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The World According to Star Wars

What Star Wars can teach us about the world we live in

By Cass R. Sunstein
10-minute read
Audio available
The World According to Star Wars by Cass R. Sunstein

The World According to Star Wars (2016) reveals the many life lessons to be learned from George Lucas’s Star Wars films. Discover what popular science fiction can tell us about ourselves, what Star Wars has to say about the politics of popularity and how we interpret movies and inject our favorite stories with our own ideas.

  • Star Wars fans
  • Creative people interested in popular trends
  • Political scholars

Cass R. Sunstein is a professor at Harvard University and founder of the school’s Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy. He has worked for the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and as a member of the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies. His other books include Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness and Simpler: The Future of Government.

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The World According to Star Wars

By Cass R. Sunstein
  • Read in 10 minutes
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  • Contains 6 key ideas
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The World According to Star Wars by Cass R. Sunstein
Synopsis

The World According to Star Wars (2016) reveals the many life lessons to be learned from George Lucas’s Star Wars films. Discover what popular science fiction can tell us about ourselves, what Star Wars has to say about the politics of popularity and how we interpret movies and inject our favorite stories with our own ideas.

Key idea 1 of 6

Exploring how Star Wars was created debunks a myth about the creative process.

Star Wars has become so influential and iconic – despite a science fiction world so full of classic characters and famous lines – that it sometimes seems like it’s been around forever.

But there was once a time when things like Death Stars and Wookiees were but vague ideas in the mind of its creator, George Lucas.

Indeed, these ideas were so unclear back in the early 1970s when Lucas first talked about making a Star Wars movie, that he only had a basic premise: the heroes would be aliens and the villains would be humans.

While that’s an interesting idea to start with, it bears little resemblance to the movie we know today and the all-human trio of heroic main characters: Luke, Leia and Han Solo.

Like many films, the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope, went through multiple drafts before it got to the screen. Lucas ended up writing four different drafts before he arrived at the version that went on to become the movie that’s known and loved today.

And that was just one movie. It certainly wasn’t a detailed storyline that would extend over two trilogies with a third still on its way to completion.  

Even the iconic plot twists that came in later movies, such as Darth Vader turning out to be Luke’s father or Luke and Leia being twins, weren’t there from the beginning.

Many years later, when talking to the writers of the TV show Lost, Lucas confided that he didn’t know where things were headed when the first movie came out.

Indeed, those revelations that seem so integral to the mythology of Star Wars were all the result of brainstorming sessions between Lucas and his writers.

It’s a common misconception that famous creators like Lucas give birth to worlds that are fully formed and planned out in advance; we can call this the myth of creative foresight.

But that’s not how creativity really works. The creative process is about being open and uncertain, and latching on to ideas that emerge along the way.

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