03 May 2009

Movie Time

There was a list recently published of the greatest war movies of all time. On the list were classics like A Bridge on the River Kwai, as well as new movies like Black Hawk Down.

One movie I hadn't seen is a movie called The Dam Busters, in which British pilots must destroy three dams in order to flood a valley which contains many German war factories. In the climax of the movie, the British pilots are told to attack the target with special "bouncing bombs". But the approach will not be easy. They're required to maneuver down this trench and skim the surface to this point. The shaft is ray shielded, so they'll have to use proton tor...wait a minute.

Yes, George Lucas has stated that the "Trench Run" from 1977's Star Wars IV: A New Hope is greatly inspired by this scene in The Dam Busters. In fact, Lucas even copied a few lines of dialogue from that particular scene. Of course, that still doesn't explain why he puts such stupid lines like "You're softer than sand" into his movies, but never mind that.

A neat touch is the little "targeting computer"--two search lights that get closer to one another as the aircraft approaches the dam.

Star Wars fans will notice a lot of shot-for-shot similarities in this next sequence. For example, one thing that always puzzled me was that the Rebel pilots keep talking about some tower, (e.g., "a lot of fire coming from the right side of that deflection tower" "You worry about those fighters, I'll worry about the tower").

Two of the Y-Wing pilots from the first attempt at destroying the Death Star have an exchange in which they say say, "How many guns do you think, Yellow Five?" "I'd say about twenty guns, some on the surface, some on the tower." Watch the first twenty seconds of this next video and you'll see where that line comes from.

It's also interesting that the first bomb dropped on the dam doesn't destroy it, much like the first proton torpedo fired by the Rebels doesn't actually enter the Death Star's reactor shaft. Both films also feature a bomber pilot named "Hutch". (Sadly, there's no Wedge in The Dam Busters.)

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