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Star Wars: Darth Vader's Force Choke Is Much Deeper Than You Think

Darth Vader's use of the dark side of the Force makes him one of the most unstoppable characters in the entire "Star Wars" franchise. And according to George Lucas, his ability to Force choke actually has a very specific meaning that audiences might not realize.

The live-action "Star Wars" universe features all kinds of supervillains. Watto (Andy Secombe) is annoying and plays into unfortunate stereotypes, while the multi-lightsaber wielding General Grievous (Matthew Wood) is cool but never seemed to reach his true potential. More recently, the franchise introduced Qimir (Manny Jacinto) in "Star Wars Acolyte," a character whose allegiance to the Sith is still up in the air, though that uncertainty hasn't stopped him from killing Jedi with his incredible powers. But Darth Vader continues to dwarf every "Star Wars" villain in terms of pure power and intimidation.

There's little question Vader has set himself apart as one of pop culture's biggest bad guys. When it comes to one of the Sith Lord's greatest powers, the Force choke, it's much bigger than just a dangerous attack. In an interview with Rolling Stone, "Star Wars" creator George Lucas was asked about Vader's penchant for strangulation and whether it had anything to do with the fact that the villain was unable to breathe properly without his armor's help. "Well, it's a bigger metaphor than that," Lucas explained. "Strangulation is always a theme. Life is breath. It's a powerful idea in Buddhism: Cutting off life is cutting off breath. The road to the Force is through the breath. Impotency is cutting off hands and legs and arms. That's a theme too."

What else inspired Star Wars?

Even before he stopped making "Star Wars" movies after "Revenge of the Sith," George Lucas wasn't quiet about the concepts, media, and real-life events that inspired the franchise. Lucas told the Boston Globe in 2005 (via History), "I love history, so while the psychological basis of 'Star Wars' is mythological, the political and social bases are historical."

From the Jedi Code mirroring the samurai's Bushido Code to themes referencing Greek mythology and a mentor training a student to face a bigger evil, "Star Wars" is derived from many different histories and ideas. Lucas mentioned in the same Rolling Stone interview that Anakin being fatherless isn't directly related to just Jesus Christ from Christianity but is an idea found in all kinds of religious texts and stories. He explained that similar tales can be found in Hindu, Chinese, and Middle Eastern religions.

On the media side, everything from the Akira Kurosawa film "The Hidden Fortress" to "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien to Frank Herbert's "Dune" and the "Flash Gordon" serials from the 1930s and 1940s have been cited as inspirations for Lucas' creation of "Star Wars." The franchise also draws from the real world, referencing the Vietnam War, Nazi Germany, and Ancient Rome as key inspirations of war and the battle of good and evil that shaped "Star Wars."

Ultimately, many themes, concepts, and characterizations in the "Star Wars" universe, including the Force choke and breathing related to Buddhism, come from the real world, as Lucas intentionally wore his inspirations on his sleeves.