Star Wars: Notorious Espionage

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One of the joys of being a fan of Star Wars is the fact that the saga itself has its roots in cinematic history. Lucas was a keen student of film and his films have all sorts of nods and allegories to previous works that make them a joy to watch. The cinematic legacy that Star Wars builds upon, in turn influences what the viewer sees on screen.

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Ingrid Berman, a notorious lady and American spy in Hitchcock’s classic

Lately I’ve been spending the summer months marinating in classic American films of the 20th Century, and have noticed that this process works both ways. Star Wars contains key elements and features from across a range of cinematic genres. This attribute has also been a key part of the animated series The Clone Wars and Rebels. That legacy then encourages the viewer to then watch other films through a Star Wars lens. When watching a Western or a spy film, we can skip off into flights of fancy and imagine how those films would look if set in a galaxy far, far away. What if the plot of that Western were lifted out and reimagined on Tatooine?

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Last night I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s Spy classic Notorious, set in the post-War period. For those of you that haven’t seen it, the plot rotates around two central characters; Alicia (Ingrid Bergman) the daughter of a traitorous German-American father. Her father is convicted of Nazi war crimes in the film’s opening court scene. The other central character is Cary Grant’s Devlin an intelligence expert, who recruits Alicia to help infiltrate a spy circle of her father’s Nazi friends, now living in South America. She does this by firstly reacquainting herself with, and then marrying, her old paramour Sebastian (Claude Rains) a key member of the Nazi circle. She is then exploited as an intelligence asset by the CIA until tragedy strikes when Sebastian discovers her role, at which point her fate is in his hands.

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In his notes on the film Roger Ebert, notes that “Hitchcock made the film in 1946, when the war was over but the Cold War was just beginning. A few months later, he would have made the villains Communists, but as he and Ben Hecht worked on the script, Nazis were still uppermost in their minds.

Just as Ebert notes that the plot could be placed in a Cold War setting, uppermost in my mind, upon viewing Notorious for the second time, was the fact that it would form the basis for a terrific Star Wars film set in the post-Endor reconstruction period. Even my plot synopsis of Notorious above can be adjusted only slightly in order to render a concise plot treatment of a Star Wars feature.

“…the plot rotates around two central characters; Alizia the daughter of a traitorous ex-Imperial now living on Chandrila. Her father is convicted of Imperial war crimes in the film’s opening court scene. The other central character is Devlyn a New Republic intelligence expert, who recruits Alizia to help infiltrate a spy circle of her father’s Imperial friends, now living just outside the New Republic territory. She does this by firstly reacquainting herself with, and then marrying, her old paramour Bastian a key member of the exiled Imperial circle. She is then exploited as an asset by New Republic intelligence until tragedy strikes when Bastian discovers her role, at which point her fate is in his hands.”

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Can you imagine the rich tapestry that such a plot could weave if set in a galaxy far, far away? In recent books such as Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn and Christie Golden’s Inferno Squad we have seen acts of espionage rendered beautifully in the Star Wars world. Likewise we have seen glimpses of it in the films (Luke and Han as Stormtroopers in A New Hope, Lando in Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi, Jyn and Cassian in Rogue One).

For me the time would be ripe for a fully immersive undercover spy film set in the Star Wars universe, where (much like in Inferno Squad) we see a gripping depiction of the tightrope walk required to provide services for the good of the galaxy as part of a covert cover.

Save the Dream, Save the Rebellion

Twitter – @PartisanCantina

All images subject to copyright and can be removed upon request.

2 Comments

  1. Nice one! I recently interviewed Vince Houghton, curator and historian at the International Spy Museum in Washington DC and an avid Star Wars fan. It’ll be posted soon on the Beltway Banthas podcast feed.

    Liked by 1 person

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