Thirty years after moviegoers first traveled to a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas’ space epic remains an international phenomenon. Audiences around the world have responded passionately to the story of Anakin Skywalker, his son Luke, and the villains, heroines, and sidekicks that surround them. The reason is simple: the story of Star Wars is universal, and rooted in the mythology and political history, of our entire planet.
Now, Star Wars: Legacy takes a profound look at the serious subtext behind Lucas’ fantasy milestone. Guiding us through the journey are a diverse mix of politicians, historians, authors and artists. They include Tom Brokaw, Nancy Pelosi, Dan Rather, Newt Gingrich, author Camille Paglia, filmmaker Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings), J.J. Abrams (co-creator of Lost), Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and many more.
ACT ONE – THE HERO’S JOURNEY
America, the early 1970s. A time of political upheaval and pessimism. Struggling filmmaker George Lucas, whose own spiritual and political values were formed during the questioning decade of the 1960s, decides to “follow his bliss,” to quote author and mythology expert Joseph Campbell, and create a new, hopeful mythology on film to counter the Watergate- and Vietnam-era cynicism he sees all around him.
Drawing on the mythic archetypes Lucas finds in Campbell’s pioneering work, he spends two years creating the story of Anakin Skywalker – a gifted Jedi-in-training whose failure to master his arrogance, desire for power, and fear allow him to be seduced to the Dark Side…but who is ultimately redeemed by his son, Luke Skywalker.
We begin our exploration of Star Wars by discovering what heroes influenced the creation of Luke – among them Odysseus, Jason (leader of the Argonauts), Frodo, and King Arthur, whose sword Excalibur foreshadows Luke’s lightsaber.
ACT TWO - THE DARK SIDE
In Darth Vader, Lucas created one of the most powerful examples of what psychologist Carl Jung called “the Shadow archetype” – the shadow self – a figure that represents the darkest impulses inside us all. In this act, we focus on the character of Vader (and his real-world inspirations) and explore the meaning of the Dark Side.
ACT THREE - THE WIZARD
Most classic myths contain a sage… a wise elder, usually male, who gives guidance to the hero – often with help from magical powers. In this act, we survey the precursors of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Qui-Gon Jinn. What do these figures represent? What is the significance of their use of magic? And what were the inspirations for Lucas’ much-discussed spiritual creation, The Force?
ACT FOUR – PIRATES, DAMSELS AND JESTERS
Joining Luke on his hero’s quest are figures that support and help define him: Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo. First in this act, we explore the mythic tradition of the Princess – and see how Lucas shrewdly re-defined the damsel in distress as a modern, independent woman; we also explore the character of Han Solo, the cynical loner with a secret heart of gold. Finally, we trace the origins of Star Wars’ “everyman” comic characters like C3PO and R2D2 back to Greek and Shakespearean clowns.
ACT FIVE – MONSTERS
In every tale of classical mythology, the hero’s journey is blocked by a series of obstacles. In Star Wars, they are monsters – both frightening and symbolic. The space slug that swallows the Millennium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back is traced back to the Biblical tale of Jonah and the Whale, a tale of metaphorical death and rebirth. Luke’s battle with the Rancor is one of many examples of a David & Goliath theme that runs through Star Wars – in which the moral underdog defeats a giant but evil foe.
ACT SIX – “THIS IS HOW LIBERTY DIES…”
In the latest Star Wars trilogy, George Lucas took a daring step beyond classical mythological origins to explore a fascinating political drama. In this act, we explore the violent real-world history Lucas drew on for his story, from ancient Rome to the French Revolution to Nazi Germany (which gave the Empire’s “stormtroopers” their name).
ACT SEVEN – THE BATTLE
In its most heroic sequences, Star Wars again echoes conflicts fought here in our own world. In this exhilarating act, scenes from Star Wars’ legendary space battles are contrasted with footage from 20th century warfare – especially World War Two – to show how Lucas drew from real battles to create his heroes’ aerial dogfights with the Empire.
ACT EIGHT – ORDER RESTORED: THE UTOPIAN VISION
The fall of the Empire is celebrated across the galaxy…and in these final minutes of the series, we are given a glimpse of the utopian society that represents Lucas’ ultimate vision for humanity – one in which all forms of life can peacefully co-exist. In this act, our experts discuss: what kind of society is Star Wars advocating?
ACT NINE – THE CIRCLE IS COMPLETE
Star Wars’ influence has permeated virtually every aspect of our culture: political, sociological, religious, technological. In this final act, our experts weigh in on how and why Star Wars has resonated throughout our world – from the Reagan-era “Star Wars” defense system to the ways in which Star Wars has become the mythological touchstone of its time.
Star Wwars: Legacy is produced by Prometheus Entertainment in association with Lucasfilm Ltd. Executive Producer is Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Kevin Burns (“Empire of Dreams,” “Look, Up in the Sky!”).
(Two-hour television special)