic Trilogy to the implicitly television roasting Fred M. Wilcox allegorical film, FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956), one of the many effects filled and full colour fantastic films of the Fifties, like 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, the allegorical Nathan Juran film, THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958)-with its monstrous one-eyed cyclops evoking the equally one-eyed monster of television!- and the allegorical Disney and Clyde Geronimi film, SLEEPING BEAUTY (1959)-which implicitly likened the battle against the Eleanor Audley voiced and fittingly Wicked Witch of the West linked Maleficent to the battle against maleficent television-created to take audiences-particularly young audiences-away from their black and white box populis. In fact, Dis implied as early as 1950 that they were determined to defeat black and white television, symbolized by the defeat of equally black and white and diabolical cat, Lucifer, in the allegorical and Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske film, CINDERELLA (1950).
Significantly, these allusions to FORBIDDEN PLANET and the incestuous lusts of Walter Pidgeon’s dark father and Doctor of Philology, Edward Morbius, for his beautiful blonde daughter, Altaira-played by Anne Francis-that ultimately took physical form as a monstrous blockbuster beast known as the Id monster that killed him in the end, implicitly confirmed that the dark hints of incest revolving around blonde sisters in AMERICAN GRAFFITI and THX 1138 were serious indeed. Allusions to FORBIDDEN PLANET also took us closer to the Twilight Zone, as Francis had appeared as Marsha White in the allegorical Douglas Heyes telefilm, ‘After Hours’ (1959), from season one of the original TWILIGHT ZONE series. And to the TZ disaster, as Folsey sr. was the cinematographer of FORBIDDEN PLANET.
Curiously, Francis had also first appeared on film as Mrs. Anne Dadier in BLACKBOARD JUNGLE, linking FORBIDDEN PLANET to the tumultuous and sexually aroused teen film that shared the ‘Rock Around the Clock’ opening credit number of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, implicitly reaffirming the allusions to incest seen in that film. Indeed, this link to the beautiful blonde Altaira confirmed that the Glinda in the T-bird and Debbie Dunham could be seen in an incestuous light. These incestuous references to Dark Fathers and sisters in peril were also linked to radio, for the Wicked Emperor’s name evoked the allegorical Lucas student film, THE EMPEROR (1967), about an Los Angeles area DJ known as the Emperor. This evoked Wolfman Jack and Mr. Wolfe and their sly and knowing ways with teenage girls in AMERICAN GRAFFITI, and reminded us that Lucas spent his first decade of life in a house filled with the sound of radio, as television did not arrive in the Lucas house until 1954. Thus, a dark cloud of forbidden incest linked to a childhood initially dominated by radio ominously enshrouded the latest fast paced and crisply edited, montage en scene film of Lucas (Pollock 17 and 304).
Incidentally, while making STAR WARS, Lucas was likely just as outraged by the satirical and allegorical Dante film, HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD (1976), as he had been by DEATH RACE 2000. For not only did the film pad out its cheaply budgeted narrative with footage from DEATH RACE 2000, it gleefully celebrated and mocked the out of control young New Hollywood film artists, their raucous film sets and their callously carefree disregard for life and limb in general, and during the production of New World Pictures productions for Corman in particular. Eerily, in another ominous memory of the future, three female actresses were killed on the various low budget film sets of the film’s New World Pictures linked film production company, Miracle Pictures-‘If it gets made, it’s a mirace!’-over the course of the film. This twilit trio of deaths were discovered in the end to have been committed by haughty screen queen Mary McQueen-played by Woronov, seen on screen as Death Racer Calamity Jane only the year before in DEATH RACE 2000-who was jealous about the success of the other actresses. Significantly, McQueen openly evoked Calamity Jane as she wore the Frankenstein costume from DEATH RACE 2000 when she committed the last murder-ominously linking her to Lucas. A sobering sight indeed, which was why Lucas was no doubt pleased by the healing and rousing Ozian structure of the pugnacious and allegorical John G. Avildsen docufeature classic, ROCKY (1976).
For Avildsen and company implicitly celebrated the triumph of Coppola and New Hollywood in ROCKY, underlined by the appearance of Stallone as the eponymous and Francis Coppola cadenced indie boxer Rocky Balboa, evoking Stallone’s appearance as the implicitly Coppola linked Machine-Gun Joe Viterbo the year before in DEATH RACE 2000. Indeed, the sight of Coppola’s sister, Talia Shire, as Adrian, the mousy girlfriend of Balboa, cheering on Balboa as he took on and fought to an epic draw the film’s Wicked Witch of the West and Old Hollywood linked human blockbuster boxer, Apollo Creed-played by Carl Weathers-implicitly confirmed that the film was celebrating the success that Coppola inspired indie New Hollywood had had in taking on and managing to co-exist with blockbuster obsessed Old Hollywood. Unfortunately, while an inspiring and uplifting docufeature film-an uplifting experience sent skyrocking by Bill Conti’s high flying theme, ‘Gonna Fly’-ROCKY brought film art closer to a fateful collision with the Twilight Zone. For the sight of Stallone as Rocky reminded us that his character Viterbo backed over a mechanic played by Landis in DEATH RACE 2000. Even more ominous, the appearance of Burgess Meredith as his cranky, grizzled and Great Oz linked trainer, Mickey, openly linked ROCKY to the Twilight Zone. For Meredith had the record for most number of appearances in episodes of the original TWILIGHT ZONE television series-no less than four! The allegorical episodes were the John Brahm directed, ‘Time Enough at Last’ (1959), and ‘Mr. Dingle, the Strong’ (1961), from the first and second seasons; the Elliot Silverstein directed, ‘The Obsolete Man’ (1961), from the second season; and the Ralph Senensky directed, ‘Printer’s Devil’ (1963), from the fourth season. Just as ominous, Meredith anticipated the cinema Zone, as he replaced Serling as the MC and introduced each segment of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE.
While not a terribly good or memorable film like most sequels, Lucas also clearly noticed the implicitly David Cronenberg addressing allegorical Richard T. Heffron film, FUTURE WORLD (1976). For this sequel to WESTWORLD featured even more advanced and surprising CGI, this time courtesy of ‘…Dr. Frederic Ira Parke and Edwin Earl Catmull, University of Utah Computer Science Department and supported by the Advanced Research Project Agency under contract no. F30602-70-C-0300’. Fittingly, given how much emphasis would be placed on replacing human bodies with realistic CGI for dangerous on set special effects to avoid future fatalities after the TZ disaster, Catmull and Parke’s CGI revolved around realistic human hands and heads. Realistic human CGI that implicitly resonated within Lucas like another memory of the future, because after seeing the film he promptly contacted and hired Catmull to develop CGI for ILM and his third allegorical feature film. A Dr. Schneider who evoked John Ryan’s insidious and Morrow resembling mad scientist Dr. Schneider, who wanted to turn all of the people of the world into androids like the ones who worked at FUTURE WORLD, would also appear in a later Lucas film, reaffirming the influence on Lucas of FUTURE WORLD.
Thus, STAR WARS began the Lucas tradition of developing the technology of film art, while continuing to also allude to other popular allegorical film art to make it implicitly clear that he was replying to and exorcising the film art of other film artists. This allowed the more knowing and awake audience members to understand the film, and to understand that begun indeed had the Star Director Wars. Lucas also used these allusions to create an accessible verbal and visual language that allowed viewers to avoid the confusion of THX 1138 and immediately feel at home in STAR WARS, as he had done in AMERICAN GRAFFITI.
For his part, with his creepy chronicle of a Christian religious sect composed entirely of children that killed their parents and any other adult that had the bad luck to visit their town of Gatlin, Nebraska, King also continued his tradition of prescience by implicitly wondering if the children of the boomers would sweep away the era and culture of their parents like the boomers swept away the era and culture of their parents in the allegorical weird tale of terror, ‘Children Of The Corn’, published in March of ’77. A prescient implication, as the boomer children of the popcorn, inspired by the music of new bands like the Sex Pistols and Talking Heads, did indeed begin to sweep away the boomer era soon after the publication of ‘Children Of The Corn’ when Lucas returned to the Temple Theatre with Marcia, Ford and Kurtz on May 25th 1977, the release day of a film then just called STAR WARS.
‘The Force is strong with this one.’
And then the Twentieth Century Fox intro accompanied by its vaguely military fanfare and the lone Lucasfilm Ltd. logo appeared on the big screen. And then the famous and soothing fairy tale preamble that began STAR WARS-‘…a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away’-was read and perhaps spoken for the first time. Significantly, this fairy tale preamble immediately made clear that Lucas was taking another psychological step backwards with STAR WARS, from the pensive and troubled sadolescence of AMERICAN GRAFFITI to the Adventure Theatre television childhood glimpsed already in the satirical Buck Rogers trailer that opened THX 1138. This was the first implication that Lucas was using the film to exorcise such gleefully diseased and infuriating fare as A BOY AND HIS DOG, DEATH RACE 2000, DERSU UZALA, FLESH GORDON, FRITZ THE CAT and SCHLOCK, reminding us that Lucas used AMERICAN GRAFFITI to defeat GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD and TWO-LANE BLACKTOP, implying that began again had the Star Director Wars. And as with AMERICAN GRAFFITI, these allusions to other films created an accessible verbal and visual language that allowed audiences to avoid the confusion of THX 1138 and immediately feel at home in STAR WARS. These links to other film art again also allowed the more knowing and awake audience members to understand the film.
The fairy tale preamble also prepared audiences for the magical endings of STAR WARS and STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI that righted all wrongs as in all good fairy tales, healing disasters that Tolkien called eucatastrophes. The fairy tale preamble also evoked Dorothy Gale’s wish that she could go somewhere ‘…far, far away’ from all of her orphan troubles made at the beginning of THE WIZARD OF OZ. This confirmed that STAR WARS followed in the openly Ozian themed tradition of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, and prepared us for the sexually disturbed but ultimately healing Ozian rhythms of STAR WARS. In fact, this fairy tale preamble also evoked Dorothy’s missing mother, the mother who read fairy tales to her children before they went to sleep. This invisible mother’s ghostly and missing presence evoked Lucas’ own ill and missing but sweet mother Dorothy, causing us all to drift wistfully down into the darkened theatre of dreaming cinema…
Given this allusive fairy tale preamble, it was also fitting that the first images of STAR WARS that we saw were not images but words. First the STAR WARS logo set against a sea of stars as the triumphant STAR WARS Main Theme by Maestro Williams exploded exultantly out of the theatre speakers-a triumphant and upbeat ‘Fanthem of the Space Opera’ that made it clear how happy Lucas was with the success of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, established the infectiously upbeat mood of the film, and prepared us for the equally upbeat and triumphant ending-and then a rising introductory text that evoked the short introductory texts seen before such allegorical Kurosawa films as RASHOMON, SEVEN SAMURAI and YOJIMBO. The rising words also evoked the rising introductory text in the trailer for FORBIDDEN PLANET, immediately linking STAR WARS to that forbidding film and preparing us for the return of hyperdrive, Id monsters, ‘…some dark, terrible, incomprehensible Force’ and another desperate battle against Ideous television and one of its most famous directors, Spielberg. The rising words were golden yellow, evoking the Yellow Brick Road, the Yellow Brick Racer of 1:42:08, and the Yellow Brick Roadster, as well as the healing Force of THE WIZARD OF OZ and hinting of healing Force to come. Indeed, the very fact that this luminous solar text was rising triumphantly upwards in contrast to the green, diseased and gloomily sinking credits of THX 1138 immediately established the irrepressibly upbeat and Springing spirit of STAR WARS-this despite the fact that the Yellow Brick Text told of a nasty civil war that evoked the civil war that had broken out in New Hollywood over JAWS, and a mysterious, plucky and teen cruiser evoking Rebellion’s first victory against an evil, and presumably JAWS and Spielberg linked, Empire.
Clearly the incredible success of the Lucas Rebellion’s first victory, AMERICAN GRAFFITI, the end of the Vietnam War, the resignation of President Nixon and the election of President Carter had improved the spirits of Lucas and it was time to head up into the stars for some serious Skywalking! These celestial sentences also comprised only one paragraph, but the paragraph was broken up into an ominous and twilit trinity of three separate sentences. However, these three parts also made the words the first Holy Trinity of the film, preparing us for the Holy Trinities to come. These three sentences soared radiantly upwards through starswept space like a message left behind for mankind by the benevolent and watchful extraterrestrials of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. This impression increased as the Yellow Brick Words drifted on an angle up the screen. For they gradually coalesced and formed a sunlit rectangle, drifting up through space like the television-like monolith in orbit around Jupiter in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. This allusion to 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY prepared us for the spectacular special visual effects to come from a company Lucas created to make the effects for the film, a company called Industrial Light and Magic, usually referred to as ILM. The 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY allusion also reminded us that Clarke and Kubrick fought off the monolith of television and brought viewers back to theatres by combining the battles of post-apocalyptic man seen in Don Chaffey’s unintentionally hilarious allegorical film, ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. (1966), and the discovery of a buried, magnetism disturbing alien spacecraft in Christian Nyby’s sly fi allegory, THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951), with a meticulous and realistic remake of Byron Haskin’s embattled and allegorical voyage to Mars film, CONQUEST OF SPACE (1954). Indeed, we saw these three films in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, with its battling bands of primitive post-DR. STRANGELOVE, OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB apocalyptic men eventually rising back up the cultural and technological ladder to become feuding Americans and Russians on orbiting satellites bickering over discoveries of magnetism disturbing lunar monoliths, leading to a deadly battle with the HAL 9000 onboard computer on the American voyage to Jupiter that killed a twilit trio aboard the Discovery I-in a way that also recalled the insanity aboard the lone B52 bomber mission of DR. STRANGELOVE, OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB. Indeed, the only really original segment of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY was its psychedelic cinematic Starchild rebirth ending.
This prepared us for further apemen, space conflicts and Jedi Star Childs in the latest Lucas film, and also linked Lucas to out of control twilit machines, and created allusions within allusions, right from the beginning of STAR WARS. Indeed, omens of Id monsters returned when the radiant words finally disappeared at the top of the screen. For now the camera’s point of view (POV) dipped down to reveal two moons orbiting a desert planet spinning in the sinister left side of the screen. This planet evoked the alternate Martian world of Altair IV in FORBIDDEN PLANET, immediately preparing us for the Kid monsters to come in STAR WARS. The desert world also evoked the post-apocalyptic desert world of A BOY AND HIS DOG. This opening planetary image accompanied by the stirring music of Williams also evoked the opening shot of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, where the sun was seen rising over the Earth from the POV of the moon, all to the swelling opening notes of Richard Strauss’ ‘Thus Spake Zarathrustra’. This 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY link was quickly reinforced by the Fifties cruiser-style spaceship with ruby red racing stripes that zoomed across the floating face of the desert planet, for the ship looked like the ill fated Discovery I that had headed across the solar system to Jupiter and beyond on its memorable rendezvous with Tycho Magnetic Anomaly-2. However, this spaceship was a Rebel cruiser called the Tantive IV, evoking Altair IV, Kansas, the Rebels of DEATH RACE 2000 and the rebel teen cruisers and the escaping Magic Carpet airplane at the end of AMERICAN GRAFFITI. This linked STAR WARS to the end of AMERICAN GRAFFITI like the crash of Toad’s Vespa moped linked the beginning of AMERICAN GRAFFITI to the end of THX 1138.
AMERICAN GRAFFITI disappeared quite quickly, however, when the huge great white belly of a blockbuster spaceshark of an Imperial Star Destroyer (SD) beast suddenly swam across the screen, hungrily pursuing the fleeing Rebel cruiser like the unusually large and perhaps radioactively mutated great white shark that attacked the young female swimmer at the beginning of JAWS, and at the beginning of Peter Benchley’s inspirational allegorical bestseller, Jaws: a novel (1974). Indeed, the link between the SD and the first shark attack of Jaws: a novel and JAWS was so great that it was no surprise that another attractive young woman would be found inside the Rebel cruiser when insidious agents of the evil Empire boarded the captured vessel. This link was reinforced by the sight of the ship’s docking bay doors gaping hungrily open underneath its relentlessly pursuing bulk as it closed in on the Rebel cruiser, a monstrously nightmarish sight that made it implicitly clear how worried Lucas was about the arrival of JAWS and the effect the blockbuster beast would have on film art. This hungry and monstrous pursuit However, unlike the real shark, this voracious SD zapped the feminine and fleeing Rebel cruiser and its virile ruby red laser blasts with sickly green laser blasts, sickly green blasts that evoked the diseased credits of THX 1138 and the green faced and diseased Wicked Witch of the West. This linked the monstrous ship to wicked disease, and set us up for the imminent arrival of the sickly and diseased machine man Darth Vader, and for the diseased green death rays that blasted out of the Empire’s Black Castle linked Death Moon later in the film. These unhealthy green lasers also blasted us out of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY forever, making it clear that we were no longer in Kubrick’s cerebral and mystic vision of the future, Toto. In fact, while this whizbang opening sequence mostly recalled the opening shark attack in JAWS, it seemed also implicitly designed to heap abuse on the thoughtful and plodding nature of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY-take that Kubrick!
A quick cut in the space battle action to the interior of the Rebel cruiser also revealed the first two protagonists of STAR WARS, the robots C3PO and R2D2, played by Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker, respectively. Ironically, given the abuse that robots received throughout the Classic Trilogy, the two were an odd couple to meet first in the film. However, these two robots were special. For one thing, they were not huge and threatening like Robby the Robot in FORBIDDEN PLANET, or sinister and invisible machine intelligences like HAL 9000 in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. Indeed, the two robots quickly proved to be ironically warm, human, and funny, a Laurel and Hardy pair that immediately returned the Comedy narrative to the films of Lucas. This reaffirmed the link of STAR WARS to AMERICAN GRAFFITI, and prepared us for the arrival of the other three narratives in this new film. C3PO and R2D2 were also noticeably male and female, with the golden and humanoid ‘Threepio’-the walking and talking Oscar statuette who also evoked the robot butler of SLEEPER-clearly the solar male robot, and the fluidly flowing and silver ‘Artoo’ clearly the lunar female robot. A fitting female status, as film art like all art was seen as female, and was usually symbolized and personified by the female lead of each film. Indeed, Artoo’s link to film was confirmed by the fact that the name ‘R2D2’ was actually shorthand for film reel two, dialogue two, literally making the dimunitive and feisty robot a symbol of film art. This made Artoo and Threepio the robotic Eve and Adam of the Classic Trilogy, and also prepared us for the arrival of Leia and Luke. Indeed, Artoo sounded like ‘Arttu’, the Finnish form of Arthur, preparing us for the arrival of the young hero fated to wield ‘Excalisaber’, and Artoo’s adventures with Luke throughout the Classic Trilogy.
Of course, the colours of the two robots also linked them to two of the four elements, with golden Threepio clearly linked to Fire and the Cowardly Lion-as well as to the golden microphone of the lead singer of Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids in AMERICAN GRAFFITI-and silver Artoo to water and the Tin Man. Indeed, Threepio quickly established his cowardly credentials, and Artoo would soon be frozen, confirming the link of the two robots to the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man. This reaffirmed that STAR WARS was another Ozian themed film, and prepared us for the healing and harmonizing endings of STAR WARS and STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. Threepio’s robot skeleton appearance also evoked the Machine Woman of METROPOLIS, linking STAR WARS to THX 1138 and preparing us for the labyrinthine underworld corridors of the Death Moon. These links to THX 1138 and METROPOLIS also confirmed that STAR WARS continued the struggle for artistic independence seen in THX 1138, and that the Classic Trilogy would also see the heart unite the head and the hand. Indeed, the names of C3PO and R2D2 evoked the alphanumeric names of LUH 3417 and THX 1138 in THX 1138, preparing us for the battle to escape a new machine dominated labyrinth to come. Threepio confirmed that battle, for his appearance reminded us that after being given the life Force of sweet Maria, the Machine Woman of METROPOLIS was transformed into the violence, lust and greed generating Whore of Babylon-perhaps a comment by Lang on the violence, lust and greed generating properties of the lowest forms of Hollywood film art. At any rate, the whore had to be destroyed in order for the heart to mediate between the head and the hand, preparing us for the destruction of Vader and the Empire at the end of STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI.
Significantly, soon after we met the two robots, Threepio mentioned to Artoo that a princess on board the ship was in danger of coming to harm in the stormy space assault that was taking place all around them. It was not a terribly surprising comment, for we had already been prepared for the arrival of a young woman by the SD spaceshark attack on the Rebel cruiser. The fairy tale preamble had also prepared us for the arrival of a woman, for what would a fairy tale be without its Princess? As a fairy tale Princess was always linked to Romance, the ferly tale of Princess Leia was clearly the Romance narrative that accompanied the Comedy narrative of Artoo and Threepio in STAR WARS. The space attack also evoked the Kansas twister that menaced Dorothy Gale at the beginning of THE WIZARD OF OZ, confirming the Ozian structure of STAR WARS and preparing us for the arrival of the latest incarnation of Dorothy. Indeed, the SD soon sucked the smaller Rebel cruiser into its gaping maw with tractor beams, reminding us that the tornado carried Dorothy’s farmhouse up into the air and then down to the wonderful land of Oz at the beginning of THE WIZARD OF OZ. This turned the attacking SD into a surrogate tornado, dragging the two robots, the princess and the viewer off on a new Ozian adventure.
The sight of the JAWS linked SD gobbling up the Rebel cruiser was also another implicit affirmation that Lucas was worried that allowing the blockbuster beast back into the Temple Theatre would cause higher film art to be gobbled up and replaced by greedy and beastly blockbuster film. The voracious sight also reminded us that the gutwrenching shock experienced by small town police chief Martin Brody upon discovering that his young and attractive trophy wife, Ellen, was having an extramarital affair with a younger and wealthier man, was likened to the gutwrenching shock of discovering that you were being attacked by a great white shark throughout Jaws: a novel. This linked Benchley’s shark and the SD to sexual infidelity, curiously anticipating the extramarital affair of Marcia that would end the Lucas marriage in 1983. This also linked the SD to sexual disease, fittingly anticipating all of the sexual disease of the Classic Trilogy.
And the sexual disease quickly arrived, for inside the thrashing cruiser, hardy Rebel troops in Earthy and solid black, brown and grey uniforms rushed past Artoo and Threepio to the defense of the cruiser like human white blood cells. They positioned themselves in a corridor facing the main entranceway to the ship, bracing for the assault to come. And they did not have long to wait, for a sudden explosion of violence blew apart the spacelock, and eerie white and black Imperial Stormtroopers with phallus headed helmets-derisively referred to as Imps-who resembled the Authority overseers in the original student film of ELECTRONIC LABYRINTH THX 1138 4EB and the robocops of THX 1138 pushed and shot their way into the ship in a remorseless and unmistakable act of forced entry-space rape! The hardy Rebel troops tried to hold back the rapacious tide, meeting blaster fire with blaster fire. Indeed, an Imp was quickly shot dead by the stalwart Rebels, inadvertently becoming a symbolic dead Wicked Witch of the East figure whose death opened up the gates to the healing and harmonizing Ozian dream. But the space rape could not be stopped, and the Dark Forces of evil pushed insistently inwards as if impervious to the Rebel fire. Indeed, as if they were already dead, for the Imps looked like undead skeletons that had dug their way out of midnight graves, the shadows on their helmets corresponding to the empty eye sockets and the gaping leers of skulls, their skeletal frames clicking and clattering on wobbling knee bones. An eerie sight indeed, and one that underlined that Lucas was confronting the skeletons in his closet in this film, in particular his haunting and presciently twilit memories of the THX 1138 disaster.
As the skeletal Imps continued their assault, Artoo went missing. When Threepio found her, she was in the presence of Fisher’s fairy tale Princess Leia Organna. Significantly, the fact that her first name began and ended with ‘L’ and ‘A’, and her last name sounded like ‘Organic’, implied that she symbolized a more healthy Los Angeles linked Hollywood film art not linked to blockbuster disease. Her appearance affirmed her link to health and harmony, for she reminded us of beautiful Misa Uehara’s Princess Yuki Akizuki in HIDDEN FORTRESS, preparing us for her rescue by a new samurai general. She also looked noticeably like the twin sister of Kim Darby’s Hollywood cadenced Mattie Ross, a girl symbol of Old Hollywood film art who successfully persuaded Wayne’s John Ford linked Rooster Cogburn to hunt down and apprehend or kill the man who killed her father in the allegorical and New Hollywood bashing Henry Hathaway film, TRUE GRIT (1969), setting us up for the holographic sight of Leia also persuading a seasoned, grizzled and Ford linked veteran to help her cause. And reaffirming the twilit ambience of the film, as Duval and Hopper had small roles in the film as Ned Pepper and the Lucas linked Moon, respectively.
Significantly, Princess Leia also looked and dressed like a young woman who willingly sacrificed her life and allowed herself to be run over by Frankenstein in DEATH RACE 2000. This confirmed the link of Leia and her Rebels to the Rebels of DEATH RACE 2000, and also prepared us for the arrival of Darth Frankenstein. Leia also looked like Lydia Moreno-played by Maria Grimm-an equally dimunitive, pretty and feisty brunette who appeared in the allegorical Herb Wallerstein directed telefilm, ‘Formula 407’ (1977), late in the first season of WONDER WOMAN. Last but not least, with her hair done up in side buns, Leia looked like a female member of the elect Vortex in ZARDOZ, as well as Minnie Mouse, implying that Lucas was already taking an interest in Disney. Threepio arrived just in time to see Leia furtively insert the world’s first floppy disc containing the secret plans of the Death Moon into Artoo, an oddly lesbian act that impregnated the feminine Artoo with information vital to the success of the Lucas Rebellion against the evil Hollywood Empire. Indeed, a sensual and erotic ruby red light suffused this sexually charged scene, evoking the ruby red slippers of the Wicked Witch of the East, the ruby red Mercedes Benz of the Pharoahs in AMERICAN GRAFFITI, and the ruby red racing stripes of the Rebel cruiser. This ruby red light reminded us that a symbolic Wicked Witch of the East had already been killed in the blaster battle between the skeletal Imps and the Rebels. Clearly, these secret plans for the Death Moon were the ruby red power object of STAR WARS, giving their possessors the virile and emboldening power to destroy the surrogate wicked Black Castle.
And so the Space Opera unfolded, a circumstance made certain with the arrival of the black clad and caped figure of the Phantom of the Space Opera himself, the Dark Lord, Darth Vader, a figure played by Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones. Suddenly striding through the remains of the cruiser’s spacelock in a sibilant hiss of white smoke that evoked the orange smoke filled first appearance of the Wicked Witch of the West in Munchkinland in THE WIZARD OF OZ, the tall and menacing black figure of Vader also clearly evoked Frankenstein of DEATH RACE 2000 and Robby the Robot of FORBIDDEN PLANET. Indeed, the huge black bulk of the machineman Vader confirmed that STAR WARS was as much about coming to grips with inner Kid monsters linked to forbidden sexuality as it was about beating off bitter memories of the THX 1138 disaster and Spielberg and JAWS. His helmeted head also evoked the samurai helmets of the films of Kurosawa, linking Vader to Kurosawa and preparing us for the samurai-style light saber battles between Light Jedi and Dark Sith to come.
Indeed, the Dark Lord’s link to Kurosawa was quickly emphasized when he held a Rebel officer aloft by the neck with his sinister left hand, choked him to death when he didn’t like his answers, and then threw him into a wall like a discarded rag doll. For this scene evoked the sight of a huge Japanese thug lifting aloft Mifune’s masterless ronin samurai Sanjuro and then throwing him into a wall near the end of YOJIMBO. Significantly, Sanjuro recovered from this attack and returned to decimate the huge thug and his fellow gang members with his samurai sword at the whirlwind climax of YOJIMBO, setting us up for the return of Skyrocker and the climatic saber whirlwind defeat of Vader at the end of STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. Vader and his robot like Imps were also an ironic contrast to the humanity of Artoo and Threepio. Clearly, the humanness of robots and the robotic nature of humanity was a major satirical theme in the Classic Trilogy.
Meanwhile, after being successfully impregnated by Princess Leia, Artoo suddenly told a startled Threepio about a secret mission to the desert planet below, a secret mission involving even more secret plans. Artoo then reinforced her link to a robotic Eve by convincing a reluctant Threepio Adam to symbolically bite the apple and join her in a space pod ride down to the desert planet. Fittingly, Threepio only reluctantly agreed when a blaster shot exploded nearby. This blaster explosion suddenly awakened the robotic Adam-who had up to now walked unconcernedly through Imp versus Rebel blaster battles-to a knowledge of his mortality. Thus, and as in the Bible, it was a female who enlightened robotic man to a greater awareness of his existence, and forced him to leave his comfortable state in heavenly Eden and head off to an exile in a mortal world of trouble and adventure below. And, as the pod rocketed from the ship and spun down to Tatooine, the Comedy narrative of the two Laurel and Hardy robots split off from the fairy tale Romance narrative of Princess Leia in the first narrative split in STAR WARS, reminding us that Toad’s Comedy had quickly split from Steve and Laurie’s Romance in AMERICAN GRAFFITI.
Significantly, an unintuitive but openly human and unmasked Imp officer told SD gunners to hold their fire and to not destroy the hurtling escape pod as it rushed by their observation window. Thus, this officer unknowingly became the Old Testament God for a brief moment, banishing the two independent and disobeying robots from Eden in a way that confirmed their status as Adam and Eve. Indeed, saving the two amusing robots ironically allowed them to become the non-living ‘pod people’ progenitors of the Classic Trilogy. This Biblical allusion reminded us of Duey, robotic drone number one in SILENT RUNNING. For Duey was left alone to drift through space tending a spaceship greenhouse bio-dome Garden of Eden like another robot Adam by the suicidal and implicitly Lucas linked Freeman Lowell, in the end. Now, however, the adamant figure of Duey was clearly returning from space in the form of Artoo and Threepio. There was also a Middle Earth cadence to this space escape, for by secretly carrying the magic knowledge that would defeat the evil Empire, the two escaping robots evoked Frodo and Sam’s secret quest to Mordor to destroy the One Ring of power in the fiery bowels of Mount Doom and defeat Sauron in the trimatic Tolkien novel, The Return Of The King (1955). A fitting allusion, indeed, preparing us again for the eucatastrophes that would right the wrongs and return health and harmony to the galaxy far, far away at the ends of STAR WARS, STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI-and the equally eucatastrophic and trimatic ending of a Tolkien inspired Sir Peter Jackson cinematic trilogy to come.
The two amusing robots were lucky to have escaped the cyclonic space rape and battle and been allowed to continue on with their separate narrative. For the battle has been so uncompromising, that at one point when three pairs of captured Rebels were marched by the camera, we saw that the skinny and bearded Rebel closest to the camera in the middle pair looked suspiciously like Lucas. If so, it was a significantly placed cameo indeed, and one that underlined that the skeletal Imps symbolized skeletons in the closet of Lucas. Skeletons linked again to incest, as around the time that Lucas marched past the camera, Princess Leia was stunned into unconsciousness with a blue blaster beam that spread out towards her like a water ripple or currents of tornado air and captured by the skeletal Imps. This knockout blow confirmed that the space rape that took place on the Rebel cruiser was indeed a surrogate tornado that knocked out the new Dorothy and sent her down into the inner spiritworld dream as surely as the Kansas twister transported Dorothy Gale deep within her own dreaming spiritworld in THE WIZARD OF OZ, as the diseased green credits pulled viewers down into the Ozian labyrinth in THX 1138, and as the setting sun transported Laurie Henderson deep down into a healing Ozian night in AMERICAN GRAFFITI. Indeed, this was the pivotal moment of STAR WARS, and one that restarted the healing Ozian journey. From this point on, STAR WARS followed the structure of THE WIZARD OF OZ, THX 1138 and AMERICAN GRAFFITI and became a dreaming inner journey filled with elemental Ozian heroes who rushed to save, centre and heal Dorothy Organna so that she could emerge from the dream as healthy and as whole as Dorothy Gale, Laurie Henderson and THX 1138.
That this deadly battle for the life of Leia had begun in earnest was made ominously clear when Leia was roused from unconsciousness. For one of the first people she met after waking up was the black clad Frankenstein and Wicked Witch of the West evoking figure of Darth Vader. Indeed, the towering Vader stuck his robotic mask in her face as he questioned her and pointed his right index finger at her menacingly, just like the Wicked Witch of the West did when she first met Dorothy in Munchkinland at the beginning of THE WIZARD OF OZ. This linked Vader to the Wicked Witch and all her deadly disease, reinforced by the sound of Vader’s mechanically aided breathing, loud breathing that underlined that Vader was not as strong or as powerful as his huge size implied. Significantly, however, the feisty Princess refused to be cowed or intimidated by Darth Vader. Her open defiance prompted Vader to banish her to the Death Moon, an ominous imprisonment that suggested further abuse-but also her rescue by a new Ozian trio, and the liquidation of a new Wicked Witch of the West. Then the towering Dark Lord strode confidently away, conferring with another openly human and unmasked Imp officer over the missing space pod and a mission to track it down on Tatooine. Thus, things suddenly looked bad for the two fugitive robots, an ominous turn magnified by the almost Nikko-like cadence to the ‘Tatoo’ of Tatooine. However, doing the Princess and the Rebellion proud, the two robots survived the birth pains of the pod’s descent through Tatooine’s atmosphere and the crash landing on the Ozian sands of Tatooine like a robotic Dorthreepio and Artoto in their symbolic farmhouse to truly start the healing Ozian dream.
Leaving the remains of their space pod farmhouse, the two robots strode out into the blazing sands. The seering desert evoked the four deserts that surrounded Oz in The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, affirming that the fall of Artoo and Threepio had restarted the healing Ozian dream. The seemingly limitless desertscape of Tatooine also evoked Altair IV, Arrakis in the allegorical Herbert classic, Dune (1965), the southwest desert of THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, THE SEARCHERS and the allegorical Sergio Leone film, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966), and the post-apocalyptic desert wastescape of A BOY AND HIS DOG, preparing us again for the arrival of Kid monsters and a blasterslinging Solo man and his Western narrative. The desert world also recalled the flat and hot San Joaquin valley location of Modesto, and the lunar limbo of THX 1138, linking Tatooine to the life and film art of Lucas in a way that confirmed that a trip to his past was indeed taking place here on Tatooine. Indeed, the crashed pod formed another visual bridge that linked STAR WARS to the Wicked Falfa’s crashed ’55 Chevy at the end of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, underlining Tatooine’s link to the early years of Lucas in Modesto. And, like all of the significant crashes in the life and films of Lucas, the crash brought sobering awareness of one’s ephemeral mortality, renewing Artoo and Threepio’s resolve to continue on and make full use of their newfound life.
However, in spite of the seriousness of their situation, once on Tatooine’s scorching sands the two robots quickly changed from robotic Dorothy and Toto and reverted back to being an amusing Adam and Eve pair, quarrelling bitterly over directions like any good married couple. This quarrel also evoked the directions the Scarecrow gave Dorothy in their first meeting in THE WIZARD OF OZ, reiterating the Ozian structure of the film. The quarrel also led to another split in the narrative, with Artoo following her feminine intuition to lead her to a settlement, while Threepio stubbornly refused to listen to her advice and headed off into the lunar THX 1138 desert limbo alone. Significantly, this argument and breakup recalled a similar argument between the two bumbling and amusing farmhand peasants Matashichi and Tahei-played by Kamatari Fujiwara and Minoru Chiaki, respectively-that led to them splitting up and going their separate ways at the beginning of the Ozian themed HIDDEN FORTRESS. However, Matashichi and Tahei were reunited soon after, setting us up for the reunion of Artoo and Threepio. Significantly, not long after they had been reunited, Matashichi and Tahei met Mifune’s indomitable samurai General Rokurota Makabe, setting us up for the arrival of the equally indomitable Jedi General Ben Obi Wan Kenobi in STAR WARS. Makabe persuaded the two peasants to help him save the pretty but imperious Princess Akizuki, also preparing us for Kenobi persuading Luke and the two robots to help save Princess Leia. Significantly, Makabe used the promise of a reward in gold to secure the help of the two peasants, linking Artoo and Threepio to a desire for wealth. This reminded us that Threepio looked like a walking and talking Oscar statuette, reiterating that the battle to against the evil Empire in STAR WARS was also linked to a battle to defeat the evil and blockbuster lusting Spielberg Empire.
Thus, the insidious spectre of beastly blockbuster lusts shadowed Artoo and Threepio as they traversed the desert sands and valleys alone. However, they were soon tracked down and reunited in the same huge and tank like sandcrawler by the Jawakins, the roving scavenger Munchkins of Tatooine, as Munchkins were always the first creatures met after landing on an Ozian world. Significantly, the name of the Jawas openly linked the film to JAWS, reaffirming that JAWS and Spielberg were the implicit target of Lucas in STAR WARS. Curiously, before he was captured, Threepio stood lost and disconsolate beside the cascading and bleached white bones of a long dead desert beast-or was that Arrakian sandworm? This cascade of dragon-like bones prepared us for the arrival of Kenobi and his ability to howl like a Krayyt sand dragon. The bones also suggested that there was a primal and phallic power for Good or Evil hidden in these sandy wastes, a phallic power that eventually appeared as the Force of the Jedi. The bones also hinted of a more fecund past for Tatooine, and acted as a visual premonition for Yavin at the end of the film, Dagobah in STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, and Endor in STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. These lush moons and planets also reminded us of the patient global transformation supervised by the Fremen that took place on Arrakis in Dune, particularly after the arrival of messianic hero Paul Atreides, whose healing wellspring of energy transformed the world, anticipating the transforming Spring energy of Luke Skyrocker.
Standing beside this bleached cascade of dragon bones, Threepio looked like a sun god idol dug up by an intrepid archaeologist. An appropriate link, as Threepio’s golden form anticipated the battle of an Indy Trilogy to overcome a lust for fortune and glory and replace it with knowledge and wisdom. Strangely, a mysteriously bright object suddenly flashed in the distance and reassured the soliloquizing sun god idol that help was on the way. However, the flashing object could not be the huge, rusty brown and non-reflective sandcrawler of the Jawakins, the phallic worm of Arrakis returning in mechanical form. Could it be the reassuring twinkle of Glinda the Good’s floating bubble, coming to rescue poor Threepio like she rescued Dorothy and Toto at the beginning of THE WIZARD OF OZ? The Cowardly Threepio appeared to think so, for he waved desperately in the scorching sunlight at the mysterious approaching object. As he did, the lunar Tin Artoo fittingly gravitated to a dark and secretive new moon canyon that evoked the southwest desertscape of WESTWORLD. And, like the desert canyon hills of PLANET OF THE APES, this canyon was full of secretive life in the form of more of the mischievous Jawakins.
Amusingly, the implicit status of the Jawakins as the official Munchkins of STAR WARS was underlined by the ‘Ding! Dong! The Witch is Dead!’ cadence of their theme music by Williams, despite the fact that their voices sounded like the helpful mice in CINDERELLA or like Snoopy in the allegorical Bill Melendez directed telefilm, IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN (1966). Hidden in their hooded robes, the Jawakins also reminded us of the hooded and robed Fremen of Dune, and anticipated the arrival of larger and more fierce desert predators on Tatooine. The blue stun beam used by one of the amusing Jawakins to knock out Artoo and cause her to fall on her face evoked the blue wave stun beam used earlier to knock out Princess Leia and cause her to fall on her face, underlining Artoo’s feminine status and the link between the two characters. This link was reinforced by the restraining bolt fitted on Artoo, a bolt that evoked the impious shackles seen on Leia’s hands when she was brought to Vader.
Of course, this restraining bolt froze Artoo in place, confirming that at this point Artoo was the frozen Tin Woman and Water element of STAR WARS. The Jawakins underlined Artoo’s frozen status by sucking her up into their massive sandcrawler with a vacuum suction device, an Arrakian sandworm-like maw that anticipated the Sarlaac pit in STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. The vacuum device also evoked the vacuum garbage disposal unit that sucked up THX 1138’s red polygon power object in THX 1138, reminding us that Artoo was that ruby red power object due to the fact that she contained the Death Castle plans. This linked STAR WARS to THX 1138 again, and drew the viewer back into the garbage sub-theme that always appeared in a Lucas film, preparing us for garbarge compactor antics to come.
Luckily for the Rebellion and the little robot, Artoo did not disappear never to be seen again like the mysterious red polygon of THX 1138. In Artoo’s case, the chute led to a junk room full of scavenged robots and other mechanical odds and ends in the interior of the sandcrawler. One of these robots was the squat, rectangular, two legged and slow moving Gunk, no doubt an allusion to the three equally squat, rectangular, two legged and slow moving drones-one of them ominously called Huey in another memory of the future-in SILENT RUNNING. Threepio was also there, suddenly transformed from golden Cowardly Lion to captured and frozen Tin Man like Artoo. Here in the junk filled innards of the sandcrawler, the two frozen robots apparently drifted off into dreams within the dreams, for they were later awakened from their dreams by the sudden stop of the rambling sandcrawler. Artoo and Threepio were then led out of the sandcrawler into the sunshine of a desert farm by the Jawakins and lined up with the other scavenged robots for inspection and potential sale to two human farmers. This isolated frontier farm and its subterranean main house evoked the isolation of Modesto again as well as the subterranean labyrinth of THX 1138. The frontier farm also confirmed Tatooine’s position as honourary post-apocalyptic Earth, evoking the struggling and post-apocalyptic frontier communities of the gloomy allegorical Walter M. Miller, jr., novel, A Canticle For Leibowitz (1959), and the allegorical John Wyndham sly fi novel, The Chrysalids (1956). Thus, on another level, STAR WARS neatly fit into the cautionary anti-nuclear tradition of post-World War II fiction and film, preparing us for the liberating and eucatastrophic destruction of the apocalyptic Death Moon to come.
Significantly, one of the farmers that strode up to inspect the assembled robots was an old, gruff and grizzled man name Owen Lars, whose stern and level headed manner recalled the small town Republican father of Lucas. Phil Brown’s Lars had a fitting surname that evoked L.A., Mars, Barsoom and the indomitable jed Tars Tarkas, the warrior leader who was the green Martian mentor of transmigrated Earthling, John Carter, in the allegorical Edgar R. Burroughs novel, A Princess Of Mars (1912). This evoked the furious fighting and all out action of the John Carter series, preparing us for similar action in STAR WARS. The other farmer was a young, tanned, lithe and golden haired nephew of Lars named Luke Skywalker, who looked like Flesh Gordon and Freder in METROPOLIS. Skywalker wore a virtuous white kimono like a sincere young samurai, confirming that Lucas was falling in the footsteps of Kurosawa and preparing us for arrival of the samurai-like J.D. Jedi. Indeed, seeing Skywalker’s kimono around the robots reminded us that the first person met by Matashichi and Tahei after they reunited in HIDDEN FORTRESS was the samurai General Makabe, preparing us for Skywalker’s own emergence as a commanding Jedi over the course of the trilogy.
The white kimono also evoked the white inmate uniform of THX 1138, underlining that Luke was the new cinematic alter ego of Lucas, and that Lucas was taking on the underworld again here in STAR WARS. Indeed, his first name ‘Luke’ was also an important milestone in the films of Lucas, for the name was a shortened form of Lucas, making STAR WARS the first film where Lucas openly confirmed that the hero was his cinematic alter ego. Finally Lucas had the quiet courage to come out into the open and confirm that he was using his film art to come to grips with his life, no doubt due to the emboldening confidence given him by the success of AMERICAN GRAFFITI. Indeed, the Curt Henderson cadence to Luke Skywalker’s name and the THX 1138-like subterranean Lars house prepared us for Luke’s Journey of Self Discovery, underlining that Henderson symbolized Lucas in AMERICAN GRAFFITI, and that Lucas continued to use his cinematic alter ego to explore his own growth as a person and an artist in STAR WARS as he did in AMERICAN GRAFFITI. ‘Skywalker’ also evoked Moonwatcher, the name of the successful post-apocalyptic tribal leader in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. This prepared us for the sight of Skywalker wielding his own ‘bone’ saber weapon to equal success-as well as for the arrival of another apeman in the tall and furry form of Chewbacca. In addition, the surname Skywalker sounded Native American, preparing us for Luke’s emergence as the latest Euro-Indigenous hero to follow in the footsteps of Aragorn, Carter, Hawkeye, and Paul ‘Maud’dib’ Atreides.
Striding out to view the assembled robots, the Jawakins were the first fantastic creatures Skywalker met in his Ozdyssey. This linked him to Dorothy-whether Barbarella, Gale, Henderson, or Organna-reiterated the Ozian structure of the film and prepared us for Luke’s own healing adventures. Indeed, the Jawakins hid shyly from Skywalker like the Munchkins initially hid from Dorothy in THE WIZARD OF OZ, confirming the Jawakins’ link to the Munchkins. However, the young hero did not notice, and joined Lars in his inspection of the robots. As the two knowing farmers carefully inspected the robots, an amusing conversation took place between Lars and Threepio concerning binary language. This conversation evoked a similar statement made by Robby the Robot-that walking juke box!-to Leslie Nielsen’s commanding Captain John J. Adams-fantastic film’s first Canadian born space Commander, or Can-Amder-and his spaceship crew soon after they landed on Altair IV in FORBIDDEN PLANET. In fact, to underline the link to Robby, there was a hulking black robot in the lineup with Artoo and Threepio that looked like Robby. Thus, while apparently of little significance, this conversation and Robby-like robot confirmed that the film was linked to FORBIDDEN PLANET, and set the viewer up for a pivotal primal encounter with a Kid monster straight out of FORBIDDEN PLANET that underlined the sexually diseased and incestuous nature of the film. As Lars also asked Threepio if he could speak Bocci-a machine language that evoked bocce, an Italian outdoors bowling game perhaps introduced to Lucas by Coppola-this conversation also linked Threepio to Coppola-and Coppola to the Dark Side. But for now, Lars ignored Artoo and chose Threepio and an R2-like robot with red markings. This choice led Threepio to live up to his Cowardly Lion nature and refuse to stick up for Artoo, causing Luke to lead the two robots to the garage for clean-up unaware of Artoo’s greater importance to his own Journey of Self Discovery.
At this point, the POV switched back to Artoo. Frozen in place like a true Tin Woman by the Jawakin restraining bolt, Artoo trembled in helpless agitation as she watched Threepio and ‘Red’ move away with Skywalker. And tremble agitatedly she should, for the red markings on Red reminded us that Artoo actually contained the ruby red power object of the film. Unfortunately, before she could use some Force on the other robot, she was frozen even more into place by a Jawakin who reactivated her restraining bolt. However, a part on Red’s head exploded off, disabling Red’s motivator and rendering him helpless. This was a clear visual pun that underscored the sexual nature of the Classic Trilogy. Indeed, Red had not only literally and ironically turned out not to be the ruby red power object of STAR WARS, he had also literally shot his bolt and become impotent. Happening in conjunction with the first appearance of Skywalker, this scene also clearly mocked Skywalker’s own naïve and undeveloped sexual Force at this point in the Classic Trilogy. Clearly, Skywalker had to learn to master and control his own sexual mojo if he wanted to succeed as a true J.D. Jedi like his fathers Curt Henderson and THX 1138 before him.
Ironically, the disabling of Red’s motivator motivated Lars and Luke to complain angrily to the Jawakins about the robot and refuse to buy him. Threepio tentatively suggested taking Artoo as a substitute, almost reluctantly vouching for Artoo’s worthiness. Lars and Luke agreed, and Artoo was allowed to leave Tin Woman status and roll on fluid wheels towards Luke and Threepio, finally completing this most Holy Trinity. And so the elemental powers of Fire and Water arrived to centre, energize and harmonize this dormant and Earthy Arthurian hero, linking him unknowingly to his twin sister, and eventually waking him up to his messianic destiny. The personified Ozian elements also reminded us that Red was on one level the latest symbolic Wicked Witch of the East figure, with the towering presence of the Jawakin sandcrawler standing in for Dorothy’s fallen house. Clearly, Artoo did contain the ruby red power object of the film in spite of her blue markings, for the ruby red power object was always given to the Ozian hero after the death of the Wicked Witch of the East.
Indeed, Artoo’s ruby red status was quickly confirmed when Skywalker led the two robots down into the farm’s subterranean garage, an underground garage with parked rocket car that evoked the underworld of THX 1138 again. For while Threepio basked in a hot oil bath-during which he called Skywalker ‘Sir Luke’, thus preparing us for his emergence as a Jedi Knight-Skywalker cleaned carbon scoring marks off Artoo. While he cleaned, Skywalker told the two robots how much he wanted to leave the farm, linking him to Dorothy and Bolander of AMERICAN GRAFFITI. While talking and trying to pry an especially jammed bit of carbon scoring from Artoo, Skywalker accidentally set off Artoo’s internal holoprojector. Suddenly a hologram of Princess Leia fittingly projected out of lunar Artoo like a moonbeam and lit up the darkness of the garage, confirming Artoo’s link to film art, and also linking Leia to film art. Indeed, the hologram confirmed that Leia was the film’s personified symbol of film art. Beautiful Leia floated in the air more like Glinda than Dorothy or one of the THX 1138 holo dancers, causing lonely Luke to fall unknowingly in love with his twin sister like Henderson fell in love with his blonde Glinda in the white Thunderbird. An ominous love at first sight indeed, and one that underlined that the Glinda in the Thunderbird in AMERICAN GRAFFITI symbolized the younger sisters of Henderson and Lucas. And also prepared us for a monstrous attack from the Kid monster to come.
Fittingly, and as if to remind us of Artoo, Leia and Luke’s links to the Tin Man at this point, Leia’s hologram was frozen and trapped in an endless loop that continually repeated her plaintive message ‘…help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope’, like a frozen Mattie Ross pleading with Cogburn. The plea alos evoked the poor villagers who pleaded with Takashi Shimura’s venerable samurai Kambei to save their village from bandit attack in SEVEN SAMURAI, setting us up for the battle at the end of the film. Perhaps this repetitive hologram and its link to SEVEN SAMURAI reminded Skywalker of his own monotonous life, trapped in its endless loop of menial farm chores. For he suddenly made like Mifune’s exuberant samurai wannabe Kikuchiyo in SEVEN SAMURAI and took a bold step towards breaking both stuck routines by demanding that Artoo play Leia’s entire message for him. Artoo mischievously tricked Skywalker into taking off the restraining bolt of the Jawakins instead, telling Skywalker that the freezing bolt was preventing her from playing the entire message. However, when Skywalker took off the bolt, the message disappeared, disappointing Skywalker and prompting a furious verbal barrage from Threepio when Artoo insisted that the message was for Kenobi’s eyes only. Amusingly, as with Threepio and the space pod, Artoo was now a robotic Eve to Skywalker’s Adam. For, by releasing Artoo and her feisty female Force, Skywalker was now fated to leave his moisture Garden of Eden and embark on his Journey of Self Discovery. Indeed, after being called away for supper before he could persuade Artoo to play the entire message from Leia, Skywalker discovered when he returned that Artoo had fled the garage in his absence and disappeared into the night. This forced Skywalker and Threepio to desperately search the desert for the runaway Artoo in Skywalker’s landspeeder the next morning, a search that led Skywalker and Threepio down the robot hole and off into a bigger world of more fantastic adventure.
For unbeknownst to Skywalker and Threepio, the two and their speeding hovercar were being watched by a ragged Tusken Raider with a bandaged head in the sandstone hills whose name evoked the Tuscan area of Italy, linking the Dark Side Kid Monsters of STAR WARS to Coppola again. He aimed his rifle at Skywalker’s landspeeder like an indigenous warrior taking aim at a wagon train, confirming that the Western narrative had now joined the Comedy, the Journey of Self Discovery and the Romance in STAR WARS. Another Tusken appeared and persuaded him not to shoot, and then the two Tuskens hurriedly joined a third on elephantine Bantha back and rode after the landspeeder. With their brown clothing and furtive movements, the Tuskens looked like older siblings of the smaller Jawakins. Indeed, Tusken sounded like Munchkin, emphasizing the Ozian link between the two desert nomads. And, like the hooded and dimunitive Jawakins, these Tusken nomads and their huge mounts evoked the indomitable Fremen of Dune, as well as the badlands mutants of A Canticle For Leibowitz and The Chrysalids. However, with their bandaged heads, they also looked like hospital patients, preparing us for another pivotal crash in the life and films of Lucas.
Indeed, no sooner did Skywalker and Threepio track down Artoo-in a desertscape that looked like the twin of the one seen in WESTWORLD, implying that Lucas was replying to that film on one level in STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE-and mildly reprimand her for running away, then Artoo detected figures approaching on her intuitive radar like a robotic Blood, the telepathic Toto of A BOY AND HIS DOG. Threepio translated Artoo’s anxious beeps, and told Skywalker that there were ‘…several creatures approaching from the southeast’, the direction that Modesto lay in relation to the Lucasfilm production offices in the San Francisco area. An important link, for like Threepio’s earlier comments to Lars, this remark to Skywalker paraphrased a similar comment made by Robby the Robot in FORBIDDEN PLANET. But not just any comment, for this was the most significant statement made by Robby in FORBIDDEN PLANET. Indeed, with film rising to a deadly and sexually tormented climax on Altair IV inside the house of the mad scientist Morbius, Robby suddenly stated that ‘…something (was) approaching from the southwest’. This sudden remark referred to the nightmarish return of the murderous Id monster, a huge but invisible monster from the incestuously tormented subconscious of Morbius that had already attacked Adams and the dauntless crew of the United Planets Cruiser C57-D in FORBIDDEN PLANET for daring to flirt with Altaira-also known dimunitively as ‘Alta’-the lovely and L.A. linked daughter of Morbius. A terrifying Id monster magnified by the powerful subterranean machinery of the Krel that personified the uneasy subconscious of Morbius due to his tormenting and forbidden lusts for his beautiful daughter Alta, the only woman left on Altair IV for marriage and mating after the mysterious deaths of the other members of the expedition to Altair IV twenty years earlier.
Of course, given that the brave new world of television was emerging in the Fifties, Altair IV probably symbolized the forbidden planet of television that was luring audiences away from the Temple Theatre and its film art, symbolized by Altaira. Indeed, the name of Edward Morbius evoked that of American television newsman Edward R. Murrow, who had faced off against red baiting Senator Joseph McCarthy two years before on April 6, 1954 in a televised confrontation that had riveted the U.S. and kept millions of potential audience members away from the Temple Theatre, making the alluring power of television only too clear. The fact that Captain Adams and Altaira witnessed the destruction of Altair IV on a television resembling monitor complete while safe in orbit on the United Studios Cruiser C-57D in the end reaffirmed the implicit and television blasting intent of FORBIDDEN PLANET.
At any rate, the forbidden lust of poor Morbius broke out again when the beautiful young Eve revealed that she was leaving with Adams for the Eden of Earth at the end of the film. This revelation caused Morbius to unknowingly create the Id monster once more, causing it to approach from the southwest and attack his house. Only this time, to be faced down and defeated by Morbius, a defeat that cost him his life but saved him from sin, when he realized that he was creating it out of a shameful lust for his movie star daughter. Thus, when Threepio paraphrased Robby’s remark, the solar robot set the stage for the arrival of another attacking and incestuous Id monster that was knowingly linked by Lucas to his southeast youth in Modesto, implying again that Lucas was haunted by incestuous Kid monsters, as well. Indeed, as Lucas openly implied that Luke was his alter ego in STAR WARS, Threepio’s comment linked incest to Lucas via the unknowing mind of Luke, who had already been smitten by the bewitching hologram of his own sister.
Significantly, Threepio’s comment also evoked the command by Shaw’s Quint to Drefuss’ Hooper in JAWS to pilot the Orca ‘…twelve minutes south-southeast now-full throttle’! This second allusion underlined that a new monster from the subconscious depths was approaching. However, as Skywalker was so young, this monster was best described as a Kid monster. And the Kid monster duly arrived, in the unexpected form of one of the Tuskens rising from the sand in front of Skywalker as he peered at their Banthas with macrobinoculars. Bellowing in primal fury, this Kid monster attacked Luke with a whirling tornado of American gaffi stick blows that scattered the two robots and the young hero. Significantly, rising out of nowhere with his masked face, the Tusken Kid monster also evoked the masked bandits who attacked the stagecoach of Ransom Stoddard at the beginning of THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE. Indeed, the Tusken Kid monster evoked that arch libertine Valance himself, who rose up from behind rocks shooting his gun in the air to stop and rob the overland stagecoach at the beginning of the 1962 Western, linking STAR WARS now to the pivotal year of 1962 like AMERICAN GRAFFITI.
The Tusken even beat Skywalker into unconsciousness like Valance knocked out Stoddard, and he and his two fellow Tuskens casually tossed Skywalker’s unconscious body away like Valance and his two fellow bandits casually tossed Stoddard’s unconscious body away in THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE. This scene reminded us that Princess Leia was knocked out by an Imp stun beam earlier, and that this knockout sent Leia off into the healing Ozian dream. Clearly, Skywalker now followed Leia into that healing dream, underlining their sibling link and preparing us for the revelation that Leia was indeed Luke’s sister in STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. A timely arrival of the Ozian dream, as healing Ozian energy was definitely needed by Skywalker to fight off sexually tormented Kid monsters. Literally, as the allusions to THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE reminded us that Lucas first saw the film when he was in his late teens, and that Valance and his bandits symbolized the Dark Side of sexuality as well as violent lawlessness in that film.
Significantly, the three Tuskens also reminded us of the three Pharoahs gang members who accosted Curt in AMERICAN GRAFFITI, underlining their Kid monster status and confirming that Skywalker was on a Journey of Self Discovery like Henderson here in STAR WARS. Indeed, no sooner did they toss the unconscious Skywalker to the ground then they gathered around his landspeeder like teenaged hoods obsessed with cars and crime. As if to confirm that teenaged gang link, the three Tuskens started ripping off parts of the landspeeder and throwing them away, as if to make it look to other Tatooinians that Skywalker had been in a speeder accident. This evoked the Great Crash of ’62, the 1962 release of THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE and the summer of ’62 setting of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, links to ‘62 that were reiterated by the bandaged heads of the Tuskens and the unconscious form of Skywalker on the ground nearby. Indeed, Skywalker’s sprawling body reminded us that Lucas was thrown from his Bianchina in the Great Crash of ’62 and wound up with an equally bandaged head in the hospital in Modesto, confirming the open identification of Lucas with Luke in STAR WARS. And given that Tuskens were now linked to that crash, Lucas implied that incestuous Kid monsters that haunted his younger self were partly to blame for the accident, causing him to lose his focus and make that fateful turn into his driveway without looking in his rear view mirror. Clearly, the Great Crash of ’62 was indeed a real life tornado that threw Lucas out of his old life and on his own healing Journey of Self Discovery, a real life journey that was being addressed again in this film as in AMERICAN GRAFFITI and THX 1138.
A Journey that also clearly involved conquering inner fears and leaving youth behind as in AMERICAN GRAFFITI, for the sudden loud shriek of a Krayyt sand dragon scared the Tuskens away from the landspeeder and off into the sand hills. This eerie shriek recalled the eerie shriek of the never seen but much feared mutant screamers of A BOY AND HIS DOG, reiterating the link of STAR WARS to that film. Another tall, brown robed, and hooded human figure appeared, looking like a tall Jawakin or THX 1138 priest, waving its arms to scare away the Tuskens like a Tatooinian Scarecrow as it approached the landspeeder. This new brown Scarecrow robed figure reached the side of Skywalker and bent curiously over him. Hidden in a nearby lunar cave like a Jawakin, Artoo watched this mysterious new figure and beeped anxiously. Clearly, Artoo had seen THX 1138 and remembered the robed priests of OMMRICK in that film. Artoo’s uneasy reaction also reminded us of the angry outburst made by Lars at supper the night before at the mention of someone named Obi Wan Kenobi, an angry reaction that vaguely implied that Kenobi was some sort of sinister sex predator. Was this new figure that sinister sex predator, or a Force of Good and Light who had come to the aid of Skywalker?
Hearing Artoo’s anxious beep, the figure pulled back his concealing hood and to our relief revealed not the troubled face of a Tatoonian Morbius, but the humourous, thoughtful, white bearded and wizardly face of a kindly older man who resembled an older Wolfman Jack and also evoked Richard Eastham’s General Blankenship-indeed, there was an ‘Kenabi’ hidden in his surname-in WONDER WOMAN. This kindly old wizard called Artoo over and revived Skywalker. Luke’s eyes slowly opened and when they did, he found almost to his annoyed bewilderment that his trip into the healing Ozian dreamworld had not sent him to a lush and fantastic Munchkinland. However, this time he did peer into the unfamiliar face of the ragged Scarecrow wizard before him. The weathered face of Ben Kenobi reminded us that the battered face of weathered gunslinger Tom Doniphon was one of the first to be seen by Stoddard after he was knocked out at the beginning of THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, preparing us for Kenobi’s saberslinging heroics and sacrifice at the end of the film. At any rate, the THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE allusion linked Kenobi to Doniphon-implying that he symbolized Ford, an inspiration of Lucas-and prepared us for the sight of Kenobi defending Skywalker in combat like Doniphon defended Stoddard. Seeing Kenobi first also reminded us that Gandalf was the first person seen by Frodo in Book 2 of The Fellowship Of The Ring after being knocked out by the King of the Nazgul, preparing us for Kenobi’s emergence as the knowing wizard of Force of STAR WARS.
A timely emergence, for coming fast on the heels of his violent encounter with the lawless Tusken Kid monsters, it was quite reassuring to see the calm and wholesome presence of Kenobi aiding Skywalker. Indeed, with his sun Fire tanned face, Water ruling moon white hair and beard, Earth brown robes and soothing Airy voice, Kenobi was a wholesome and naturally centred confluence of the four Ozian elements-a human Fifth Element!-and a person over the age of thirty who looked like he could be trusted Clearly, he flowed with the elemental Ozian ‘Fours’, preparing us for the revelation that he was a J. D. Jedi Master who flowed with the Force. His name confirmed his wholey status, moving almost full circle from Ben Obi to Kenobi. This harmonious name also linked Kenobi to the four weeks of the moody moon, for his middle name Wan meant pale or white, a colour that best described the dreaming nighttime moon. This was a significant link, wanly asserting Kenobi’s J.D. Jedi mastery of the Dark Side of the Force, a mastery of his ‘Ideous’ Dark Side that he could pass on to Skywalker. The name Obi Wan also confirmed his Great Oz status despite his Scarecrow appearance, reminding us that the wonderful Wizard of Oz was originally an Omaha man. Indeed, this play on Omaha linked with the earlier shriek of the Krayyt dragon to underline that Kenobi was the Krayyt Oz figure of STAR WARS. Old Ben also recalled old Ben-played by J. Pat O’Malley-the alien fugitive who befriended and cured a crippled girl-Susan Gordon’s Jenny-in the allegorical Richard L. Bare directed telefilm, ‘The Fugitive’, a season three episode of the original TWILIGHT ZONE.
Happily, the calming good humour of Omahan Kenobi soothed Skywalker as well as the audience, encouraging Skywalker to eagerly talk to the Krayyt Kenobi about the wayward Arttu and his dogged determination to find the old wizard. Indeed, the wise and kindly Kenobi was clearly the sympathetic father figure that Lucas and Luke never had. Watching the two men discuss Artoo, many of the other allusional levels of STAR WARS besides THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE were on quiet display. Ben could be the canny fortune teller Professor Marvel talking to Dorothy about running away from home in THE WIZARD OF OZ. Luke could be THX 1138 listening to the old Tin Man in the lunar and surreal reprogramming area in THX 1138. Or Curt Henderson discussing his dream of leaving Modesto for that Eastern college with Wolfman Jack or Mr. Wolfe in AMERICAN GRAFFITI. Ben could be the wizard Merlin finally meeting up with a grown Arthur in the Arthurian myths. Luke could be the young Earth hero John Carter meeting up with the jed Tars Tarkas for the first time in A Princess Of Mars, or Caladan born messianic hero Paul Atreides talking to the Fremen leader Stilgar for the first time in the desert of Arrakis in Dune. Or Ko Kimura’s young and innocent samurai Katsushiro conferring quietly with the venerable samurai leader Kambei in SEVEN SAMURAI. Ben could also be John the Baptist meeting up with a young Jesus in the desert. Ben’s monkish robes and venerable appearance also evoked the Jewish hermit Benjamin Eleazar of A Canticle For Leibowitz, whose mastery of the healing Force allowed him to live alone in the post-apocalyptic desert for 600 years.
Soon these allusional depths were disturbed, however, when noises alerted Ben to the return of the Tusken Kid monsters. Advising Skywalker that it was time to leave, the two men rounded up the unconscious Threepio. This copycat knockout reaffirmed that Threepio’s fate was linked with that of Skywalker, as the feminine Artoo’s fate was linked with that of Leia by their two knockout blasts. Indeed, Skywalker was the first to find the missing Threepio, buried comically in the sand and looking again like a sun god idol dug up by Indiana Jones. Skywalker revived and soothed the damaged robot, whose sinister left arm had been ripped off in the Tusken attack, transforming a Luke into a helpful Ben to Threepio’s battered Luke in a way that confirmed their link. This affirmed that on one level, Artoo and Threepio symbolized the frozen state that Leia and Luke lived in until they awakened to Jedi consciousness and became fully centred and harmonious adult beings. Threepio’s knockout also meant that Artoo, Leia, Luke and Threepio were now all wounded travellers in the healing Ozian dreamworld. A journey that was picking up Forceful momentum, for with the meeting of a Dorothyish Luke, a Cowardly Threepio, a Tinny Artoo and a Krayyt Kenobi, a significant and healing Ozian conjunction had taken place. Now it was off to see the Wizard’s house!
Intriguingly, Kenobi’s house evoked the stone walled desert mesa dwelling of Eleazer of A Canticle For Leibowitz, affirming Kenobi’s links to ancient wisdom and the ageless living Force. The domed dwelling also reminded us again of the tinker wagon of Professor Marvel, and the invitation Dorothy accepted from the travelling fortune teller to step inside and have the old rascal read her fortune shortly before the tornado arrived to carry her off to Oz. This was a fitting reminder, and one that prepared us for another tornado that arrived to cut Luke free from Tatooine forever. Of course, the desert sanctuary also evoked the desert domocile of Professor Morbius, ominously reiterating the Kid monster nature of the Tusken attack. Indeed, Kenobi’s link to Wolfman Jack underlined his link to wild Kid monsters from the teenaged Id. However, as the Kid monsters troubled Luke and not Kenobi this time, it was fitting that Skywalker ignored these allusions for the moment, choosing instead to demonstrate after his brush with death that he was indeed on his way to becoming a full fledged Jedi Messiah with the ability to transform Bad into Good by reattaching Threepio’s sinister left arm.
While repairing Threepio, Skywalker talked to Ben about his father. He told Omahan Kenobi that his father did not fight in the intriguing Clone Wars, but was a ‘…navigator on a spice freighter’. While evoking the mutated and evolved melange spice addicted Spacing Guild navigators of Dune in one of the few open allusions to the Dune novels in any of the STAR WARS films, this remark prepared us for the upcoming arrival of Chewbacca and Han and their own space freighter. The comment also evoked Annie, Frankenstein’s navigator in DEATH RACE 2000, setting us up for the revelation that Darth Frankenstein was Ani Skywalker. Indeed, the Krayyt Kenobi immediately linked Skywalker’s comment to DEATH RACE 2000 in his reply. For he told young Skywalker that his father was really a Jedi Knight and famous star pilot named Anakin Skywalker, a first name that again reminded us of Annie and of Frankenstein’s initial status as the Wicked black Nikko of DEATH RACE 2000. This link to Frankenstein was confirmed when Kenobi also revealed that the elder Skywalker had been killed by one of his pupils, Darth Vader. This revelation also reminded us that Kurosawa was an enthusiastic pupil of Ford, reiterating the implicit link of Vader to Kurosawa. Kenobi’s statement also linked the Jedi to the J.D. rebels of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, and the need of Curt, John and Toad to flow with black rebel Force in order achieve personal transformation and succeed in life, setting us up for Luke’s own triumphant transformation. The word ‘jedi’ also evoked the ‘jeds’ and ‘jeddaks’ of A Princess Of Mars, clan and tribal chieftain levels that Carter had to attain with martial valour in order to rise in the ranks and unite the fighting tribes of Barsoom. Clearly, like Carter, Fields, Henderson and Milner, Skywalker had to get his afro mojo flowing if he was to succeed in STAR WARS.
Mentioning Anakin Skywalker reminded Kenobi that he had left something behind for young Skywalker. Rummaging in an old space sea chest, Ben pulled out an odd silver wand that looked like a big dildo and handed it to Luke. The vague menace that surrounded Kenobi returned at the sight of that odd silver dildo, reawakening our initial fears of the old Jedi. Suddenly, his bearded face looked less like Wolfman Jack and more like Professor Morbius. Was he really a creepy old sex predator who lived a furtive and solitary life in the midst of the uninhabited Jundland Wastes because he had been driven out into the wastes by Tatooine society, or was he really a benevolent J.D.Jedi wizard patiently waiting for a hero to come? The answer came when Skywalker suddenly ignited the dildoish wand and a humming laser sword blazed forth, mesmerizing both Skywalker and the audience. The laser sword was blue green, as blue as the wide open skies of Tatooine and the water of life and as green and naïve as young Skywalker. Seeing that fluid and powerful blue sword, we immediately relaxed, for we had seen this scene before. Luke was revealed as a young Arthur, pulling Excalibur from the stone under the watchful eyes of a Jedi Merlin. Like the Tusken attack, this was a major turning point for Skywalker. Indeed, at this point he transformed from Dorothy to tentative and uncertain Tin Man with his axesaber, evoking the Ozian transformations of Henderson in AMERICAN GRAFFITI and THX 1138 in THX 1138 in a way that confirmed that he was on his own Journey of Self Transformation.
As Skywalker hesitantly moved the healing blade, the Krayyt Omaha Kenobi explained that the axesaber was really Anakin’s Light saber, the ancient samurai-like laser sword of the Jedi Knights, a term that reminded us that the Knights was the name of the teams at Thomas Downey High School, the high school Lucas attended in Modesto. He also told the Tin Luke that Anakin was killed by one of his ex-students, a Jedi padawan named Darth Vader who was ‘seduced’ by the Dark Side of the Force. This sinister and suggestive male seduction dredged up the vague fear of homosexual rape seen in AMERICAN GRAFFITI and THX 1138 again, reiterating that young Skywalker’s J.D. Jedi journey would also involve facing down and defeating the sexual Dark Side, whether homosexual or incestuous. However, with Kenobi revealed as a wise and benevolent Jedi sage, the tension drained out of the audience. Clearly, this Force was not just ‘…some dark, terrible, incomprehensible Force’ that Morbius warned of in FORBIDDEN PLANET, but also a powerful Force for Good. And clearly Kenobi was no wolf in sheep’s clothing who lured a sexually naïve and innocent Skywalker back to his lair for Ideous assault. Indeed, the Krayyt Kenobi was what he appeared to be, an experienced, humourous, intelligent and knowing J. D. Jedi Master who had lived in monkish harmony with the Force in the Jundland Wastes waiting patiently for the hero fated to wield ‘Excalisabur’ to emerge and bring health and sexual harmony back to the galaxy. And so Ben the Baptist baptized Luke in the heady blue green water of the healing Force, turning the space sea chest into the Ark of the Covenant and the axesaber into a concentrated beam of God’s divine power. Indeed, the desert scenes of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK would also be filmed in Tunisia like these scenes set in Tatooine, underlining the axesaber’s link to the cleansing Force of the Ark of the Covenant.
When Artoo’s anxious beeps interrupted the conversation of the two heroes, Omaha Kenobi turned to her to activate Leia’s holographic message and link the Jedi path to film again. Leia’s hologram quickly hovered in the air again like a Glinda the Good, ominously smiting Luke again with her forbidden and bewitching beauty. The hologram again reminded us that Leia looked like the twin sister of Mattie Ross, preparing us for Leia’s desperate plea for help, and linking Kenobi to Cogburn in a way that implicitly reaffirmed that Kenobi, like Cogburn, symbolized John Ford. The hologram also reminded us of the pirate television oration of Harriet Medin’s Thomasina Paine to the masses that interrupted the Death Race telecast in DEATH RACE 2000, preparing us for upcoming contact with the new and even more youthful Rebellion of the children of the Boomers. Interestingly, this ghostly white figure referred to Kenobi as General Kenobi. These words evoked the intimidating and Forceful samurai General Makabe again, reminding us of his superhuman quest to save beautiful Princess Yuki in HIDDEN FORTRESS. This prepared us for Ben’s own superhuman quest to save Princess Leia, and reaffirmed that Kenobi and Skywalker’s axesabers had a samurai edge. Princess Leia also reminded General Kenobi that he had once served her father, Bail Organna of Alderaan during the Clone Wars.
Significantly, the firstname ‘Bail’ evoked good guy stunt man Chuck Bail and GUMBALL RALLY, his kind and gentle response to DEATH RACE 2000, linking Organna to the side of Good. Organna’s surname was also significant, linking Leia to organic Forces in her battle against the evil machine Empire. The surname also confirmed that she was the true Dorothy of STAR WARS, for Leia Organna was almost the reverse of Dorothy Gale. Organna also reminded us of Frank Morgan, the actor who played the Great Oz in THE WIZARD OF OZ, underlining Kenobi’s Krayyt status in the absence of Bail Organna. Indeed, Alderaan was almost a scrambled up and slightly altered version of the ‘Emerald’ in Emerald City, reinforcing Bail Organna’s link to the Great Oz and preparing us for the flight to Emerald Alderaan. Alderaan also evoked Altair IV, reiterating the film’s link to FORBIDDEN PLANET. The surname Organna also linked Leia Organna to Scarlet O’Hara of GONE WITH THE WIND, setting us up for her equally tempestuous Romance with her intergalactic Rhett Butler scoundrel, Han Solo.
After asking General Kogburni for help, Mattie Organna linked Artoo with Frodo again by pointing out that Artoo carried the ruby red data necessary for the Rebellion to defeat the Death Moon, data that had to be taken to Alderaan like the One Ring had to be taken to Mordor. Then the bewitching hologram disappeared like Glinda in her floating bubble or T-bird, leaving Kenobi and Skywalker alone with their thoughts. Perhaps they wondered if ‘jidai-geki’, the Japanese phrase for historical films like SEVEN SAMURAI, had been merged with J.D. to create the word Jedi. At any rate, Kenobi eventually interrupted this pensive silence like a good helpful hermit to tell this new Grail Knight that Tin Luke had to learn how to use his axesaber, and accompany the Krayyt Kenobi to green and sylvan Alderaan. Ominously, while the home to Leia, this alder whispering planet also sounded like Duran Duran of BARBARELLA, setting us up for its destruction by a new positronic-style death ray like the one that mad scientist Duran Duran wielded with gleefully fiendish effect in BARBARELLA.
However, as befitting a frozen Tin Luke and evoking an initially Cowardly Curt, young Skywalker insisted that he could not leave for the doomed planet or receive more advanced instruction. Omahan Kenobi responded by peevishly telling the Cowardly Skywalker that he sounded like his Uncle Owen. At this mention of Owen, Skywalker worriedly decided to rush home. The scene reminded us that Dorothy decided to rush home after being told by Professor Marvel that he could see Auntie Em crying over her absence in his crystal ball. However, Luke assured the Great Ben that he would drop him off along the way at the settlement with the significant name of Anchorhead. Lars mentioned this town earlier, and its evocative name caused Ben to agree knowingly. For in contrast to Skywalker’s stated resistance to leave Tatooine, Anchorhead evoked images of famous ships heaving anchor and leaving for legendary journeys on the wine dark seas. The epic voyages of Jason, Odysseus and Sinbad!
Fittingly, the POV washed away at that point to reveal the infinite seas of space and follow the passage of a great white SD. The sinister and sexually diseased spaceshark was heading towards what appeared to be a man-made machine moon complete with large round crater instead of a Black Castle. This Death Moon was an appropriate destination for the SD and its legions of skeletal and undead Imps. Significantly, floating in the darkness of space the Death Moon also resembled the alienated, evil and floating criminal brain Gor-voiced by Dale Tate-in the allegorical Juran directed film, THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS (1957), a film that was released in the thirteenth year of Lucas. A significant link, for after Gor’s spaceship crash landed in the Tatooine-like American southwest, the evil floating extraterrestrial brain took over the mind of John Agar’s good guy nuclear scientist, Dr. Steve March. While controlling March like an alienated puppet master, the insidious and aroused brain from Arous would try to force March’s good girl Sally Fallon to make primitive Earth love with the body of March so it could experience primal sexual sensations. However, Joyce Meadow’s Sally always managed to successfully fight off these crude and brutish Mr. Hyde attacks that were so unlike the good Dr. Jekyll/March she knew.
Curiously, Gor also tried to use March to take over the world with a new evil mind Force stronger than faith, love or nuclear weapons that blasted out of his eyes like a Martian death ray, linking sexual frustration with Cold War tensions. Thus, the dark spectre of sexually diseased assault and frustrated violence was reiterated here in STAR WARS with the floating brain shape of the Death Moon, preparing us for the arrival of the alienated, aroused, evil, gloating and insidious brain of the Emperor in STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. The evil and alienated floating brain from Arous was also successfully attacked and destroyed in the end by a March freed from its mind control, preparing us for the Death Moon’s destruction by liberated Rebels at the end of the film and the Emperor’s destruction by a liberated Anakin Skywalker at the end of STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. Indeed, Vol, a good brain from Arous-underlined by a name that almost spelled ‘love’ backwards, and also voiced by Tate-arrived from Arous, took over the brain of March’s dog George, and told March and Sally how to defeat Gor and march in a healthy Spring. March did this by chopping Gor’s Achilles heel-the fissure of Rolando-with an axe.
This fissure prepared us for the sight of Rebel spacefighters blasting down a new fissure of Rolando-like trench on the surface of the Death Moon in a desperate attempt to destroy the insidious machine brain at the end of the film. Of course, the fissure of Rolando and Steve March also evoked Steve Bolander of AMERICAN GRAFFITI and sounded like Organna, and anticipated Lando Calrissian. Rolando also evoked Coppola, reiterating the evil Empire’s link to dark dreams of film glory at any gangsta cost. Thus, a film with a Toto dog hero named George that arrived in the salacious thirteenth year of Lucas returned to haunt STAR WARS, reiterating that the film was also trying to heal the sexually diseased youth within Lucas, whose Sally evoking sister Wendy may have had to fight off his equally uncharacteristic incestuous attacks, on one level.
This link was reiterated when the POV shifted to the inside of the machine moon, for inside the floating Death Brain we found ourselves at a conference table ringed by evil and aroused minds from the planet Empire. These evil minds were all unmasked and visibly human and male Imp officers, an all male presence that increased our suspicions about the pedophilic nature of this Empire. But not an all confident evil Empire, for one impious officer named Commander Tagge quickly revealed his concerns to Admiral Motti beside him about the vulnerability of the man-made Death Moon ‘battle station’. Richard LeParmetier’s Motti boastingly responded to the concerns of Don Henderson’s Tagge with gloating and superior remarks about the invulnerable power of the Death Moon that evoked the gloating and salacious style of speaking of Gor, the gloating and aroused brain from Arous. Interestingly, both of these Imp officers had vaguely Italian sounding names that evoked Coppola and were composed of letters whose consonant-vowel-consonant-consonant-vowel combination was the exact same letter combination as Nikko, the head flying monkey of the Wicked Witch of the West, confirming that the Death Moon was a surrogate Black Castle, and that these Imp officers were the new subservient servants of a symbolic new Wicked Witch of the West.
A timely reminder of Nikko, for suddenly the two officers stopped bickering and the atmosphere in the conference room darkened as Peter Cushing’s cadaverous and evil Great Oz Grand Moff Tarkin-whose name evoked Anakin, Darth, Lars and Tars Tarkas, and who looked like Lew Wasserman, the gangster head of the JAWS releasing Universal Studios, who had been linked to the President of the future United Provinces of America in DEATH RACE 2000, but was now a lackey, making it clear that the Emperor was indeed linked to Spielberg in STAR WARS-entered the room followed by the huge black form of Darth Vader. The order of the two men was significant, for the earlier space rape of Leia’s Rebel cruiser had led us to believe that Vader was the evil and aroused brain in charge of the Empire. However, now Vader trailed Tarkin submissively, and even took up a protective stance behind Tarkin when the Grand Moff sat at the head of the conference table, reminding us that the giant black figure of Robby the Robot often stood protectively behind Morbius in FORBIDDEN PLANET.
Clearly, the hidden, hulking, more ominous and Kurosawa linked Vader was the subordinate of the smaller, openly human and Wasserman linked Tarkin somehow fitting given that Vader was linked to a director and Tarkin to a studio head. This transformed Vader into Anikkostein, the head flying monkey of the Wicked Witch of the West, and implied that Tarkin was that Wicked Witch. However, Tarkin immediately tersely announced that the Emperor had dissolved the Imperial Senate and had taken over control of the galaxy. This revelation underlined that the Emperor was the real Wicked Witch of the West of STAR WARS and that Tarkin was another subordinate like Vader-the head commander of the Winkie castle guards-no doubt explaining why Tarkin’s name also sounded like Nikko, particularly when it was spelt backwards, when it became ‘Nikrat’.
Tarkin’s comments caused Admiral Motti to again boast arrogantly like another human possessed by Gor about the invincible power of the Death Moon. Indeed, Motti sounded just like Gor, evoking Gor’s megalomaniacal insistence that it was in possession of a ‘…power outside [Earth that could] make the atomic bomb look like a firecracker’! The words prepared us for the destruction of Alderaan and ultimately of the Death Moon, and perhaps the latter ominous foreshadowing led to Motti being rewarded for his proud boasting by being choked from a distance by a full Force throttle from Vader. This reminded us of the huge and powerful presence of Robby the Robot again, an allusion to FORBIDDEN PLANET that Vader also provoked when he insisted with his ominous and electronically modified Gor voice that the Force was stronger than the Death Moon. With his link to Evil, Lord Vader’s comment evoked ‘…some dark, terrible force’ solemnly and sorrowfully lamented by Morbius and linked to incest on Altair IV, linking the Death Moon now to incest.
Significantly, Vader immediately stopped choking Motti at the insistence of Tarkin, confirming that Tarkin and not Vader was in control on the Death Moon. Tarkin then reassured his assembled male officers that Vader would find the location of the Rebel’s hidden fortress base, a comment that openly linked STAR WARS to HIDDEN FORTRESS. Then Tarkin ended the meeting by confidently predicting that the Empire would soon ‘…crush the Rebellion with one swift stroke’. This closing comment was significant, underlining the biological nature of this healing Ozian dream, and reminding us that both Leia and Luke had been knocked out and transported into the inner Ozian dreamworld. Clearly, the Wicked Emperor of the West and his evil Empire were the personified strains of a deadly new virus, out to kill Leia and Luke in a way that looked like a deadly stroke and prevent Lucas from healing himself and Coppola and ending incestuous nightmares and the New Hollywood dream of blockbuster beast free film art!
Right on evil cue, the POV washed back to Tatooine and the smoking wreck of the Jawakins’ sandcrawler, burned and battered like the Lucas Bianchina in the Great Crash of ’62 and Falfa’s wicked black ’55 Chevy at the end of AMERICAN GRAFFITI. Luke, Ben and the two robots had stopped on their landspeeder journey to Anchorhead and were inspecting the crash wreckage and debris. The smoking remains reminded us that when Dorothy left Professor Marvel in THE WIZARD OF OZ, she ran straight into the howling chaos of the famous tornado at her Aunt and Uncle’s farmhouse. Clearly, another Kansas twister had touched down on Tatooine as Luke headed home to his own farmhouse, destroying the rolling farmhouse of the Jawakins. Ben tried to convince Luke that Imps disguised as Tusken bandits had destroyed the sandcrawler and left dead Jawakins scattered everywhere to mislead observers-as the real Tuskens had done with Luke-but we had seen THE WIZARD OF OZ and we knew tornado damage when we saw it. Ben supported his observation by trying to tell Luke that the blast marks on the sandcrawler treads had been made by the Imps, but the Imps were rarely able to hit anything throughout the Classic Trilogy. Luke initially humoured Ben out of respect for the venerable Jedi, then suddenly reasoned that if the damage was done by Imps, and the Imps traced the purchased robots back to the Jawakins, then they may have also traced them back to the Lars farmstead.
Suddenly, Luke transformed back into Dorothy, leapt into his landspeeder, and raced back to the farm before marvellous Professor Kenobi could stop the young hero. Perhaps the Force told Omahan Kenobi that Skywalker raced in vain, for unlike in THE WIZARD OF OZ, this tornado devastated the farm before the hero reached home. In fact, we saw the smoking remains of the subterranean Lars home as Skywalker approached in his landspeeder, clouds of black smoke billowing into the sky like the burning and smoking remains of the Edwards homestead after Scar and his outlaw Commanches attacked and destroyed the isolated desert farm house and killed most of its occupants in THE SEARCHERS, linking Luke now to the Western narrative. As in THE SEARCHERS, this was a moving scene, and the camera panned dramatically to reveal the smoking remains as Skywalker leapt from his landspeeder in shocked disbelief. However, while sad for Skywalker, the smoking sight was also ominous for the Empire, for the Commanches who committed the crime were hunted down, captured or killed by Edwards and Pawley in the end, preparing us for the defeat of the Empire by Skywalker and his Rebel friends in STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. Indeed, the lawless and outlaw nature of the Empire was confirmed in this scene, transferring all moral authority and karmic Force to young Skywalker. Ironically, however, the scene also prepared us for the transfer of all moral authority and karmic Force away from another young Skywalker in STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH, in this case the lawless and scar faced, Anakin Skywalker.
The scene also reminded us that the success of AMERICAN GRAFFITI had burned the bridges of young Lucas, cutting him free from his underground filmmaker status and dragging him out of the subterranean labyrinth into the mainstream whether he liked it or not, like the smoking remains of Falfa’s ’55 Chevy freed Henderson from Modesto. Indeed, Skywalker and the audience saw the smoking corpses of Lars-his name ironically evoking Scar-and Shelagh Fraser’s Aunt Beru-‘U-reb’ spelled backwards, ‘Rube’ as an anagram-lying just outside of the door leading into the subterranean garage, smoking remains that evoked the fiery crash at the end of AMERICAN GRAFFITI. The smoking corpses also reminded us of the smoking corpse of the Old Hollywood linked Quilla June, left behind by Vic and Blood when Vic turned his back on ending the Sixties Revolution and embracing the Old Hollywood dominated mainstream in Down Under and returned to restless roving in the darkly humourous end of A BOY AND HIS DOG. Indeed, this allusion to the end of A BOY AND HIS DOG reminded us that Owen and Beru Lars were linked to L.A. through their surname, implicitly affirming that their burning corpses signified a break with the Old Hollywood dominated mainstream. This was a significant link, for it reaffirmed that Lucas was still committed to striking out on his own as an independent J.D. Jedi filmmaker, despite creating more commercial and audience friendly films after THX 1138. In fact, the link to A BOY AND HIS DOG prepared us for the less commercial and more edgy and experimental films Lucas began to produce in the Eighties.
Luke understood the various levels at play in this ominous, smoking and subterranean linked sight, for he looked grimly and decisively away before the POV washed away again to a sterile-and FORBIDDEN PLANET evoking-THX 1138 corridor in the antiseptic Death Moon. A cell door whoosed aside like the wooden doors of Kurosawa films and two openly human and unarmoured Death Moon cellblock guards in Wicked black walked into the Black Tower cell that held Princess Leia, linking Leia to Luke in the last scene and a need to escape from subterranean dwellings. The pretty Princess looked up in fear as Anikkostein and then a sinister black robot floated into the cell like a mini and aroused alien machine brain from THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS. This floating Black Castle sphere with menacing appendages also evoked the mechanical moon appearance of the Death Moon, giving two mechanical moons to the evil Empire to counter the two organic moons of Tatooine. The menacing robot sphere also recalled the impersonal hospital-like machines that probed THX 1138 after his drug evasion caused him to be sentenced to reprogramming. This linked the Death Moon and the Empire to THX 1138 again, reiterating that Lucas was on one level battling to free Coppola and himself from the disaster in STAR WARS so that they could re-establish their friendship and devote themselves to rancour and blockbuster beast free film art.
The Dark Lord of the Hits tried to thwart this noble goal, announcing to Leia that it was time to discuss the location of the Rebel’s hidden fortress. The wicked black robot brain floated ominously towards the pretty Princess with a hospital syringe out, before the camera faded to the black and forbidding hallway of the detention cellblock. Clearly, it was time for the elemental Ozian heroes to sneak into the Wicked Emperor’s Black Castle and storm the locked room in the tower, before it was too late for this new Dorothy! However, while things looked bleak for Leia, we remembered that THX 1138 escaped from the sterile and subterranean corridors of the underground labyrinth of THX 1138 after being probed by the impersonal hospital machines. Memories of THX 1138 also reminded us that the underground homestead on the Lars moisture farm was being left behind by Luke at that moment, another good sign for Leia. Indeed, when the POV flashed back to Tatooine, young Skywalker hand returned to Kenobi and the robots at the burning remains of the Jawakins and their crashed sandcrawler, creating a reassuringly healing and harmonizing Ozian conjunction of sorts with a scruffy Scarecrow Luke, a Cowardly Threepio, a Krayyt Kenobi and a Tinny Arttu that boded well for Princess Dorothy.
This was also a curious scene, with Skywalker jumping from his landspeeder and approaching Threepio, who was rounding up Jawakin bodies and throwing them onto a makeshift mass pyre. As Threepio stopped to stare at the approaching Skywalker with a limp brown robed Jawakin body in his arms, we saw Kenobi in the background wearing the same hooded brown Jawakin robe. This visual link reiterated that there was an enigmatic link between the Jedi, Jawakins and Tuskens, suggesting that the Jedi wore the robe of the two groups of desert outlaws to proclaim to others that they had successfully mastered and released the sexually diseased Dark Side within that ruled the Jawakins and Tuskens, as much as for desert camouflage. This set us up for the sight of Skywalker wearing wicked black in STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI, a black that linked him to Vader and the Emperor but proclaimed his afrodisiacal J.D. Jedi freedom from their Dark Side. Significantly, after Luke passed Threepio without a word or sign of acknowledgement, Threepio turned and tossed the Jawakin corpse he was holding onto the smoking pyre. The smouldering sight linked us to the Jedi yet again, for only Jedi like Anakin Skywalker and Liam Neeson’s Qui Gonn Jinn were burnt on funeral pyres like Greek heroes of old in the STAR WARS saga.
Walking determinedly up to the Krayyt Kenobi, Tin Luke confirmed that he had understood the message of the burning Lars homestead when he told Kenobi that he wanted to go to Emerald Alderaan and learn the ways of the healing Force like his father before him. The scene reminded us of Henderson’s meeting with Wolfman Jack at the end of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, and how the J.D. DJ advised Henderson to leave for that Eastern college. By coming so early in STAR WARS and made by himself, this decision to join Kenobi underlined that Lucas was no longer uncertain about the value of his post-secondary education after the success of AMERICAN GRAFFITI. Indeed, from STAR WARS on, the value of post-secondary education would always be endorsed in the films of Lucas. The Krayyt Kenobi nodded silently and solemnly, looking in his hooded robe more like Merlin than ever before. The two men and the two droids then blasted through the desert in the landspeeder to the spaceport of Mos Eisley, a spaceport with a name that evoked both Modesto and Los Angeles. Here the Ozdyssey through the winedark space seas would truly begin, like the odyssey of Lucas truly began in the Los Angeles campus of USC.
Not far from the port, they paused on a desert bluff and gazed down from the heights like Tuskens at the seductive bright lights, big Emerald City of Mos Eisley. Indeed, the four heroes were like another Ozian quartet, pausing to look at the shimmering spires of the Emerald City in the distance before their fateful trek across the poppy field. A fitting link, for on their way into the cramped and crowded streets of the spaceport, the four heroes were stopped by an evil quartet of skeletal Imps. These Imps reminded us that the overpowering opiate fumes of the poppy field almost stopped the heroes of THE WIZARD OF OZ. Ironically, however, the Imps themselves were stopped by the verbal opiate of the hypnotic and controlling J.D. voice of Kenobi, a soothing and persuasive voice that evoked the bland messages to buy more in THX 1138 in a way that underlined that the Krayyt Kenobi had indeed conquered the Dark Side and learned to use its Dark Force against it. This soothing but powerful voice saved the quartet like the magically falling snow of Glinda the Good Witch of the North saved the heroes in THE WIZARD OF OZ. A prescient link to the Good Witch, setting us up for Kenobi’s return as the Glinda the Good Force ghost in STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI.
Once past the Imps, Omahan Kenobi drew upon his Great Oz knowledge of this surrogate Emeralde City to direct Skywalker to park outside a seedy cantina frequented by spaceslingers and alienated post-apocalyptic mutants, returning the Western narrative again to STAR WARS. Climbing out of the landspeeder, Skywalker brushed away another irrepressible Jawakin that was lasciviously running its hands over the landspeeder. The Jawakin’s actions reminded us that the Tusken bandits did the same after knocking out Skywalker, underlining again that a curious bond linked Jawakin, Jedi and Tusken. Descending into the subterranean THX 1138 underworld of the cantina, we found ourselves in an intergalactic Mel’s diner and Pete’s Place full of boisterous and alienated mutants and wary and watchful humans.
Walking amongst this raucous crowd in his ragged Jedi hermit’s robes, Kenobi reminded us of Odysseus in his ragged beggar’s cloak amongst the arrogant and annoying suitors that plagued Penelope while Odysseus was away on his healing twenty year odyssey. Indeed, two attractive courtesans at the bar evoked Penelope and one of her maids, while the name of the bartender-played by Ted Burnett-sounded as much like ‘woo her’ as Wuher, strengthening the allusion to the end of The Odyssey. Unfortunately for the unsuspecting patrons of Mel’s cantina, The Odyssey also recorded what happened to the suitors of Penelope when they unknowingly allowed the vengeful Odysseus and his son Telemachus into the entrance hall, mistaking the demi-god hero for a harmless old beggar. A furious Odysseus soon shot down all of the false pretenders with the magic bow that only he could wield with the help of Telemachus, setting us up for the ragged old Jedi’s attack with the Light of the Covenant saber that only he could wield here in Mel’s cantina.
Curiously, before the bloody work could begin, Wuher testily ordered Skywalker to send the robots outside, reminding us that Doniphon was told to order Woody Strode’s Pompey out of a bar at the end of THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE. The surly order reminded us that the two robots were earlier sold into farm slavery. This implied that robots were second class citizens and a necessary evil in this Ozian dreamworld, perhaps due to their inorganic nature. Everyone seemed to accept this as natural, for even Ben and Luke consented to forcing the two hapless robots to wait outside. But insults to inorganic robot slaves were one thing, insults to J.D. Jedi were clearly another. For when two drunk and alienated mutants at the bar started harassing Skywalker and boasting about their lengthy criminal records like a couple of truly alienated Pharoahs, Obisseus quickly forgot about not causing any trouble and rushed back to aid Telelucas. Indeed, true to Odyssean form, when one of the alienated mutants pushed Telelucas to the floor, old Ben threw back his ragged beggar’s cloak, pulled out his Light saber and came to the defense of young Skywalker. The Light saber ignited into blue humming life and sliced off a forearm holding a blaster pistol all in one swift flowing movement. In fact, the supernatural speed and power with which the Krayyt Kenobi moved belied his age, and revealed to the startled cantina patrons that Kenobi, like Odysseus, was a much younger and stronger hero underneath his beggar disguise.
The severed arm was sliced neatly off and cauterized with a surgeon’s skill. After the deft amputation, the two rude mutants shrunk back in terror from the Odyssean Jedi. Omaha Kenobi was left standing over the severed and bleeding forearm, the blue Light saber raised ritually aloft in both hands. This ritual posture was fitting, underlining that the Light saber contained the concentrated Light and power of God, and Kenobi was its holy guardian. Indeed, Kenobi’s priest-like posture evoked not Odysseus rampant, but the historical triumph of the one Judea-Christian God over the multiple gods of Egypto-Graeco-Roman tradition. This set us up for the return and the full massacre of the raucous, mutated and alienated Graeco-Roman suitors in the form of Jabba the Hutt and his salacious entourage in STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. This bloody saber scene also evoked a very similar defensive and dismembering attack by the wandering and masterless samurai Sanjuro on a gang of thugs at the beginning of YOJIMBO. A fitting allusion that reiterated that we were being set up for an annihilating massacre in the future in STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI, for Sanjuro massacred this gang at the end of YOJIMBO.
Indeed, the allusion to YOJIMBO reminded us that Sanjuro actually brought about the destruction of two rival gangs that controlled a small town in concert with two lawless merchants in that film, setting us up for the double trouble collapses of the Jabba and Emperor gangs in STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. The allusion to YOJIMBO also reminded us that Kurosawa was angry that corporate and criminal interests had prevented the virtuous, strong and free Japan that he had striven for in his post-World War II films from emerging by 1961, causing him to symbolically destroy them in YOJIMBO. Thus, by alluding to YOJIMBO, Lucas again affirmed that he was taking on the Hollywood studios and the corporations that controlled them in STAR WARS, no doubt due to lingering anger with Warner Brothers over Black Thursday.
After the defending Luke and himself, Kenobi looked around the cantina to see if anyone else would rise to the J.D. challenge, but wisely no other suitors took up his kind offer. Accordingly, Kenobi switched off the light of the Covenant saber, and the holy weapon was tucked back under his ragged beggar’s cloak. With that, the Mel’s cantina crowd turned back to their Arrakian ale, Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters, Jawa juice, Tusken red, and anti-grav milk shakes and alienated conversations. Ben helped Luke up and pointed to a tall, hairy apeman straight out of the opening sequence of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY that he had been talking to earlier. Omaha Kenobi identified the Wookie apeman as Chewbacca, co-pilot of a ship that could take them to Emerald Alderaan. Significantly, Mayhew’s seven foot tall Chewbacca evoked not just Moonwatcher of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, Roddy McDowell’s Cornelius of PLANET OF THE APES, or Wolfman Jack but Schlockthropus, ominously bringing Lucas closer to Landis and a trip to the Twilight Zone. Chewbacca also evoked the towering, virile and non-human presence of SRT in THX 1138, this time willing to lead Kenobi and Skywalker from the lunar limbo of Tatooine to safety.
Chewbacca’s dimunitive ‘Chewie’ was also probably a reference to Huey, Duey and Luey, the three robot drones who monitored and repaired the Valley Forge of SILENT RUNNING, while his species name ‘Wookie’ evoked the comical spaceship cook, Cookie-played by Earl Holliman-in FORBIDDEN PLANET. Ominously, the ‘bacca’ in Chewbacca also evoked bocci and Nikko, linking Chewie to Anikkostein and Coppola. However, the huge and hairy Chewbacca also made a perfect-but again non-speaking!-Cowardly Lion and personified Fire element for this healing Ozian dream, leading the Tinny Luke and the Krayyt Kenobi closer to a true and centring elemental conjunction for the first in STAR WARS. And the conjunction soon arrived, for like Vic’s telepathic Toto, Blood, Chewie quickly led Kenobi and Skywalker to a new solo man named Han Solo sitting at a nearby table.
As with Chewbacca, we had seen this spaceslinger before. And literally seen, for Solo was played by Ford, immediately linking Han Solo to Bob Falfa and Hellman/Shebib in AMERICAN GRAFFITI-and to Vic the solo rover in A BOY AND HIS DOG. This sense of being linked to Falfa disease was increased by Corellia, the name of the the home planet of Solo. For the name of Corellia evoked Gor of THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS, and the Krel of Altair IV in FORBIDDEN PLANET. Thus, this link to Falfa, Gor and the cruel Krel initially made Solo an ambiguous figure like Kenobi, for the viewer was uncertain whether he was Good or Evil. This ambiguity was increased by the clothes of Solo, for his white shirt evoked the white t-shirt Milner wore throughout his healing nighttime Ozdyssey in AMERICAN GRAFFITI, while the white shirt and black vest evoked the white shirt and vest worn by the full throttle and hard driving Kowalski in his supercharged and 1970 Dodge Challenger-as white and sturdy as the Millenium Falcon in VANISHING POINT, the Wicked Falfa and his white cowboy hat and black ’55 Chevy-and the black vest worn by that arch libertine Valance in THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE. However, his cavalry-style pants and low slung blaster pistol evoked Edwards in THE SEARCHERS, again implying that he was a Good Solo man underneath that tough exterior. Only one thing was for certain, and that was that these allusions to THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE and THE SEARCHERS and his clothing definitely linked Solo to the Western narrative. An important link, and one that prepared us for Chewbacca and Solo returning to the save the day at the end of the film like the traditional Western cavalry.
Fittingly, and true to AMERICAN GRAFFITI form, Solo immediately began to brag to Kenobi and Skywalker about the speed of his spacerod, the Millenium Falcon. The extravagant name of this spacerod evoked the legendary and never seen superflexed Moonbird of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, as well as the thousand fighting ships that sailed to Ilium in The Iliad, linking Solo to Odysseus, and, thus, linking Solo to Milner, that cunning Odyssean tactician of AMERICAN GRAFFITI. Humourously, Obisseus and Telelucas were unimpressed, causing Solo to proudly boast that the Falcon had pulled off the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs, a record speed. This was an ominous boast, for the twelve parsecs evoked the twelve death sentences boasted about by one of the drunken patrons prior to the earlier attack on Skywalker. Perhaps the number established the age of Lucas that the film hearkened back to, reiterating that the film was struggling to cope with the childhood of Lucas. Indeed, parsec also evoked Darth, Tarkin and even ‘pa sex’, reiterating an implied link to dark childhood events. However, this boast was also good news for Leia, for the German word ‘Kessel’ meant ‘castle’, evoking Leia’s imprisonment in the Black Castle of the Wicked Emperor in a way that made it likely that Solo would take Kenobi, Skywalker and the two robots to rescue her on a new Cassel run. The number twelve also evoked the twelve labours of Hercules, and the twelve hour clockface needed to ‘Rock Around the Clock’. This evoked heroic adventures and AMERICAN GRAFFITI and linked Solo to Milner again, transforming his ship into the Milnerian Falcon.
But Obisseus and Telelucas remained unimpressed, and rightly so. After all, Falcon sounded like Falfa, and if his Dark Falfa side was in the pilot’s seat, Solo would crack under high speeds and pressure, and total his spacerod. Clearly, a wicked spaceslinger who rocketed out of control prematurely and destroyed his ship in the process was not the sort of person you wanted piloting you to Alderaan. However, Solo’s black vest reminded us that the colour black was always associated with Afro-mojo virility in the films of Lucas. Han also sounded like the Wan in Obi Wan, and the handsome Hunk also made for the natural born Scarecrow and Earth figure that we had been looking for-suggesting that we were seeing the film’s first healing conjunction of Earthy Scarecrow Solo, Fiery Cowardly Chewbacca, Airy Krayyt Kenobi and frozen Water Tinny Skywalker-implying again that he was indeed the elemental and Ozian Force of Good that Ben, Leia and Luke needed at this time.
At any rate, handsome Han was here to stay, as Kenobi and Skywalker did not have much time and money to be too picky about choosing pilots for the Alderaan run. This increased the likelihood that Solo would turn out to be the needed Earth element, a likelihood increased by the $10,000 credit-credits were first used for money in THX 1138-advance that Kenobi and Skywalker promised to pay Solo. For the number evoked the ten year battle for Ilium and the ten year odyssey of Odysseus, again linking Solo to Odysseus and Milner-and to the ragged Odysseus-like Kenobi, for that matter. Kenobi and Skywalker also agreed to meet Chewbacca and Solo and blast off from Tatooine at Docking Bay 94, another good number as 9 + 4 = 13, and 1 + 3 = 4, the healing, harmonizing, elemental and Ozian Fours. Then Obisseus and Telelucas quickly left the underworld of Mel’s cantina to avoid another Imp patrol, and to start another healing Ozdyssey. Soon Chewbacca followed them to ready the Falcon for blastoff. Solo then followed suit, throwing some coins on the bar and walking stiffly up the steps leading out of the cantina after killing a bounty hunter with the Nikko cadenced name of Greedo-played by Maria De Aragon-in a quickdraw that confirmed that Solo’s narrative was a Western. Significantly, Greedo had been trying to collect a debt for a gangster named Jabba the Hutt. This evoked the five hundred thousand dollar debt that American Zoetrope had had to pay back to Warner Brothers, linking Solo to Coppola and Jabba to Warners. Indeed, Greedo’s name evoked Guido, and the shootout itself evoked a similar scene involving Michael Corleone gunning down a mobster and a crooked police officer in a restaurant in MARIO PUZO’S THE GODFATHER, implicitly reaffirming Solo’s link to Coppola.
Humourously, as Solo walked up and out of the subterranean underworld of Mel’s cantina, he passed two more irrepressible Jawakins walking into the bar. Clearly, if they preferred to haunt the dubious likes of the cantina, they were alienated mutants seduced by the Dark Side, indeed. Fittingly, to underscore the Dark Side links of the Jawakins and Solo, the POV washed to the winedark and starswept sea of space. Here an unholy and impious trinity of flying monkey TIE fighters-their eyeball shapes evoking the phallic Cyclops of The Odyssey, the cyclopsian space pods of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, and a cyclopsian mutant in the cantina-howled towards the sinister floating and aroused machine brain of the Death Moon, in a shot that anticipated the unholy trio of TIEs that attacked Rebel space fighters attacking the Death Moon at the end of the film. Inside the subterranean labyrinth, Vader complained to Tarkin that the dreaming Leia was resisting the sexually suggestive and intrusive mind probe, evoking the mind control of Steve March by the evil and aroused brain from Arous once more. The tyrannical Tarkin responded by telling a nearby officer to set the Death Moon on a course for Leia’s homeworld of sylvan Alderaan. Clearly, it was time for that threatened and unhealthy stroke, reiterating that Leia must be healed by this Ozian dream.
Then the POV switched back to the streets of Mos Eisley and the sight of Kenobi and Skywalker selling the landspeeder to a tall, grey and alienated mutant in an ominous and Vader-like cape whose appearance vaguely anticipated the arrival of E.T. Interestingly, Skywalker was now wearing a Jawakin brown poncho that looked vaguely like Ben’s robe, reminding us that Mos Eisley was also a Western frontier town as well as a spaceport. Skywalker complained to Kenobi about the small amount of money that they received for the landspeeder, saying that his model was just not in demand since the arrival of a new landspeeder called the ‘XP-38’, a new model that evoked the experimental XPJ-1 fighter plane in the allegorical Herb Wallerstein telefilm, ‘The Feminum Mystique’ (1976), in the first season of WONDER WOMAN. This new model evoked THX 1138, confirming that Lucas was still worried about and determined to defeat the ghosts of the THX 1138 disaster with this new sly fi film. Kenobi assured his young Padawan that the money would be enough, perhaps using the persuasive voice on Skywalker to convince him. Then the two heroes hurried off into the crowded streets of Mos Eisley. Curiously, as they were leaving the used speeder salesmutant, the two long black stilt legs of a stunt man on disguised stilts pretending to be an alien creature walked by the camera-an alienated alien that has never had an all out action figure. And then, as they passed out of sight, a sinister and salacious black figure emerged in the foreground.
Unlike the black robed used speeder salesmutant, this sinister hooded and caped figure wearing impersonal black goggles not only dressed but looked like Darth Vader. He was, in fact, the second evil Dark Lord we met in the Classic Trilogy, and formed an unholy trinity of sorts with Vader and the Emperor. However, with a distinctively long black penis for a nose that took up his entire face, this alienated and mutant Dark Lord was clearly an openly ominous symbol of diseased sexuality. Indeed, Penishead-played by Dean Kelava-was an ominous visual hint that the equally dark and diseased Vader was the father of Leia and Luke. In fact, his official name Garindan evoked Gor, underlining his link to aroused and alienated minds. Penishead was also the first allusion to the salacious works of Crumb in the Classic Trilogy, evoking ‘The Adventures of Dicknose’ comix strip that appeared in JIZ COMIX #1 (1969).
In this particular story, poor old Dickie, the man with the huge penis for a nose, was kidnapped while walking down the street by a gang of liberated and free loving Sixties women of various ethnicities and races and taken off to an apartment, where he was enthusiastically gang raped by the liberated ladies-twisted and salacious humour, indeed. Significantly, the year of the appearance of ‘The Adventures of Dicknose’ was also the year that had already seen the arrival of ‘Joe Blow’ in ZAP COMIX #4, an exuberantly ribald and graphic look at incest in the nuclear family that no doubt discomfited Lucas. Thus, Lucas implicitly alluded again to Crumb as he had in AMERICAN GRAFFITI, implying that he was still angry about FRITZ THE CAT (1972).
Curiously, 1969 was not only the same year that JIZ and ZAP COMIX were created and first sold on the streets of San Francisco by Crumb, but the same year that Lucas also made THX 1138 in San Francisco-perhaps Lucas bought one of these salacious comix from the equally salacious Crumb as he sold them on the street. Tatooine even sounded like cartooning, reiterating the link to the salacious Crumb and preparing us for Salacious Crumb and the cartoonish Pit of Carkoon on Tatooine in STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. Penishead also confirmed that sexually diseased monsters were haunting Skywalker, for this walking phallus slipped in suggestively behind Kenobi and Skywalker as they left the used speeder lot. The scene reminded us that Falfa menaced Milner’s rear in their first encounter in AMERICAN GRAFFITI, continuing the Dark Side tradition in the films of Lucas.
Curiously, the Krayyt Kenobi did not detect this dark and phantom menace, confirming Penishead’s links to the cloaking Dark Side. Penishead also served as a diseased and unnatural link to the equally salacious and talking testicular sac figure of Jabba the Hutt in the next scene in Docking Bay 94, immediately confirming that the sprawling and testy Sacc was another salacious, cartoonish and Crumb linked symbol of sexual disease. A fitting link to Jabba Doo, as Penishead also anticipated the arrival of the penisheaded form of Jabba’s major domo Bib Fortuna in STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI.
The sight of Jabba the Sacc waiting with several thugs beside the Millenium Falcon in Docking Bay 94 to collect that Black Thursday linked money from Solo also confirmed the dark links of Vader, the Emperor and the evil Empire to sexual disease, for Jabba was another Nikko-like name like Anakin, Motti and Tagge. Jabba’s link to the Empire also prepared us for the triumph over Jabba and his equally salacious and cartoonish gang at the beginning of STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI, a triumph over salacious comix that led young Skywalker and his fellow Rebels to then triumph over the evil and aroused minds of the Empire with free and virtuous souls. Curiously, this scene with Jabba originally featured a human Jabba, but was cut before the release of STAR WARS in 1977. The scene was redone with a CGI Jabba and re-edited into the film for the Twentieth anniversary Special Edition Classic Trilogy in 1997, making Jabba’s link to Penishead and Vader more apparent. Indeed, even as a CGI sacc instead of a puppet sacc, Jabba the Sacc still looked like an obscenely sprawling and talking testicle sac.
The sight of bounty hunter Boba Fett beside Jabba reinforced Jabba’s testicular appearance, for the phallic helmet Fett wore made him look like another Penishead. This evil and battered anti-Scarecrow in his raggedy man Clone Wars armour reappeared to haunt Han and Leia in STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. However, like Solo he had already shown up in AMERICAN GRAFFITI, as Boba Fett’s name recalled Bob Falfa. Indeed, ‘fett’ was a German word that meant ‘greasy’, an adjective that summed up Falfa and the Dark Side of Milner and Solo. Thus, the arrival of Fett was a good omen for the currently ambiguous Solo, implying that he was a good Scarecrow after all and preparing us for his Milner evoking triumph over his greasy Dark Side in STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI.
As for Jabba Doo, the vile and testy gangster Sacc had come to Docking Bay 94 to collect the money Solo owed him for the frightened cargo dump in space mentioned by Greedo in Mel’s cantina. This again evoked the money Coppola and Lucas owed Warner Brothers after the THX 1138 disaster. Indeed, Jabba’s name evoked Jack Warner, a tyrannical head of the studio, roasted in the form of Conrad Veidt’s equally tyrannical Nutzi Major Heinrich Strausser in CASABLANCA. The outstanding money also evoked Coppola’s gangster film replies to that injustice, gangsters that had returned in the form of Greedo and Jabba. This confirmed that Lucas was using the film to break free at last from the THX 1138 disaster, and also to free Coppola from his dark gangster visions. Indeed, Solo promised to pay Jabba the money when he returned to Tatooine after taking the heroes to Alderaan, ending Soppola’s links to gangsters. However, this promise suggested again that Solo was the Wicked Falfa, in cockeyed cahoots with evil personified gangsta genitalia and the lawless and diseased Forces of sexual perfidy. But Solo had already blasted away his ‘Greedo’ side and walked confidently up and out of the subterranean underworld of Mel’s cantina, two hopeful signs that he would also be able to escape the vile clutches of Jabba the Sacc…
In fact, walking around the CGI Jabba, we noticed that Solo’s cavalry pants were blue and had a red stripe down the leg. The blue evoked the triumphant and dazzling blue of Kenobi and Skywalker’s Light of the Covenant sabers, while the red stripe evoked the magical and empowering ruby red slippers of the Wicked Witch of the East. The pants also evoked the Confederate cavalry pants of ex-Confederate soldier Edwards of THE SEARCHERS again. This link reminded us that Edwards initially appeared to be too racist and convinced that Debbie had been turned into a Commanche when she was kidnapped by Scar and his Commanche youth gang, and thus good only for death. However, Edwards reigned in his own lawless and violent passions and saved Debbie, in the end. Thus, the pants of Solo were positive omens that implied that Solo would also turn out for the Good, in the end. At any rate, he managed to convince Jabba Doo that he could trust him.
When the assuaged Sacc and his henchmen left, the POV switched to Kenobi and Skywalker. They were walking through the streets of Mos Eisley towards Docking Bay 94 with the two robots, still unaware that an evil black and walking phallus was secretly shadowing them. When the four heroes entered the docking bay and greeted Chewbacca and Solo, Penishead signalled the Imps with a hand held walkie talkie device. This caused a group of Imps to converge on the black caped and clothed Penishead, their skeletal armour accentuating his links to Lord Vader, the Dark Side and deadly sexual disease. The Imps listened eagerly to his forbidden knowledge in a way that confirmed that the evil Empire was suppurating with sexual disease, and then turned to rush Docking Bay 94. Darth Penis then disappeared sinister stage left, fading away into black like the Wicked Witch of the East. Meanwhile the Imps burst into the docking bay and began blasting away at Solo, who had still not walked up the spacerod’s ramp and into the ship. Han returned the attention with a few solo shots from his own blaster, then raced up the ramp and aboard the Milnerium Falcon. The ramp rose up, the hatch closed, Han raced to the pilot’s seat in the cockpit, and Chewie confidently and expertly piloted the Falcon up and out of the docking bay, leaving behind Jawakin childhood, Kid monsters and the tempting adolescent perils of bright lights, big Emerald Mos Eisley City. The narrow escape reminded us of the escape of THX 1138 from the robocops in THX 1138, Henderson’s Magic Carpet ride out of Modesto at the end of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, and the escape of Lucas from the doldrums and pod people of Los Angeles and Modesto for the more creative filmmaking environment of San Francisco. Clearly, we were definitely on a new Journey of Self Discovery here in STAR WARS, Toto!
Chewie confirmed that a new Journey had begun, roaring jubilantly like an excited Cowardly Lion, Blood, Carol or triumphant Moonwatcher as the Falcon rose up into the atmosphere of Tatooine. The composite roar created by stellar sound man Ben Burtt also reminded us of the excited barks of Esmeralda, the irresistible seal companion of James Mason’s enigmatic Captain Nemo in the allegorical and television bashing Richard Fleischer classic, 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954). An appropriate reminder, for Captain Solo’s name and his ghost white ship evoked the mysterious and tormented Captain Nemo, and his phantom underwater submarine, the Nautilus-and paved the way for Laurence Fishburne’s equally mysterious Captain Morpheus and his own phantom ship, the Nebuchadnezzar, in THE MATRIX. The allusion to Nemo also reminded us that the mysterious and obsessively anti-imperialist Indian submarine commander and his Foreign Legion crew evoked the equally pan-national crew of the Pequod and Ahab’s obsessive dislike of great white whales that symbolized European empires, implying that this righteously furious dislike of empires was shared by Solo. And the contemptuous disregard of Lucas and Solo for film empires was quickly revealed as he and Chewie cockily evaded two double trouble great white SD spacesharks that rose hungrily from the depths of the starswept ocean of space as the Falcon escaped the gravitational hold of the long curling sands of the beach-like planet below. Chewie’s expert piloting also erased any fears we had that he would be as techno-illiterate as SRT and crash the spacerod as in THX 1138. Indeed, Chewie piloted so ably he seemed more like a knowledgeable chimpanzee from PLANET OF THE APES than an apeman from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.
Luckily for Kenobi, Skywalker and the two robots, Solo also moved one step closer to being revealed as a Milnerian good guy with this cocky evasive action. Indeed, Solo even piloted the Milnerian Falcon on the left side of the cockpit as he helped elude the two huge and hungry spacesharks, evoking Milner’s left sided and laned position at the wheel of his rocketing Yellow Brick Roadster in AMERICAN GRAFFITI. And, as the Falcon weaved its magic, we saw that the virtuous white spacerod had a round, full moon shape, giving the Forces of Good another moon to join the two moons of Tatooine in the battle against the evil Death Moon and the miniature floating black moon of the mind probot. And healing and dreaming lunar energy was clearly needed, as the Falcon took some sickly green laser fire from the pursuing SDs. A bad time for young Skywalker, who was unimpressed with the ship, to ask why Solo didn’t live up to his racing boast and outrun the pursuing SDs. Solo angrily retorted that time was needed to make the careful calculations necessary for the jump to light speed and warned Skywalker to watch his mouth or he would ‘…find himself floating home’. Significantly, this last comment was probably a reference to astronaut Frank Poole, and the cut air hose that killed him and caused him to float away from the Discovery I and off into space in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. An appropriate time for a 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY link, as the Falcon soon got its hyperdrive mojo going and joined Captain Adams and his FORBIDDEN PLANET crew, Barbarella and her living ship Alfie-no doubt a humourous allusion to the Alpha 60 master computer of ALPHAVILLE-and Bowman’s spacepod in the psychedelic space-time warp of hyperspace.
Soaring majestically through the stargate and into the hyperspace tunnel with the awesome Force of a Kansas twister, the Milnerium Falcon transformed into another surrogate farmhouse on another tornado tossed journey through time and space to the healing Ozian dreamworld. This psychedelic journey reminded us that the final journey of the Odyssean Bowman of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY was another healing and Ozian dream through fantastic lands that returned him back home to Earth as a whole and harmonious director Star Child with the power to heal the world and lead it away from its black sentinel halevision sets. A timely reminder indeed, for Leia was in desperate need of healing and harmonizing back in the Black Castle now that the Death Moon had arrived at her lush and sylvan homeworld of Alderaan. The menacing machine moon looked more like the evil and aroused brain from THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS than ever before, its full and swollen shape floating insidiously above the Earth-like planet like a gloating Gor. In a control room with a panoramic view of Alderaan inside the aroused moon, Vader brought Leia to Tarkin for a tense tete-a-tete filled with Gor menace. Tarkin demanded the location of the Rebels’ hidden fortress, but the plucky Princess refused to betray her colleagues. However, when Tarkin decided to blow up Emeraldine Alderaan in retaliation for Leia’s reticence, the Princess reluctantly named a planet where the Rebels could be located: Dantooine.
The problem was, Dantooine was an in-joke that Tarkin recognized, but did not find very funny. Indeed, by blurting out a name that sounded almost like Tatooine, Leia was mocking the mass produced, assembly line, double trouble mentality and culture of the uncreative and robotic Empire, an Empire where manbot Imp inmates and machines looked and acted the same. This was no doubt a sarcastic jab by Lucas at the uncreative and assembly line mentality of Hollywood. At any rate, the reply caused Tarkin to promptly order the destruction of Alderaan, confirming that he did not find the remark very funny. The sinister Death Moon hummed and whirred ominously. Sickly and diseased green laser beams that evoked the green laser beams of the SDs and the green and destructive positronic death ray that was used by mad Great Oz scientist Duran Duran to destroy the hippy Rebels of BARBARELLA burst out and formed a sinister green triangle over a huge reflective dish-like crater on the surface of the wicked machine moon. An ominous link, as when the seven green death rays met at the triangle’s deadly point, they formed a single intense beam of green destruction that blasted out and destroyed Emeraldine Alderaan, evoking the destruction of Altair IV at the end of FORBIDDEN PLANET. The deadly sight also evoked Gor once again, and the deadly and insidious Force that blazed out of the evil mind possessed eyes of March to fry all who dared defy the diseased and alienated brain from Arous.
The destruction of Alderaan devastated Leia, who cried out in pain as if the deadly Imperial stroke had struck her own brain. Kenobi shared her pain, crying out in agony as he was introducing young Skywalker to the ways of the healing Force while the Milnerian Falcon was still in hyperspace. Indeed, Kenobi felt the destruction of Alderaan inside him, underlining the internal and biological nature of this healing Ozian dream. The Krayyt Kenobi held his heart and staggered to a chair, solemnly complaining about millions of voices crying out and then being silenced. Obviously in great pain, the venerable Jedi nonetheless waved Skywalker on to continue his lesson. Accordingly, and raising his blue axesaber, Tin Luke returned his attention to a small grey death moon that floated above him. This miniature death moon was a ‘seeker’, a robot fencing opponent that dodged and feinted at high speeds around Skywalker and hit him with stinging laser blasts. These laser blasts evoked the green laser blast that we had just seen obliterate Alderaan, but luckily these blasts were ruby red instead of sickly green. Clearly, the emboldening, invigorating and sexually healing Force of the ruby red slippers had returned to seek out and guide young Skywalker. For unlike the real Death Moon or Vader’s floating mind probot, this miniature lunar floating seeker was designed to teach-not kill-the tentative Tin Padawan.
A timely lesson, reminding us that there was a Light side to full moons, and that they could be full of dreamy love instead of impious and insidious Dark Force. The seeker moon also reminded us that Luke’s name evoked lunar-and lucky!-and that he was still dressed in his white kimono. Luke was also engaged in axesaber practice in a white and full moon shaped spacerod, guided in his Jedi teaching by a white bearded and venerable mentor who was a Wan master of the universal Force, aided by a feisty little astromech robot that was also the robotic personification of feminine lunar Forces, while being watched by a Han master of the rogue side dressed in lunar black and white and his lunar wolfman evokin companion. Clearly, the Millenium Falcon was filled to brimming with pale and dreamy lunar energy, making it a full moon ship filled with healing feminine Force that linked the spacerod to Princess Dorothy and her battle with the evil and all male Empire. A good omen for Leia, and one that increased the likelihood that the heroes would rescue the pretty Princess.
Significantly, seeing all of the heroes gathered together in the Falcon’s main living quarters reminded us that not just a gathering of good lunar energy was taking place on board the spacerod. Indeed, with a potential Scarecrow Solo and the Cowardly Chewie watching the Krayyt Kenobi teach Tin Luke how to use his blue-green axesaber, a healing conjunction of the elemental Ozian fours was taking place on board the Millenium Falcon. And not an entirely harmonious conjunction, for Solo openly jeered at young Skywalker’s first tentative J.D. efforts and boasted that no ‘…mystical energy fields’ would ever control his destiny. This statement reminded us that Solo’s home planet of Corellia also evoked the machinery of the Krel on Altair IV in FORBIDDEN PLANET, subterranean machinery that amplified and made forceful the energetic thoughts of tormented humans like Morbius. This boastful and apparently idle remark was also a highly prophetic statement that would be proved wrong on four future occasions in the Classic Trilogy. But for now Kenobi brushed aside Solo’s snide remarks and encouraged Skywalker to ‘…let go of your conscious self and act on instinct’ and ‘…stretch out with your feelings’. These comments from the Krayyt Kenobi recalled another big screen fighting master of the Seventies, martial arts legend Bruce Lee. In fact, in the allegorical Robert Clouse directed classic, ENTER THE DRAGON (1973), Lee presaged Kenobi’s teachings when he told a young student named Lao-played by Wei Tung-that ‘…we need emotional content…Don’t think! Feel…’. Encouraged by Lao’s progress, Lee finished his lesson by pointing his right index finger at the sky and saying that the way of the dragon was ‘…like a finger pointing a way to the moon’. Clearly, Lee was also a Jedi Master of his wan Dark Side, explaining why he was such a formidable martial artist. Curiously, Lee had to travel to a privately owned island off the coast of Hong Kong in order to defeat an evil Shao Lin temple Dark Lord named Han in the embattled conclusion of ENTER THE DRAGON. The name of Shih Kien’s Dark Lord was pronounced ‘Hawn’, just like ‘Hawn’ Solo, reiterating that Han was plagued by a Dark Side.
Back on the Falcon, Kenobi’s soothing remarks worked, as Luke managed to deflect a seeker sting while wearing an opaque blast helmet that confirmed that he was indeed the shining and helmeted Tin Knight of the Classic Trilogy. This small success also affirmed the new commitment of Lucas to the value of post-secondary education after the success of AMERICAN GRAFFITI. Given the dimunitive seeker’s resemblance to the real Death Moon, Kenobi and Skywalker had every reason to be pleased with the deflection. For the successful deflection of the lunar seeker sting underlined that the Death Moon could also be beaten, preparing us for Luke’s fateful X-wing run down the fissure-trench of Rolando and his destruction of the Death Moon at the end of the film. In fact, Lucas prepared us for this destruction by suddenly switching the POV from the mini-moon to the Death Moon, where the dark Tarkin raged to Vader that Leia had lied to them about the location of the hidden Rebel fortress. Vader’s reply that Leia would ‘…never consciously betray the Rebellion’ reminded us that Leia was deep in a healing Ozian dream. His words also linked up with Kenobi’s encouragement to Luke to ‘…let go of your conscious self’ that we had just heard, linking the Jedi twins together. However, Tarkin was so pleased with Vader’s reply that he ordered the Dark Lord to terminate Leia, an ominous order that evoked the termination of LUH 3417 in THX 1138. Tarkin’s furious ‘...terminate her!’ also anticipated the arrival of a film with an equally implacable Terminator. Clearly, time was running out for Princess Dorothy!
Luckily for Leia, the Millenium Falcon geared down to sub-light speed and re-entered the normal space-time continuum. However, the Falcon arrived at 0200 hours, not far from the 2:20 am time of the TZ disaster. The interior of the cockpit now glowed with an emerald green light, reiterating that Alderaan and not Mos Eisley was the real surrogate Emerald City of STAR WARS. However, instead of seeing an Earth-like planet floating gently in space, huge rocky chunks of once sylvan Alderaan surrounded and crashed into the ship. The tumbling rocks evoked Dorothy’s destructive tornado again, and the magnetic storm that Barbarella’s living ship Alfie ran into after leaving hyperspace at the beginning of BARBARELLA. Chewie, Kenobi, Skywalker and Solo gathered in another Fours full Ozian conjunction in the ship’s cockpit, and stared in baffled amazement out of the World War II Flying Fortress bomber-style window. Slowly, the four Ozian heroes realized that this ‘meteor shower’ must be the remains of Alderaan. But it was a difficult reality to accept, and Han stammered incredulously that it would ‘…take a thousand ships with more firepower than I’ve…’. This unfinished statement reminded us that the name Millenium Falcon evoked the thousand ships that sailed to Ilium to free Helen, linking Solo to Milner and Odysseus again in a way that increased the likelihood that he would turn out all right, in the end.
Solo’s words were cut off by a ship that was suddenly detected by onboard computers. This unexpected ship was detected approaching the Falcon from behind, a rear menace that ironically reminded us that Ford asa Falfa pulled this stunt on Milner in AMERICAN GRAFFITI. This new rear menace reiterated that Solo was probably a good Odyssean hero like Milner, and also prepared us for Vader’s attacks from behind in his custom TIE at the end of the film. For as explosions rocked the ship, a part flying monkey, part cyclopsian eyeball TIE fighter streaked past the cockpit window, an emissary from the wicked Empire that confirmed that a rear menace indeed had just threatened the heroes. Using the Force, Kenobi sensed that it was a short range fighter. Thus, its sudden appearance in deep space away from a base puzzled the heroes, and Solo rocketed after the fleeing ship to solve the mystery. The TIE headed towards what initially appeared to the four Ozian heroes to be a planet, but what the viewer knew to be the insidious and aroused Death Moon. Significantly, Skywalker, his lunar intuitive powers awakening, was the first to correctly identify the ‘planet’ as a possible small moon. However, it was the Krayyt Kenobi, with his Wan mastery of the Dark Side, who correctly stated that what they were approaching was not a real moon but a man-made battle station-the dreaded Death Moon!
Omaha Kenobi then urged Solo to reverse the swiftly flying Falcon, but it was too late-the fleet spacerod had been caught in the remorseless, tractor beam grip of the wicked and aroused Death Moon. Significantly, this was the first time in the Classic Trilogy that an energy field controlled Solo’s destiny, quickly proving the naivete of his recent idle boast. In fact, seeing the Falcon being pulled into the hungry maw of the Death Moon reminded us that Princess Leia’s Rebel cruiser was the first spaceship to be sucked into the gaping maw of the Empire. Clearly, invisible and salacious energy fields were already drawing the two lovebirds together long before they had met each other. While Kenobi talked to Solo, young Skywalker stared worriedly at the approaching machine moon from Arous. He then became the first in the films and telefilms of Lucas to say ‘…I have a very bad feeling about this’, a comment from the incestuous Kid monster plagued youth that underlined that the floating shape of the Death Moon was an evil and sexually diseased brain indeed. Significantly, while this phrase became synonymous with Lucas, it was actually taken from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. Indeed, a similar phrase was first used when Bowman and Poole hid in one of the cyclopsian eye space pods in a docking bay aboard the Discovery I to talk about how HAL, their ship ruling onboard computer, had turned into a deranged HEL. Turning to the Odyssean Bowman, Poole said ‘…I have a bad feeling about [HAL]’. Given that Skywalker and his companions were about to find themselves inside a similarly deranged, omputer ruled THX 1138 lunar labyrinth that would also hinder their every movement, it was fitting that Skywalker would echo the concerns of Poole. The words also reminded us that the Discovery I’s journey was precipitated by the discovery of TMA-1 in Clavius crater on the moon. The Death Moon-with its large, round, death ray focussing crater-evoked that lunar crater and that first discovery. And so the Falcon, that good machine moon, was inexorably drawn into the evil machine moon, like another healing white blood cell summoned to save Princess Leia.
And so the Falcon was captured and sat in another docking bay, and Tarkin and Vader discovered that it was the same spaceship that had recently escaped the Imps on Tatooine. This revelation caused the dastardly duo to delay destroying Dorothy and search the mysterious lunar ship. A rare Good Evil decision that held out hope for the rescue of Leia, as the Ozian heroes were carefully hidden below decks in Solo’s onboard smuggling compartments. This hideaway allowed them to elude Vader’s searching Imps and enter the Death Moon undetected, transforming the Millenium Falcon into a Trojan Horse and the machine moon with its captured beauty into Ilium. This linked Solo to Odysseus and Milner again, increasing the likelihood that he would also emerge as a healing hero, in the end. However, unlike the Imps who searched the ship, Vader was not fooled by the apparent lack of progress in finding anyone in the mysterious spaceship. In fact, his Dark Force powers had sensed Kenobi, a J.D. Jedi mentor that reminded us that Ford had been Kurosawa’s mentor, and whose presence he had not ominously felt since…This brief and vaguely salacious reminiscence on the last time he had ‘felt’ Kenobi clearly reminded Vader of how long he had been travelling on his own Dark Odyssey since he had embraced the Dark Side and betrayed the Jedi. We remembered that ‘Odysseus’ translated from ancient Greek meant ‘anger’, and that anger led to hatred, and hatred led to suffering…and the Dark Side.
As Vader turned and strode away from the Trojan Falcon in a whirling swirl of his Phantom of the Space Opera cape, lost in dark memories, the heroes emerged from their hidden subterranean smuggler compartments like Sanjuro emerged from hiding beneath floorboards to escape searching thugs before destroying them in YOJIMBO, setting us up again for the destruction of the Empire and of the Jabba gangs in the Classic Trilogy. Solo wondered aloud why they had bothered to hide from the Imps, as they would not be able to escape from the Death Moon and its tractor beam. Kenobi promised to find and disable the tractor beam, prompting Solo to dismiss him as an old fool. The Krayyt Kenobi’s famous retort-‘…who’s the more foolish…the fool or the fool who follows him’?-was more than a Jedi koan. The remark was actually a sly reference to Kenobi’s ragged Scarecrow appearance, and to the subtle struggle that had been going on between Kenobi and Solo for the coveted role of Scarecrow ever since they had met. Indeed, this was Kenobi’s way of saying that since he was now leaving the group to dismantle the tractor beam, Solo was now free to assume the role of the foolish Scarecrow Hunk. This in turn allowed Kenobi to openly assume the role of the Krayyt Kenobi, preparing us for the sight of him disappearing like the Great Oz, who floated away into the blue in his hot air balloon after his attempt to help Dorothy and Toto escape from Oz at the end of THE WIZARD OF OZ went awry.
Soon Imps ordered two openly human crewmen to enter the Falcon and scan the ship completely with electronic surveillance equipment. This looked sinister, but luckily the two men were look alike, cookie cutter crewmen, who proved to be more robotic double trouble for the Empire. Indeed, the ‘scanner boys’ were quickly knocked out by the Ozian heroes. Falling prey to Solo’s call for help also drew the two Imp guards into the Falcon, allowing the heroes to knock them out and Skywalker and Solo to don their skeletal armour. This double trouble disguise allowed the heroes to sneak out of the docking bay and into the Black Castle of the Wicked Emperor disguised as Winkie soldiers to rescue Dorothy like the intrepid trio of the Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow and the Tin Man did at the end of THE WIZARD OF OZ, walking off into a new machine Ilium to rescue a new Helen like the indomitable Greek warriors of The Iliad. In a secure and nearby gantry room, Artoo plugged into the main Death Moon computer system and displayed a readout of the seven samurai locations where the tractor beam could be disabled, thus allowing the Trojan Falcon to escape the battle station. The Krayyt Kenobi confirmed his Great Oz status by repeating his decision to knock out one of these seven locations and thus disable the beam.
Significantly, before he left, Kenobi turned to his young Padawan and said ‘…the Force will be with you…always’. This heartfelt and mystical parting statement reiterated that the police force, law, order, hard work, discipline, patience, faith, a sense of humour, intelligence, creativity, insight, education, experience, strength, determination, and the truth must be with you if you wanted to succeed in the life and film art of Lucas. Kenobi’s parting words also suggested that a magical Force like Glinda the Good would still hover over Skywalker, like the Glinda in the T-bird haunted Henderson in the end, even if Kenobi should disappear in his attempt to disable the tractor beam. Thus, these parting words foretold the departure of Kenobi, and his return as a Glinda-like Force ghost in STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. As Kenobi was also a sturdy and stalwart guardian of the divine Light of the Covenant, the parting words also assured Skywalker that God would be with him come what may. Clearly, Luke must have faith in God, setting us up for the end of STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI.
Of course, ‘…the Force will be with you…always’ was also a play on words. For the words reminded us of the Fours, as in the four personified Ozian elements that had converged on the Death Moon to centre, heal and save Leia. Indeed, the Earthy Han Scarecrow, the Fiery Cowardly Chewbacca, the Airy Krayyt Kenobi and the Watery Tin Luke made a classic Ozian quartet and a truly fantastic Musketeer foursome. Seeing them together for one last time also reminded us that these four Ozian elements could also be linked to other fours, such as the four cardinal directions, the four seasons, the four stages of a person’s life, the four weeks of each month, and the four great winds. Thus, the number four encompassed many of the main aspects of life, and was perhaps best represented by a cross superimposed on a circle. The centre of the Celtic cross represented each person, who was a natural converging point for the universe. Realizing that you were this converged point, and letting yourself flow with the foursome harmony of life was the way of the true J.D. Jedi. Indeed, flowing with the Force turned you into a powerful and personified Fifth Element, a personification made literal in THE FIFTH ELEMENT, a film influenced by ALIEN, AMERICAN GRAFFITI, BARBARELLA, the Classic Trilogy, THX 1138 and THE WIZARD OF OZ.
Chewie howled in amusement and Solo snickered in sarcastic agreement after Kenobi left, asking young Skywalker ‘…where did you dig up that old fossil’? This was an ironically fitting comment, given that Ford would go on to search for old relics as Indiana Jones in the Indy Trilogy. A tweet from Artoo interrupted Skywalker’s defence of Kenobi, for Artoo had discovered via her computer link that Princess Leia was on the Death Moon. Indeed, she was imprisoned on level five, detention block AA-23, a five that again evoked the Fifth Elemental status one achieved when centred harmoniously between the four elements-but a 23 that also ominously evoked the July 23rd day of the TZ disaster again. As befitting his heroic status, Skywalker immediately decided to rescue the Princess. The decision reminded us of THX 1138’s attempt to liberate LUH 3417 from the sterile underground of THX 1138-clearly, THX 1138 had returned to rescue his lovely companion at last. However, the link to THX 1138 was also ominous, reminding us of the ambiguous sexual relationship between LUH 3417 and THX 1138, a sexual relationship that in this case had to be avoided at all costs. The unknowing but eager Luke won Solo and Chewie over to his liberating cause with a promise of a vast reward that evoked the gold promised to Matashichi and Tahei in HIDDEN FORTRESS. Significantly, Solo’s crassly capitalist comments before agreeing to join Luke evoked Butler’s words to O’Hara at a Christmas dance in GONE WITH THE WIND that he worked as a Confederate blockade runner ‘…for profit, and profit only…the rest doesn’t mean much to me’, a link that confirmed that Solo was still on course for a romantic collision with Leia. Then, the Ozian trio walked through the Yellow Brick Corridors of the Death Moon disguised as two Imps with a Wookie prisoner to find and liberate the pretty Princess.
Actually, Yellow Sick Corridors was probably the best way to describe them, for the impersonal, sterile, soulless and windowless corridors of the Death Moon continued to evoke THX 1138 and its disastrous reception. Indeed, the pit stop in the gantry room reminded us of THX 1138’s stay in the lunar and surreal detention area before he too left with SEN 5241 and SRT to search for LUH 3417. The only bright spot on the Ozian trio’s journey occurred when Chewbacca encountered a tiny rectangular wheeled robot that suddenly rolled towards the Holy Trinity. One of these dimunitive wheeled robots was seen earlier rushing like a robotic guard dog towards the newly captured Milnerian Falcon with a group of running Imps. Clearly, this was an evil Imp version of the small but indomitable Toto, who always rushed fearlessly to Dorothy’s aid no matter what threatened her. But even evil robotic dogs lacked inner strength in the Classic Trilogy, for this robot dog turned around and raced away in terror when the towering Chewbacca unleashed a leonine roar on the mechanical canine that confirmed his Cowardly Lion status. Indeed, Chewie could fight you with two hands shackled behind his back!
Soon after this comical escapade, the Ozian trio entered an elevator and rose phallically up. When the doors opened, they found themselves at the level five cell block. Skywalker and Solo motioned Chewie forward into a THX 1138-like reception area full of surveillance cameras. When a cell block officer asked the two living Imps where they were ‘…taking this thing’?-a comment that evoked THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD and its sexual tensions, reiterating the sexual unease that seethed beneath the surface of STAR WARS-Skywalker blurted out that they were carrying out a ‘…prisoner transfer from Cell Block one-one-three-eight’. This open link to THX 1138 underlined that Lucas was on a new mission to free his film art from the labyrinthine underworld and triumph over the THX 1138 disaster and the Hollywood studios with a stellar new film. When the cell block officers moved to verify the prisoner transfer on a computer, Chewie ‘escaped’ his unlocked shackles and Skywalker and Solo fired wildly in a pretend attempt to shoot him. In the process, they succeeded in destroying all of the surveillance cameras, wall mounted blasters, and officers and soldiers-all of whom resembled Spielberg-in the cell block reception area, reaffirming that Lucas was out to destroy the THX 1138 disaster in STAR WARS and liberate film art from the insidious blockbuster lusts of Spielberg.
Opposition nullified, the Ozian heroes quickly checked the reception area’s computer and discovered that the Princess was in cell #2187-an allusion to Arthur Lipsett’s influential and allegorical National Film Board of Canada short 21-87 (1963), underlining that Lucas hoped that original film art would triumph over corporate and government film in STAR WARS. While Solo tried to hold off the arrival of more Imps and officers by holding a hilarious conversation with them over the cell block intercom, Luke rushed down the FORBIDDEN PLANET evoking black cell block corridor. Finding cell #2187, he eagerly pressed the switch that whooshed her cell door open in sliding wooden Japanese door fashion. Inside the black cell, Princess Leia slept curled on her side on her spartan metal cot like Princess Yuki slept at one point in HIDDEN FORTRESS. Then the sound of the opening door roused her from a dream within the dream, reminding us that she was still lost in a healing Ozian dream and fighting off the Dark Forces of death and disease that prevented her from leaving the dream and returning to Kansas. In fact, despite still being lost in the dream, the sight of Leia also reminded us of Dorothy lying on her bed after awakening from the healing dream at the end of THE WIZARD OF OZ. Indeed, Skywalker was suddenly just as tongue tied and awkward in her presence as one of the three shy farmhands in the presence of Dorothy or as one of the two farmhand peasants in the presence of Yuki. Clearly, Luke had to break free from this crazy crush on his pretty twin sister, if he was to truly defeat his forbidden Dark Side and emerge as a J.D. Jedi.
Luckily for Luke, however, LEIA 3417 quickly realized that this rescuer in impious armour was more Tin Man than THX-Crow lover, even when he took off his skull helmet. Indeed, she was more amused than alarmed by the presence of Luke. But at Skywalker’s mention of Artoo and the Krayyt Kenobi, she forgot all about amusement and eagerly rushed off with him out of her Black Tower cell and into the THX 1138 labyrinth. Seeing her bold and eager commitment to escape the Black Tower at the mention of Kenobi, we remember the emboldening power that the ruby red high heels gave Dorothy to approach her Ozian companions in THE WIZARD OF OZ. This emboldening power was still locked up in Artoo, no doubt explaining why Leia was so emboldened to befriend her Ozian rescuers in STAR WARS. In fact, Leia quickly used her ruby red boldness and revealed her own J.D. Jedette resolve by taking over her rescue. Indeed, disgusted by the heavy Imp blaster fire from the cellblock reception area that pinned the quartet down in the black cell block corridor, Leia took Skywalker’s blaster and blew a hole in the opposite wall. Then she fearlessly crossed the blaster fire filled corridor, blasting away cockily at the Imps as she went-clearly, she was no innocent Barbarella pacifist, conquering the universe with irresistible love! Indeed, the scene evoked a scene in GONE WITH THE WIND where O’Hara gunned down a rude Northern soldier, reiterating the link between O’Hara and Organna. Tossing Skywalker his blaster, Leia calmly dived into the hole she created and rescued herself. Amusingly, before she blasted the hole, Leia immediately began to feud with Solo in a way that evoked Butler and O’Hara, reaffirming her link to O’Hara. And when asked by Leia if he had a plan for getting out of the cell block, Solo laconically indicated Skywalker and said ‘…he’s the brains, sweetheart’. This laconic comment confirmed that Solo had, indeed, taken on the Scarecrow role in the absence of Kenobi, and now had to watch out for Romantic fire on the wind.
Ironically, the ‘escape’ chute led further down into the underworld and into a garbage compactor, that familiar garbage sub-theme in the films of Lucas. Indeed, this ignominious dump reminded us that Coppola, Lucas and their five picture deal were ignominiously dumped by Warner Brothers after watching THX 1138 for the first time, a link that reiterated that Lucas was reaching out to Coppola and working hard to triumph over the THX 1138 disaster on one level in STAR WARS. This garbage compactor area was composed of debris floating in noxious water, water that evoked the water dashed on the face of the Wicked Witch of the West after Dorothy was liberated from the Black Tower in THE WIZARD OF OZ. Significantly, if the viewer looked closely, one could clearly see that the supposedly metal walls of the compactor area were actually wooden. It was somehow appropriate that these walls were really organic and not metal, for there was actually a living swamp monster inhabiting this noxious ooze in defiance of the machine moon, the penis-like dianoga. This new salacious genitalia creature evoked the dread Penisaurus of FLESH GORDON, as well as Jabba and Penishead, and also anticipated the teeming reptilian life on the swamp world of Dagobah in STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Indeed, given the similarities between this garbage swamp and the Dagobah swamps, it was no surprise that Dagobah sounded like dianoga. Given this link, it was also no surprise that this swamp monster would give young Skywalker his first baptism into the healing Force.
Indeed, after spying out the lay of the landed with its one long, phallic and cyclopsian eye-and scaring Chewie with an ominous roar, affirming his Cowardly Lion status-the dianoga brushed suggestively by one of Skywalker’s legs. Soon after, young Skywalker was enveloped by the dianoga’s tentacles and pulled underwater, down into the dark and troubled depths of the subconscious. Luckily for Luke, this sexually charged but organic baptism soon ended when an ominous mechanical rumble echoed through the compactor chamber, causing the dianoga to reluctantly release the sweet young Jedi. Skywalker suddenly resurfaced, sputtering and choking, much to the relief of Chewie, Leia and Solo. Significantly, Luke emerged from his baptismal dunk a different man, for the old and frozen Tin Luke was noticeably replaced by a new and virile J.D. Scarecrow youth who burst out of the muck without his old naivete, reminding us that Lucas had been woken up to the hardships of life and of the film industry by the Great Crash of ’62 and by the THX 1138 disaster. This new awareness was emphasized by the ruby red light that suffused the compactor scene, light that evoked the ruby red slippers of Dorothy and the ruby red polygon of THX 1138. Thus, Luke transformed from one Ozian character to another like THX 1138 and Henderson before him, reaffirming that he and Lucas were on a new Journey of Self Discovery here in STAR WARS.
To reinforce Skywalker’s status as a born again J.D. Jedi, no sooner was he released than the walls of the garbage compactor began contracting like birth contractions, as if HEL 9000 had suddenly taken control of the Death Moon. The fab four tried to use propped up garbage to stop the relentless advance of the compactor walls, but to no avail. The wooden walls closed relentlessly in, bringing certain death to the four Ozian heroes. The birth canal-like contractions of the garbage compactor reminded us of the clashing rocks of Charybdis that Odysseus and his crew had to sail by at the end of their legendary journey. The reminder transformed the garbage compactor into Charybdis and the whirlpool, and the dianoga into Scylla, the many eyed and armed monster that menaced Odysseus and his crew from a cliff cave above the clashing rocks of Charybdis. Hopeful signs for Skywalker at least at this desperate moment, hinting that he and perhaps the rest of the heroes would survive their own cataclysmic clash with Scylla, Charybdis and the whirlpool, and be reborn to peace and harmony like Odysseus. Indeed, and luckily for all of the heroes, they were suddenly saved by the ‘deux ex machina’. For safe in a new hiding spot far from the compactor, Threepio heeded Artoo’s timely reminder to turn on his handheld, walkie-talkie-style communicator just in time to hear a newly Forceful Skywalker shouting for his help. Following Luke’s instructions, he told Artoo to shut down all of the garbage compactors on the detention block level. Artoo quickly complied, with the help of the Death Moon’s main computer, ironically preventing the Wicked HEL 9000 from killing more ozdyssean spacefarers.
Saved by the bells and whistles of Artoo, the four heroes quickly exited the garbage compactor-numbered 3263827, thus making for another ominous and twilit repetition of the numbers 237-and were reborn, surviving their disastrous dump like Coppola and Lucas survived the THX 1138 dump, underlined by the sight of Han and Luke successfully leaving the compactor. The feisty foursome raced down the sterile and impersonal halls of the Death Moon, linked now to the intercut sight of Kenobi and his own more quiet and elusive progress through those cold, impersonal and mechanical walls. However, while Kenobi successfully eluded the Imps, his Forceful presence had been picked up again by Vader. Nonetheless, Omahan Kenobi succeeded in dismantling one of the seven samurai tractor beam mechanisms, despite Vader’s growing awareness of his presence. Then Kenobi began to drift his way back to the Falcon after the fab four escaped the garbage compactor. This was important, as it was vital for the Krayyt Kenobi to meet up with the other Ozian heroes in order to bring about a full elemental Ozian conjunction that would centre and heal Princess Leia and each other. Indeed, without this conjunction, Leia and the others would not be able to leave the healing Ozian dream as whole and harmonious adults. Humourously, however, the rejuvenated energy and centred harmony that an Ozian conjunction would bring already seemed to suffuse Han, who unthinkingly and confidently charged a detachment of skeletal Imps that the heroes unexpectedly ran into at one point in their hallway journey. This reminded us of the wannabe samurai Kikuchiyo unthinkingly charging and attacking the bandits who plagued a small town in the final battle at the end of SEVEN SAMURAI.
The Cowardly Chewbacca followed Han Scarecrow, but the move proved to be double trouble for them. For the two Ozian heroes ran straight into an even larger group of Imp bandits at the end of a long corridor. This large group shot at the reckless two and chased them away like two Cowardly Lions, perhaps the Lucas way of saying that adopting the Machiavellian style of the major film studios like Coppola symbolically did in MARIO PUZO’S THE GODFATHER and MARIO PUZO’S THE GODFATHER PART II after the THX 1138 disaster would only lead to personal and spiritual ruin. This interpretation of the chase after Chewie and Solo was implied by the next scene, for Leia and Luke used quick thinking, creativity and in your face blaster shooting instead of a reckless thirst for revenge to fend off their pursuing Imps and swing to safety over a canyon-like core shaft. The only problem was that Leia kissed the Kid monster haunted Skywalker just before he swung her confidently to safety. Clearly, the dianoga’s baptismal dunk had sent Skywalker into a perilous new Scarecrow phase, a phase he had to evade if he was to defeat his incestuous Dark Side. Indeed, their white clothing evoked the white hospital-style smock clothing of LUH 3417 and THX 1138, underlining the danger of strange sexual relations. However, and luckily for the twin Jedi siblings, their virginal white clothes also summed up the unknowing innocence of the kiss, allowing them to swing across the chasm to safety and to flee down the opposite corridor into the now ironically protective labyrinth.
Omahan Kenobi was also hurrying down a labyrinthine corridor when he suddenly ran into the huge, black, silent and statue still figure of Lord Vader blocking his way to the Falcon. The Black Knight stood with his blood red nightsaber on, evoking MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL again, and the Krayyt Kenobi followed suit by silently igniting his true blue, light of the Covenant saber. The saber wielding foes soon came to blows, feinting, cutting, blocking and swinging with speed and precision. Curiously, in spite of our concern for Kenobi, it was appropriate to see him square off against Vader. For seeing him in his ragged brown robe reminded us that he had first appeared in STAR WARS as the Tusken scaring Scarecrow of the film, and that the Wicked Witch of the West tried to kill the Scarecrow in the end of THE WIZARD OF OZ with another double trouble fireball like the one she blasted at the Scarecrow during their first meeting. While Vader was Anikkostein rather than the Wicked Witch of the West, his black clad and caped appearance evoked the Wicked Witch, and his blood red nightsaber evoked her second fireball. Indeed, Vader’s sarcastic comment to Kenobi that ‘…the circle is now complete’ reminded us of the Witch’s ‘…ring-around-the-rosy’ comment made to Dorothy in the end, a diseased comment that evoked the bubonic plague in medieval England and confirmed that Vader-like the Witch-was fully aware of the diseased nature of his presence in this new Ozian dream.
As this pivotal and emerald green flash producing saber battle erupted, Artoo, Chewie, Han, Leia, Luke, and Threepio arrived safely back at the Falcon. Indeed, they were able to reach the Falcon because the skeletal Imps guarding the spaceship ran from their post to watch the Jedi versus Sith battle, like the soldiers who watched Susumu Fujita’s Hyoe Tadokoro battle General Makabe in HIDDEN FORTRESS. A fitting reminder of Kurosawa, for Vader’s implicit link to Kurosawa and Kenobi’s implicit link to Ford reminded us that Kurosawa was an admirer and student of the older Ford. When young Skywalker saw the two duellists fighting he stopped in his tracks too, as transfixed as the Imps. He even tried to rush to the aid of his mentor, only to be stopped by Solo. The sight reminded us that Aragorn stopped Boromir from rushing to the aid of Gandalf in his deadly fight with the Balrog at the bridge of Khazad-Dum in the allegorical Tolkien novel, The Fellowship of the Ring (1954), preparing us again for Solo’s emergence as the true regal consort of Leia in STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. And preparing us for the Krayyt Kenobi’s death, drifting away into the Force and disappearing after being chopped down by Anikkostein like Gandalf was dragged down into the depths by the flaming whip of the Balrog, like the Great Oz drifted away in his air balloon at the end of THE WIZARD OF OZ, like the Great SEN was carried away by the hallway crowds at the end of THX 1138, and like the Great Milner drifted away into his car crash at the end of AMERICAN GRAFFITI. And so the Krayyt Kenobi died like the Great Others before him so that others might live, confirming his status as a most Christian Knight and guardian of the Light of the Covenant. And so a symbolic Ford died like Ford did in reality in the year of the release of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, leaving sarcastic and satirical students like Kurosawa behind, implicitly reaffirming Kenobi’s link to Ford, and leaving young disciples like Lucas to their fate.
But all older film mentors must be left behind, if an idealistic young man wanted to succeed as an independent J.D. Jedi film artist. Indeed, we were reminded that the labyrinthine corridors of the Death Moon evoked the labyrinthine corridors of THX 1138 and the original short student film, two films that symbolized the struggle of Lucas to free himself from huvine mainstream society and the drugged up youthful Sixties underground and succeed as an independent and idiosyncratic J.D. Jedi film artist. Indeed, Skywalker’s horror quickly gave way to an un-Jedi rage, and he blasted furiously away at the Imps surrounding Anikkostein, hitting several of them. Like Skywalker’s confident swing with Leia, this precise sharpshooting was another clear sign that the dianoga’s baptism had imparted some cocky Scarecrow virility to the Tinny young Padawan, like the success of AMERICAN GRAFFITI had done for Lucas. However, lucky for Luke, the ghostly Glinda voice of Kenobi desperately convinced the emboldened and outraged Jedi to board the Falcon and blast out of the Death Moon docking bay.
Significantly, four TIEs suddenly attacked the Falcon as the spacerod raced away. However, these four flying monkeys were a good omen, for the four ships centred the Falcon harmoniously between them in a way that reminded us that the spacerod contained a heroine who was in a sense a personified Fifth Element like Mila Jovanovich’s Leeloominai would be in THE FIFTH ELEMENT. The arrival of the four TIEs was also heralded by Leia’s second cry of ‘…here they come!’, a shout first heard in SEVEN SAMURAI when Kikuchiyu spied the bandits arriving to attack the samurai defended village, and then in DEATH RACE 2000 before the Rebels led Roberta Collins’ neo-Nutzi Death Racer Mathilda the Hun and her navigator off a cliff to her doom with a detour sign. Clearly, Leia and her new Rebel friends would fight off the new nutzi peril here, and eventually link up with the Rebels like Annie and Frankenstein. Indeed, luckily for the Ozian heroes, the TIE pilots made the mistake of attacking the Falcon in uncreative pairs, a typically impious and double trouble decision. As a result, they were quickly blasted into spacedust by the quick draw shooting of Skywalker and Solo in the Falcon’s top and bottom gunpits. Skywalker’s shooting in particular impressed both Solo and audience, reiterating his newfound Scarecrow vim and verve. Clearly, the cyclopsian dianoga had imparted the Forceful awareness needed to conquer the cyclopsian TIE fighters.
It was also noticeable that Skywalker and Solo shared the victory, scoring two kills apiece. A fittingly equal total that linked with the escape from the THX 1138 compactor to remind us that Coppola had acted as producer on AMERICAN GRAFFITI and THX 1138, making him equally involved in their failure and success. And now it was time to meet up with the Rebels at the Italian and Kansas sounding Massassi Outpost on the fecund jungle moon of Yavin, and take on and take out the Spielberg linked Empire and its blockbuster SD spacesharks and Death Moons, destroy the THX 1138 disaster and heal the rift between the two director friends once and for all. Significantly, this lush and green moon reminded us that green was also the colour of life and not just wicked disease. This fecund jungle moon prepared us for the forest moon of Endor in STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI, and also gave the heroes more lunar energy and an organic moon to defeat the machine moon of the evil Empire. Indeed, Skywalker, Solo and the Rebels did just that, using the ruby red data to destroy THX 1138, Warner Brothers, the Wicked Death Moon, its impious and skeletal castle soldiers, and its flying monkey TIEs in an epic space battle.
The staccato editing of this black magic battle-with its constant intercom chatter, quick cuts to the Emerald green lit Rebel command centre, Death Star control rooms with its television screens to remind us that Spielberg began on television, and Good and Wicked starpilot cockpits-evoked the staccato editing, intercom chatter and the quick cuts to the underworld control room, rocket car of THX 1138, and the jet cycles of the pursuing robocops at the end of THX 1138, and the cuts between the War Room and the wayward American bomber at the end of DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB. This similarity to the end of THX 1138 reiterated that Lucas was using STAR WARS to finish off his struggling student years and the Kubrick mocking THX 1138 disaster once and for all. The triumphant ending also indicated that the success of AMERICAN GRAFFITI had made other film artists believers in Lucas, for this time THX 1138 had a concerned and sympathetic gang of Rebel supporters aiding him in his battle for film creating independence. Indeed, the triumphant ending of STAR WARS reiterated how more confident and optimistic Lucas had become after working with the talented cast and crew on AMERICAN GRAFFITI and STAR WARS. This ending also evoked the cuts to the Rebel command centre throughout DEATH RACE 2000, completing the allusions to that film.
Clearly, the time had come to face down the evil Warners and Spielberg linked Empire. Luckily for the Ozian heroes, the Empire made it easier for Rebels to track them down by piloting the Death Moon to the healing jungle moon of Yavin, following the homing beacon they had placed in the Falcon. The Wicked Death Moon looked even more like the evil and aroused floating brain from Arous than it ever did before as it floated through space to the jungle moon, underlining that it was time for its destruction. Indeed, the Rebels attempted to blow up the floating machine brain in three Holy Trinities of X- and Y-wing fighter attacks-William Hootkins’ X-wing fighter pilot Red Six aka Porkins evoking Hitchcock-by hitting a small thermal exhaust port at the end of a long trench along the surface of the aroused machine brain. Of course, this long trench evoked March’s axe attack on the fissure of Rolando-that Achilles heel of a trench-like fold that anticipated the arrival of a man named Lando Calrissian-that finally killed the floating brain from Arous, in the end. Ominously, the first Holy Trinity wave of three Yellow Brick Road coloured Y-wings of Gold Squadron-their Angus McInnis playing Gold Leader looking like a young Kubrick-and the next Holy Trinity wave of three ruby red broomstick X-wings were hunted down and destroyed from behind by an unholy trinity of Anikkostein and two other flying monkey TIEs-attacks from the rear that now linked a Dark Father to Falfa and sinister rear assaults. Only an Arthurian hero named Skywalker with a robot Arttu familiar and the Fifth Elemental X-wing designation of ruby Red 5 and an orange pilot suit that summed up his latest Ozian transformation from Dorothy, Tin Man and Scarecrow into the Cowardly Lion was left to save the day and the Rebellion.
The Cowardly Pilot eagerly accepted the challenge, plunging down at the aroused machine moon in the harmonized ruby Red 5 centre of the third Holy Trinity of X-wing attacks, and turning neatly into the trench fissure of Rolando like a righteous eagle in his X-broomstick with his familiar Artoo in the back and his two X gang wingmates at his sides. The boldness and audacity of this third attack overwhelmed the Death Moon defenders and its uncreative and double trouble machine mentality. Indeed, young Skywalker had definitely reached the big time, underlined by the fact that one of his wingmates in this Holy Trinity of X-broomsticks was his old friend from Tatooine, Biggs Darklighter-played by Garrick Hagon. The mysterious Darklighter had been a symbolic Henderson who had already left Tatooine that Skywalker had wanted to emulate, and now the Cowardly Pilot was living the Eastern college dream with this old friend beside him. However, Darklighter was soon blasted into smithereens from the menacing rear by Anikkostein-as Darklighter’s ambigous surname had forewarned-perhaps due to the curious and ominous fact that he resembled Landis. As Skywalker’s other wing mate, Dennis Lawson’s Wedge-perhaps an allusion to Ed Catmull, creator of CGI, as he was codenamed Red Two, reminding us of the binary nature of the digital world-had already rocketed away after being knocked out of commission by Anikkostein, the Cowardly Pilot was left to rocket alone down the trench of Rolando to complete his Journey of Self Discovery. Luckily for Luke, the X-and Y-wing fighters were the final ruby red power objects of STAR WARS, the spacerod equivalents of the rocketing cars of AMERICAN GRAFFITI and THX 1138. This ruby red status was underlined by the red ladder Skywalker climbed up to get into his X-broomstick, and by the red racing stripes along its sleek side. Thus, ruby red mojo as well as the healing Ozian fours was with Luke as he raced towards the thermal exhaust port at the end of the trench of Rolando.
Indeed, this healing Ozian fours was underlined by the sudden return of the soothing voice of the Krayyt Kenobi, a soothing return that announced that the Great Oz phase had arrived to complete the Journey of Self Discovery of young Skywalker, transforming Skywalker in his lone X-wing into the Great Oz n his lone balloon. The reassuring and Christ-like return from death of the Krayyt Kenobi also underlined the messianic status of Skywalker, and confirmed that he too would become a whole and harmonious figure like Henderson, Kenobi and THX 1138 before him. The shape of his X-broomstick supported and enhanced his confidence, the four X-foils converging on the pilot’s cockpit in a centring conjunction of the healing and invigorating Ozian fours that confirmed that Skywalker was indeed the personified Fifth Element of STAR WARS. Thus, it was appropriate that Skywalker listened to the Krayyt Kenobi and turned off the machine that guided his photon torpedoes, allowing himself to be guided by nothing but the healing and elemental Force as he raced towards the thermal exhaust port. Luckily for Luke, Chewie and Solo also returned at the right moment like true Western Cavalry for a final Ozian conjunction, swooping down unawares out of the light of the Yavin system’s sun like a true predatory Falcon and disturbing the dark harmony of the Unholy Trinity of TIEs led by Vader that ominously menaced Skywalker’s rear, making it implicitly clear just how much Lucas had been rattled by DERSU UZULA.
This was an ironic rescue, reminding us again that Ford played the rear menacing Falfa in AMERICAN GRAFFITI, freeing him from evil menace and also confirming Solo’s link to Milner. The irony of the rescue was increased by the sight of Anikkostein spinning off out of control into space like Falfa at the end of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, an out of control spin that saved Vader but took away his Dark Force throttles and allowed young Skywalker to win this latest concluding drag race with a full throttle triumph of his own. This rescue also suggested that Solo was on his own Journey of Self Discovery in the Classic Trilogy, for his adventures had taken him from Scarecrow hunk and Cowardly Pilot fleeing SDs patrolling Tatooine, to Great Oz Captain rushing back to save Skywalker in his space balloon, leaving just a Tin Han phase to complete the transformation. Allowing Skywalker to take out the aroused and floating Death Brain, for the J.D. Jedi trusted the Krayyt Force to guide his double trouble proton torpedos into the thermal exhaust port at the end of the third attack on the trench fissure of Rolando-a trimatic attack that clearly annulled the double trouble ways of the Empire. The twin Jedi shots set off a huge chain reaction, blowing the evil and beastly blockbuster Death Brain back to Arous in an apocalyptic and ironically blockbuster explosion that evoked the earlier destruction of Alderaan, and also evoked the destruction of Altair IV at the end of FORBIDDEN PLANET. Indeed, this final nod to FORBIDDEN PLANET underlined that Lucas used STAR WARS to overcome dark and sexually diseased memories, sexually diseased memories that hinted darkly of incest in the childhood home of Lucas.
However, while killing the Wasserman linked Tarkin, the escape of the Kurosawa linked Vader and the continued insidious presence of the Spielberg linked Emperor made it clear that Lucas did not feel that he had yet fully exorcised Kideous memories of incest, defeated Warner Brothers and the THX 1138 disaster, Old Hollywood directors like Kubrick and blockbuster obsessed New Hollywood directors like Spielberg, and fully emerged as an independent J.D. Jedi film artist. However, the destruction of the Death Moon also killed off the diseased power of the Wicked Witch of the West for the moment, allowing STAR WARS to free director and viewer from Munchkin childhood and adolescent temptation and Wicked disease and emerge from the Ozian dream in the end as whole and healthy adults, as at the ends of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, HIDDEN FORTRESS, THX 1138, and THE WIZARD OF OZ. This destruction of the evil and aroused machine brain also set us up for the full and final destruction of Dark and incestuous Forces at the end of STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. The escape of Dennis Lawson’s supportive and implicitly Murch linked Wedge, Solo’s last minute rescue of Skywalker and Skywalker’s J.D. twin shots also underlined the hope of Lucas that the high quality of the film and its upbeat nature would mend the rift in the friendship of Coppola and Lucas caused by AMERICAN GRAFFITI and THX 1138, allowing them to aspire to something more with their film art than a desire to blast each other with fortune and glory obsessed Sith hits.
Indeed, it was important that this explosive triumph over the evil Empire was caused by Skywalker and Solo working together with the Rebellion, and not just by Milner and THX 1138 working by themselves as at the end of AMERICAN GRAFFITI and THX 1138. Thus, although Vader was still alive, STAR WARS managed to end on a reasonably cooperative and eucatastrophic note with a second memorable victory by the Rebellion. This healing, harmonious and cooperative triumph was underlined by the Academy Awards-like Rebel awards ceremony at the end of the film, for both Skywalker and Solo were equally awarded with a gold medal the same colour of the Oscar statuette by Princess Leia-finally saved, like the art of independent and allegorical film, from blockbuster beast obsessed Hollywood studio empires, in the end-and the rest of their peers in the film Rebellion. Indeed, that the medals given to Skywalker and Solo symbolized Oscars was underlined by the sight of the personified golden Oscar form of Threepio, cleaned and washed and bright and shining in a way that made him look like an Oscar statuette more than ever before, standing behind the two star warriors. Eat it, august Academy!