Michael Heilemann

Silent Running

How Douglas Trumbull's 1972 bleeding heart, science fiction classic yielded the humanity of R2-D2 and robots everywhere.

Michael Heilemann
Silent Running
Michael Heilemann

The New Cinema (1968)

A half-hour long unaired TV special about the upcoming student film scene from the late 1960s, which includes a notable early interview with Coppola and Lucas, seemingly from location on The Rain People.

Michael Heilemann
The New Cinema (1968)
Michael Heilemann

The Mead-llenium Falcon

One of the long-standing unanswered questions on my todo list for Kitbashed is a thorough history of the Millenium Falcon. There are several reasons I haven't written it yet, one of them is my being unable to bridge the disconnect between the various versions of the Falcon, including the 'Mead-llenium' version.

Michael Heilemann
The Mead-llenium Falcon
Michael Heilemann

Cantwell's Concept Art

Thanks to an insightful interview with Colin Cantwell by Jason DeBord of the Original Prop Blog, we now not only have some long-wanted insights into Colin Cantwell's role on Star Wars, but to everyone's astonishment, even some never before seen concept art. In fact, not just never before seen, but never before talked about! Cantwell's pieces were auctioned off this weekend in California; hopefully these were documented and will end up in a second edition of The Making of Star Wars some time in the future.

Michael Heilemann
Cantwell's Concept Art
Michael Heilemann

Edward Summer

Edward Summer passed away in late 2014. He is perhaps best known for his comic book store, the first of its kind in New York, through which he went into business with George Lucas. He became my friend over the past few years. He will be missed.

Michael Heilemann
Edward Summer
Michael Heilemann

Context vs. Brevity

A few choice words on the purpose of this project, and on the general consumption habits of modern media. In short: Kitbashed takes the time Kitbashed takes.

Michael Heilemann
Context vs. Brevity
Michael Heilemann

Kitbashed: The Film

Presented in its entirety is here my 'workprint' of Star Wars with a wide variety of its inspirational ancestry intercut and annotated.

Michael Heilemann
Kitbashed: The Film
Michael Heilemann

The Score

To this day, the most financially successful film score of all time, and arguably one of the most influential, John Williams' throwback to romantic adventure films of yore became a defining part of Star Wars, as much as if not more than any other part of the phenomenon. It too borrowed from the past.

Michael Heilemann
The Score
Michael Heilemann

Openings

Short, but sweet mashup video that looks at the opening of Star Wars and its bevy of influences.

Michael Heilemann
Openings
Michael Heilemann

The Searchers

When it was first released in 1956, John Ford's latest western The Searchers didn't set the world on fire. But it wasn't long before it started its long crawl back into the limelight. And by the late 60s a new generation of film makers, including George Lucas, found renewed inspiration in it.

Michael Heilemann
The Searchers
Michael Heilemann

Valérian and Laureline

Following the adventures of spatio-temporal agents Valérian and Laureline as they hurdle through time and space, righting wrongs and getting out of tight jams, Mézières and Christin's trend-setting comic series was lightyears ahead of its time.

Michael Heilemann
Valérian and Laureline
Michael Heilemann

Kurosawa

With a career stretching almost 60 years, Akira Kurosawa remains one of the most influential directors in the history of the medium. The pinnacle of his popularity however was perfectly timed with a batch of impressionable USC students ready to take on the world, and his impact on George Lucas in particular is the stuff of legends.

Michael Heilemann
Kurosawa
Michael Heilemann

Scum and Villainy

The Mos Eisley cantina isn't just a hive of scum and villainy, it's also where a hole number of very specific Western of Samurai influences converge in rapid succession. Here's a video intercutting the various sources with Star Wars itself.

Michael Heilemann
Scum and Villainy
Michael Heilemann

Casablanca

Inarguably one of the greatest stories of tragic love ever cast onto the silver screen, Casablanca was something of an unexpected classic. Endlessly imitated and parodied, it even found its way into significant portions of Star Wars.

Michael Heilemann
Casablanca
Michael Heilemann

Dark Star

In the slipstream of Lucas's student version of THX 1138, John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon managed a similar trick, when they stole their short film from the vaults of USC and padded it out for a feature film release. Though little known as much more than a distant cult classic, Dark Star would become the predecessor to Alien, and fling off visual ideas to both Star Wars as well as Star Trek.

Michael Heilemann
Dark Star
Michael Heilemann

B is for Berkey

We know that one of John Berkey's paintings became the foundation for The Deathstar, but it turns out his influence went beyond that, into the aptly named B-Wing.

Michael Heilemann
B is for Berkey
Michael Heilemann

Kaluta's Landspeeder

Luke's speeder is another distinct design in a world filled with them. As it turns out, Flash Gordon flew, and 'died' in one very similar to it half a decade before Luke. Perhaps they both shop at Wioslea?

Michael Heilemann
Kaluta's Landspeeder

Flash Gordon

Fair-haired, square jawed and irresistible to women, Flash Gordon is the great American hero personified. Alex Raymond managed to upstage Buck Rogers in the comic strips with his sense of adventure, and ever-changing perils.

Flash Gordon