George Lucas’ Star Wars — a Ring Composition? You Betcha!

The Disney Corporation has purchased the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas and the rumor is that they have finished filming the first of a new set of three films that will complete the grand trilogy of trilogies. I cannot help but think that the legion of Star Wars fanatics (and the millions of us who are old to remember with joy the first films’ release dates) are anticipating the new adventure with the excitement and speculative frenzy that Harry Potter fandom experienced before a new book publication.

Why do I bring this up on a web site for serious readers? No, I haven’t decided that movies are texts to be interpreted the same way as novels, plays, and poetry. Really, they’re not. But there is a close reader of the Star Wars films who believes that filmmaker Lucas incorporated traditional story-telling features into his six-part single-movie epic. Not just soul triptychs, though, and themes of redemption and resurrection.

Mike Klimo at explains the nitty gritty ABCC’B’A’ correspondences that makes the movies work — and which the critics who dismiss the first trilogy as trash have failed to appreciate. If you’re a Star Wars fan, a serious reader of Harry Potter (which means, of course, that you’re fascinated by Ring Composition), or just curious what all the fuss has been for close to four decades about the Skywalker clan, you need to check out Mr. Klimo’s website.  It’s not just another analysis of the epic film franchise in light of Joseph Campbell’s ‘Hero’s Journey’ topoi and Jungian archetypes (praise God).

And there is a Harry Potter connection, believe it or not. For that, make the jump!

I was delighted to hear about the StarWarsRingTheory site from none other than its founder, Mike Klimo, who sent me the note below and gave me permission to re-produce it here.


I like Harry Potter. A lot. But I love Star Wars. I always have. After all, I was born in the late 70s.

And a couple of years ago, I stumbled upon something in the Star Wars prequels (Episodes 1,2,3) that I couldn’t quite figure out. So I started doing some research on structure and parallelism. Then I remembered chiasmus from my college days. That led me to Mary Douglas’ book Thinking In Circles.

As soon I discovered the term “ring composition,” I’ll bet you can guess what came up when I googled it, along with the term ‘cinema’. I bought your book immediately. Read it cover to cover in days. It’s brilliant.

And your book, along with Douglas’, helped me uncover and explain an aspect of Lucas’ six-part saga that has gone unnoticed up until now: Lucas deliberately designed the films to fit together using ring composition. The evidence is overwhelming and I can’t believe it took almost 10 years (since Episode 3’s release in 2005) for anyone to figure this out. I think it’s a real testament to Lucas’ genius.

So, I just recently posted an essay detailed every step of Lucas’ accomplishment over at  Yes, it’s very long and very wonkish, but I am convinced that it’s real.

And I thought if there was anybody out there that could appreciate this, it would be you.

I imagine you’re extremely busy, but if you ever find the time to take a look, I’d love to hear what you think. If not, that’s okay too. I just wanted to thank you. You may not realize it, but you helped out a great deal on this…and I feel like I owe you a real debt of gratitude for leading the way and teaching me so much.

Take care,

Mike Klimo

To tie this post into a ring, I’m obliged to note that films are not imaginative texts that are experienced as we do books and other written work or even live drama. Ultimately, it’s a demeaning intellectual technology, in itself and relative to imaginative work.

But, and this is an important note, I think, filmmakers are wise to incorporate the best of story telling traditions into their work, especially traditions of the scaffolding and symbolic kind, if they are to have more power than exciting fear and relief in an endless series of chases and reunions. Mike Klimo has demonstrated that the most successful film franchise in history not based on a previously published imaginative work has done just that — and Lucas’ results speak both for themselves and for the efficacy of traditional story structure and symbol even in film.

For which exposition and demonstration, the critical world needs to tip its hat to Mr Klimo for a remarkable achievement. I’m not much of a representative of that world, but let me be among the first to say with admiration “Well done!”


  1. This is important because Mike Klimo, dear soul, is leveraging the teachable moment! Anyone teaching ring structure to those who “don’t read” (sigh) would do well to check out Mike’s comparative screen shots for highly visual examples. I add my gratitude and praise for John and his dedicated efforts to illuminate ring structure for us all.

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