See The Source Of STAR WARS

A feature-length video presents STAR WARS mashed up with everything that inspired it.

Star Wars: Kitbashed from Michael Heilemann on Vimeo.

Michael Heilemann has been working on the ebook Kitbashed for four years. It's a - hold on. I'll just let him describe it: 

It's an exhaustive analysis of the sources of inspiration that led to the creation of Star Wars, covering everything from Lucas's earliest student films, european cinema of the time, westerns (american and italian), samurai films, war films, comic books, artists, composers, and so on and so forth, up to and including the release of the film that changed the world.

While also meant as a map of the influences that were drawn on to create the worlds of Star Wars, it's at the same time a deep dive into the creative process and a unique look at how the boy who grew up with Flash Gordon, became the man who created one of the most popular entertainment franchises of all time.

It's done when it's done.

In conjunction with the project, he's created a feature-length Kitbashed movie that shows Star Wars alongside its myriad influences in film and television, opening with the intro text crawls of Forbidden Planet and a Flash Gordon serial, and ending with footage from Lucas' own TXH 1138 - and a whole bunch of stuff in between. Watch the film in full above, and read more about Heilemann's project at the Kitbashed website.

Here's what Heilemann has to say about creating the film solely as a research application for his book, recent viewers' complaints about the length and the 'inane needs" of the Internet age:


For the past few days the full-length Star Wars: Kitbashed has been doing the rounds generally to a fantastic reception. It's odd to me in a sense, because it was always more of a 'work print' for me to perform my research with, and to harvest the occasional shorter scene or sequence comparison from for use on this site. That I turned it into something that could be seen by others was more of an afterthought. For me it was always the research in itself that was the prize, and the resulting book (which I'll hopefully finish before I keel over). In the context of it as it exists then, it's meaning is not just what things Lucas and his team brought over into it, but the very fact that film history itself is rich and deep! Before ILM made X-Wings fly, the Brits filmed giant Lancaster bombers flying low over the water for real! It's about taking a longer look at how model shots have evolved over the years and how the same kinds of shots have been used for decades to great effect. It's about how John Wayne almost poked a horse's eye out with a spear, he was so busy acting disgruntled! It's about that awe-inspiring final shot in THX 1138, which quite frankly should be in an art gallery. It's not just about what's in Star Wars, it's about showing love and appreciation for all these other sources. I could have made a super-fast cut of the Battle of Yavin, but first of all it wouldn't show you where I don't believe it used inspiration, only where it did, and secondly I couldn't bring myself to cut down that sequence because it remains to this day one of the greatest pieces of filmmaking ever.

Ironically, one of the few criticisms it does receive is that it's too long. Which is partially humorous to me of course, because if the people who bring this up as a flaw had more than a fly's attention span, they would find the host of other videos that are all short and succinct, right there on the Vimeo account. But they don't, because they already said their piece and sped on to the next 'link of the day'. That the video is embedded and people watch the first 20 seconds, skip around in it and then proceed to leave their comment also doesn't help.

Kitbashed is not about brevity. It's about lengthiness, depth and context. For those seeking a quick thrill; a 30s comparison between Star Wars and The Hidden Fortress, the Internet already has your inane needs covered. Top 10 Crazy Things You Didn't Know About Star Wars! It's out there, go right ahead and tweet it. I started work on Kitbashed in early 2010, The Searchers comparison segment of the video was the first thing I did in fact, and I've worked on it ever since. This is not auto-tuned news, it's not a Buzzfeed article or an animated GIF. The world has plenty of those already. What the world needs now is less brevity and more context.

What's more, how do you even show how some of the more abstract sources of inspiration in Lucas's life went on to influence the film? They don't necessarily have visuals that can be shown together and form any kind of meaningful sequence?

I guess you'll have to read...

PS: Regarding the things that are not in the cut, it's simply a matter of me finding the time (and ironically inspiration). Yes, I know about Triumph des Willens, yes I know about Silent Running too. But trust me when I say this: There are more sources of inspiration than anyone knows about, including me. I keep finding new ones (that I can and do substantiate), sometimes because I stumble upon them, sometimes because people send them to me. Besides, whether intentionally or not, you're making a hell of an accusation by showing something like Triumph des Willens and saying "Lucas totally got inspired by this" without adding some context.