May the Fourth Be With You: How WWII Inspired ‘Star Wars’

“Accidentally, an excellent deal [of J.R.R. Tolkien’s book series “The Lord of the Rings”] might be learn topically,” Maj. Warren Lewis, brother to C.S. Lewis, wrote in probably the primary ever evaluation of the novel in 1949. “The Shire standing for England, Rohan for France, Gondor the Germany of the longer term, Sauron for Stalin.”  

And whereas Tolkien later explicitly rejected the concept that his “story was an allegory of any historic occasion, most of all of the latest battle towards Nazism … for all such protestations, Lewis had clearly been on to one thing again in 1949,” historian Alan Allport wrote in his 2020 e-book in regards to the social and army historical past of the U.Ok. throughout World Warfare II, “Britain at Bay.” 

Reasonably than singularly weaving a mythopoeic fantasy world, Allport contended, Tolkien’s future viewers “was going to see associations between occasions in Center Earth and people in their very own world.” 


Tolkien, nevertheless, was not the primary nor the final to attract inspiration from the cataclysmic bloodletting that was the Second World Warfare.  

Immediately, as followers have a good time Could the Fourth (be with you), one doesn’t need to stray far to glean that the galaxy of “Star Wars” is rife with WWII-based allegories — and its fan base would possibly equal, if not rival, Tolkien’s. 

“Star Wars” creator George Lucas famously studied over 25 hours of footage from World Warfare II dogfights and jittery newsreel imagery whereas doing analysis for the movies — even utilizing the footage as placeholders within the movie earlier than the particular results had been version.  

“So one second you’re with the Wookiee within the spaceship and the following you’re in ‘The Bridges at Toko-Ri.’ It was like, ‘George, what goes?’” Willard Huyck, a screenwriter and private good friend of Lucas’s said in a 1997 interview. 

Although the b-roll was ultimately edited out, the aerial ways established in World Warfare II stay seen.  

One such shot, in line with Nationwide WWII Museum and Memorial curator Corey Graff, “confirmed plane peeling out of formation and dropping from sight. The clip was used as a mannequin for the memorable shot of Insurgent craft diving to assault the Loss of life Star. One after the other, the fictional spaceships elegantly ‘aileron roll’ throughout the display, mimicking the actions of the Nineteen Forties plane virtually precisely.” 

Total books have been dedicated to such analogies, however we’ve summed up the highest 4 for some Could the Fourth enjoyment.

1. The Millennium Falcon’s Cockpit Got here From the Boeing B-29 Fortress 

After learning hours of WWII footage, Lucas grew to become notably enamored with the cockpit of B-29s — the well-known bomber recognized for dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The consequence? The cockpit of Han Solo’s beloved Millennium Falcon appears to be like prefer it was lifted straight out of Boeing’s blueprints, replete with the B-29’s signature greenhouse-style cockpit. And, precisely like on the Superfortress, the Falconsports activities defensive gun turrets — which come in useful while you’re battling a Loss of life Star. 

The inside of B-29 bomber, Bockscar. Lucas drew inspiration from the famed bomber’s cockpit. (The Nationwide Museum of america Air Pressure.

2. The Empire Was Nazi Germany 

From stormtroopers to Imperial officers’ uniforms and even Darth Vader’s helmet, which resembles these worn by the Wehrmacht throughout WWII, the analogies between Nazi Germany and the Galactic Empire aren’t precisely delicate. 

The gradual rise of Hitler from German chancellor to Nazi dictator is additional mirrored within the rise of Darth Sidious, or Sheev Palpatine, from chancellor to world’s most horrific-looking emperor.  

3. The Star Wars Spaceships Had been World Warfare II Fighters

As soon as once more Lucas turned to World Warfare II aviation for inspiration to provide his spaceships their distinctive sounds. Based on Ian D’Costa for Tacairnet, sounds couldn’t simply be synthesized in the identical manner that studios can create film sound results at this time. To get round that, Lucas despatched out sound designer Ben Burtt to Reno Air Races in Nevada, the place he was allowed to report the noise of P-51 Mustangs racing overhead.  

Burtt later recalled, “I simply stated, ‘I need to report some planes,’ they usually stated ‘Yeah? Then go on on the market.’ You could possibly by no means do that these days. I used to be out on the pylons, and planes had been passing 15 ft above my head. They had been so quick that I might hardly see them go by; they had been only a blur, although I might odor the oil and exhaust …. Virtually all the spaceships got here out of these Mojave recordings, together with the Falcon.” 

4. The Loss of life Star Trench Run Was the British Dambuster Raid

Lucas additional drew inspiration from the 1955 movie, “The Dam Busters,” which chronicles the audacious British raid on Germany’s strategic river dams in 1943. The dams had been closely defended by anti-aircraft hearth, a recurring theme in “Star Wars.”   

“The Loss of life Star assault is all about fight within the face of determined odds,” Graff wrote in Smithsonian Journal in 2020. “It’s a transparent homage to the epic air battles seen in films from the Nineteen Fifties and Sixties.” 

The Rebels undergo catastrophic losses, and the Loss of life Star raid, identical to in 1943, teeters getting ready to failure, “till a pivotal second when Millennium Falcon comes diving out of the ‘solar,’ a trick as previous as army aviation itself,” Graff concluded.

Can’t get sufficient of the pressure? Take a look at the Nationwide WWII Museum’s lecture, “Could the Fourth Be With You!: World Warfare II’s Affect on “‘Star Wars.’”

Curators Josh Schick and Cory Graff are to host a dialogue the totally different ways in which World Warfare II influenced the “Star Wars” saga, from its weapons and costumes to its epic galactic battle scenes.