Galactic Déjà Vu: 25 Themes and Ideas That The Force Awakens Seems to Have Borrowed from the Original Star Wars Trilogy
Although The Force Awakens has had overwhelmingly positive reviews, like any film, it’s not without its critics. One of the main criticisms the film has received is its blatant call backs and shared themes with the films of the original Star Wars trilogy, causing many critics to refer to the film as a “rehash” of the originals. Read on for a breakdown of 25 themes and ideas from the original Star Wars films that seem to have shoehorned their way into the recent sequel.
1. How big is that thing anyway?
The film opens with a massive Star Destroyer over a vast desert world which mimics the opening of A New Hope. Despite the fact that the Resurgent-class Finalizer is roughly twice the size of the Imperial I-class Devastator and that the ship comes in to view at a different angle, the shot is similar in how it introduces the ship and conveys its massive size to the audience. The shot of the troop transports leaving the ship is also reminiscent of the opening shot of the probe droids being launched from the Star Destroyer at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back.
2. Old guy in a little hut…
The first lines of the film are spoken by an elderly man named Lor San Tekka, who used to be quite the adventurer, but now lives a simple life in a hut on a desert planet. He is also played by a fairly notable actor (Max Von Sydow) much in line with Alec Guinness’ portrayal of Obi-Wan in A New Hope.
3. Stormtroopers Attack!
In a manner similar to the first time the world ever saw these guys in action back in 1977, the new and improved First Order stormtroopers certainly know how to make an entrance as well. Death and mayhem ensue upon their arrival.
4. Enter the dark and imposing main villain…
Kylo Ren shows up in classic Vaderesque fashion after the initial assault, carrying a definite weight of authority and menace. Although younger and more hot-headed than the original dark lord, Kylo Ren does tap in to a lot of those Vader vibes we remember from the original Star Wars films.
5. This guy means business…
Kylo Ren kills old man Tekka after he refuses to divulge requested information. Although he does so in a much more violent fashion, his actions mirror Vader’s disposal of Captain Antilles aboard the Tantive IV in A New Hope.
6. Help me, BB-8, you’re my only hope…
Poe Dameron, like Princess Leia with R2-D2 in A New Hope, places important information in BB-8, an astromech droid, who quickly becomes not only the most lovable, but the most pivotal character in the story.
7. She lied to us! Poe, not so much…
Poe, also like Princess Leia, is captured, interrogated, and tortured for information. However, unlike the force-sensitive princess, Poe cracked under Kylo Ren’s mental invasion.
8. She’s not such a bad pilot herself…
When we are introduced to Rey – the film’s main hero – we find her living out a simple but harsh existence on a backwater desert planet, much like Luke Skywalker before her. She’s also a great mechanic and pilot and displays a strong affinity for the Force.
9. Oh, I know these guys…uh…Jawas…no…Sandpeople! A Teedo? What’s that?
BB-8 is captured by a Teedo, an indigenous desert alien who is kind of like a Jawa crossed with a Tusken Raider that rides on a creature called a Luggabeast, which is pretty much a dewback with a miniature sandcrawler attached to its face.
10. What about that orange one?
As fate would have it, BB-8 and Rey cross paths on the desert world of Jakku, much like Luke and the droids Artoo and Threepio on Tatooine in A New Hope. With the help of some friends they meet along the way, the pair get off of the desert world and set out to find the Resistance base.
11. It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 14 parsecs…or was it 12?
Like the Empire in A New Hope, the First Order searches the desert planet for the droid, which escapes with our heroes on board the Millennium Falcon, the same ship that rocketed Luke away from his desert home all those years ago. Rey refers to the Falcon as “garbage” mimicking Luke’s “What a piece of junk!” comment in ANH. The TIE fighter chase also touches on the nostalgia of the Death Star escape scene from ANH as well.
12. Where’d they dig up that old fossil?
Han Solo serves as the Obi-Wan of TFA. This time around, he’s the old guy that introduces the young heroes to the truth of the Force (ironically in the same room of the same ship where he once scoffed at the “hokey religion”). The scenes on board the Falcon include many ANH references, such as the training remote and the dejarik (holochess) board.
13. Dianogas on steroids!
Finn gets attacked by a large tentacled creature called a rathtar, which evokes the memory of Luke getting attacked by the dianoga in the detention level garbage masher in A New Hope. When on Starkiller base later in the film, Han Solo mentions throwing Phasma down a garbage chute to dispose of her, once again calling back to this scene from the original film.
14. Frenemies Forever
Although the relationship is very different, and the mutual respect for one another is lacking, Kylo Ren and General Hux – like Vader and Tarkin before them – together represent two aspects of First Order leadership. Although both are efficient and feared leaders within the Order, they could not be more diametrically opposed in their ideals and methods. Ren relies on the mystical as he employs the dark side of the Force, whereas the more practical Hux relies on the strength of the Order’s soldiers, weapons, and technology.
15. Femme Fettale
Phasma is kind of like Boba Fett, and maybe even cooler looking, yet she is somehow so much less important…
16. Ladies and gentlemen! I give you King Snoke! The Eighth Wonder of the World!
Oh, nevermind…it’s just a hologram…
Supreme Leader Snoke’s introduction echos that of Palpatine in ESB as he appears via hologram before his apprentice.
17. Name That Creature!
The cantina scene at Maz’s castle is very reminiscent of the Mos Eisley cantina from ANH. A deleted scene from the film (included in the novelization) has Unkar Plutt, who followed the Falcon to Takodana, getting his arm ripped off by Chewbacca, which would have given us that severed arm in a Cantina cliché and fulfilled Han Solo’s prophetic words about a Wookiee’s temper at the same time.
18. Judge me by my eyes, do you?
Maz Kanata, a diminuative force-strong eccentric alien, cryptically teaches our heroes a little something about the ways of the Force. Hmm…where have we seen that before?
19. Move along…move along…
Rey pulls a Jedi mind trick on an unsuspecting stormtrooper similar to Obi-Wan in ANH. Although the Jedi mind trick has been used in other Star Wars films and is a legitimate force ability, this scene in itself did feel like a call back to that scene with the stormtroopers at the Mos Eisley spaceport.
20. All that sneaking around…
Rey’s attempted escape from Starkiller Base echos Obi-Wan’s solo adventure aboard the Death Star in ANH.
21. Haven’t we been here before?
Many of the locations themselves evoke a lot of that OT nostalgia while putting a new spin on the environments. What if there was a planet that was even further from the bright center of the universe than Tatooine? Apparently, there is. It’s called Jakku. What if Hoth and the Death Star had a love child? They did. It’s called Starkiller Base. What happens when you take Jabba’s palace, give it a more classic medieval castle vibe, move it to a lush green planet that is kind of like an Alderaan/Endor hybrid, fill it with the scoundrels and ne’er-do-wells of the Mos Eisley Cantina, and put a female Yoda in charge? Well, I believe I have just described Takodana. And what is it with rebel bases on forest worlds? First Yavin IV…now D’Qar?
22. Death Star Version 3.0
The attack on Starkiller base is very similar to the attack on the previous Death Stars. After Han Solo’s successful mission to take out the shield (sound familiar?) a hot shot pilot takes out the installation by hitting its only weak point. Apparently, all big superweapons have a major weakness that is fairly accessible and its destruction is enough to take out the entire thing. Han Solo even cracks a joke about this earlier in the film. A couple of pilots get shot down in an abbreviated version of the trench run from the first Death Star assault, and our heroes fly off into the proverbial sunset as the installation is destroyed. They couldn’t have been more on the nose with this one.
23. Here’s to hoping Han Solo somehow becomes more powerful than we can possibly imagine…
The main hero’s mentor dies at the hands of a dark lord who happens to be his son, echoing Obi-Wan’s death at the hands of Vader, who was at one time like a son and then a brother to the old man.
24. Join me! And, together we can rule the galaxy as…cousins? Siblings? Who is that girl anyway?
The lightsaber duel between Rey and Kylo Ren was similar to the ESB duel between Vader and Luke. Although the actual fight and the location were a lot different, you still have a novice force user taking on a well-trained enemy who attempts to convince the young hero to join him as his apprentice. The scene where Rey and Ren are reaching through the Force for the lightsaber in the snow was also very reminiscent of the wampa cave scene in ESB when Luke uses the force to draw the weapon to his hand.
25. That wizard is just a crazy old man…
Luke’s appearance at the end of the film was very similar to Obi-Wan in ANH. Luke is also living in isolation, much like Yoda in ESB. I expect Luke will serve a role similar to that of the little Jedi master in Episode 8 and beyond.
While I agree with the many critics that it certainly did feel like a greatest hits compilation of the original trilogy at times, I actually thought that (most of the time) this approach worked to the film’s advantage. What did you think about these call backs and shared themes? What other ones did you notice? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Jordan Pate is Co-Lead Editor and Senior Writer for Star Wars News Net, of which he is also a member of the book and comic review team. He loves all things Star Wars, but when he’s not spending time in the galaxy far far away, he might be found in our own galaxy hanging out in Gotham City or at 1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center, NY.