Movies and TV
Star Wars: Emperor Palpatine as Hitler - Three Disturbing Parallels

Kevin Mooseles | 10 Jun 2015 19:30
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Star Wars' Emperor Palpatine is one of the most significant villains in Hollywood history. This is thanks, in no small part, to Ian McDiarmid absolutely killing the "most evil man in the galaxy" role with his portrayal of The Emperor. But part of Palpatine's impact is also due to the writing of George Lucas and his decision to model the rise of The Emperor after the rise of Adolf Hitler. This historical anchor allows audiences to see McDiarmid's over-the-top performance as vaguely familiar - and all the more chilling.

Many people have already come to the conclusion that the Empire is roughly based on Nazi Germany. George Lucas has openly cited Hitler, Napoleon, and Caesar as inspirations for Palpatine. Certain connections are fairly obvious and have been repeated by fans throughout the years: the term "stormtrooper" originally belonged to German specialist soldiers in World War I; the word Vader is Dutch for "father" and is close to the German word for "father" as well - "vater." (You may have also heard that "Darth" is Dutch for "dark," but that isn't true - Darth is just a word that George Lucas invented, perhaps by blending "dark" and "death," or as a derivative of "Dark Lord of the Sith.")

However, most of the strong connections between Palpatine and Hitler come out in the Prequel trilogy. These films depict the rise of a Chancellor (the office held by both Hitler and Palpatine) to supreme leader, the slow transformation of a Republic into a dictatorship (as had occurred in Germany during the '30s) by a cunning dictator who was orchestrating attacks on his own people as a way to consolidate more and more power (compare the 1933 Reichstag fire to the fact that Palpatine was responsible for the invasion of Naboo and the creation of the Separatist movement under the guise of Darth Sideous). These connections have been discussed before, on forums, columns, and YouTube videos - we are not here to rehash these known comparisons. There is, in fact, more to explore. The connections run deeper, and get much darker...

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