Was An Advertisement In Vogue The Inspiration For The Star Wars Opening Crawls?

from the oh,-george dept

A long time ago, in a magazine far, far too female-oriented for me to read...

It is a period of intellectual property wars. Rebellious forces, striking from the internet, have pointed out several times in the past the hypocrisy of people like George Lucas, who at times jealously guard aspects of their creation despite evidence of his own work being a mixture of borrowed culture.

During these wars, spies managed to link to one possible example of George Lucas borrowing culture for his ultimate movie opening, THE TEXT CRAWL, possibly borrowed from an advertisement that appeared in Vogue magazine several years before the first Star Wars film premiered.


Pursued by the copyright Empires, Prince Geigner raced to post the picture of the Vogue ad, uncertain evidence that even those that embrace intellectual property know deep down the way culture works throughout the galaxy....



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Jan 14th, 2013 @ 8:18pm

    George Lucas reads Vogue! Well that explains everything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Mike Uchima (profile), Jan 14th, 2013 @ 8:22pm

    Flash Gordon?

    I thought it was fairly common knowledge that the style of the Star Wars text crawl was inspired by the old Flash Gordon serials. (Presumably the Vogue ad was too.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Mike Uchima (profile), Jan 14th, 2013 @ 8:34pm

    Re: Flash Gordon?

    Here we go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGbSOEWRgu0

    Skip forward to 1:30

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Damn Buster, Jan 14th, 2013 @ 8:46pm

    Lucas stole everything

    Even Princess Leia's "Danish pastry headphones" hair style was nicked from Barnes Wallis' wife in The Dambusters.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Shmerl, Jan 14th, 2013 @ 8:46pm

    Re: Re: Flash Gordon?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    vegetaman (profile), Jan 14th, 2013 @ 8:50pm

    Re: Re: Flash Gordon?

    Yep, just came in to post this. Several Star Wars documentary features point this out pretty blatantly.

    http://youtu.be/VGbSOEWRgu0?t=1m30s

    Tim's point still stands, though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Mick Hamblen, Jan 14th, 2013 @ 10:12pm

    IIRC The Buster Crabbe Flash Gordon serials has that kind of opening scrawl.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    rorybaust (profile), Jan 14th, 2013 @ 10:45pm

    In Vogue The Inspiration For The Star Wars Opening Crawls

    In a strange type of way it explains why so many others have copied that style of credits since, for it would have been the height of hypocrisy to get caught stopping others copying what you had already.

    I think we blame the artists way to much its the lawyers whom always seem to win any copyright dispute and its them lawyers whom help construct the law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2013 @ 11:46pm

    Re:

    really reaching you are... [facepalm]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2013 @ 11:46pm

    hypocrisy?

    that is pretty well how the copyright industry works.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 12:36am

    Re: Flash Gordon?

    Yeah, that's what I was going to say - it's pretty well known that Lucas borrowed a lot of things including the text crawl from Flash Gordon (and the opening structure from Hidden Fortress, C3PO partially from Metropolis, etc.). The ad above could be argued to have inspired the "long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" wording beforehand, though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 1:44am

    it probably was, but you can bet your arse that they received nothing for the idea and the studios claimed the whole concept as their own, just as they do with everything, even what isn't theirs!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 3:56am

    In chemistry we say "Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed". Culture is based on our perception of the world, the universe. It evolves and gets awesomely complex with time (and honestly we've had thousands of years already).

    The only novelty is the current Government stated monopoly that tries to subvert this natural order. How old is it, 300 years? Hopefully it won't be around to stifle evolution of human culture much longer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 4:07am

    Based on this article, the guy that created Times New Roman must be a bazillionaire.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 4:35am

    it's a trap

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 5:09am

    Re: Re: Flash Gordon?

    Pro hint: to link directly to some point of a video on Youtube just add to the link:

    #t=90s
    #t=1m30s
    &t=90s
    &t=1m30s


    Any of the formats will work :)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGbSOEWRgu0#t=90s
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGbSOEWRgu0 &t=90s
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGbSOEWRgu0#t=1m30s
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGb SOEWRgu0&t=1m30s

    ps: The difference between "#" and "&" appears to be how it is loaded, using the "#" your video loads from the begning and using the "&" it only loads from that point on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 5:12am

    Re:

    What clap?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    The Real Michael, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 5:17am

    Re: Re: Flash Gordon?

    I was just going to bring up Kurosawa's Hidden Fortress.

    When the public borrows an idea from Hollywood, it's branded as a violation of their property rights, whereas whenever Hollywood *borrows* an idea, it's always a parody, tribute or the lame old "I've never seen this before in my life" excuse.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    The Real Michael, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 5:20am

    Re:

    "It evolves and gets awesomely complex with time..."

    It does?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 7:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Flash Gordon?

    Of course they take this attitude due to the belief that only they are entitled to profit from films. Their borrowing from films is OK as it keeps the money in the family, but if the public borrow they may make some money that should belong to Hollywood.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    Marilynn Byerly (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 7:10am

    What is and isn't copyrighted

    If you are going to discuss copyright and not be laughed at, it's a good idea to understand what you are talking about.

    IDEAS can't be copyrighted. Literary THEMES and TROPES can't be copyrighted.

    It's what you do with them that is copyrighted. So the expression of the words or story on film/media is what is copyrighted.

    Lucas did not steal anyone's copyright. He used common ideas and tropes from popular culture as well as an archetypical plot to create the first movie.

    When the original STAR WARS hit the theaters, he freely admitted that the first movie was his homage to movie serials like FLASH GORDEN.

    And, it was freaking awesome for us SF geeks who saw it in the theaters because it was so dang innovative with its use of technology, etc.

    If someone uses chunks of the film, it's within his/Disney's rights to go after them.

    So you may can him names for protecting what is his, but hypocrite isn't one of them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 7:27am

    Re: Re:

    It does?

    I believe it has too. Sure, a lot of it is rehashed over and over again, but in many ways stories that were made famous by the bard have been expanded to the point that we've seen a number of different possibilities for endings of Hamlet.

    Of course, on its base level, every movie is built off of ideas that came before, so I don't have a problem with this, except when someone comes along and claims that because they wrongly believe they came up with the idea first, they are owed payment for that idea from those who follow and use that idea forever. Lucas borrowed from culture and he's held-on tightly to the results. However, for the most part, he's been pretty good about sharing his work with others, and he's been pretty good about recognizing those who borrow from him in novel and fun ways (see the "George Lucas Select Awards", where Lucas picks the fan videos he and the public enjoyed,) and for the most part, he hasn't sued them or forced them to stop producing their work.

    While I disagree with most directors who say that the public needs the super-dooper special effects in order to pack the theater, I do agree that we the public tend to need more drawn out stories and more advanced plots than what flew in the early days of movies and TV. Back then a guy with no story or plot and no dialog could pack the theaters with a couple pratfalls and goofy facial expressions. Do that now and you're not likely to get the first level of funding needed to make the movie, and if you manage to do that, you aren't going to make it back when you release it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 7:39am

    Re:

    And still he can't write romantic dialog worth a damn.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 7:47am

    Re: What is and isn't copyrighted

    If you are going to discuss copyright and not be laughed at, it's a good idea to understand what you are talking about.

    IDEAS can't be copyrighted. Literary THEMES and TROPES can't be copyrighted.


    I don't think Tim disagrees with this, nor do I. The problem is that authors DO tend to believe that their ideas CAN be copyrighted. See...

    Sci-fi author sues Ubisoft over Assassin's Creed copyright infringement
    Harry Potter Author Sued For Copyright Infringement!
    You Canít Copyright an Idea. I Know from Experience

    Where do you draw the line? There are a number of fan films devoted to Star Wars which "live" in the Star Wars Universe, but yet draw very little if anything from the Star Wars movies themselves. Lucas has allowed them to live, but others have not. If I make a movie with a couple of ewoks (not that I have a habit of doing such a dreadful things,) I'm probably safe. But if I make a movie about a neo-fascist society building an army to take out an evil rodent race on another planet that attacks them with telephone poles, I suspect Heinlein's estate will be all over me in a heartbeat.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    The Real Michael, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 8:24am

    Re: Re: Re:

    But didn't Lucas also sell the rights to Star Wars to Disney? They're definitely not very good about sharing with the public (which is ironic considering how many of their ideas come from literature in the public domain).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    Marilynn Byerly (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 9:28am

    Re: Re: What is and isn't copyrighted

    Some authors don't understand copyright any better than do most people do.

    That's why I've chosen to educate authors and readers about copyright issues so they can make informed choices.

    That's why I read sites like this and TeleRead to correct all the misinformation out there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 10:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    But didn't Lucas also sell the rights to Star Wars to Disney?

    He did. Ironically, he said he did so in order to allow others to build on his work.

    They're definitely not very good about sharing with the public (which is ironic considering how many of their ideas come from literature in the public domain).

    Which is what I am really concerned about. Lucas has been cool with Pink Five and with other Star Wars fanfilms, many of which have been far more creative. Disney hasn't. Time will tell, but I am expecting more of a Heinlein reaction than a Lucas reaction to playing in their playground.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re: Re: What is and isn't copyrighted

    That's why I read sites like this and TeleRead to correct all the misinformation out there.

    Understood, and thanks. I think that is a noble goal that most of us try to live by.

    Still, I wish there was an easier way to do all of this instead of building off an antiquated and entirely non-human approach to making sure those who create get paid for their effort. The fact that copyright is so confusing in regards to borrowing ideas, and that trying to clear things like fan-films and derivative works is harder than just posting it online anonymously and hoping that nobody figures out, is as much of a problem as people believing that they can copyright ideas.

    As I said, where is the line drawn between borrowing ideas and derivative works, since a great deal of these works are based on ideas, and maybe even references to Star Wars, but aren't based on copying from the original story in any of the movies or even on any of the material from the various books of the Star Wars Universe. Take Chad Vader, obvious copying of "Darth Vader", but nothing from the original work other than concepts and ideas. Is it derivative, or is it just copying the ideas? Can they legally make money off of it? As someone who has written derivative works and had publishers or others get really upset, it seems to me that there has got to be a better way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Marilynn Byerly (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 11:40am

    Re: What is and isn't copyrighted

    Actually, Little Wolf, it's not hard to avoid copyright problems in fiction. All you have to do it change a few things like the names of the characters and some elements of the original world building.

    I've read a science fiction romance series that was obviously Klingons in love with the names and some changes in political elements.

    I've also read a novel that billed itself as "Harry Potter for grownups." The world and the magic was very close to Rowling's, but the characters were adults with some of them obviously based on Rowling's characters. I had to laugh when Dumbledor showed up with a name change.

    I won't even go into the number of TWILIGHT clones in the Young Adult market and now all the THIRTY SHADES novels which started as fanfic.

    None of these books had the original authors' or creators' lawyers after them for copyright violations.

    The real problem isn't copyright theft, but that readers are much more harsh about a work being so derivative.

    If you want to do well in fiction, it's best to avoid derivative unless it can be used as a marketing tool, and in most cases that means going the public domain route. For example, lots of people will happily buy a new Sherlock Holmes novel but won't even notice a mystery about a Victorian inquiry agent based in London.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    AB, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 12:21pm

    Re: In Vogue The Inspiration For The Star Wars Opening Crawls

    But it's the artists who hire the lawyers to file the law suits...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 12:32pm

    Re: Re: What is and isn't copyrighted

    Actually, Little Wolf, it's not hard to avoid copyright problems in fiction.

    It isn't hard, but why should it even be necessary. Where does "living in the world" become stealing someone elses work? Can it be done? Sure. This becomes even more shady when people are writing about fiction in this world.

    If you want to do well in fiction, it's best to avoid derivative unless it can be used as a marketing tool, and in most cases that means going the public domain route. For example, lots of people will happily buy a new Sherlock Holmes novel but won't even notice a mystery about a Victorian inquiry agent based in London.

    I have no intention on doing well in fiction, and quite frankly, I don't care if it immediately flops and no one reads it (I doubt that would happen.) I already have a career. I merely wish to share my love of a particular work with fans of the work.

    I have no intention on making any money off my work (as are most fanfic authors.) The particular author I have written fanfic for has been dead for 50 years, there is no incentive for him to write any more. Yet he left much of his world empty, and there are many of us out here who would like to add to his world (realizing that it is his world and only his world is canon.) Yet if I even put what I've written online anonymously, I risk the publisher (who bought the rights from his estate,) coming after me, even if I don't expect any money from it.

    I have my own stories too, but why should I stick with my own stories when I have as much fun living in someone elses' world. If the author is still alive, sure, it might be respectful to remain out of their world. But they've been dead for a while now and there isn't much likelihood they will be adding to it themselves any time soon.

    And while those books you mentioned haven't had problems, this isn't the norm (and given that the lawyers are now going after Fifty Shades porn-derivatives, we have meta-copyright issues since Fifty Shades was a derivative and the lawyers involved weren't for the original work.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Flash Gordon?

    Note that the Vogue one specifically says "Far away in a distant galaxy".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    Marilynn Byerly (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 4:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: What is and isn't copyrighted

    I didn't realize you were talking strictly fan fiction.

    Here's a tutorial I wrote on the subject if you're interested.

    http://mbyerly.blogspot.com/2008/03/fanfic-and-copyright.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 5:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: What is and isn't copyrighted

    Here's a tutorial I wrote on the subject if you're interested.

    Thanks. I seem to remember reading this before, and I believe Mike had an article on it at one time.

    I was talking about fanfic, fanfilms, and everything else fan*. I agree with you that it is very risky, given today's climate, to do without the author's permission, but I disagree that this is the way it should be (for the reasons above.)

    If anything, fanfic doesn't hurt the author, and in many cases it helps when done right. George Lucas isn't dumb and he knew that fanfilms such as pink five, Troopers, and I.M.P.S. didn't steal from him, but got folks interested in what he was selling. He even gave awards out each year to those fanfilms that he enjoyed. I only hope Disney, who now owns the franchise is as open to fanfilms as he was.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This