DARTH VADER INVADES BARCELONA’S CATHEDRAL
Barcelona is no stranger to mystery nor urban legend. It’s no stranger to George Lucas, either.
According to local urban legend, even though there are other claims as to his original inspiration, it is believed that, when George Lucas visited Barcelona in the early 1970s, the Catalan capital inspired a Star Wars character: the Stormtrooper.
The assertion is that the chimneys on top of Casa Milà, or La Pedrera, inspired the helmets used by his Stormtroopers; the same can be said of the Roman soldiers’ helmets depicted on the Passion Facade of the Sagrada Familia. There is no confirmation on either of these anywhere, however; only speculation.
Personally, I was a little bit surprised that these two iconic Gaudi buildings were the ones mentioned in regard to Star Wars, and that only the Stormtrooper was brought up. I had heard a few years ago that the inspiration of the most famous Star Wars villain came from the facade of the Cathedral. When you see what I’m talking about, you might become a believer like me.
If you look closely at the main entrance of the gothic church, fix your gaze at the rose windows just above the wooden doors. It might take you a few seconds, but you’ll eventually notice a Vaderesque face staring out at you. This face bears more resemblance to Darth Vader than any of the other examples shown from Gaudi’s architecture resemble the Stormtrooper, in my opinion. It probably even scares away more evil spirits than the hundreds of gargoyles that grace the cathedral’s outer walls.
This provokes the question: was George Lucas actually influenced by Barcelona’s architecture? What we do know for sure is that the director did visit Barcelona years before shooting of the first Star Wars film began on March 22, 1976.
As for his true inspiration, there are many theories, chiefly among them being that he was inspired by Japanese kabuto helmets. But what does he say?
Lucas himself has said that Darth Vader’s helmet was very much inspired by Japanese culture and samurai films. Looking at the photo of a kabuto helmet below, you’ll see the resemblance. However, a likeness to Vader’s mask is not present here. Searching for answers about this aspect of the character delivers few concrete results. So, who’s to say that Lucas didn’t get a bit inspired during his visit to Barcelona?
Without enough evidence to support or refute the claim, this story is destined to remain in the realm of urban legend. I prefer that, though. It’s much more fun this way.
By EMILY BENSON
Photos by ISABEL TROYA
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