Star Wars = Apocalypse Now?
Posted by metaphorical on 5 December 2006
Star Wars fans, is this generally known?
I’m reading The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film, by Michael Ondaatje.
Ondaatje is the novelist who wrote The English Patient, as well as Anil’s Ghost, Running in the Family, etc. Murch is a film and sound editor who went to film school with George Lucas at USC, in the 1960s. (Francis Coppola was across town at UCLA.)
Murch talks about his film and/or sound editing on such pictures as The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Apocalypse Redux, American Graffiti, THX 1138, and The English Patient, through which he and Ondaatje met. The “John” in the passage below refers to John Milius, who wrote the original Apocalypse Now screenplay.
Originally George Lucas was going to direct [Apocalypse Now], so it was a project that George and John developed for Zoetrope. That was back in 1969. Then when Warner Bros. cancelled the financing for Zoetrope, the project was abandoned for a while. After the success of American Graffiti in 1973, George wanted to revive it, but it was still too hot a topic, the war was still on, and nobody wanted to finance something like that. So George considered his options: What did he really want to say in Apocalypse Now? The message boiled down to the ability of a small group of people to defeat a gigantic power simply by the force of their convictions. And he decided, All right, if it’s politically too hot as a contemporary subject, I’ll put the essence of the story in outer space and make it happen in a galaxy long ago and far away. The rebel group were the North Vietnamese, and the Empire was the United States. And if you have the force, no matter how small you are, you can defeat the overwhelmingly big power. Star Wars is George’s transubstantiated version of Apocalypse Now.
— The Conversations, p.70