Clone Wars Weekly: A Kurosawa Nod

Clone Wars Weekly: A Kurosawa Nod

When we last looked in our Ahsoka and Anakin, the latter’s recklessness turned them from the calvary to the chased. They and fellow Jedi Aayla Secura ended up stranded on an Outer Rim planet, populated by a total pacifist race called the Lurmen. What one may not realize is this episode, entitled “The Dedenders of Peace,” has a two-fold Japanese connection.

The first, as many now know, is the casting of Star Trek stalwart George Takei as new (to the series, of course) Sith villain Lok Durd. As anyone who’s read his three-part interview (part three coming later today) this week knows, episode director Stewert Lee took advantage of Takei’s well-“rounded” basso voice to make Durd obscenely obese. What Takei forgot to mention is supervising editor and episode scriptwriter made Durd viciously ruthless. He’s on the Lurmen planet to test a Sith equivalent of the neutron bomb. The Lurmen - being absolute pacifists - just make his job a lot easier.

Naturally, Aayla, Ahsoka and the now recovering Anakin have to do something about this.

That’s where the second Japanese connection comes in. For this episode the Force himself, George Lucas, went back to his roots for inspiration; Akira Kurosawa.

Fans must remember one of Lucas’ biggest influences is the masterful director. The true first Star Wars film drew a lot of its inspiration from one of Kurosawa’s Shakespeare adaptations, The Hidden Fortress. For this episodes, Lucas and writer Henry Gilroy drew heavily the venerable director’s best known film, The Seven Samurai.

“It’s about making choices,” Lee says. “The Lurmen chose this pacifist way of life, and the Jedi chose to defend them whether they want it or not. The Jedi must show the younger generation of Lurmen that you have to defend what you love.”

“I’ve always been intrigued by pacifists during wartime – people who will do anything they can to avoid fighting, yet are inexorably drawn into a battle against their will and without choice,” says Gilroy. “It’s about choosing sides or choosing death. You have the Jedi willing to sacrifice their lives to defend innocents who don’t really want to defend themselves or to be defended. I think that’s an interesting premise.”

As it turns out, the Kurosawa influence truly steps up the content of this episode. It sets up a dynamic where the Jedi challenge the Lurmen about their total pacifist ways. At the same time, the Lurmen, particularly their tribal elder, has some valid points about how all it seems the Jedi do is leave a trail of death and destruction in their own wake.

As Takei points out in his interview, these are the kind of grand themes that make the best space fantasy.

“The reason is I consider the genre Star Wars to be is space fantasy,” Takei said. “Star Trek is science fiction. It’s issues-oriented. With Clone Wars, I’m starting to see a merging happening. It’s using fantasy as metaphor for bigger issues that are relevant for our times. It’s dealing with morality and ethics. “

And let’s hope we see a lot more of Lok Durd in the foreseeable future.

Related:

Clone Wars Weekly 20: Jedi Crash  

Clone Wars Weekly 19: More With the Weequay  

Clone Wars Weekly 18: Dooku's Day  

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