Viewing “Star Wars” without looking into any historical meaning, it isn’t about the past but about the future. This George Lucas creation, made into award-winning film and TV series, uses futurism if you look at the visuals, cinematography, character outfits, and themes. Can it also be categorized as a historical movie? History tells about the past, more than what’s about to happen in the future. Does the worldwide phenomenal sage also have historical references?
There are claims which reveal there are historical allusions from Nazi Germany with “Star Wars.” One of these was revealed in a Forward.com Noah Berlatsky piece. The following question would probably be whether this is a positive allusion or these are negative connotations to Nazi Germany. They work together with the anti-Nazi bloc and pertain to them as evil. He said, “The Empire’s evil army of Stormtroopers is a direct reference to Nazi Stormtroopers, while the streamlined Imperial military uniforms reference German Nazi dress. According to costume designer John Mollo, Lucas wanted the Empire soldiers to look ‘efficient, totalitarian, fascist.’”
Now, it is all up to you to look at it this way, since, from the very beginning, no one told you to read “Star Wars” with the Nazis in your mind, right? Generally speaking, the Empire in the franchise is obviously a totalitarian way of governing, and the characters here serve as villains in the movie. They succeeded in portraying the Nazis badly, well, serving the anti-Nazis, through the visuals and narratives, not to mention the genocidal tendencies of this Empire. But there were a few misses if this is their objective.
The story in the franchise has a huge portion devoted to elite forces of assault answerable to the Galactic Empire and its stormtroopers. These white-clad fighters were compared to the defenders of the Nazi Party in the early 1900s. There are even photos that reveal similarities and parallels between the uniforms of the defenders, known as the Imperial officers, and the stormtroopers. Even the helmet of villain Darth Vader resembles these Nazi uniforms during the war. Remember the ascension of Palpatine from the chancellor to the emperor? Give your chills right here because there are allusions and mirrors with Adolf Hilter’s political maneuver from being the chancellor to a dictator.
There are historians who even focus their eyes on the scene where Princess Leia awarded medals to Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, who you know were heroes of the rebellion. It happened during the last clips and scenes of the original 1977 “Star Wars.” This scene was compared to the large rallies of the Nazi supporters in Nuremberg, which you can visually witness in the 1935 propaganda movie “Triumph of the Will” by Leni Riefenstahl.
‘Star Wars’ And World War II
To give an overview of what Nazi Germany is, this group is the name used to refer to Germany in the years between 1933 to 1945, during which under the leadership of Adolf Hilter and this Nazi Party, the country came under a dictatorship. Under the rule, this European nation went to adapt a totalitarian state where the government controls and sieges nearly all aspects of life.
There were several depictions of this time in history, both positive and negative. It was called the German Workers’ Party in 1919, and this group championed belief for one’s country, promoting pride for Germany and anti-Semitism, and also expressed strong disagreement for the Treaty of Versailles, the World War I peace accords in the early 1900s and urged the country to make reparations and concessions that were said to already hurting several interests. Hilter became part of the group before ascending to the leadership throne in 1921. He became Germany’s chancellor in 1933 and the Nazi group he was leading assumed dictatorial powers. The Nazi party did not survive in terms of power after the Second World War, but was in fact, outlawed and many of its top officials were convicted of high crimes, including the murder of European Jews during their height of power.
You should be thinking about the genocides of the Death Star in “Star Wars,” comparable to the Holocaust. It doesn’t end here. In the 2002 movie “Attack of the Clones,” the installment showed clone army marches in formations reminiscent of the marches at Nuremberg. Also, in the “Rogue One” edition in 2017, the characters of the Rebellion’s Cassian Andor attempted to tell Jyn Erso he was just obeying orders, with whom he struggled in the revolution. The same scenario was seen at the Nuremberg trials with Nazi soldiers arguing they were only following orders.
In the same film, the opening sequence showed Jyn Erso’s family visited by officials from the Imperial with other members, which is a parallelism to a Nazi-inspired movie “Inglorious Basterds” by Quentin Tarantino, where a family of Jews was visited by Nazi officials. Instead of hiding under floorboards, Jyn hid into a ground hole. Also, in “Attack Of The Clones,” Anakin Skywalker who would be Darth Vader murdered groups of people, including women and children, and this reflected the genocide rhetoric of the Nazi.
This authoritarian regime, Nazi Germany, existed alongside the events during the Second World War. Film critics and historians were successful to read the “Star Wars” movies in-depth to spot allegorical representations in the war. Another piece published on Medium revealed, “Virtually everything about the Galactic Empire appears to be lifted from the rise and fall of the Third Reich — from Emperor Palpatine’s rise to power through a weak democratic system to the Albert Speer-eque architecture of the Death Star and the Waffen SS-style uniforms of the imperial officers.”
Even the landmark character of Yoda was an allusion to the Second World War. Here’s how. There are studies that say his physical attributes would be patterned after one of the most famous personalities of the 20th century, the century of the wars, Albert Einstein. Yoda was a polymath in the “Star Wars” story and so was Einstein; they were often quotable and every after recent films, their sayings would circulate and trend online; both were leaders of the oppressed; both aspired to protect the “greater good”; and both were forced into exile by their respective regimes. Was it also Yoda who said, “Wars don’t make one great”?
Did you know even Imperial Japan of this time was seen in the “Star Wars” movie? Simpl remember the helmet worn by General Tojo-esque, samurai-inspired, and how this character in history personified Darth Vader. The George Lucas villain was very puritan and traditionalist in principle, similar to this Emperor who supported ancient beliefs. More World War II snippets were seen from the cockpit of Millennium Falcon, identical to a wartime’s B-29 Superfortress; and the character of Admiral Ackbar from “Return Of The Jedi” who was alluded to Winston Churchill, another important figure in war history.
More hidden historical references
During a 2005 interview with Boston Globe, Lucas admitted the psychological bases of “Star Wars” are “mythological” while the “political and social bases, historical.” There should be no Darth Vader in non-fiction, nor Amidala, so it is impossible for this “historical” from the creator to be about the future. Surprisingly, there are more historical references.
- Richard Nixon. Other than Hilter, former U.S. president Richard Nixon was also seen from the character of Emperor Palpatine. During a story conference in the 80s, Lucas explained how Palpatine was a politician, and then mentioned Nixon. At least, it was his view of Nixon during the story con.
- Vietnam War. During the 1970s when the Vietnam War happened, there were conflicts between insurgents and global superpowers. The pattern was Viet Cong, and then the furry forest dwellers Eworks were created. They challenged superior powders with their primitive weaponry.
- Knights Templar. The time of the Knights Templar was echoed in the Jedi, from their cloaks to the way they were headed by a council. Even during the Great Jedi Purge from Emperor Palpatine’s orders, you’ll see parallelisms to how King Philip IV of France issued an order to destroy the Knights Templar and have them arrested, tortured, and executed for heresy.
- Ancient Rome. Imperial Rome’s architecture was visualized on the planet Naboo on “Star Wars.” If you recall chariot races in the movie “Ben-Hur,” the pod race in the installment “The Phantom Menace” resembled this one.
About ‘Star Wars’
The “Star Wars” is a franchise that speaks of the adventures of its characters set in a galaxy “far, far away.” In this world, humans and alien species exist with “droids” or robots, aiding them in their way of life. It is now made into movies, television series, short films, pop culture items, souvenirs, theme parks, and more. The fictional timeline is divided into ages: Republic, Rebellion, and Resistance.