Lucas & Coppola: the inspiration for Obi-Wan and Anakin’s relationship.

So I was going through this old article of The New Yorker and came across this quote:

“Just as a benevolent father figure (Obi-Wan) helps Luke in his struggle against his dark father, the older Coppola took young George under his wing at film school, and helped him get his first feature film made.”
– John Seabrook, The New Yorker, 1997

Now, it’s known that Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas were close friends, but after looking further into it, there’s some interesting parallels to be made:

Coppola started out as a mentor figure, taking Lucas on as a protégé.

He helped George get THX-1138 and American Graffiti off the ground. Lucas filmed second unit shots for The Godfather and assisted in the editing, developed the script for Apocalypse Now with John Milius.

Overtime, their relationship had blossomed into a more brotherly one, with them becoming “equals”.

“[Our relationship is] sort of "mentor-mentee”. I mean, he’s taught me everything. He’s five years older than I am but, you know, when you’re 20 and 25 years old, that’s a big gap.
And so
, he’s always been my mentor and helped me get through everything. You know, we’ve know each other for, you know, what? Over 35 years now. And so, the relationship is more brotherly than it probably is mentor-mentee at this point. It’s more older brother-younger brother kind of thing. […] We pretty much are equal in terms of what we know about what we’re doing.“

Sound familiar?

Wait ‘til you hear about the dynamics of their friendship:

"Francis and I, we were very good friends right from the moment we met. Uh, we’re very different.”

“Francis is very flamboyant and very Italian and very, sort of, “go out there and do things!”

“I’m very, sort of, “let’s think about this first, let’s not just jump into it.” Um, and so he used to call me the “85-year-old man.””

“But together, we were great. Because, y’know, I would kinda be the weight around his neck that slowed him down a little bit to keep him from getting his head chopped off.

“And, uh, on— aesthetically and everything, we sort of had very compatible sensibilities in terms of that. I was strong in one area, he was strong in another, and so we could really bounce ideas off of each other.
t we were very much the opposite, in the way we operated and the way we did things… and that, I think, allowed us to have a very active relationship.”

  • A mentor-mentee relationship that turned into a brotherly one.
  • Two men with opposite personalities – one more outgoing, the other more cautious – that complemented each other’s beautifully.

Yin and Yang.

Just like Obi-Wan with Anakin (or Obi-Wan with Qui-Gon, if we wanna talk about the mentee needing to slow the mentor down a bit so he doesn’t get into trouble).

So I dunno if there’s more to it, but when I read all this… I read one more reason (in addition to the others) for why the “Anakin and Obi-Wan weren’t compatible enough, Qui-Gon should’ve been the Master because they had more in common” interpretation doesn’t track.

Like, if that’s your opinion/theory, cool.

But there is no way you’ll convince me that the author – who had almost that exact bond with Coppola – would then go and intentionally write Obi-Wan and Anakin’s bond as lacking and “a failing for Anakin”.