Game Of Thrones: Inspiration For “The Wall”

You’re the Emperor of Rome and after endless years of bloody fighting in Northern Britain, you decide it would be far easier just to build a wall and leave Northern Britain to become modern day Scotland, the loss of thousands of your men’s lives is not worth the financial reward given the hassle of maintaining order in the frozen north. But you don’t build just any wall, you build Hadrian’s Wall. Not a humble border acknowledging a loose boundary, but a fully fledged fortified wall with imposing fortresses every mile along its length, fully manned and able (hopefully) to repel those damned irrepressible and belligerent Northern British on the other side.

Hadrian's Wall covered in Snow and Ice
Hadrian’s Wall covered in Snow and Ice
Hadrian's Wall as it would have looked
Hadrian’s Wall as it would have looked

Conquering Britain had been a long  series of bloody campaigns undertaken gradually over many decades with many setbacks along the way. For several centuries, until the collapse of the Roman Empire itself, Hadrian’s wall did its job fairly well, keeping the northern tribes separated from the rest of what had become “civilised” Britain. By and large Roman Britain thrived south of the wall as conquered tribes adjusted to the new Roman way of life, even building their towns in the Roman way and living the Roman Lifestyle. Rome with its undeniable sophistication had its advantages, if one could look beyond its initial oppression.

Hadrian's Wall cut Britain into two
Hadrian’s Wall cut Britain into two

Adopting Roman Values and making them your own (like some kind of imperial franchise) would have been unthinkable north of the wall. Here life continued in the old British tribal tradition, with memories of Roman atrocities ingrained in the minds of generations. When the Romans had been denied an easy path to victory in the north, while losing many thousands of soldiers in British guerilla attacks, they began down the path of mass atrocities – sewing the seeds of an eternal hatred within the northern tribes. Thus the people north of the wall had become suddenly different from those in the south, and in time were surrounded by a mysticism caused by this imposed disconnection between them and the rest of Britain.

George R.R. Martin, Author of Game of Thrones
George R.R. Martin, Author of Game of Thrones

Enter George RR Martin on a trip to Hadrian’s wall (as I understand it) and suddenly you have the cornerstone of a great work of fantasy. A great story. A centuries old wall guarding all the civilised world from the dangerous, unmapped, mysterious wilderness  beyond… and perhaps instead of just warring tribes (daunting enough for most) we have the lurking evil of the monstrous White Walkers which haunt the forests. This is surely a dangerous enough prospect to keep any empire at bay – even the Romans.

"The Wall" Game of Thrones
“The Wall” Game of Thrones

Being fantasy, the Game of Thrones wall bordering the Seven Kingdoms had to be grander… far, far grander. So what could be grander or more imposing than a giant wall of ice cutting across the frozen reaches of the north, resembling the side of a gigantic iceberg? The size of the Game of Thrones Wall points to the fear behind its construction; its more of a final solution than a defensive buffer. It suggest that whatever exists upon the other side is so terrible and so evil that it must be barricaded from the civilised world altogether! I wonder how that policy works out for them in the long run? And  will there eventually be a union between the Seven Kingdoms and the Wildlings? And if so will they one day push for a referendum on independence? who knows…

#GameOfThrones #trivia #fantasy

 

Next week: The inspiration behind Game of Thrones deadly political games

 

 

Game Of Thrones: Inspiration For “The Wall”

Star Wars and WW2: The Impossible Raid

The inspiration behind the Rebel Raid upon the First Death Star…

A lot has been made of the inspiration behind the Rebel raid upon the first Death Star at the end of A New Hope. Was it really a rip-off of the 1955 British film: The Dam Busters?

The Dam Busters tells the true story of a Royal Air Force  raid on several German Dams  during 1943. Traditional bombs of the era just couldn’t  do the job, so they invented the “Bouncing bomb” for the unique task, which essentially looked like a drum and was able to bounce across water to strike the dams in just the right place to bring them crashing down. Delivery of the weapon required excellent flying skills at tree top level while under heavy fire, and if successful it would greatly harm the Nazi war effort by flooding their factories.

The Bouncing Bomb
The Bouncing Bomb

Initially the two films seem poles apart… but watching them back to back you soon realise how many similarities there are, and how the dialogue is almost identical in places. The first thing to notice is how the Pilots of the X-wings and y-wings role call in, in true RAF fashion before beginning their attack. Both attacks play out in a similar sequence with a lot of identical dialogue,  such as “Get set for your attack run!”  and a concern for the number of enemy guns:

 

 

“How many guns do you think?” one British Pilot asks another as they approach the German dams.

“I’d say there’s about ten guns. Some in the field, some on the tower!” The other Pilot replies.

-The Dam Busters. Sound familiar??? that’s because A New Hope has almost the same dialogue.

The premise for  both raids involve a narrow attack run down a heavily defended corridor guarded by anti-aircraft guns in order to strike a small target (considered impossible) which turns out to be the Achilles heel of a massive superstructure (Death Star/Dam) –  sparking a chain reaction of  epic destruction!

 

X-Wing assault, A New Hope
X-Wing assault, A New Hope

In both cases many aircraft and crews are lost in repeated assaults, but finally, against all the odds the small targets are hit and the mission is accomplished! Add to all this the fact that several of the production team which created The Dam Busters also worked on Star Wars,  employing  similar production methods and you have a reasonably good case to cry “Hollywood Rip off!” but I don’t think that’s particularly fair. All ideas have to come from somewhere and it’s okay to re-imagine something you love, after all, imitation is the greatest form of flattery!

Lancaster Bombers on Dam Raid
Lancaster Bombers on Dam Raid

George Lucas took a great premise, a great structure for this type of scene, tidied it up a bit and recreated it in the  world of sci-fi. I can’t see any harm recreating great scenes providing they are not in direct competition, which they are definitely not – being different genres .

X-wing and Y-wing Assault
X-wing and Y-wing Assault

I doubt any of the RAF pilots of the time would object to being the Inspiration for the Rebel attack on the Death Star. If anything It has probably introduced a few sci-fi fans to The Dam Busters and the actual raid itself. Now that can’t be a bad thing!

#starwars #scifi

Next week: the inspiration behind “The Wall” in Game of Thrones

Star Wars and WW2: The Impossible Raid

Star Wars and WW2: Weapons

Last week I asked the question: How did World War Two inspire the creators of Star Wars?

Well, it turns out to be quite a long answer, so I have decided to break it down into instalments. Let’s begin with the Weaponology behind the films.

Princess Leia armed with an E-11 Blaster Rifle
Princess Leia armed with an E-11 Blaster Rifle

The “E-11 blaster rifle” – was the imperial weapon of choice and issued to a good number of Stormtroopers (if not all)  and also fell into the hands of a few brave Rebels, most notably Princess Leia. The Weapon is in fact a British made Sterling submachine gun, from WW2 and  those you see in the original films are fully functioning weapons, quite capable of firing live rounds. To aid the actors the guns were loaded with blank ammunition, and were responsible for some of the muzzle flashes you can see on screen. I haven’t noticed myself, but apparently you can even see the spent casings being ejected from the weapons in certain scenes from A New Hope.

Leia's Inspiration? A Female Fighter of WW2 Armed with the Sten Gun, the predecessor of the Stirling Submachine Gun
Leia’s Inspiration? A Female Fighter of WW2 Armed with the Sten Gun, the predecessor of the Stirling Submachine Gun

 

 

Apart from a few adaptations the Star Wars weapon is essentially the same weapon wielded by British forces and their allies during World War Two. A weapon which was quickly adopted across the world and favoured by resistance groups and freedom fighters for its simple design and ease of manufacturing. Before Stormtroopers and their rebel opponents made the weapon a star of the screen the Sterling submachine gun and its Sten gun predecessor were synonymous with British spies and paratroopers and their subversive operations across the continent of Europe.

Making Sten Guns WW2
Making Sten Guns WW2

You could conclude that this WW2 weapon is not so much a influence as a quick fix for the props department before the Star Wars saga had the budget it enjoys today, but I would argue that it was a deliberate choice and one which complemented the design, concept and  feel the makers of the films were looking for.

What really made Star Wars different from all other Sci-fi offerings was its subtle, rustic realism; a slightly imperfect carbon-scored world with nuances and back stories galore; which all combined to make it real. Instead of trying to build a weapon out of a prop and ending up with something which resembled a channel changer, they took a real, historic weapon and made a new Imperial blaster out of it. The result was a classic sci-fi collectable!

#starwars  #filmtrivia

Next week: The inspiration behind the Rebel raid upon the First Death Star…

Star Wars and WW2: Weapons

Star Wars and WW2: what’s the connection?

How did World War Two inspire the creators of Star Wars?

Star Wars connection
The Inspiration for Star Wars?

I thought we would start with something easy for the first post, as I can think of loads for this one. I am focusing mainly on the first three original films, everything from the props, set design, battle scenes and aspects of the storyline. There are lots inspired here by WW2.

Tip: Think about war films prior to Star Wars, events during the conflict and some of the weapons which the conflict spawned.

 

 

 

A Quick Guide

  • Welcome to my experiment, where we speculate, imagine and prove the inspiration behind films, tv series and books.
  • Blog Format: each week I will post a new connection for you to solve, with answers at the the end of the week.
  • Your part: post your ideas  about this weeks connection in the comments. Don’t worry if its a wild guess –  all theories are welcome.
  • The connection: this can be anything from the inspiration for the plot to prop designs, wardrobe designs, scenes, characters and locations…

#starwars #filmtrivia

 

 

 

Star Wars and WW2: what’s the connection?

Alfred Duff’s Inspiration Begins…

Welcome, I’ve wanted to start a second blog for a while, but it’s taken a long time to pin down the exact subject. I wanted this blog to have a clear focus and cover something that I am really passionate about other than writing. Sounds simple right? but if you knew me you would know I have an infinite number of subjects that I am interested in, and that I have endless – ever changing ideas…

I managed to whittle my shortlist of blog ideas down to two clear choices: History or Fantasy. These are both things I know can write about in depth, but I was unable to choose between them. So last weekend I sat down to create two quite separate blogs. After picking the name for both blogs and publishing them I started work on the first posts for both. I began with the usual research; Google searches, browsing my endless collection of reference books and looking through all the bookmarks I have collated on my laptop in recent months. During this day of research I found an unlikely link between the two separate posts I was creating; The real world story of one had inspired the fantasy story of the other. Hmm… this was interesting. This was a much better idea. I immediately stopped the two posts I had planned and started thinking about how to combine the two subjects in a way which was interesting, satisfying and could be posted upon one single blog.

So here it is… an experiment of sorts. A blog which seeks to examine the relationship between fiction and fact, fantasy and history. You may think these topics are slightly at odds with each other, but as a writer of epic fantasy I can say that most (if not all) of my inspiration comes directly from the pages of history. Real world events re-imagined are at the heart of my stories, and I am sure they form the basis for most fantasy and sci-fi stories – even if not directly.

You may not be convinced but I hope over a series of posts I will convert you! I don’t want to get too heavily bogged down on the history side of things therefore each post will be fairly short, a bit longer than a tweet to stir your imagination or kindle your interest in history. Gradually, (I hope) I will demonstrate the link between the two topics.

Alfred Duff

 

 

 

Alfred Duff’s Inspiration Begins…