BTS According to Gary Kurtz...

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

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  1. oierem Jedi Grand Master

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    Mar 18, 2009
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    Yeah, I agree. I do think that a lot of what WE (from today's perspective) consider important was never put on paper. Rinzler's book offer all kinds of information about the whole making of the movie INCLUDING the writting, but doesn't analyze them in any way, or try to interpret that information from a more global point of view.
  2. AndyLGR Jedi Grand Master

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  3. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    Mod action: Merging with the 'According to Gary Kurtz' thread in Saga.

    Good interview, it's been a while since Colonel Gary Kurtz has weighed in on SW, and not as sensationalistic as previous ones (ORIGINAL STAR WARS PRODUCER TRASHES RETURN OF THE JEDI, THE PREQUEL TRILOGY AND GEORGE LUCAS!!!). No huge revelations, although he does back up GL's claim that SW/ANH was meant to have an episode number in the middle of things, but Kurtz seems to suggest that it was more of a novelty/technique than a genuine position in the storyline.
    Also the first we've heard of his opinions on the Holiday Special, to my knowledge.

    This was particularly interesting, it confirms an old theory of mine regarding the 'bittersweet' version of ROTJ that Kurtz has mentioned in the past (No Ewoks, Han dies, Leia is crowned, Luke wanders off at the end):

    The 'Kurtz version' of ROTJ never matched anything we knew about the development of ROTJ, I always figured they were just ideas tossed around 'for the third film' while ESB was being written - and there we have confirmation.
    Last edited by Darth_Nub, Sep 28, 2014
  4. oierem Jedi Grand Master

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    Mar 18, 2009
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    So, according to Kurtz, Harrison Ford (and by extention, Kurtz himself) wanted to kill Han while Empire was being written? Then, why didn't they actually kill him in Empire? Kurtz insists that Return made the story "less serious" (by having all the heroes survive), but in reality, if Han was ever going to be killed, it had to be during Empire. From the moment they decided not to (and instead ended the film with a promise of a rescue) it was clear that Han HAD to be rescued (and couldn't be killed AGAIN).

    This alone is enough for me to suspect that what Kurtz claims to be "early ideas for Return" are basically his thoughts and wishes from nowadays.

    And of course, he presents this as the reason for which he left Lucasfilm, when in reality, he was virtually fired and replaced by Howard Kazanjian by the fall of 1979.
    Samnz likes this.
  5. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    I don't think he really does that, although there's no real mention of why he wasn't asked back for ROTJ. He was on the outs towards the end of ESB, then I think it was made pretty clear to him that they didn't want him back for ROTJ, and he was happy to leave. He was in contact with LFL during pre-production of ROTJ, most likely just providing a few contacts, plus he visited the Tatooine set during the shoot.

    He was fired, but it wasn't quite as acrimonious as many like to suggest.

    As for why they didn't kill Han in ESB - they sort of did, by freezing him in carbonite. He could have been thawed in the next episode, or not.
    Last edited by Darth_Nub, Sep 28, 2014
  6. Vthuil Force Ghost

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    Jan 3, 2013
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    I feel like oierem has a point, though: while it might just be hindsight, Han being frozen in ESB doesn't really feel like him "dying", it feels like setup for a rescue. So Han not being rescued in the next episode would be pretty narratively jarring.
  7. ATMachine Force Ghost

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    Feb 27, 2007
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    Remember that in Lucas's initial outlines and the first draft of ESB, Han wasn't frozen and carried off by a bounty hunter. Instead Han just leaves at the end on a dangerous mission for the Rebellion: namely, enlisting the support of his foster father Ovan Marekal, reclusive head of a powerful trade guild. Lucas only added the carbon-freezing element to the script after he read Leigh Brackett's draft and decided the heroes weren't in enough danger overall. (In the same vein, in Brackett's script Luke completes his training with Minch/Yoda and becomes a fully sworn-in Jedi before facing Vader.)

    So therefore the problem of Han's death in the then-unmade third film jarring with the rescue implied by ESB did not initially exist. Only when Lucas revised the storyline of the film he was making at the time did the prospect of Han's death come to clash with the resolution of his storyline that the audience would expect.

    This sort of thing is exactly why we got Yoda in ESB, mind you--Obi-Wan in SW 1977 wasn't actually slated to die until a last-minute script revision midway through shooting. So Lucas then had to invent another Jedi mentor for Luke in the sequel, a role that originally Obi-Wan would have continued to fulfill.

    Really interesting interview, BTW.
    Last edited by ATMachine, Sep 28, 2014
  8. Vthuil Force Ghost

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    Right, but what I'm addressing is Darth_Nub's suggestion that Han's freezing, once it was in there, could still be a way of potentially killing him, which is an idea I've seen mentioned elsewhere. And while I believe it was considered as a potential out if Ford didn't return for the third film, I've never thought it was very feasible from a narrative standpoint.
  9. ATMachine Force Ghost

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    Agreed on that point. Besides which, I think Lucas had the idea that Han should stay alive if he was going to hook up with Leia in the end. Which seems to have been planned from the very earliest story outlines for ESB--Lucas told Leigh Brackett in late 1977 that Han and Leia would end up together, for instance. (Contrast this with what he told Alan Dean Foster in 1975, as quoted in The Making of SW.)

    On SW 1977, I think the idea was that Luke would get the girl in the end, but it seems Lucas also at that time had an idea that Princess Leia/Luke's girlfriend should be his twin, in a visual and symbolic though not biological sense. When Carrie Fisher was cast as the Princess, that idea was jettisoned, but it led to the emergence of Luke's lost twin sister as a new plot element in the story ideas for ESB. (Who in turn was merged back into Leia in ROTJ for reasons of storytelling economy.)

    Suffice it to say, I think Lucas always wanted a happy ending for the principal romantic couple--originally Luke and Leia in the first film, but changed to Han and Leia by the sequels. So I doubt he would have gone for Kurtz's idea of killing Han off, at least after 1977.
  10. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    Neither have I, and it's not like they went with it anyway - all I really meant was that it may have come about as a part of the discussion in which Han's death was mentioned, and having it there as an option perhaps made it even more attractive to all concerned. The risk of him never escaping carbon freeze certainly works as an exciting cliffhanger, besides.
    Last edited by Darth_Nub, Sep 28, 2014
  11. oierem Jedi Grand Master

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    Mar 18, 2009
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    But, was he really happy to leave?

    That's what he makes us believe: his story is that he wasn't interested in the "revised" third chapter Lucas was creating. But I doubt it: towards the end of the shooting (which Kurtz was enjoying because he liked what Kershner was doing), Howard Kazanjian stepped in. At that point, Kurtz was, in a way, replaced, and by december 1979 he had resigned from Lucasfilm. At that point Lucas was quite busy editing Empire, so I very much doubt that there was any talk about a "revised" third chapter. At that point, Kurtz was working with Kersh, which he enjoyed, and creating a film that he believed was great. I very much doubt that he was "happy" to leave.

    In my opinion, AFTER he left, he realized that the third episode they were making (without him) was not what he thought it should be, and therefore, convinced himself (and others) that he was actually quite happy not to be a part of it. (That's natural human behaviour: we tend to convince ourselves that we are actually better in our new situation than in our previous one, and we like to present our "best face" to other people). But at the time he was "fired", he would've liked to be the producer of Star Wars 3.

    They sort of did.. but they didn't. Considering that Empire is considered the most mature, adult and serious episode, they refrained from actually killing a main character (the only movie in the whole saga in which none of the importat good guys die!). Leaving Han in hibernation forever could've been a dramatic end for the character ("he cannot be saved now... he's alive... but forever gone"), but the end of the movie suggest that the rescue will be possible and inminent. By doing so, Han HAD to be rescued, and once rescued, he couldn't be killed.


    Actually, I find it very hard to believe that Lucas ever considered a valid option to kill any of his leading characters. That was NOT the type of film he wanted to make around 1977. So I very much doubt that Han's death was ever suggested by Lucas as a possibility back then, and it was probably not suggested by anyone else until they started to write Jedi. (by the way, in the interviews from the release of Empire Harrison Ford seems to be willing to return without any doubt: his suggestion was that Han had to be killed during Jedi, and we aren't even sure when that suggestion was first made, -possibly after the succes of Raiders)
  12. Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn The Other Saga Moderator

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    Hey everyone, just wanted to share this podcast I found. It contains some discussion - and more importantly, audio of - the Gary Kurtz interviews excerpted above. Some of the written quotes above have been rearranged. I'm not sure if it affects anything really, but I figured maybe some would be interested in listening.
  13. Ord-Mantell70 Jedi Grand Master

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    Mar 9, 2009
    star 3
    Thanks for sharing.


    By the way, has anybody of you guys read Taylor's book (How Star Wars conquered the Universe) ?

    Is it worth it ?
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