Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn, Sep 3, 2012.
EDIT: See below.
Okay here's my previous post (the temp boards are here... not sure how long they'll be there or if we should try porting those conversations here or what):
Instead of indicating limits, it could conceivably indicate pre-existing talent. I'll make up some conjecture: what if living things have a direct connection to the Force, and midichlorians, while present in every living cell, may congregate or reproduce more easily in the cells of creatures with stronger direct connections to the Force? Then you would end up with Force-sensitives who had high midichlorian counts as the result (rather than the cause) of their current level of Force talent. The Jedi would probably be more apt to snap up apprentices who already show some aptitude, rather than picking people they would have to teach from scratch, so they would still prefer those with higher midichlorian counts. But in this scenario, the midichlorian count could change, depending on the individual's changing relationship with the Force.
I don't think the above is the intent of Lucas or anyone else in particular. It's just an example of how a midichlorian count could indicate something other than upper limits on an individual's Force potential.
Even if the above doesn't work for whatever reason, we don't know if or how midichlorian counts can fluctuate over time, or if they could somehow respond to effort on the part of a elbow-grease-applying Force-wanter.
And you did see the Lucas quote where both the heredity and willpower approaches are mentioned, right?
I actually don't have a ton to add (shamefully, I haven't read any of the Dune novels yet), except that it does seem strange - not unbelievable, just strange in hindsight - how undefined Mother Skywalker seems to have been prior to TPM. I wonder if Lucas had any concrete ideas about her appearance or station in life during the making of the OT... and if so, what they might have been. To the extent that I imagined anyone from Leia's description, I think maybe I imagined a brunette. Not sure why. A blonde would make sense, with the Luke taking after his mother idea you mentioned. Others have tied together his ability to see good in Anakin with the way Padme did the same in ROTS. Visual echoes might have accentuated this.
Also, I recently rented John Boorman's Excalibur. I vaguely remember having seen it in my mid-teens (I think), but I think I underestimated the amount of influences, or simply similarities, it had/has to imagery in my imagination. This is mostly unrelated except that when they got to Camelot and the knights of the round table, I was like - man, if they were going to go with more militaristic Jedi in the prequels, this would have been a great model (perhaps not the chrome armor, though even that might have been an interesting touch). Some of the knights (one of whom is Liam Neeson) wore topknots as well, which is what made me remember/mention this. The whole 80s-mythic vibe too.
I guess to some extent it is similar:
Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn: Actually, in regards to Excalibur knightly armor-- as I mentioned back on the temp boards, Doug Chiang's concept for the all-black Jedi costume in TPM included an armored vest and vambraces for the wrists.
In fact, this may have been what Lucas liked best out of Chiang's various takes on the Jedi costume design; it also shows up frequently in Iain McCaig's character designs, and in the TPM storyboard depictions of Qui-Gon.
It's an interesting idea, though we don't see much aptitude on the part of Jedi younglings so it's hard to know.
In the EU, we have seen an example of a character eventually managing to increase his midichlorian count. I tend to think this is supposed to be quite rare as opposed to something commonly achieved by Force-users.
I've cut and pasted some of the best discussions from the temp boards to this thread so they won't be lost.
Here's a quote from Annotated Screenplays, describing the discussion between Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan about how Anakin should appear when unmasked at the end of ROTJ:
Interesting that Kasdan wanted to give elderly Anakin a beard, presumably to make his appearance a little more "normal." It would definitely conflict with the idea of Anakin having being burned all over, though.
Still... it'd be interesting to imagine prequel-era Anakin with a beard. Especially given his increased age in the original chronology.
Also, in the second draft (penned by Kasdan), in which Anakin has a beard when unmasked, that's the only glimpse of him we get, since his ghost doesn't show up in the ending sequence:
This also touches on the issue of Force ghosting, since it would seem that in this version, Anakin definitely never learned that skill. In Lucas' revised rough draft, though, the one in which Anakin, Ben, and Yoda all return to flesh-and-blood life at the end, it's explained that "Yoda also has been able to prevent Vader from becoming one with the Force"--so presumably some similar "intercession" took place in the finished film.
Notably, the third draft, in which Anakin when unmasked is a horrible mutant, seems to have introduced the idea that we also see him as a spirit, whole and healed of his injuries, at the end of the film. Perhaps that was the reason for the introduction of his Force ghost--so we get to see both the horrific disfigurement of Vader and the unblemished face of "good" Anakin?
On the Anakin returns-to-flesh-and-blood from the rough or REVISED rough draft (July 1981):
Is it 'safe' to assume that when he appears at the end in 'flesh-and-blood', he is of 'appropriate' age - that is old enough to be 20-something Luke's father?
Well, at least in the rough draft, Annotated Screenplays describes the "flesh-and-blood" Anakin as "an old man, the good Skywalker," so yes, he's definitely older than one would expect from the prequels as ultimately made.
To go back to character designs in the prequels.... apparently Doug Chiang's early concept designs for Obi-Wan in TPM:
...were inspired, at Lucas' suggestion, by the look of heroic warrior knight Madmartigan (played by Val Kilmer) in Lucas' previous film Willow.
Like Obi-Wan in Chiang's early concept art, Madmartigan has black hair. No doubt because, since Willow is modeled in many respects on Lord of the Rings, Madmartigan is meant to correspond to Aragorn: the loyal Ranger who protects the diminutive hero as he struggles with his burden. (If you recall your Tolkien, Aragorn has the dark hair and grey eyes that mark noble Gondorian heritage.) Madmartigan physically resembles Aragorn just as Luke Skywalker physically resembles the blond Flash Gordon. Kilmer's character is a bit more roguish than the straitlaced Aragorn, though--at one point he has a dalliance with a married woman and tries to avoid her husband's wrath by dressing up as a lady.
Madmartigan's hairstyle is rather familiar--long hair with two thin braids in front, one over each ear. Apparently Lucas wanted to reuse this fantasy warrior look in a SW context for the Jedi.
In the film, Madmartigan's love interest is Sorsha, the daughter of evil sorceress Bavmorda and the last king of Tir Asleen; she starts out as a general in her mother's army, but ultimately has a change of heart. Sorsha has red hair, as is noted several times in the shooting script.
Famous French SF artist Moebius actually did some concept art drawings for the film. Here are his designs for Madmartigan and Sorsha.
In these early drawings Sorsha is blonde, but Madmartigan already has "Aragorn-esque" dark hair and blue eyes. Both of their costumes have a considerable amount of Japanese influence: Sorsha wears a fearsome Noh mask and Madmartigan has a Japanese peasant's straw hat.
Getting back to SW: not only does the Willow connection suggest some interesting input on Obi-Wan's appearance in Chiang's early concept art (especially the link to LOTR), it also reminds me of what I said about prequel Anakin back on the temp boards:
Another funny Dune-related thing I discovered:
This TPM concept art for Obi-Wan with a mohawk....
....resembles these John Schoenherr illustrations of Duke Leto Atreides with a mohawk, from the original serial publication of Dune in Analog magazine, way back in 1963-65.
In fact, the early storyboards for TPM, as I've noted before, repeatedly depict one of the two Jedi in the film as sporting a Mohawk hairstyle. One of the TPM making-of books actually notes that it was Lucas himself who suggested this costuming idea. (Lucky for us he changed his mind...)
Mind you, Schoenherr was also the Analog cover artist whose work "inspired" Lucas with the final appearance of Chewbacca....
Really? The similarity is obvious now that you present it, but that's the first I've heard that it was GL's suggestion.
That seems to imply that this different look for the Jedi was really just GL toying with a potential alternative for the sake of having an alternative, rather than it being an idea he had back during the development of the OT.
The Art of Episode I says:
So yes, it does seem to have been Lucas' idea. Though (despite what the book claims) the Madmartigan-esque hairstyle remains in almost all of Chiang's early sketches, right there alongside the "peace pipe"--as well as in the production paintings.
Mind you, Lucas was also the person who suggested that one of the Jedi would look good with a Mohawk...
It still sounds like he was just looking for an alternative for the purpose of deciding whether or not he was sold on something based on the old design, which he was.
For better or worse, the kimono-style uniform for the Jedi they went with served its purpose - the outfit immediately says 'Jedi' - even if it still doesn't explain why half the citizens of Mos Eisley are dressed like Jedi Knights. Something completely different, perhaps more militaristic or retro sci-fi, could have been refreshing, but the fanbase being what it is, another uniform would have drawn plenty of criticism regardless.
Don't like the parachute pants on Obi-Wan in the Chiang designs anyway.
Hey, it was the 90s...
OK, I finally got around to properly reading Dune Messiah and Children of Dune (as opposed to just Googling the summaries ). Now, I'm convinced that the plot of these two Dune sequels was a big influence on Lucas' development of ESB and the new storylines that emerged there (Father Vader and Luke's hidden sister).
Be ye warned, there be SPOILERS below....
Dune Messiah is about the crumbling of Paul Atreides' empire, which he forged at the conclusion of the first book. His concubine and lover, Chani, becomes pregnant, but one of her enemies (Paul's legal wife, the Princess Irulan) has fed her anti-contraception drugs that make the pregnancy perilous. Chani ends up dying in childbirth; Paul is devastated and feels his life is now meaningless, but, as the specially-bred Kwisatz Haderach, his ability to see the future warned him that this must happen. She leaves behind twins: one boy and one girl. Notably, however, Paul's oracular vision had only alerted him to the birth of one child, a daughter. (Chani had been examined by medics and knew she was carrying twins, but never got the chance to inform Paul due to her accelerated rate of pregnancy.) The existence of a son takes him completely by surprise--because his son displays from birth the same prescient abilities as Paul himself, and no prescient oracle can "see" the life of another.
Paul, who has had his eyes melted out by an atomic blast in an assassination attempt, gives up his place at the head of the Atreides Empire and his status as the holy Muad'Dib, the Messiah of Arrakis. He wanders into the deep desert, apparently to die...
Children of Dune reveals that both of Paul's children--Leto II, the boy, and Ghanima, the girl--were in fact born with the innate ability of the Kwisatz Haderach to commune with their own distant ancestors. They possess the wisdom of uncounted ages within adolescent bodies. Paul's sister, Alia, was also born with this ability from birth, but she has failed to master it: she is now being consumed by the dominant personality of her evil grandfather, the late Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (whom she herself killed as a child).
Leto, Paul's son, has been having prescient dreams, and he has come to realize that in the far future humanity will ultimately stagnate, leading to its own extinction, if something drastic is not done. Leto realizes that he must create an Imperial paradise, a Golden Age of peace, followed by a catastrophic time of bloody violence and chaos, in order to impart the deep-seated taboo against stagnation that will prevent humanity's destruction. But to do this, to create this "Golden Path," he needs to stay alive for thousands of years--and the only way to do that is to merge his body with the larval sandworms of Arrakis, creating a monstrous new hybrid lifeform that is practically immortal.
Leto also knows that Paul Atreides, his father, had realized this horrific action was the only way to save humanity. However, Paul shrank from taking that fearful, necessary step; he preferred to die in the desert, retaining his own humanity, rather than sacrifice himself for the good of the human race. Paul had come to see that prescience itself was a trap: by always knowing and shaping the future, he was doomed to an existence of mind-numbing boredom, which he craved desperately to escape.
Yet Paul is not dead. He returns, under the guise of "The Preacher," to criticize the worship of Muad'Dib that, under his sister's leadership, has grown stale and corrupt. In one of the climactic scenes of the novel, Paul confronts his son Leto, meeting him alone in the vast desert, urging him to desist from his course, to walk away from his terrible destiny and fashion a happy life for himself. Leto refuses his father's temptation, and having failed to dissuade his son, Paul finally accedes to his greater wisdom.
At the end of the novel, Leto and Paul journey to Arrakeen, the capital city of Arrakis, to destroy the corrupt theocratic government of Alia, Paul's sister. Paul knows that he will not survive the trip, but comes anyway. Leto poses as the guide to the blind Preacher. While Paul creates a diversion upon the steps of Alia's temple, railing against her corruption, he is slain by her guards, buying Leto the time he needs to enter the palace, rescue his sister Ghanima, and confront Alia (who commits suicide). At the very end Leto becomes the new Atreides emperor, with Ghanima as his symbolic sister-wife, after the fashion of the Pharaohs of ancient Earth's old Egypt (although, because of his sandworm-induced infertility, Leto has arranged for Ghanima to have children by another man, Prince Farad'n of House Corrino, the grandson of the Emperor Shaddam IV whom Paul deposed in the original Dune).
Whew! OK, where to begin?
We have the story of a tragic hero in Paul Atreides: someone who starts out as a heroic figure with a high destiny, but who fails to accomplish that destiny due to his own personal weakness, only to have his own son fulfill the role that he could not. That sure sounds like Anakin Skywalker to me.
Not to mention Paul's utter devastation at the loss of his wife, and his failure to predict the existence of one of his children--he's even maimed and disfigured just at the time his children are born! And when Leto steps up to follow Paul's vision of how to preserve humanity, Paul tries to tempt him from his duty; the weakness of the father is pitted against the resolve of the son. Of course, Paul finally acquiesces to Leto's wisdom, even knowingly sacrificing himself so that his son can do what must be done.
Paul wanted to escape the trap of being locked into prescience, of always knowing the future, feeling his own life stagnate. Leto, however, accepts that he must submit to the destiny of the "Golden Path" in order to free the rest of human civilization. Anakin's failure is portrayed in much broader strokes--he became an embodiment of evil, the black-robed Darth Vader, someone who actively attacks the noble ideals he once championed--but in both cases a hero has failed of his purpose. Similarly, both Paul and Anakin try to tempt their sons from the path of duty. And both of them eventually accept their sons' greater wisdom, sacrificing their own lives as a result.
(To say nothing of Anakin's status as the prophesied "Chosen One" from the prequels, conceived by the will of the Force and destined to "bring balance." Compare this to Paul's Kwisatz Haderach status, as the end product of generations of Bene Gesserit breeding, designed to produce a super-being with powers of ancestral memory and prescience...)
There's also the fact that the "Luke's twin sister" plotline is obviously pulled directly from Children of Dune (but with the twist that the twin children were separated at birth). The novel came out in 1976--too late to impact the development of ANH. But Lucas definitely read it before thinking about the storyline of ESB... and I think it may have influenced his thinking about the character of Father Skywalker.
Here's a significant quote from Children of Dune, a scene where Paul's mother Lady Jessica is providing Bene Gesserit training to Prince Farad'n on Salusa Secundus:
Now compare this to Lucas' early notes for ESB dialogue, where Luke speaks to his Jedi teacher Bunden Debannen (known as "Buffy," AKA the precursor to Yoda):
Lucas' verbatim dialogue-"borrowing" from other sources also happened in the ANH scripts: compare the first draft, where Lucas put Piter de Vries' declaration "We've gained a true advantage" from the original Dune into the mouth of Governor Crispin Hoedaack of Alderaan; or even the third draft, where Luke and Ben Kenobi consider the meaning of the words "Good morning" in a conversation originally written by J.R.R. Tolkien for Bilbo and Gandalf in The Hobbit.
Interestingly, the page of ESB notes with the dialogue from Children of Dune is also the page on which Lucas wrote "He was a Mynoc, Human-computer. (Vader?)" Mynoc in this context is obviously a riff on the Mentats of Dune, who are also "human-computers": that is, people trained to use their brains for ultra-powerful logical analysis, since their society has outlawed "thinking machines."
Noteworthy is that Lucas at first scribbled down another, slightly longer word in place of Mynoc, and then blotted it out completely--did he write Mentat and then decide he couldn't borrow the term so nakedly?
Here's a bit more....
Consider this quote from Lucas' late 1977 story conferences with Leigh Brackett.
The Emperor is hidden inside a "cold steel box"? Funnily enough, this also suggests a Dune connection.
By the end of Children of Dune, Leto II is the undisputed Emperor, but he is already beginning to mutate into something beyond human. Except for his face, his entire body is covered in the flat gray patches of sandworm larvae that have become a second skin to him. This melding of human and sandworm grants Leto extraordinary physical power: he can run far faster than any normal person, break open the strongest of steel doors, kill heavily-armed guards with the slightest of motions. But Leto's physical transformation is just beginning: he suspects that he will, in about four thousand years' time, become something utterly monstrous, at which point he must finally die.
Nor is this all. In Dune Messiah we meet Edric, a Spacing Guild navigator, whose job piloting ships through "fold-space" requires him to be immersed constantly in prescience-giving spice gas. As a result, Edric has mutated into a bizarre semi-fishlike creature, and lives his entire life floating inside a tank of gaseous spice:
Young Paul had noted this possibility of spice-induced mutation in the original Dune:
Combine the idea of a mutated Emperor with a mutated Guild Navigator, and you might get some monstrous creature hidden in a "cold steel box" as Lucas envisions here.
Also, the scene where Ambassador Edric is formally introduced to Emperor Paul Atreides jumped out at me:
Besides the Edric/early-Emperor connection I noted above, we also see Paul Atreides wearing "jeweled golden robes of state." Likewise, in Leigh Brackett's script, the Emperor was "draped and hooded in cloth-of-gold" though his face was invisible.
Something to further the Paul Atreides/Anakin Skywalker connection....
In Dune Messiah, Emperor Paul is presented with a ghola (clone) of Duncan Idaho, a trusted friend and mentor who died saving Paul's life in the first book. The Duncan ghola was produced from Idaho's corpse by the Tleilaxu, a culture of genetic manipulators whose tampering with nature is universally regarded across the Galaxy as dangerous and even (given the prohibitions of the Butlerian Jihad against computers) blasphemous. (The Tleilaxu have perfected the creation of Face Dancers, shapeshifters who can alter their bodies to any appearance, of either gender, but who are therefore sterile.) Late in the novel, a subliminal order from a Tleilaxu agent, telling the clone to assassinate Paul, produces a tension between the old flesh and the new mind, shocking Idaho into regaining his original memories.
The Tleilaxu attempt to use this knowledge to manipulate Paul. They anticipate that his beloved concubine Chani will die in childbirth. Therefore they ensure that not only does Paul know her flesh can be revived in ghola form, but also that her old memories can be unlocked and restored. So Paul can have his dead beloved restored to him--but only at a price: the Emperor must hand over the true control of his Empire to the Tleilaxu, becoming their willing puppet on the throne. Or, he can abdicate and give them direct control over the Empire. Either way, he must leave his realm in the grip of the nefarious Tleilaxu.
Paul kills one Tleilaxu envoy, the Face Dancer Scytale; though he is blind, he is guided by the prescient vision of his newborn son. But another envoy, Bijaz, remains alive, and Paul no longer has the strength to resist the thought of reunion with Chani. He is forced to have Duncan Idaho kill Bijaz: "As you love me, do me this favor: Kill him before I succumb!" Blind and heartbroken, Paul abandons his empire and his godhood, taking refuge in the emptiness of the deep desert.
Obviously this has huge parallels with the story of Anakin in ROTS (as ultimately completed). Paul is tempted to give up his entire Empire to the Tleilaxu, letting their evil schemes control the fate of the known universe, for the sake of his beloved Chani's life. In the end, he is not strong enough to resist this temptation himself, and must lean on the help of a trusted friend. Anakin faces a similar situation with Palpatine's offer, but he of course succumbs to the lure of the Dark Side.
This is also interesting when we consider that the "Anakin turns evil to save Padme" plotline was only added to ROTS in reshoots well after principal photography; the initial cut of the film featured an Anakin drunk on power, corrupted and crazed by his use of the dark side of the Force. In that version, the Dark Side invaded his mind like a drug, increasingly poisoning his thoughts. But Lucas decided when editing the film that this didn't work: he had to give Anakin a compelling reason to want to join forces with Palpatine... while still being a good person with noble intentions. It's quite possible Lucas once again turned to Dune for inspiration, since he'd already drawn somewhat on the character of Paul Atreides for shaping Anakin in the OT.
BTW, apparently in 1977 DC Comics published a short-lived comic book reviving Jack Kirby's 1971 series New Gods. Lucas seems to have been something of a Kirby fan (like Darth Vader, Doctor Doom from the Fantastic Four comics wears a mask to hide his hideously disfigured face, plus full armor and a cape). I have to wonder if this new series jogged Lucas' memory of Kirby's plot, which pitted the heroic New God Orion against his evil father Darkseid. Combine that with Children of Dune, which came out around the time of principal photography on ANH.... do we have the inspirations for Father Vader in these two sources?
Postscript: I just finished reading God Emperor of Dune (released in May 1981).
The central character of the novel is Leto II, the titular God Emperor. By this point Leto has grown into a monstrous creature, a giant sandworm-human hybrid, resembling an oversized gray slug. His human face remains visible at its head, encapsulated within a gray cowl of sandworm-flesh, but his internal organs have vastly mutated (his brain, for instance, is now a series of linked nodes distributed throughout his segments).
Leto retains humanoid arms and hands, now covered over with the external gray sandworm-skin, but his feet and legs have atrophied into vestigial flippers. He travels by means of a special large cart with anti-gravity suspensors, and frequently receives others while sitting on a raised dais. However, he can move his worm-body with surprising speed, and more than once in the novel we see him using his bulk to crush humans beneath him. He retains all of his prescient abilities and knowledge of his ancestors' lives, and he is reckoned even by his enemies to be the most fearsome and intelligent creature in the universe.
Dare I say.... Jabba the Hutt?
(actually, Lucas wrote the very first rough draft of ROTJ in February 1981, before the release of God Emperor of Dune, and in that draft Jabba is described as "a repulsively fat sultan-like monster with a maniacal grin." Perhaps something of the original Sydney Greenstreet influence remains in that description. However, the revised rough draft was not finished until June, by which point Herbert's novel had come out. Presumably it suggested to Lucas the particular "look" for Jabba.)
I remember thinking of some of the Jabba concept art in The Art of ROTJ when reading GEOD.
Quick update: I'm not dead--just finishing up a reread of the Lensman series. I've got a few things I want to write about in connection to SW--after I finish (tomorrow, hopefully).
OK, finally finished the last Lensman book (though I did read them a bit out of order--actually, that's probably the best way). Much discussion follows!
It's obvious that Lucas read E. E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series some time between Drafts 1 and 2 of ANH. In the first draft, the Jedi were highly-trained samurai-style warriors with superb muscle control and keen fighting abilities (very much based on the Bene Gesserit sisterhood from Dune). In the second draft, however, the Jedi use telekinesis and associated "superheroic" powers. As well, a "Kiber Crystal" suddenly becomes part of the plot in the second and third drafts; in Draft 3 it appears to have been a Force-amplifier carried routinely by Jedi warriors in the old days.
These ideas come from the Lensmen of the Galactic Patrol: a corps of elite officers who, by virtue of their Lenses--powerful crystals issued to each Lensman at the moment of assuming his duties, which provide tremendous powers of mind, plus universal translation and telepathic communication across vast galactic distances--are the chief police officers of the Civilization of the known galaxy. Note the word "police"--it was because of the Lensmen that the Jedi evolved from being solely Samurai warriors, warlord-retainers to a feudal galactic nobility, into the elite police force of a Galactic Republic. After all, the idea of the Old Republic only emerged in the second draft; in ANH Draft 1 there had always been a Galactic Empire, and, though now corrupt, it had originally been benevolent (an idea taken from Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels, wherein the collapse of the Galactic Empire is treated as a Very Bad Thing).
The Lensmen fight the chief enemy of their Civilization: the opposing society of "Boskone," a totalitarian grouping of worlds ultimately controlled by the Eddorians, an ancient species from another space and time whose greatest lust is for untrammeled power. The Eddorians are entirely evil, extremely powerful mentally, and well-hidden; not their underlings, nor even the Lensmen, know that Eddore's Innermost Circle are the true rulers of all Boskonia. The Eddorians' scheme aims ultimately to take over the rule of two galaxies' worth of planets, so that each Eddorian can be master of his own despotic fief. Fortunately, Civilization has equally powerful allies: the Arisians, the alien race which created the Lens.
Anyone who wears the Lens is incorruptibly virtuous--if the Galactic Patrol's rigorous five-year training of cadets (beginning at age 18) doesn't see to that, the Arisians, who also briefly examine each candidate for a Lens, do. The Arisians' long-term goal is, through selective breeding over hundreds of generations, to create beings even more powerful than themselves, who will be able to wipe out the Eddorians and end their threat to the galaxy. (The names "Arisia" and "Boskone" are significant. In the ANH second draft, the Light Side and Dark Side of the Force are named "the Ashla" and "the Bogan," respectively--an obvious borrowing. The "Bogan Force" persisted into the third draft.)
One of the Eddorians, Gharlane, is principally responsible for retarding the development of Civilization upon Earth, as he has done in past centuries under such guises as Nero and Hitler. In Triplanetary (an originally independent novel that Smith later expanded and rewrote to fit into the Lensman universe), Gharlane mentally "activates" from afar the physical body of Gray Roger, a pirate chieftain whose ships prey on our Solar System's commerce. Much later in the series, in Second Stage Lensmen, Kimball Kinnison (the protagonist) at last meets Gharlane, who is in the guise (physically this time) of Fossten, the humanoid Prime Minister of Thrale (a key planet in the Boskonian hierarchy). The two have a colossal mental battle, which ultimately slays the Eddorian (and also incidentally reveals his physical form). Since only the end products of the Arisian breeding program can perceive the true nature of the Eddorians and stay sane, the Arisians convince Kinnison that he has just defeated a rogue Arisian.
This is extremely similar to the backstory of the Sith--an ancient and purely evil society, wielding immense mental/telekinetic power, which aims to subvert and conquer galactic civilization without ever being detected. Just like the ancient Sith, the Eddorians constantly scheme against each other; on Eddore (or anywhere in Boskonia), killing your superior officer and usurping his position is a widely accepted method of promotion. There's even an analogue to Palpatine: a ruthless Eddorian, millions of years old, who inhabits the seemingly-human form of a political leader, and whose true visage (at least as perceived by Kinnison) is revealed through the effort of a colossal telekinetic battle.
The novel which introduces Kim Kinnison, Galactic Patrol, begins with his first assignment upon becoming a Lensman. Boskonian pirate vessels have recently acquired a new energy technology which gives them advantages in both speed and defense, though its exact nature is as yet unknown to the Galactic Patrol. Kinnison is put in command of a special, ultra-fast ship, and charged with capturing one of these Boskonian warships, analyzing it fully, and getting this technical report back to the Fleet's Prime Base on Earth. The capture and analysis of the enemy ship goes much according to plan. After locating a Boskonian pirate-ship and breaching his foe's outer hull, Kinnison sends in a battalion of armored space marines to board and storm the opposing craft; they succeed in taking the vessel, despite fierce resistance from the desperate crew, and the technicians go to work. However, a pursuit begins almost as soon as Kim has gotten the plans. The pirates blanket space with a wash of interference, preventing him from relaying the information home via radio. Chased by the enemy fleet, he has copies of the schematics made and distributes them among his crew. They take to the lifeboats in the hope that at least one of them will get back home. Kinnison and Peter vanBuskirk, head of the Valerian space-marine detachment, land on the planet Delgon; after various adventures, they make allies among the native Velantians and soon are on their way home, having captured several enemy vessels that were searching for them. After a quick stop on planet Trenco to repair their malfunctioning faster-than-light drive, Kinnison and his crew finally reach Prime Base, pursued by an entire enemy fleet--which is promptly blasted out of space by the Patrol's mighty weaponry. The plans are safe, and Kinnison earns the rank of Captain for his bravery.
All together now... can anyone say "Death Star plans"? The similarity is obvious enough that I hope I don't have to point it out. There's also an interesting parallel to the opening of ANH, wherein a rebel craft is boarded and stormed by hostile, armored Imperial Stormtroopers (a sequence which first showed up in the second draft). The use of two-man lifeboats to dispatch important secret data plans is likewise very similar.
Later on, Kinnison assaults Grand Base, Boskone's major headquarters in our galaxy, in a custom suit of powered, mechanized armor which can withstand deep-space vacuums. (It's possible in the Lensman universe for even spacesuits to reach faster-than-light speeds, through the neutralization of inertia--this is according to the best science of the 1930s.) Not quite comparable to a starfighter, but still...
As for destroying planets... that comes in the later books. In Gray Lensman, there are two planets which are destroyed by the Galactic Patrol in its relentless war on Boskonia. One, the home of a fortified base headed by Jalte the Kalonian, is destroyed when the Patrol hurls a sphere of negative matter in its path, consuming the world entirely. Immediately afterward, the Patrol's fleet proceeds to Jarnevon, headquarters to the "Council of Boskone"--the home of the monstrous Eich and a major player in the Boskonian hierarchy. This planet is crushed between two entire planets, which are hurled in opposing directions so as to converge upon Jarnevon and wipe it out. The result of so much matter being annihilated is the creation of a second star where Jarnevon once was.
In Second Stage Lensmen, Kinnison promptly realizes that these superweapons can be turned against the Patrol and Prime Base... so they immediately set to work upon creating another superweapon, a laser which harnesses the sun's energy to wipe out any fleet of ships (or even any planets) attacking the solar system. Later on, this technology too is acquired by the enemy--so Kinnison counters by developing an unstoppable technique of crushing enemy planets between two other planets from another dimension, both of which travel faster than light. Fortunately for Earth, this comes very near to the end of the series, by which point the war against Boskonia is almost over.
Here is the inspiration for the Death Star: the destruction of entire planets, and the use of fleet-destroying superlasers, in the titanic space battles between Civilization and Boskone. The first draft of ANH had no Death Star, only a space station used as a headquarters during the invasion of Aquilae. (Just like the Droid Control Ship in TPM.) In fact, the Death Star first showed up in... wait for it... the ANH second draft.
A quick aside: the uniform of the Galactic Patrol is a space-black-and-silver dress uniform with golden meteor badges at the collar. However, the elite of the Lensman corps, the Gray Lensmen, do not wear this uniform, but instead sport a flight suit of plain gray leather. (Very 1930s--after World War II, leather flight suits disappeared.) Gray Lensmen are not responsible to the hierarchy of the Patrol; they are completely independent agents, with authority to investigate whatever problems, command whatever resources, punish whatever evildoers, as and however they must.
(In Dune, members of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood, which was modeled to some degree on the Lensmen, wear plain black robes... a clue to the black outfits of the Jedi in TPM concept art?)
In Children of the Lens, Eddore finally gets wise to the fact that the Lens of the Galactic Patrol has given Civilization an incalculable advantage. So Eddore does what comes naturally: it develops its own version of the Lens and its own corps of Lensmen. Dubbed "Black Lensmen," they in fact prove to be largely ineffective, because their training (in order to obscure it from the eyes of the Patrol) is done entirely subconsciously. Still, this provides an interesting jumping-off point for a Jedi-Sith parallel.
There is also a parallel, believe it or not, between Kimball Kinnison and Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader.
Remember those end products of the Arisian breeding program I mentioned above? Kimball Kinnison, and his beautiful red-headed wife Clarissa MacDougall, were in fact the penultimate stage in that breeding program. Their five children--one son, Christopher, and four daughters--are the "Children of the Lens," whose fully developed minds will be able to defeat the Eddorians once and for all. Practically immortal, they will ultimately replace the Arisians as the guardian race of Civilization... but at the moment they are still the very human children of Kim Kinnison.
In Children of the Lens, the Eddorians, realizing at last the threat Kimball Kinnison poses to their rule, set a trap for him: a region of space in which all ships passing through disappear. After the destruction of Ploor (the world immediately beneath Eddore in the Boskonian hierarchy) by two colliding faster-than-light planets, Kinnison, thinking the galaxy is secured, decides to investigate this "hell-hole in space." His children know of the danger to him, but, since any knowledge of the Eddorians would drive him insane, they cannot speak out.
And so Kinnison goes in: and he is trapped. He is propelled across vast numbers of uncountable dimensions, onto a planet in a universe so far beyond our own the Arisians themselves cannot perceive it. The Eddorians place a "binding" or geas upon him, such that Kinnison cannot return to his own universe, unless and until the Eddorian spell-caster has survived in good health for at least fifty years. Not long after this, the Eddorians are finally wiped out by the combined mental might of "Kit" Kinnison and his four sisters, assisted briefly by the entirety of the Lensman Corps. Much to the Kinnisons' surprise, however, their father does not reappear after this ultimate victory.
Kinnison is trapped in a netherworld, undetectable to any individual in our own space. The Arisians fear that he is lost forever, and that for the other Kinnisons to search for him would result in their loss as well, bringing to naught the toil of untold millennia. But the awesome mental power of the Children of the Lens, working as a single unit, defying the Arisian order to desist, and amplified by the mind of their mother Clarissa (the only female Lensman in all of the series), at last discovers the universe where Kinnison is hidden. Their minds and their love draw him back to our own space-time, to physical reality, and to the arms of his family.
How is that similar to Anakin Skywalker? Well, check out this passage of early notes from The Making of ESB, where Lucas first considers the notion of Vader being Luke's father:
According to this early concept, Anakin's descent into evil and transformation into Darth Vader was the result, not of his own hubris and lust for power, but of an evil spell (i.e. binding) put on him by an outside agency. Luke, of course, would have to travel to "the end of the world" (just like the Kinnison children) to break the spell, at which point Anakin (like Kimball Kinnison) would be restored in the flesh to his loving children.
I've talked before about the similarity of Anakin to Dune's Paul Atreides, but the comparison of proto-Father-Vader and Luke with the Kinnisons of Children of the Lens is also extremely interesting. Imagine a SW trilogy where Vader was evil because he had been bewitched by Palpatine!
Incidentally, we also see here an idea which resurfaced in Lucas' early ROTJ drafts: that of Anakin coming back to life physically, in the flesh and completely healed, after his redemption. I suppose that idea worked much less well when he actually died than if he were merely released from a powerful enchantment.
One last amusing connection: the original four novels in the Lensman series, as serialized in the late 1930s and early 1940s, were Galactic Patrol, Gray Lensman, Second Stage Lensmen, and Children of the Lens. Triplanetary, also originally serialized, was first written as an entirely separate novel. When Smith republished his serial stories in book form in the 1950s, he also revised them: integrating the four original Lensman novels and Triplanetary into a single canon. Naturally, this required changes to the text of all five novels, which have never been officially republished in their original serial versions (although Triplanetary's serial text is now public domain). To make the transition even more seamless, Smith wrote a prequel novel, First Lensman, dealing with the foundation of the Galactic Patrol a few years after the events of Triplanetary.
Sound like any creators we know?
I know bumping threads is somewhat frowned upon, but given the lack of relatively serious discussions right now, I figured I might as well bump this one as a semi-generic 'SW Development' thread. The old 'Secret History of Star Wars' thread sort of turned into the generic thread, but arguments over zombie's opinions tended to hijack it.
Also think the thread title should be changed - any ideas?
Would also appreciate any input from the usual suspects about how to keep these sort of threads alive - given the lack of any new information or revelations for the most part (we're still months away from Rinzler's ROTJ book), it's somewhat inevitable that the threads often get pushed out of the way.
Mightn't sound like a massive issue if not much is going on, but it could prevent members who might be new, or perhaps have only just become vaguely interested in behind-the-scenes stuff, from jumping in.
A separate forum would be way too extreme (and would probably exacerbate the problem by being somewhat exclusive), but perhaps if we can get a decent couple of threads together they could be stickied? Or perhaps a tag on such threads, indicating a sub-classification of Saga threads? Right now, the tags that were being used on the Temp forums (Saga, CT, PT etc) are still there & serving no purpose, as they just refer to the forums they're already in.
Will take this over to the Admin forum if needed, but it's such a specialised area I'm not sure it's necessary, those of us interested might be able to figure something out ourselves.
@Darth_Nub Well, this is one way to keep these threads alive.
(a) There will be an influx of newbies who know nothing of the creative process behind the extant films
(b) How will the Neo-ST relate to the "original" (circa 1978-9) plans? Lucas, in a video just posted to Youtube, said "I have story treatments for 7, 8, and 9, and a bunch of other movies." Your longtime hunch has been that he did in fact have some concrete ideas beyond "rebuild the Republic, Luke as master, passing on what you have learned, etc." This would appear to be confirmed (if we take him at his word this time), but we have no idea what these "treatments" he's referring to are, how detailed they are, or when they might date to (the intertrilogy "reunion" ideas, for example?).
Plus, what Star Wars is supposedly "about" has mutated quite a bit since 1979 ("The Tragedy of Darth Vader") and the scope of the films became both more grandiose and narrower (affecting the fabric of the universe itself - the Force being out of balance - and yet focusing in on a single, now dead, character.) How much of these purported "treatments" could possibly be usable? Will the films bear much of a resemblance to whatever was thrown around in 1979? We may never know (I still hope that MoROTJ has a little bit of relevant information).
Are we at last the implementation of the Bond-style unending series concept? It seems to me it would be hard to paper over how the films really were turned into a self-contained hexalogy based around one, again deceased, character. But who knows.
"While Empire was originally part of a 12-film plan, by the time it was released, the number had clearly been reduced to nine. “The prequel stories exist – where Darth Vader came from, the whole story about Darth and Ben Kenobi – and it all takes place before Luke was born,” Lucas explained at the time. “The other one – what happens to Luke afterward – is much more ethereal. I have a tiny notebook full of notes on that. If I’m really ambitious, I could proceed to figure out what would have happened to Luke.”Lucas mentioned these notebooks – or one big book – to me [Rinzler], a few years ago. I asked if I could see it, but he declined. My feeling is that this big book or these notebooks are private, though Lucas has occasionally sent me via an assistant miscellaneous handwritten notes from the period 1976-1983 to help in the writing of the making-of books."
"While Empire was originally part of a 12-film plan, by the time it was released, the number had clearly been reduced to nine. “The prequel stories exist – where Darth Vader came from, the whole story about Darth and Ben Kenobi – and it all takes place before Luke was born,” Lucas explained at the time. “The other one – what happens to Luke afterward – is much more ethereal. I have a tiny notebook full of notes on that. If I’m really ambitious, I could proceed to figure out what would have happened to Luke.”
Lucas mentioned these notebooks – or one big book – to me, a few years ago. I asked if I could see it, but he declined. My feeling is that this big book or these notebooks are private, though Lucas has occasionally sent me via an assistant miscellaneous handwritten notes from the period 1976-1983 to help in the writing of the making-of books."
Another update, from the words of Pablo Hidalgo:
"[O]n June 29, 2012, I found out. I was called into a meeting to discuss, oh, something or other about updating future messaging for Lucasfilm. In order for me to get a better grasp of what that future entailed, my boss just sprang the news on me that, and I quote, “We’re making seven, eight and nine.” He didn’t say Star Wars. He didn’t have to. Why else would those numbers have any relevance?I needed to sit down. I suspect he told me the news in precisely that way to gauge my reaction. I said something that’s unprintable here.I picked up a small pocket-sized 160-page lined notebook. This would be my Grail Diary of the future of Star Wars. I quickly scribbled down all that had happened so far. See, I was lucky enough to have a ringside seat to the making of Episode III from 2003 to 2005. Back then, it was my job to keep an online journal of the making of that movie. Alas, that digital diary has vanished into the Internet ether, but my notes remain. So, regardless of whatever my role might be in witnessing the future of Star Wars, I wanted to continue to keep these notes, because people expect me to know the when and where of these things.In short order, I met with some of Kathleen Kennedy’s key staffers who were now aboard with Lucasfilm. I introduced myself to her expanding story development team, and offered what insight I could given my long history with Star Wars and my deep knowledge of the saga. I’ve been fortunate to become known as one of the guys who knows Star Wars inside and out within the company. As George Lucas began preparing his treatments for future films, I’d get random requests for research from his office, and helped prepare documents, primers and writer guides for the next generation of Star Wars filmmakers, whoever they may be."Just posting this so we can keep track of minimum time scales for when this project was initiated.