Saddam's Army Modeled on... Darth Vader

Baghdad monument may have been inspired by Star Wars
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2010 6:25 AM CST
US soldiers and army vehicles are seen in front of the Hands of Victory arch in Baghdad.   (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
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(Newser) – American artist Michael Rakowitz has devoted an exhibition at London's Tate Gallery to one Star Wars fan George Lucas probably doesn't want to brag about. Rakowitz explores Saddam Hussein's interest in Star Wars and other science fiction—including pages from the dictator's own fantasy novel—and helmets and uniforms from the Fedayeen Saddam, a paramilitary organization whose outfits were modeled on Darth Vader's.

Rakowitz was inspired by the strong similarity of the "Hands of Victory Arch" that Saddam built in Baghdad—under which Iraqi troops marched to the Star Wars theme in a pre-Gulf war pep rally—to Darth Vader's pose with light sabers in the poster for The Empire Strikes Back. Fantasy posters by the Empire poster artist's best friend and colleagues were found in one of Saddam's palaces, Rakowitz says. "All these things start to connect in ways you can't believe," he tells the BBC.

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