Lightsaber Origins: 5 Simple Ways George Lucas Describes Lightsabers

A lightsaber, the signature weapon of the Jedi and Sith, is one of the most identifiable, recognizable, and just plain awesome symbols of the Star Wars franchise as a whole. The humming, glowing energy sword continues to thrill, inspire, and mystify Star Wars fans of all ages. Here are 5 simple ways Star Wars creator George Lucas has described the origins and the inspiration behind the lightsaber.

1. A Weapon for Honorable Peacekeepers

Arthurian legend, pirate films of the 1940s and “Errol Flynn kinds of movies” heavily influenced the creation of Star Wars.
George Lucas: In developing a group of peacekeepers who were above everything and honorable and could make decisions and bring peace to the galaxy, I needed a weapon that was appropriate for those kinds of Jedi.

2. A Symbol of a Simpler Time

Humans feel powerfully nostalgic about the past and the supposedly simpler time of the ‘good old days’. The Star Wars movies appeal to our collective nostalgia.
George Lucas:
It was more a symbol of a simpler time, of a time before the Empire had taken over. A time when honor ruled. So [the lightsaber] was more a symbol than it was an actual weapon in the movie [Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope].

3. A Futuristic Sword

Merging the ‘ancient’ concept of a sword with the ‘futuristic’ concept of a glowing plasma blade makes the lightsaber feel paradoxically old and nostalgic AND new and advanced to the audience at the same time.
George Lucas: The original concept was that Jedi would fight with swords and then I wanted to make it a futuristic kind of sword so I made it a lightsaber which is a sort of laser sword to give it that technology edge to it.

4. A Defensive Weapon

Jedi are supposed to be keepers of a the peace. Deflecting an attack from blaster bolts illustrates and reinforces the defensive philosophy of the Jedi.
George Lucas:
A laser sword in a world of ray guns would be the perfect defensive weapon.

5. A Two-Handed Weapon

Requiring the wielder to use two hands makes the lightsaber move likes it’s a heavy and unwieldy sword, like a greatsword.
George Lucas: Originally it was that you needed two hand to hold onto this lightsaber because the amount of energy that is being swung around.
(Note: In films following Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Lucas portrayed lightsabers as one-handed weapons or two-handed weapons.)

SOURCE: Star Wars Featurette: The Birth of the Lightsaber

COVER IMAGE CREDIT: Lucasfilm/Disney
Image depicts Luke seeing his father’s lightsaber for the first time in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

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