BTS According to Gary Kurtz...

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Darth_Nub, Sep 22, 2012.

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  1. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    No, it's not a meme thread, but I couldn't resist...

    Just thought I'd start a thread to discuss the anomalies that are the accounts of Gary Kurtz regarding the 'original' vision for the Star Wars Saga. Since 1999, Kurtz has made various statements at conventions and in interviews that describe a 'bittersweet' version of Return/Revenge of the Jedi, a different structure for the prequels, and even a few details of Episodes VII-IX. Here's a sampling:



    http://www.theforce.net/latestnews/story/gary_kurtz_reveals_original_plans_for_episodes_19_80270.asp

    http://www.filmthreat.com/interviews/8/#ixzz27BYk3Gm6

    http://au.ign.com/articles/2002/11/11/an-interview-with-gary-kurtz?page=4

    http://herocomplex.latimes.com/2010...2-filmmakers-george-lucas-and-gary-kurtz-wer/

    zombie has addressed some of the inconsistencies in these accounts in an appendix to TSHOSW - for a start, Luke's mysterious sister on the other side of the galaxy turning up in Episodes VII-IX is clearly a recollection of the sister mentioned by the ghost of Luke's father in the obsolete Brackett draft of ESB - however, Kurtz's ROTJ simply doesn't fit anywhere, and zombie doesn't come to any conclusion about it. Is Kurtz's description of the PT actually an elaboration of the strange 5-episode prequel outline that appears in JW Rinzler's The Making of The Empire Strikes Back?

    Some questions may be answered next year with the publication of Rinzler's The Making of Return of the Jedi, or maybe not. My main question is about when Kurtz left the SW family, and just what involvement he had with the early stages of ROTJ, if any.

    And pIease - I really don't want this to be a bashing thread, either of Gary Kurtz or George Lucas. Kurtz's tone in the interviews may seem to be very derogatory of GL (and sometimes is), but for the most part he's being given very leading questions, and the real bashing is on the part of the journalists, particularly in the 2010 LA Times interview.
    All I'm interested in is how people might think these accounts can fit in with the development history we already have, or how true they really are. Given that the 'Kurtz vision' doesn't fit with the one which can be traced to extant drafts and notes that are, for the most part, available to read, I think it's not a bad idea to keep it somewhat separate.
    Last edited by Darth_Nub, Sep 22, 2012
  2. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    Mmm...nice thread. :) I'm not all the way awake yet, but the prequel descriptions to me sound incredibly vague, not to mention that they don't actually sound like a trilogy. More like a series of stand-alone films, which just isn't how Star Wars works.

    Note to all: Nub's request for this thread to not devolve into a bashfest is not optional. I'm not going to lock the thread if it occurs; your post wil be edited into oblivion and if the behaviour consists, bans will be issued. Discuss the films, not George Lucas or Gary Kurtz.
  3. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    I like the ROTJ that we got, much better than Kurtz' rather depressing vision of it.

    ESB was a good movie, aside from it's depressing and cliffhanger ending.

    As far as the prequels, I like what we got much better. I can't imagine spending an entire movie on the origins and training of the Jedi. I think RLM would have reason to jump all over that one regarding "no clear protagonist." I also don't think either Obi-Wan or Anakin's stories, especially Anakin's, could be covered in one film. Even with three films, the complicated factors behind Anakin's turn to the Dark Side were not really done justice.
    BoromirsFan likes this.
  4. Eternal_Hero Jedi Master

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    Most baffling to me is Kurtz's insistence that at the end of RotJ Leia would go off to "rule her people"...um, Gary, her people were blown to space dust in ANH!! There's nothing for her to rule.
    Darkslayer likes this.
  5. drg4 Force Ghost

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    Unfortunately, as this is a thread dealing with historical research, I can't imagine there being too much participation outside of a handful of knowledgeable posters.

    As for myself: I don't necessarily place too much credence in Kurtz's account but remain intrigued by his Return of the Jedi suppositions. Like so many third films, ROTJ is a dud. For me, the aforementioned outline has joined the company of such what-ifs as "What if Robert Duvall and Winona Ryder were willing/available for The Godfather: Part III?" "What if Bryan Singer had been allowed to complete his X-Men trilogy?" and "What if Heath Ledger hadn't overdosed?"
  6. oierem Jedi Grand Master

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    I think Kurtz's outline of Return of the Jedi and the prequels is a mixture of different ideas that might have been considered at some point during the making of the OT that he liked, his own ideas of what he thinks they should have been, and the confusion created by so many years (and perhaps a bit of resentment of how he was tossed aside).

    One of the criticisms I have with zombie's book (which is otherwise very interesting and accurate for the most part) is that I don't think Lucas ever had defined plans of his Saga. I think we tend to think that there was a set-on-stone plan at some point, a detailed idea of the structure of the series, and then it changed (more than once) and became another defined structure. I think we make the mistake of thinking that those structures were somewhat definitive in Lucas' mind.

    I think Lucas never actually had a defined structure for the Saga; considering that he likes to constantly change his movies, I think his plans for the Saga were always ephemeral.

    The outline that appears in The Making of The Empire Strikes Back is an example of a possible structure that didn't go anywhere -it was probably just Lucas thinking about possibilities.
  7. Eternal_Hero Jedi Master

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    I like it more than ESB :p
  8. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    They're about equal to me. Empire has a greater sense of style; Jedi has one of the most simplistically masterful storylines ever, and changing Darth Vader from the guy you loved to boo and hiss at to someone you can empathize with and feel pity for is achieved almost effortlessly.
    anakinfansince1983 likes this.
  9. Krueger Force Ghost

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    I don't think people would have been pleased if ROTJ's ending had left the same taste in the mouth as the ending of TESB. The ending to Empire was pretty bittersweet enough as it is. It is only natural for ROTJ, the conclusion of the trilogy, to go out on a high note.
    Firmus Jagdon and BoromirsFan like this.
  10. ezekiel22x Chosen One

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    I don't see Luke turning into a man with no name wanderer because his little in-group with Han and Leia is broken up. What about the droids? The rebel pilots? Luke doesn't strike me as a guy who would abandon the rebels even if the movement is in tatters.

    If anything I think ROTJ should have been something truly radical, such as having the whole "Big Three" dynamic play out primarily in the background while the overall film is told from the perspective of a new lead character, perhaps someone like Wedge. This would even work as a TPM mirror given the manner in which Qui-Gon stands out in that film.
  11. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    Well, he says "what was left of her people", i.e. the displaced Alderaanians who weren't home when the planet was blown to smithereens. It is a strange concept, although Anakin & Padme do travel incognito as 'refugees' in AOTC, so not completely foreign to the SW universe.

    As I mentioned in a thread over on the Classic forum, however, it would have been a very laborious, unnecessary distraction to introduce these Alderaanian refugees unless it was meant to be a storyline that would carry on in later episodes, which suggests that the idea was discussed very early on, before ROTJ was the real end of the current story arc.

    Absolutely. This is why I don't think certain concepts that get mentioned can be dismissed simply because they contradict another concept from the same time. There were times when GL probably did have a relatively concrete vision in place, but there's periods in between when all sorts of ideas were being tossed around, and the general wackiness of these ideas leads to them being recalled & brought up years later - Luke's character was once a girl, Star Wars was framed by a Wookiee reading her child a bedtime story, Luke put on Vader's mask at the end of ROTJ & declared himself Emperor, Han died, etc. None of these made their way into any actual outlines, treatments or drafts (Luke as a girl did get concept artwork from Ralph MacQuarrie, though).

    It's this idea of Kurtz's which I find the most fascinating, although it's hard to tell exactly which period it's from. There's the 1977-78 12-part serial vision (largely before Vader was Luke's father), and the 1978-1980 9-episode trilogy of trilogies - it could fit into either.
    In the 12-part serial plan, the story would have probably simply carried on from ROTJ (perhaps after a sole prequel episode), so Luke wandering off at the end would have segued nicely into the next story arc of him searching for his long-lost sister on the other side of the galaxy.
    On the other hand, in the 9-episode vision, Luke wandering off on his own at the end could have been the result of his struggling to accept his dark heritage, leading straight into the Prequel Trilogy, which would answer all the questions about what happened with Obi-Wan and Anakin. Three episodes later, in the Sequel Trilogy, we perhaps meet up with an older, wiser Luke.
    Last edited by Darth_Nub, Sep 23, 2012
  12. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    That's not a bad point. I know that a great number of these sort of discussions eventually end up only involving the same few posters who have been going over this material for a few years, and we'll often go on about "the 12-film serial", "the trilogy of trilogies", "the Brackett version" and so on without any elaboration, because said few know what's being referred to. It must be confusing to anyone who's only just stumbled on this approach to Star Wars and wants to participate.

    I'd really hate for threads like these to be considered to be only for some snotty little exclusive club, but on the temp boards we ended up with a few new recruits (although I think one might have been one of the usual suspects using a different name), and they brought some great insights and enthusiasm to the discussions once they got up to speed.
    I'm always happy to respond to any questions about what the hell some of us are on about without being a tosser about it. "Google is your friend" doesn't really work when it comes to this stuff.
    Last edited by Darth_Nub, Sep 23, 2012
  13. Eternal_Hero Jedi Master

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    Not only that but Leia isn't a traditional monarch, she functioned as a Senator. The next logical phase of the story would be to restore the senate (which everyone from Marvel Comics to Timothy Zahn realized) not to go off & rule the remnant of Alderaan.

    All of Kurtz's version is pre ANH. He got wedded to early drafts, which sometimes happens. Kurtz obviously didn't think the story required any further development in structure & Lucas clearly disagreed with him.
    FRAGWAGON likes this.
  14. CoolyFett Force Ghost

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    I think Han or Chewy should have died & they could have used Boba Fett to do it. Someone from the episode 4 cast should have died & Han or Chewy would have been the best choices. It would have made the ewoks more esay to tolerate.
  15. TOSCHESTATION Force Ghost

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    Don't know about that.

    @Darth_Nub:

    What you've got to remember, though, is that at the end of the end of the day, whether one agrees with it or not, Lucas "stuck" to the old 1975 plan: Star Wars - the 'background' Rebellion vs. Empire plot, and the 'foreground' Skywalker family 'soap-opera' would END at ''Book Three"..thus any plans to extend the "Skywalker soap-opera" or "Rebellion vs. Empire/The Emperor" beyond three stories/films were just that - post SW/ANH '77 extensions.
    Last edited by TOSCHESTATION, Sep 23, 2012
  16. Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn The Other Saga Moderator

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    Confirmed.
  17. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    That's an interesting way of looking at it. After all, Leia becoming the new Queen is exactly how the Rough/First draft of Star Wars ended:


    I don't think Kurtz is simply confusing the supposed end of ROTJ with this very early draft - what is possible, however, is that it was once considered that this ending could be recycled for the end of the the third film, just as the asteroid chase was for ESB, and the ground battle involving natives was for ROTJ.

    As far as Kurtz not thinking the story required any further development, not sure about that, but it's pretty obvious that he's biased towards a vision of the Saga that existed before he parted ways with the SW family & it went in a different direction.
    Again, I don't know exactly when this happened, there's a few suggestions that despite the troubles with ESB, he was around for some of the earliest development of ROTJ and was privy to some of the early story discussions. As I understand it, Han dying later in the film was something brought up post-ESB, the earlier idea was that if Harrison Ford didn't sign for the next one, they'd just let Han die in the carbonite (a sort of get-out clause).

    More that he reverted to it, and abandoned the extensions, while expanding the additional backstory episode he also had in mind in 1975 to a trilogy of its own.
    However, the fact that the extended story was once intended to happen did influence their perception of what would happen in ROTJ for a time, hence this less conclusive storyline Kurtz cites.
    Last edited by Darth_Nub, Sep 23, 2012
  18. oierem Jedi Grand Master

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    We have to wait until Rinzler's book about Jedi comes out next year to know whether Kurtz was involved in Return of the Jedi at all... and whether he left (because he wasn't happy with what Lucas wanted for Return) or was "fired" (because of what happened in Empire).

    And I'm a bit confussed about the idea of Han dying... when was it really propossed (if ever)?. None of the scripts contemplate that possibility, and if I'm not mistaken, in 1980 it was already decided that Harrison would be back.
  19. Eternal_Hero Jedi Master

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    Everyone wanted to die in ROTJ, it was ridiculous. Lucas did the right thing. If he'd listened to all of the actors and Kasdan, only Luke wdve gotten out alive! It being the big climax, everyone wanted to put their personal stamp on it by killing off a character or having their character die. GL had to draw the line. There's enough death in the movie anyway (Boba, Jabba, Yoda, Vader, Emperor + dozens of background characters). Enough's enough.
    Frank T. likes this.
  20. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    The original idea was for her to rule the survivors of Alderaan(those who were off-world when it was blown away).
  21. Eternal_Hero Jedi Master

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    This still doesn't work since she's not a conventional monarch & her first order of business is clearly restoring the Republic. She was a senator and a major leader of the rebellion, the idea that she'd just go off and "rule her people" (where would that be, exactly?) is just daft. She could rule and aid the restoration of the Republic, but this seems like a weak "ending" for the character. The last time we see her in the films she is a leader, a soldier, and still passionately committed to her politics. That's a great place to leave here. As for what happens next, I think Zahn intuited the best direction for her character perfectly: she'd be right in the middle of things, not "going off" anywhere. That's my .02c anyway.
  22. Random Comments Force Ghost

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    Especially when there are things like the "original" story outlines of the Sequel Trilogy out there with Ben, Jaina, etc as characters.
  23. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    Apart from Harrison Ford's somewhat grumpy comments about how he thought Han should die ("He's got no mama, he's got no papa, he's got no future"), Lawrence Kasdan brought it up in ROTJ story conferences - he felt that one major character should die early to midway through the film to add to the sense of danger to the rest. If it was Han, it would also complete his story arc in a very dramatic way - the character begins the saga as a cynical, selfish pirate, then evolves into someone who ends up sacrificing himself to save his friends. GL vetoed the idea, he didn't want to kill any of the heroes off, he didn't envision it as that sort of film. So no, it didn't make its way into any outlines or script drafts.
    Some accounts claim it was Harrison Ford who originally came up with the idea and Kasdan liked it, others credit Kasdan with it. It was definitely brought up, though. I think it's probably mentioned in the Annotated Screenplays.

    The fact that Kurtz always includes 'Han dying' as part of his accounts of the earlier vision of ROTJ is what leads me to believe that he was still somewhat involved during the early stages of ROTJ's development, i.e. 1980-81.

    There's also a long-standing rumour that Lando and the Falcon were intended to not make it out of the Death Star - some even claim that it made it into a cut of the film & didn't go down well with test audiences. There's zero real evidence to back this up (the 'script' floating around that includes it is a fake, as are the fan-doctored pictures of the Falcon consumed by flames), the official LFL stance is that the idea was never included in any drafts & was never filmed, although it may have been discussed in story conferences.
    Could have been considered as an alternative to Han's death, if Kasdan was set on killing off at least one hero.
  24. drg4 Force Ghost

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    Lucas was wise to nix the "killing Han" conceit. Devoting an entire act to a hero's rescue and then wasting said character in the same bloody movie constitutes shoddy storytelling.

    In fact, although I have 101 gripes against ROTJ, the dearth of protagonist deaths is not one of them. The family of heroes deserved a happy ending.
  25. Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn The Other Saga Moderator

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    Regarding Han, one concept I unfortunately have to credit someone else for (a random online person, not anyone involved with the films) is - what if, after emerging for the carbon freeze, Han's blindness was permanent, and he had to learn to use the Force to sense what was around him. This would also complete his arc in a different interesting way (the nonbeliever forced to become a believer).

    Of course this would necessitate an "everyone can in principle learn to use some of the Force," or perhaps a "Han's "luck" was really just another name for Force-sensitivity, and he always had ability in there somewhere."
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