…in a galaxy far, far away, a young man lives in a simple life, working on the family farm, blissfully unaware of the heroic role he will play in the future of his world. As he watches the sun set over his idyllic surroundings, he dreams of duels and damsels and faraway places.
Nearby, a princess in white is pursued by elite troops of the evil empire. She has a secret she’s protecting from harm. At the last moment, she sends it away and into the path of our unsupecting farmboy hero. He has shimmering visions of the princess and her fate.
The boy has been chosen, called by a higher power to be the last of a long-slain warrior clan. He has special gifts. He begins to discover these gifts with the assistance of a bearded pauper who turns out to be a shamed warrior from a bygone era. It seems the warrior’s compatriots were betrayed and slain by one of their own, who would eventually rise to become a powerful and fascist leader.
This aging mentor reveals our hero’s true destiny.
Did I mention there’s a mysterious sibling, too?
Watch Out, Spoilers Follow
That sounds like the first act of Star Wars, but in fact it’s the first ten minutes of Eragon, a film that’s possibly the most derivative film I’ve ever seen–it’s 85% Star Wars and 15% Lord of the Rings.
I haven’t read the novel, but it’s like the author Christopher Paolini watched the Star Wars trilogy, then read The Hero With a Thousand Faces and set off to duplicate it, replacing lightsabers with swords and X-Wing fighters with dragons. It’s even more plagiaristic than Willow, and that’s saying something.
Now, of course, Star Wars borrows heavily from Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress. All art is part theft–I just thought Eragon was a particularly egregious example.
It’s a pretty bad movie. Malkovich, Carlyle and Irons chew the scenery into sawdust. Edward Speleers plays
Luke Skywalker Eragon, and while he’s a step up from Mark Hamill, he’s no great actor yet. On the upside, Sienna Guillory is sure nice to look at.
But Back To Our Story
Elsewhere, a dark, disfigured malefactor accepts orders from his robed lord to find the boy, and destroy him. He tortures the princess.
He rejects his fate at first, but imperial troops arrive to force him into action. He returns to the farmstead to find his uncle slaughtered, and leaves the burning fields behind him, accompanied by his mentor.
They travel to join the rebel forces, who are sequestered far away in a secret base. With the aid of his mentor, our hero practices his skills, honing his swordsmanship and mystical abilities.
Their journey is perilous. At one point they stop at a port, and encounter a shady and unlikely ally. They encounter more government troops, and narrowly escape death.
Emboldened by his new skills, our young hero rashly decides to rescue the princess from the dark lord’s evil lair. He manages to do so, but is confronted by the dark lord and his minions. The mentor sacrifices his own life so that the hero and his new friends can escape.
Our story concludes with a climatic battle, in which the forces of good triumph over the evildoers.
After writing this piece, I discovered several other comparisons around the web. This one (from a Google cache) seems to be the most exhaustive.