Ozwars: The Wizard of Oz
& Star Wars

A look at archetypes and images

The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars

 Star wars and the Wizard of Oz are two of the greatest films of all time and both can be seen as metaphor for the spiritual journey. 

There is a direct line of influence from the Wizard of Oz to Star Wars. From visuals and characters to storyline. It is fun to look at how well these masterpieces go together. 

We will look at similar visual references, storyline similarities and even get into some of the Jungian ideas popularized by Joseph Cambell in "The power of myth"- one of the best books I have ever read.

Let's start with the characters:

Dorothy and Leia:   The female leads, idealistic young women who care deeply for others. Both are menaced and captured by evil users of magic and must be rescued from the villian's lair by friends (who disguise themselves in guard uniforms). They are the first characters ws see.


The Wizard (Professor Marvel) and Obi Wan (Ben) Kenobi- The mentors- Wise old man archetypes- Mysterious- set off from society- They advise and intitiate the hero on the quest. In a reverse of how Dorothy is split into Luke and Leia, Glinda and the Wizard are combined into the character of Obi Wan Kenobi

The Cowardly lion and Chewbacca - Big, wooly, beasts who walk like men. Somehow cuddly and fearsome. Perhpas personifying nature, or man's animal spirit, or both. The lion has a crown and scepter showing his regal nature/position as king of beasts. Chewbacca shows his warrior status with his bandolier and rifle. Both are less brave than they seem intially. 


Darth Vader and the wicked witch of the west - nemesis/antagonist- Dressed head to toe in flowing black robes- they bedevil the hero, command legions of henchmen with frightening voices, and have magic powers. 

C3PO and The Tin Man- Metal constructions who look like Human males, and despite being mechanical are very emotional and fussy.


Sometimes the visuals match up more than the behavior, for example, C3PO looks like the tin man, but acts even more like the lion. Dorothy looks like Leia, but she acts like the union of Luke and Leia. Kenobi is the sole mentor in Star Wars but in Oz duties are shared by Glinda the good witch and the Wizard of Oz. Obviously, R2D2 and Toto look nothing alike, even though they are almost identical in terms of starting the action, leading the hero away from the trouble at the farm and being instrumental at the end of the action.

Where have I seen this before?

More visual touchstones and similarities in these epics

In both films, the male heroes disguise themselves as soldiers in order to get into the stronghold and rescue the damsel in distress.

A major character dies, leaving no corpse, only a pile of clothes.

There are holographic representations of people that communicate the mission/or call to action. 

Both films have little folk with high squeaky voices who go about in groups.

Two of the "man-made" characters torn apart and have to be reassembled  At the end of the adventure, with the mission accomplished and the bad-guy out of commission, symbolic rewards are bestowed upon the heroes 

Is there a corollary between the yellow brick road and the trench in the death star? You have to stick to the path to reach the destination in both.

Where have I heard this before?


Both stories begin with heroes/protagonists: guileless, teenaged orphans who are growing up on desolate farms while being raised by an Aunt and and Uncle. Both want to get out and find a greater world out there (over the rainbow or out in space).

At the start of the action, the hero gets led away from home, chasing after a small, scrappy, spunky, non-talking, non-human sidekick.

In chasing the sidekick, the hero comes across an older man, who is a mysterious outsider. He gives advice. This man turns out to be different than what he first appears to be. (He also reappears later, in a different form to help on the quest.)

The hero first decides to return to the farm rather than embark on adventure, but a disaster has hit the homestead making return to the old life impossible.

The hero soon goes skyward to a strange, fantastic and dangerous new life, swept up in an epic adventure.

New friends are gathered along the way. These friends join in the adventure and the quest. These friends include:

A man who is made of metal and yet is very sensitive and emotional.

A huge furry beast who is supposed to be a tough guy, but isn't really.

A clever planner who looks scruffy, but is wiley and quick-thinking.

We see these friends overcome their emotions and shortcomings in service to the hero.

The hero and friends embark on a mission requring perilous travel.

The mission is opposed by a menacing magical figure, who is dressed head to toe in black robes. This enemy has magical powers and commands a legion of followers with a scary voice.

The villain stands in opposition, trying to thwart the hero and friends, but they evade and escape.

In order to rescue the heroine, the friends sneak into the lair of the enemy. They disguise themselves in guard's uniform to gain access to the inner sanctum. They get to the damsel but are caught by real guards. They manage to escape.

During this rescue a major character is struck down and dies, leaving nothing but robes. (The story arc is different because in Oz it is the end of the battle with the shadow, and in Star Wars it is not even the end of Kenobi, but a transformation.)

A conflict with the shadow figure is the only way that the hero and his friends can get what they want, achieve their goals and complete their journey. They must go to where the enemy lives and confront, battle and defeat him/her. If they fail, death awaits.

The Nemesis is defeated and the hero's party is celebrated and awarded. The hero succeeds and is transformed.

By going on these epic adventures, the heroes are better people, and they know that there are unseen powers that were always accessible to them, and they now know how to access them. They would not have learned how, had they not broken out of their old world, gathered friends, followed the advice of mentors, faced their demons, and emerged victorious.


All you need is Jung

The hero with a thousand faces

None of this should be construed as a suggestion that George Lucas's vision for Star Wars was unoriginal. The visual similarities may be an homage or tribute.

Storywise: Lucas was very much influenced by Joseph Campbell, who popularized the concept of Archetypes which were formulated by Swiss psychologist C.G. Jung in the Early 20th century. More on that later.

The long and winding road

The Spiritual journey to enlightenment

In both tales we see the hero’s journey, which is a metaphor for one's own personal quest for enlightenment, wholeness, and peace of mind.

Each of us starts as an innocent full of dreams, and it is only through the struggle with the shadow that we can become whole.

Each of us goes from innocence into despair. We find guidance and embark on a journey. We have to seek out and face the shadow: what we fear and what thwarts us. Even though we are terrified, it must be done. After trial and tribulation, we come out mature, confident and capable.

We find out that we have access to the power to do great things, now that we have walked the path and faced the demons.

We had to go on this epic quest to realize that.

Luke is told to turn off the computer, close his eyes, and use the force.

Dorothy is told that she had the power the whole time, but didn’t know it.

How about a little Facebook, scarecrow?

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