We knew this day would come, and we've had plenty of time to adjust to the sad fact that LOST is officially over. The smoke (monster) has cleared and we finally have all the answers we are ever going to get when it comes to the mystery of the Island and The Oceanic Six. So no matter what you may have thought of the finale for one of the most discussed TV shows of all time, you can't begrudge a little credit to the creators who have changed the way we watch television. But, this is a movie site, so I'm not going to get too into the details of the historic finale (besides, there is a more than an ample supply of top-notch coverage over at TV Squad). But if you're wondering, I will say this; I loved it (if you didn't, I guess all you can do is take a page from Jacob's book and tell yourself; "What happened, happened").
As fans are well aware, LOST was always a show about references. It didn't matter if it was Stephen King, Star Trek, or philosophy; it was a big old crazy geek gumbo -- and that is why I think it worked so well. It took all the things we loved the most and repackaged it into one of the best 'Supernatural Soaps' in history. But as much as the show relied on all kinds of references, I think the series could never have been possible without a little help from two big screen inspirations.
After the jump; daddy issues, the art of the spectacle, and the holy trilogy...
It isn't much of a leap to say that without Steven Spielberg, there would be no J.J. Abrams. Spielberg is the grand-daddy of quality popcorn flicks, and Abrams would seemingly be his heir apparent (which is why I find Super 8 to be such an intriguing proposition). Both directors have a deep and profound love of a good 'spectacle', and the one thing that Spielberg (and Abrams) know how to do is to make characters you can root for even within the most fantastic settings. If you think back to a film like Close Encounters, you see flawed people thrust into the unknown and finding the best in themselves -- sound familiar? In the end, LOST was all about people (and I think the finale spelled that out pretty clearly); people who just happened to be trapped on a magical island with smoke monsters and hippie dropouts during an epic battle between 'good' and 'evil'.
But this isn't just about Abram's Spielberg-aesthetic, there are plenty of thematic comparisons between the series and Spielberg's films as well. To be fair, there are probably too many to list, but I couldn't leave without mentioning the big one: daddy issues. The films of Spielberg are littered with absentee fathers and unresolved family issues, and so was the Cuse/Lindelof/Abrams creation -- note the awesomely titled episode in Season 1, All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues.
If you had to make a list of the biggest influences on LOST, then the great geek trilogy, Star Wars, would definitely have to be at the top. You couldn't blink without finding a reference to Lucas' space opera in the show, usually in the form of casual references to the franchise. Most of the references were courtesy of 'the voice of the audience', Hugo Reyes (my personal favorite moment will always be his Empire re-write), but some were even worked into the story line, like the unknown brother and sister combo of Jack Shepherd and Claire Littleton.
But even beyond casual references and homages, I think there is a much bigger idea at work; and that's that the Star Wars trilogy gave an entire generation of kids an education in big mythology. You could even say that LOST's creators owe Lucas for creating an audience that was tailor-made for their show 30 years in the future; an audience that was comfortable blending sci-fi and epic mythology...but with plenty of schmaltz.