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Similarities between Dune and Star Wars Page 1

Tim Weber, English advanced course 2002-2004

Similarities between Dune and Star Wars
by Tim Weber

“I know nothing comparable to it except Lord of the Rings.” – Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, about Dune This quotation may be correct concerning the complexity of the world created by the author, but not regarding the story line. Actually there are several sources of inspiration for Frank Herbert, for example Greek and Muslim mythology and, of course, other science fiction novels by authors like Isaac Asimov and E.E. Smith. Some characters and story elements in Dune were also borrowed from Frank Herbert’s life (e.g. the Bene Gesserit refer to his mother and his ten matriarchal aunts, all being Jesuits; hear how close Gesserit comes to Jesuit?) or the real world. Herbert got inspired for Paul Muad’Dib by T.E. Lawrence (also known as Lawrence of Arabia) who led the Bedouins against the German-backed Turks (depicted by the Harkonnens) in World War One. There are hundreds of other references which are described on the web sites you can find in the appendix. But not everyone is as creative as Herbert, who at least diversified his sources. Since years there are ongoing discussions between fans of Dune and George Lucas’ Star Wars about to what extent the latter is a “rip-off” of Herbert’s work. I must admit that I am Dune fan and for that reason the position of the Star Wars fans will be not really well represented in this text. To be honest, I think that every person who thought at least a bit about the subject has to agree that Star Wars, at least the trilogy without the recent movies, is nothing but a thinly disguised carbon copy of Dune. The novel Dune was first published in 1965, Star Wars (the movie featuring Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford) came out in 1977. This fact is important, since it disarms people arguing that Dune actually was the copy. In this text I will prove that without the excellent work of Frank Herbert there would be no multi-million dollar Star Wars merchandise empire, starting with Yoda mugs and ending with eBay “original lightsaber from Episode I” auctions having closing bids of over a thousand dollars. In fact everything George Lucas did was to take Dune, modify it slightly and selling it as his own creation.

Similarities between Dune and Star Wars Page 2

Tim Weber, English advanced course 2002-2004

The easiest thing would be to list the differences in a two-column table and let it take effect, because the analogy is in most cases quite astonishing and obvious. But I am supposed to write a text, therefore I am going to write a text. Let us start by comparing the main characters in the two opuses. Luke Skywalker and Paul Atreides are the most similar characters. Both are quite young and the sons of powerful men, have biblical names and are linked biologically to the “bad guy” (Baron Harkonnen is Paul’s grandfather, Darth Vader alias Anakin Skywalker is Luke’s father). While Paul’s father dies on the desert planet Arrakis, Luke’s adoptive parents die on the desert planet Tatooine, both being murdered by the enemy. Paul and Luke discover the special powers they have as the “chosen ones” on their respective planets and fall in love with a mystery girl they never met. Both rebel against the current rulers of the universe and both win. Then there are the things Han Solo and Duncan Idaho, both ladies’ men and best friends of the hero, have in common. They are fighting for the “good side”, but are “bad boys” in a way (e.g. Han’s dubious deals and Duncan’s “drunken scene” at the beginning of Dune). Gurney Halleck is Paul’s mentor and first teacher, Obi-Wan Kenobi is Luke’s. Although Obi-Wan dies in the movie, he continues to help and advise Luke through visions. Gurney, thought to be dead, returns to do the same with Paul after he learned that he is still alive. Both are known to the parents of their charges, are expert fighters and...
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