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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    The creative direction ESB was taking was more Kershner, not Gary Kurtz, although Kurtz was taking Kershner's side against George Lucas, in favour of spending more for a better result. Not much fun for GL, who was putting everything he had on the line, and the man he charged with the responsibility of keeping the budget under control was consciously allowing it to spiral out of control.

    It's something of a miracle ESB turned out as well as it did, and it made a fortune anyway, but sequels weren't the money-spinners back then that they usually are now. They always made a lot less money, & required much lower budgets as a result. ESB went in the opposite direction, it's no wonder GL was furious at Kurtz. It was one thing for the New Hollywood filmmakers to take massive risks with a studio's money, another for the filmmakers themselves to risk literally everything they owned - particularly on a film with such a downbeat, inconclusive ending.

    In hindsight, you can say it was well worth it, but at the time...
    Last edited by Darth_Nub, Sep 30, 2012
  2. oierem Jedi Grand Master

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    I think the notion of going overbudged is somewhat idealized by some, who think that it's a sign of a good filmmaker/good movie. Some tend to think that Lucas was wrong firing Kurtz because of finantial reasons, because Kurtz was invested in the movie and Lucas wasn't, and that's not fair. No matter whose money it is, you have to be very careful with the money when making a movie: we're talking about millions of dollars, and there's always the risk of cancelling the movie.

    Regarding Empire, I think it's important to remember that, because Kurtz let things go overbudged and overschedule, there were many scenes that couldn't even be filmed. A lot of the Dagobah scenes had to be cut before they were even shot, because they had to finish the movie somehow. Maybe some of those scenes could have been a gret scene, and would have ended up in the movie. Maybe some of those scenes would be even better than what we got. The truth is that there was never an option to use them because they weren't shot. And Kurtz is to blame for that.
  3. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    Despite achieving financial independence with the massive success of Star Wars, ESB going over budget meant that GL then had to go cap in hand to renegotiate the deal with 20th Century Fox, as well. The bank simply wouldn't lend him any more money.

    For such a fiercely independent filmmaker as George Lucas, born out of the spirit of New Hollywood, that really, really hurt.

    Don't get me wrong, what Irvin Kershner achieved on ESB was magnificent, we're all better off for it, but the financial situation simply wasn't handled as well as it might have been by the person who was responsible for it. GL had every right to be angry and worried, then try to take control.
    Anyway, as per my initial post, I'd rather this not degenerate into a slagfest against Gary Kurtz for being an irresponsible spendthrift, or George Lucas for becoming the sort of soul-less money-obsessed studio head he always despised, but it's all relevant, just as long as the context is understood.
    Last edited by Darth_Nub, Sep 30, 2012
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  4. sinkie Jedi Master

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    And who knows! If he hadn't gone over budget maybe we would have gotten something from Yoda on the subject of midichlorians all the way back in 1980! [face_tee_hee]

    What I find interesting in this and other discussions about this is that sometimes it veers into "but that wouldn't make any sense if it was true" territory. I mean obviously some effort can be made to see if something just is a flat out lie but to think that multiple, contradicting, not very polished ideas weren't floated during development phases would be unrealistic. And as some have suggested, perhaps the real crux of the argument is that Kurtz may have latched onto some and gives them more weight than others, especially Lucas, ever did. Even the Leia as Queen of her people thing isn't that far-fetched if it was just a floated idea that never really got pushed to see if it could be made to actually work with what ANH and ESB were establishing. It may just have been a shorthand for "she realizes she's needed in a leadership role that will keep her from continuing on these galaxy-spanning adventures with the other bunch of heroes". So when discussing it they'd just say "goes off to become queen of her people" and everybody in the know would get it. I personally always read the rumor of going off to be queen as going off to be queen of the new Republic or at the very least, the growing Rebellion, not specifically those scattered few of Alderaan decent, and not even as queen but as Leader of...
    Last edited by sinkie, Oct 2, 2012
  5. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    What can I tell you, you're right. When you're right, you're right. And you're right!

    (Pick the movie. Give you a clue - not SW, or even sci-fi)

    While it's tempting to try to nail down very concrete storylines for the alternative ROTJ, a 1980s Prequel Trilogy or the fabled Sequel Trilogy of Episodes VII-IX that make perfect logical sense - as that would make them somewhat more 'real' - at some point you have to face the fact that most of these visions never even made it to the stage of being written treatments. At best, there might be a page here and there written in pencil on yellow notepaper in childish scribbles that's virtually illegible, pointing towards a Saga very different from what we eventually got, perhaps even a few hints about events beyond ROTJ, but I doubt that even if such documents were discovered they would match what other material we have concerning such storylines.

    GL may well have had vague ideas of Episodes VII-IX of the 9-episode trilogy of trilogies dealing with Luke's mysterious sister on the other side of the galaxy, even though the timeframe he publically set for VII-IX would suggest against it. In 1979, he might have though Leia's coronation would work well for the end of ROTJ, even though he hadn't figured out why, or just who she would be the Queen of. He might also have envisioned the PT being presented completely differently to the OT, with a long prologue outlining the history of the Jedi, not unlike the beginning of the film of Fellowship of the Ring - no opening yellow scroll, or even the same music. Who knows?
  6. ATMachine Force Ghost

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    Exactly, Nub. The wide-open potential present in the early Saga ideas, before the story was "locked down," appears even when you look at something as simple as the opening scroll of ESB.

    The original plan was to have black letters on a white background, which, after the crawl had passed by, would be revealed as the bleak snow-covered surface of Hoth. This idea lingered into Kasdan's final shooting script, long after the "Episode V" label had been attached. Then Lucas decided during post-production to open the film with a space shot instead, and ended up using the exact same crawl style as in ANH.

    After that, no SW film could be without an opening scroll done in the very same way. But back in 1978, when the ESB storyboards were first drawn up, the ANH scroll style wasn't a tradition yet--it was open to change in a way that wouldn't be true for later films.
    Last edited by ATMachine, Oct 8, 2012
  7. Random Comments Force Ghost

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    Well, except the horrid TCW movie. No scroll, a newsreel there.
    Last edited by Random Comments, Oct 8, 2012
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  8. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    Even the opening music probably wasn't intended as the fixture it would eventually become - what's all but faded away over time is the fact that what we now know as 'The Star Wars Theme' was actually 'Luke Skywalker's Theme', and was even used as a motif at the end of ROTS when the infant Luke is delivered to the Lars Homestead (just as it is several times in SW/ANH & ESB).
    Pure speculation, but it's quite possible that a new opening theme was briefly considered for the PT when they were in early development in the 1990s (probably not, though).


    Same with the first Ewok movie - being a very tangential part of the overall SW universe, not only was there no opening scroll, it also had a voiceover.
  9. Heero_Yuy Force Ghost

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    ^ Excellent point there about the Star Wars theme. People seem to forget that Star Wars was never intended to be the tragedy of Darth Vader (despite what Lucas likes to tell people). Rather, it was always intended as the adventures of Luke Skywalker. As such, I didn't hear somewhere that dual of the fates was initially considered to be Used in the opening crawl of the prequel trilogy.
  10. Heero_Yuy Force Ghost

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    * sorry, that should read that I DID hear somewhere about DOTF being used as the PT opening music initially.
  11. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    There was a rumor (saw it in newsweek) that there'd be a 'thunderous new main theme' before TPM came out.

    Edit: I think it'd be neat if each film's scroll started with that film's centerpiece theme; TPM would have DOTF, AOTC would have Across The Stars, ROTS would have BoTH, etc.
    Last edited by DarthBoba, Oct 9, 2012
  12. oierem Jedi Grand Master

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    If I recall correctly, Williams did actually suggest to have a darker version of the main theme for the prequels, but lucas decided against it.
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  13. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    Huh. Wonder what that would have sounded like? The main theme is so brassy it's hard to imagine a darker version.
  14. oierem Jedi Grand Master

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    Not exactly the same, but in the OT (mainly in Empire Strikes Back) you can hear the minor version of Luke's theme, which sounds more melcancolic and sad. Imagine a version of that in full brass :)
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  15. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    Hmm...gimme a scene-I'm thinking Dagobah maybe, in the cave?
  16. oierem Jedi Grand Master

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    There are many examples of the main theme in a minor mode, but yes, the cave scene, right when Luke sees his own face behind the mask, is one example.
  17. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    Ahh ok. I thought so. And yeah, that might be good.
  18. MrFantastic74 Jedi Grand Master

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    I think the bittersweet loss of Lando and the Falcon during the destruction of the Death Star could have been a terrific plot element had they included the concept in the film. However, I think for a greater emotional impact, they should have had Lando literally sacrifice himself in order to free a path for Wedge to make the Death Star kill shot. It could have gone something like this:

    (while navigating the various tunnels and conduits of the partially constructed Death Star)
    Wedge: "TIE squadron approaching from the east conduit! They'll cut us off!"
    Lando: (pauses, with a brief expression of dread, before resolve and determination set in) "I'll handle them, Wedge. Here's where we separate."
    Wedge: "But that's suicide! You can't possibly take them head on-"
    Lando: "You and your wings stay on course for the main reactor! That's an order. May the Force be with you."
    (Lando splits off from Wedge's group and veers into a narrow tunnel, directly into the advancing TIE squadron, literally ramming himself into the first fighters and causing mayhem amongst the rest of the squadron who are now sealed off. This clears a path for Wedge to make a beeline for the main reactor, and BOOM)

    Lando = completely redeemed hero.

    I have too much time on my hands.
  19. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

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    The only problem is that that would fit the "black guy dies" stereotype in SF.
    Last edited by Arawn_Fenn, Oct 11, 2012
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  20. Brandon Rhea Manager Emeritus

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    It could've possibly fueled that stereotype, but, at the same time, it would've been a heroic and redemptive sacrifice rather than the character being lamb to the slaughter.

    I personally, though, would've rather seen Han Solo die. I agree with Harrison Ford when he says it would've lent more emotional weight to the story and raised the stakes for the remaining character.
    Last edited by jedimasterbac, Oct 12, 2012
  21. oierem Jedi Grand Master

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    Only if his dead happened in the first half of the movie... otherwise it doesn't raise the stakes. And having devoted 30 minutes to his rescue, it seems a rather stupid decission.

    And I'm glad Lando's not killed at the end of the movie either. The focus of the story is on Vader, Luke and The Emperor. Once the Emperor dies, the good guys have won, and once Vader dies, we're ready to celebrate their victory. The destruction of the Death Star is handled in a very heroic way, avoiding to create another artificial tension, because the main plot has been resolved already.
  22. oierem Jedi Grand Master

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    I will say this: if Han was to be killed off, he should've been killed of in Episode V. That's when he sacrifices himself. His character progression is completed, and the love story ends in a dramatic way. And his death would certainly raise the stakes for the rest of the characters in the last movie.
    But Episode V itself crushes this idea, establishing that Han is alive and WILL be rescued, finishing the movie with a poingnant but, in a way, hopeful scene. If he was going to be rescued in Episode VI, he couldn't really be killed "again".

    So no, Gary Kurtz. Your bittersweet ending was only possible if Episode V ended differently. Don't blame Episode VI for letting all the heroes live, because Episode V is the only episode in the whole saga in which no significant character dies.
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  23. Brandon Rhea Manager Emeritus

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    It would've necessitated changing the way the story unfolds, rather than shoehorning him into a pre-established story structure. He wouldn't have to die in the first 30 minutes, though. He could've died halfway in, raising the stakes for the final battle and climax. He also could've been given a triumphant sacrificial moment towards the end, in the final battle. Though that wouldn't have raised the stakes, it would have completed Han's character development from the rogue "I ain't in this for your revolution" character to the character who dies so the Rebellion can succeed and destroy the Empire.
    Last edited by jedimasterbac, Oct 12, 2012
  24. oierem Jedi Grand Master

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    But yet, you need to rescue him first, which takes some time (you need to create a whole sequence in Tatooine, which is very far from the rest of the action). And after spending some time rescuing him, you kill him again? That's wasting movie time.
    And again, the true climax of the movie is focused on Luke, Vader and the Emperor, which ties with the conflict established in the PT nicely. Adding the death of another character to the mix would distract the focus from them. Anakin is the main character who dies.
    And finally, Han's development was over in Empire: he sacrifices himself in a way, in a story not realted to the Rebellion, but to Leia. That's equally powerful. If he was to be killed at some point,that was in Empire.
  25. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Han should've gone out like Fett, with a burp joke.
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