With the release of “The Force Awakens”, it seems appropriate to delve into the “inspirations” for some of the early concepts in the Star Wars movie. Star Wars was the quintessential sci-fi movie of its era, and frankly few movies have surpassed it. Now one usually does not question the origin of these things – that is until one reads the French graphical novels of Valérian: Spatio-Temporal Agent, written by Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières. The graphic novels first started appearing in 1967, with the series focusing on the adventures of the dark-haired Valérian, a spatio-temporal agent, and his redheaded female companion, Laureline, as they travel the universe through space and time. The early graphic novels are available in English from publisher Cinebook.
There are aspects of the movies which seem mysteriously similar to parts of the books – which came first. Firstly, there is the Millennium Falcon (Star Wars, 1977) – it looks very similar in design to Valerian’s XB982 astroship (Welcome to Alfolol, 1972).
The slave-girl costume worn by Laureline in World Without Stars (1972) and the costume worn by the character Princess Leia in the scenes where she is enslaved by Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi (1983).
A scene in Empire of a Thousand Planets (1971) where Valérian is encased in a liquid plastic and a scene in The Empire Strikes Back where the character Han Solo is encased in a substance called carbonite (1980).
A scene in Empire of a Thousand Planets (1971) where one of the “enlighteneds” removes his helmet to reveal his radiation burned and scarred face underneath and a scene in Return of the Jedi where the character Darth Vader removes his helmet to reveal the burned face of Anakin Skywalker.
A second scene, also from Empire of a Thousand Planets, shows the enlighteneds with their helmet on. Note the similarity in the curves of the helmet to Vaders?
The alien Shingouz from Ambassador of the Shadows (1975) and the character Watto seen in The Phantom Menace (2003).
What about the resemblance between the ships from Terran fleet in Ambassador of the Shadows (1975) and the Mon Calamari cruisers from Return of the Jedi?
And finally, the incredible likeness between the Ambassador from Point Central (Ambassador of the Shadows, 1975) , and Grand Moff Tarkin (Star Wars, 1977)?
One does have to query the similarity between the Valerian books and the Star Wars trilogy. So much so, that the authors included a scene in one of of their later comics where Valerian and Laureline meet Luke and Leia in a cantina. Leia says something to the effect of “you look very familiar to us” and Laureline responds with “oh, no, we’ve been here for years”.
If you have never read Valérian: Spatio-Temporal Agent, then order an English translation from Cinebook (there seem to be 21 issues in French). The latest English translation “The Ghosts of Inverloch” is due out in March. And watch out for summer 2017, when the movie “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” is released.