It’s hard to imagine George Lucas having any secret agenda for Star Wars, unless the whole thing was secretly a piece of performance art to teach us a lesson about stopping while you’re ahead. What many people don’t realize, however, is that Lucas actually has some pretty strong political opinions, and he wanted them reflected in his films. For example, the classic anti-war film Apocalypse Nowwas originally his idea, and he wanted to film it during the actual Vietnam War. As in, with real bullets flying at his real, bearded face.
No studio wanted to be responsible for Lucas’ headless cadaver, so the film ended up with Francis Ford Coppola while Lucas went to direct another, almost as politically charged film … called Star Wars.
Unwilling to give up fully on his anti-Vietnam sentiment just because he was doing a movie about spacemen fighting with laser swords, Lucas modeled Star Wars’ central conflict around what he saw as the realities of Vietnam – namely, “a large technological empire going after a small group of freedom fighters.” Yep, he basically saw the Empire as a stand-in for America, while the rebellion was just the inevitable result of the overextension of its powers. So Princess Leia was … Ho Chi Minh, we guess?
All of this subversive anti-Vietnam sentiment culminated in what’s considered the most childish movie of the original trilogy, Return Of The Jedi. The film features a small group of technologically inferior, vegetation-dwelling guerrilla fighters who manage to defeat an empire against the odds. Yes, the Ewoks are a stand-in for the Viet Cong.