Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

I caught up with Luc Besson’s  Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets  (2017) this week and I rather enjoyed it (although it’s definitely a film that would be best viewed in the cinema). However, I was more than aware that the source material – a popular French comic book series dating back to the 60s called Valérian and Laureline – is often cited as an unofficial inspiration for the plot of Star Wars.

Now as a script writer for hire, UK Script editor  and UK script consultant, I’m always explaining that a lot of plots and stories share the same basic elements – Star Wars itself is the classic hero’s journey watch it and The Matrix side-by-side. It quickly becomes clear that they share the same plot beats, but so do hundreds of films, books, and plays.

But, watching the film version of Valérian and Laureline, I could see why over the years the creator – Pierre Christin, might have felt that George Lucas ripped him off.

On screen, the film follows close to the comic book, and there are very clear similarities with Star Wars – the relationship between the two leads – some of the world building – the villains and their plan – heck, the shape and design of some of the space battles, ships, henchmen and even the bloody furniture – all clearly echo Lucas’ film.

George Lucas has always sited various influences for Star Wars, but I don’t remember him mentioning Valérian and Laureline much – if he had indeed read it, it seems to me that there are some very striking similarities.   Even the ship that the two leads fly looks like the Millennium Falcon – right down to the layout of the cockpit.

The film itself, which has been a long time coming, is enjoyable enough, and has some really good use of CGI for a change. It’s also the first time I’ve seen the attraction of both Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne –they’re both pretty good in this and Cara has an amazing face.

The film loses momentum by the end – but its a great sci-fi romp for the most part.  I’m sure some viewers watching it might think it’s a little ‘Star Wars-esque’.  But in reality, whatever George says, I think it could well be the other way around.

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire, UK Script editor  and UK script consultant for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award-winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. His UK script coverage service, Script reading service and script development service are highly sought after.

You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb.

His directorial debut, the rubber reality horror thriller Markham was released in 2020. You can find out more about Matthew’s work as a director here.

You can contact Matthew directly to purchase his ebook The UK Soap Opera Script Writers Handbook.