May 4 is an unofficial holiday on which fans of George Lucas’ far, far away universe celebrate Star Wars. According to ABC News, the pun “May the Fourth be with you” was “first used back in 1979, with Britain’s Conservative Party congratulating Margaret Thatcher in print for taking the prime minister post that day.”
We bring you two clips from our archive to celebrate the mythology at the heart of the film series. In the late 1980s and late 1990s, Bill talked with mythologist Joseph Campbell and his protégé, filmmaker George Lucas, about the franchise. While writing the films, Lucas came across a copy of Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, which he had read in college. The book outlines the tradition of epic heroes throughout history as played out in every culture in the world. The blueprint for the hero’s journey, as laid out by Campbell, was a huge influence on Lucas and the characters he created for Star Wars.
In this first clip from Bill’s 1999 interview with George Lucas at Skywalker Ranch, Lucas discusses his efforts to tell old myths in new ways, the role of faith and “the force” in his own life and the influence of his mentor, Joseph Campbell.
The second clip is from the first episode of Bill’s six-part 1988 conversation with Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth. The series remains one of the most popular in the history of public television. In this clip, Campbell begins by explaining the classic hero cycle, including consistent and enduring hero patterns in religious texts and other ancient stories, and how they play out in the Star Wars films.