There is no denying that in the making of the Star Wars films, George Lucas was an aspiring director who was heavily influenced by other films and directors in the industry. He has stated that he was influenced by films like Flash Gordon and Akira Kurosawa’s The Fortress. Lucas has actually acknowledged this in earlier interviews.
What happens when a director siphons particular scenes from other films to enhance the action in his own films? Would you say that Lucas is plagiarizing the films? This is definitely one stance in the argument. These are not the only films that Lucas appears to have borrowed from though. Some other notable ‘influences’ would be 1959’s Ben Hur, Dersu Uzala, Flash Gordon, and Lost Horizon. When you look at key scenes in these films you will definitely see resemblances to scenes in the Star Wars movies.
Video essayist, Jacob T. Swinney put together a side-by-side comparison video for you to actually see one of the ‘borrowing’ instances. He takes the famous chariot scene from Ben Hur featuring Charleston Heston and puts it next to the pod racing scene from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. The similarities are a bit striking, but the way that Lucas incorporated them did make the scenes appear different.
Check out the Fandor video below:
A keen writer at StarWars.com (Bryan Young) even wrote an entire article about the similarities between Ben Hur and The Phantom Menace. You can check out that article in the link. In an excerpt from the piece, he says:
“My breath is constantly being taken away by how George Lucas was able to take storylines, sequences, and themes from classics like Ben Hur and distill them to their essence for inclusion in Star Wars. It’s truly remarkable.”
Where do you draw the line between paying homage and just blatantly ripping off a scene from another film? When you watch the video, it is hard to dismiss the shot-for-shot transitions and similarities between the two scenes.
Do you feel that George Lucas ripped off these other films? Tell us in the comments section below.
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