Did Shakespeare write Star Wars?

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1. The same old story

Whether you’re a cinemagoer, a fan of TV drama or you love a good novel, you’ll have seen similar storylines cropping up time and again.

Many writers and academics have asked whether just a few basic plots have ever existed, spanning the centuries from the Minotaur to Mad Max, from Shakespeare to Star Wars.

The 18th Century Italian playwright Carlo Gozzi declared there were 36 possible plots. Two hundred and fifty years later, author Christopher Booker claimed there were only seven.

2. The seven plots in action

In his book The Seven Basic Plots, Christopher Booker used examples ranging from ancient myths and folk tales to the popular movies and soap operas we watch today. Select a plot to find out more.

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3. Raising the Bard

For most of us these days, screenwriters and directors are our master storytellers. But some of the most popular movie franchises owe a huge debt to literary giants from history, in particular Shakespeare.

Professor Diane Purkiss visits Elstree Studios to explore the similarities between Star Wars and Shakespeare's so-called Henry Plays.

Shakespeare himself was well known for borrowing heavily from classic stories – and he wasn’t alone. It’s possible to trace back Christopher Booker’s monster plot more than 3,000 years.

4. The monster millennia

This timeline traces our modern monster movies back to stories told many centuries ago.

Ever since human beings started telling stories, we’ve loved tales about monsters – and how we can defeat them. This timeline traces our modern monster movies back to stories told many centuries ago.

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5. The Bard vs the Force

Are the following quotes said in a Shakespeare play or one of the Star Wars films?

Shakespeare or Star Wars?

“All that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity.”

Shakespeare

Hamlet

But also: Star Wars Episode III

In Star Wars, Yoda says a similar thing: “Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force.”

Shakespeare or Star Wars?

“The circle is now complete.”

Star Wars

Episode IV

But also: King Lear

The phrase is said by Darth Vader as he duels with Obi-Wan Kenobi. Edmund in King Lear says, “The wheel is come full circle,” just after he has lost a duel.

Shakespeare or Star Wars?

“Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.”

Star Wars

Episode V

But also: The Merchant of Venice

The quote is Yoda’s. Shakespeare wrote: “Such harmony is in immortal souls, but whilst this muddy vesture of decay doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.”

Shakespeare or Star Wars?

“No reward is worth this.”

Star Wars

Episode IV

But also: Macbeth

Han says this when struggling to rescue Leia. Macbeth says, “More is thy due than more than all can pay,” suggesting no reward could repay his allies’ efforts.