Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca and Harrison Ford as Han Solo in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

(AP Photo)

How did "Star Wars" go from a fantastical dream to popular culture phenomenon? That's the focus of a new Denver Film Society series called "Star Wars: Origins of the Force." It analyzes how George Lucas pulled ideas from foreign flicks and ancient storytelling traditions to build his cinematic empire. Colorado filmmaker Alexandre Philippe, who created the documentary, "The People Vs. George Lucas," co-presents the series at the Sie Film Center in Denver. He spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.

Films that influenced George Lucas:

"Flash Gordon" and "Buck Rodgers"

The first program in the series on Wednesday features 1930s science fiction serials -- or "space operas."

Chapter one of the 13-installment series.

"The Hidden Fortress"

Lucas has said the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa was one of his biggest influences. Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress" screens Jan. 20 at the film center.

Lucas talks about how the director's techniques and storytelling inspired him.


According to the Denver Film Society's website, Lucas' first feature film was "almost his last." It screens Jan. 27.

George Lucas' 1971 debut feature film.


This 1927 German silent film screens Feb. 3, with live accompaniment by Denver composer and musician Paul Buscarello.

A city in the future divided by the elite and the working class.