Rewriting the prequels

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Danaan, Feb 3, 2011.

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  1. Danaan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2008
    star 4
    I'm sure this must have been discussed before, but since I couldn't find any thread on it (maybe my skills with the search engine needs upgrading), I figured I might as well start a thread. If there is already a discussion, please redirect me there.

    Anyway, I'm curious about how to would re-imagine the prequels? This is a fairly expansive question. It encompasses both large scale storytelling structure: what is required of each episode in terms of events, moods, character developments? But also expectations on single scenes: what is required from a scene in which Anakin turns? Since Star Wars is a rich narrative, there is much material (from both other myths and the GFFA, EU or otherwise) to draw upon, and it might be difficult to strike that careful balance that could satisfy many fans.

    Now, this is not intended as a sneer towards those who like the existing prequels, but rather as a place for writers to challenge each other and discuss what storytelling properties such a venture would need. I obviously have my own thoughts since I'm in the process of writing my version, but I'm also quite eager to hear what others have in mind, both for my own research, but also just for the plain fun of sharing in this exercise.
  2. DarthIshtar Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 9
    There were once two projects ongoing on these boards, called the Virtual Sequels and the Virtual Prequels. They've kind of died out, but they were along these lines.

    I personally would have liked to see a more balanced relationship between Anakin and Padme. For all of his creative genius, George Lucas does not get relationships and their love story, such as it was, was very disjointed and forced as it turned out on screen. All of the stuff that I have seen as believable has been in fanfic or profic explanations. Padme came off for two movies as someone who was too smart to actually go for Anakin Skywalker the walking personality disorder and then for one movie as someone who is too naive or blind to her surroundings to actually deal with the rise of the Empire rationally. That's not characterization. It was just a lack of adequate screenwriting.

    I would not touch the Obi-Wan and Anakin relationship because that tension was beautifully necessary. Their friendship towards the end made the break with each other all the more tragic.

    I think the Jedi's laws against attachment are dumb, make no sense and are just a shoddy plot device.

    On a final note, if you like reimagining, come try the Official Rewrite Challenge!
  3. Danaan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2008
    star 4
    Interesting. I've seen some other fanficers taking a stab at this, presenting their work in the Saga forum, so I figured we could put our heads together. We might not agree on everything of course (and who'd expect that), but several minds probably think better than one. Which is also the reason I'm curious about what others are thinking about. Would you happen to have links to any of those threads?

    I agree about Anakin and Padme. For Obi-Wan and Anakin, tension is necessary, but so is friendship, and I thought there was too much tension and too little friendship in AOTC, which is significant, because in this film their relation is established.

    I can see where the Jedi laws against attachment come from, given their philosophy and that they're a monastic order. That said, I'm not sure that one couldn't find a way to reconcile these, and I do agree that it was manifested as a shoddy plot device.
  4. ahhhrealmia Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 6, 2010
    star 1
    I'm going to have to agree with DarthIshtar on the one about the Anakin/Padme thing. They're so...lame... and their relationship suffers because of it. Anakin is idiotic and whiny and Padme acts more like a clothes-hanger than a human being. I used to blame acting, but frankly, I think Natalie Portman is great and Hayden Christensfdakjsdjfs (his name is impossible to spell). She just didn't have ANYTHING to work with. Poor George is clearly so imaginative, he just can't express it very well.

    I'm not entirely sure what my point is beyond, someone please God, hire a writer capable of experiencing and expressing the depths of human emotion.
  5. DarthIshtar Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 9
    I'm writing a fic that is a complete rewrite of the Prequel storyline. If anyone's familiar with Dr. Who, it's the principle of Turn Left, where one choice changes everything. In that case, Mace Windu is the one sent to Naboo and he doesn't go anywhere near the Hutts, so Anakin buys his freedom at 16, a completely different person than the 9-year-old who won a podrace.

    Edit: I got off-topic. The reason I mentioned that is that I am having him first meet Padme when he's 19 and she's 24 and they're both emotionally responsible people!
  6. Danaan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2008
    star 4
    Actually, I don't think you went off-topic at all. Maybe the question of the thread should be rephrased thus, to not be bogged down by what is in the official PTs:

    Imagine that George Lucas calls you, the great script writer, in 1995 and wants your help to write the storyline/script for the Prequels he intends to write. How would you write that? You have no idea of what he has in mind, and can only really use the OT as reference points for your work. What would come out? What would Episode I be about? How would you write Anakin's turn?

    Oh, and I'd definitely want to read your re-write DarthIshtar!
  7. DarthIshtar Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 9
    I think that, much as I adore Ian McDiarmid, one thing I would have changed was Palpatine's role. I think it would have been much more effective and better pacing for Anakin to have a peripheral awareness that his friend the Chancellor is meant to be his opponent or even enemy according to the Jedi, but he can't reconcile that idea with his admiration of the Chancellor. Set that up from the beginning and Anakin's turn against the Jedi would have been a very emotionally striking moment. I have this whole objection to "I'm turning to the Dark Side because I don't put my trust in the modern medicine that could give me a new arm. For sure, my wife's going to die in childbirth! I have to kill everyone to prevent that!"
  8. Danaan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2008
    star 4
    I agree. I read Amnon Buchbinder's book "The Way of the Screenwriter". It's quite rivetting reading, actually, and I keep it in mind to write my own works. One of the items he brings up is the saying of Lao zi [paraphrasing] "There is no greater calamity in life than not having a worthy adversary" - and I think that's something one could do a lot with for Palpatine, both in terms of his relation with Anakin (the Vader we meet in the OT hardly seems like a person who likes Palpatine), and in terms his rise to power, which is way too smooth for my liking. Anything he proposes or wants passed in the Senate simply goes through without much debate or opposition. All too easy...
  9. LaForzaViva Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2008
    star 1
    I've never heard of re-writing the prequels, though I can see the appeal, since they were pretty atrocious.

    On the Palpatine-Anakin dynamic, just to throw my thoughts in (since this is an interesting topic), had Palpatine been set up as a mentor to Anakin, one that we see more often than the few scenes they appear in together (end of Ep 1, something in Ep 2, bubble-opera scene, killing Windu), it would've definitely been more effective. And I think that Palpatine should've been MORE of a mentor to Anakin, as a direct competitor to Obi-Wan. Thus for me, Obi-Wan would've acted as a big brother figure, but one that sometimes indulged in Anakin's failings compared to a hard-driving, possibly even ruthless Palpatine as mentor. And when Anakin shucks off Obi-Wan's brotherly affection to become Palpatine's disciple, the blow would've been even more impressive, had the relationships between the three characters been better established.

    Another element I thought was important to include was the political angle, though it felt forced. And while I'm unsure of Lucas' opinions on contemporary American political debate, the overtones were atrociously obvious. And to that end, the idea of the Republic as the sole, legitimate governing structure really bothered me. Since Danaan laid out that we would get to write with only the 4-6 movies in mind, I'd reconceive of the Republic and the Empire and their relationship.

    A democracy of a galactic nature cannot be the sole structure in the universe. While I understand Lucas' desire was to cast the Senate as helpless but representative, and the Chancellor as powerful but corrupt (which was relatively effective), it bothered me that a single government could even be thought of as a democratic body. The Republic, as it was created, was already an authoritarian body with the mere veneer of democracy. A more appropriate galactic structure could've been that of a multi-polar world (for the non-international affairs geeks, this is going to get weird). With a multi-polar system, that of many competing governing structures, the galaxy could've been split between separate systems and "provinces" and such.

    One could reply that the Confederacy of Independent Systems (a terrible name due to its connotation) was an attempt at this, but I'd argue that it is highly, highly unlikely that a series of banking clans and angry non-democratic planets would just up and leave the Republic over some taxation or economic policies. That's a legitimate idea, but one that wasn't even explored in the movies at all. And even if the CIS was created so Palpatine could manipulate it, is it REALLY a serious idea that one man, one single man could manipulate a galactic movements of trillions of people and droids, yet ensure that he would win no matter what happened? Sorry, I'm not buying that.

    Anyway, with a multi-polar system, I'd see the Republic's desire to merge and grow with other powerful systems as seen as threatening to the other groups in the galaxy (Mandalorians, various Outer Rim groups, maybe even the Corellians as a side) and thus the galaxy could slowly move from a multi-polar system to a bi-polar system, where the Republic and its allies are aligned against another enemy (not called the CIS) and its allies. Then, a governmental takeover by Palpatine seems more likely, only he wouldn't be pulling the strings of the enemies. They would be led independently of him, and the Clone Wars would become a war that originated on a political axis (territorial control, perhaps ideological beliefs) and, through fighting this war, we would see Palpatine turn to illegitimate tactics to secure victory. I think watching Palpatine's morality dive from that of a paragon of justice (Ep 1) to a corrupted, almost fanatical dictator (Ep 3) could be pulled off convincingly if he resorts to tactics such as torture, mass propaganda, deception, etc as tools to secure victory. Then he's not just evil for literally the sake of being evil, but he's evil because his actions turn him morality on its head. Much more convincing for me.

    And th
  10. Danaan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2008
    star 4
    Interesting thoughts. Seems the portrayal was not entirely succesful as it stands, in the eyes of some ;)

    What I would like to mine when it comes to the Palpatine-Anakin relation, is the background to the line "Obi-Wan once thought as you do. You don't understand the power of the Dark Side, I MUST obey my Master". I.e. Anakin does not follow Palpatine (at this stage) because he likes him - he follows him because he is under the Emperor's control, he is compelled to obey his Master. I'm inclined to attribute this to the inherent qualities of Sith philosophy (which are, to this day, unexplored) and the nature of the Dark side itself. Given this, I'm not at all sure that Anakin needs to have necessarily had a particularly close relationship with Palpatine before the turn. Indeed, I'm going to experiment with the two being fairly distant, just to see how it turns out...


  11. DarthIshtar Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 9
    So, here's another angle: WHo would you have of the profic writers contribute to the prequels? I would pick Stackpole or Zahn.
  12. LaForzaViva Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2008
    star 1
    Ah, I realize I forgot to finish my thoughts on that.

    What I meant by making the system less single government and more open would be to use the expansion of the Republic and the tactics necessary for that expansion to turn it from a democratic alliance toward a dictatorship of the elite. That would be my emphasis on the evolution of the Republic - democracies rarely willy-nilly reverse into tyrannical regimes just because of one man. Usually there's some external or internal causative factor: World War I for the Bolsheviks, American military spending in Iran, oppression in Tunisia, etc. I just can't see one man at the top of the system just going "TYRANNY" and being able to get away with it even if they includes the massacre of the Jedi Order, the supposed true arbiters of demoracy and justice. Thus a galactic war against an external enemy that isn't just some thinly disguised Confederacy would be more believable, if that enemy and that enemy's allies had been part of a multi-polar system for thousands of years or something. It would mean the war is more forceful and powerful in its representation; fighting an enemy that is super powerful over the evolution of thousands of years would make it a more important and visionary war compared to fighting what might be considered an "aberration of the state" in a confederacy movement. I'm just trying to make war more believable than Lucas did.

    And I guess on the Palpatine being evil - maybe there is not room for that fall of his, but I guess I was expressing that a dual fall would be appropriate. Palpatine, as the brains and ideological representation of tyranny, morphs from his previously democratic/neutral/maybe good side over the course of this war. That would parallel Anakin's fall as the physical embodiment of Palpatine's ideological fervor; quite literally, his strongman/right hand man/Chemical Ali to Saddam (etc etc). So Palpy would be the more evil of the two, but Anakin would physically represent the fall from grace of youth and innocence due to the corruption of a mentor, who himself is corrupted by power. I just honestly, 1,000% do not believe there is room in the world for pure evil unless one crosses into the bounds of insanity. Humans don't work that way, I'd argue, because there are always justifications for evil acts. And that's the part I'd highlight - not the simple evil nature of Palpy, but the twisted justifications MADE for those evil acts.
  13. Danaan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2008
    star 4
    I'll shock you by saying...none, I think :D Bear with me. I've only actually read Zahn, and I found him quite wanting to be honest. He, like so many pop-culture writers make too prolific use of all those devices and writer formulae I find tedious and predictable. It typically goes like this:

    In media res - action scene! It's dramatic! Dun DUN! Our protagonist is running, or shooting or involved in something EXPLOSIVE to really get the audience's ATTENTION and get the ADRENALIN PUMPING! This goes on for a couple of paragraphs.

    Then, enter the log on the NASCAR-race: the writer devotes one paragraph up to several pages of background exposition to really make us realize why this particular dramatic sequence is loaded with importance for the protagonist - what ARE the stakes, REALLY?

    Then on with the ACTION for a while, until we get to the end of the chapter, which invariably ENDs with a CLIFFHANGER - dun, DUN!

    I-)

    Zahn is far from alone in doing this - you'll find it with Dan Brown or even Tom Clancy. And when I buy a book, and want a little less predictability. It's why I try to stay away from these devices myself when writing (not that I'm very good at it, but since it's my pet peeve...;) )

    So, if I would chose a profic author, I'd probably go with Katherine Kerr, some someone like her - she does relatively little of the above and is very good at both plot and character development, particularly in the first Deverry cycle.

    Aha! Very interesting, actually. I agree that the PT Clone Wars we get are woefully underdeveloped in terms of the political rationale - why are these systems separating, and why would the democracy not just let them (think of the separation between Sweden and Norway, or the split up of Czechoslovakia, both peaceful processes). Now, I'd keep a separation as a part of the plot, because that directly assaults the integrity of the Republic - and this would be done over issues of sovereignty, setup in the first film. But having separatists mixing it up with outside parties is not a bad idea at all. That certainly would promote a siege mentality in the Republic, which is, after all, quite conducive to "emergency powers" being invoked, particularly if we start to see food stamps and rationing due to disrupted trade and such like. I think the RLM ROTS review did a good job of visualizing what Coruscant could have looked like under such conditions.

  14. Danaan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2008
    star 4
    Sorry for the double post, but I thought I should share, since I'm sitting with the book in front of me:

    Buchbinder writes about screenplay structure and present the following for any given story. I though it might help us conceptualize the flow of each "film", as it were. I've added notes on turning points, as I see them, for ANH.

    SETUP - What happens before the story gets going? We see the main protagonist in every day life. ANH - Luke at the homestead, does his chores, eats his breakfast, longs to go the Academy and join the Rebellion, etc.

    CATALYST - Something happens! Status quo is disrupted, and the protagonist must react, but still isn't clear about the stakes or just what forces are arrayed against him. ANH - R2 escapes. Luke tries to dodge the ire of his uncle (which he falsely believes is his biggest concern) to go find the little one.

    FIRST TURNING POINT/MAIN TENSION - The protagonist finally gets his objective for the story and starts along the path. ANH - Owen and Beru are murdered. "I want to go to Alderaan and become a Jedi".

    BREAKTHROUGH - The protagonist has until this point mostly been reactive and not quite able to cope with the problem. At this point, the protagonist becomes pro-active. ANH - on the Death Star, Luke devices the plan to rescue the Princess, after having largely been swept along with a tide of events beyond his understanding.

    ORDEAL - All seems lost. The audience gets a sucker punch, and it seems that progress is now impossible. ANH - Ben's death. How will Luke now be able to learn about the Force?

    SECOND TURNING POINT/CULMINATION- This closes the Second Act. From the ashes of the ordeal comes the hero with new determination. ANH - Luke shoots TIE-fighters on the Falcon, the heroes score an important victory in getting away from the Death Star.

    CRISIS/CLIMAX - The final moment of the choice for the protagonist, the moment to which the plot has been building up to. ANH - The Battle of Yavin. Luke decides to use the Force instead of the computer to take his shot and thus proves that he has learned about it.

    RESOLUTION - What we need to know to fully understand the consequences of the climax. ANH - The medal ceremony.

    I will use this as a guide to plan my work....


  15. DarthIshtar Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 9
    LOL, see, what I like about Zahn is his grasp of the political. He bugs me with the quoting-old-jokes-incessantly thing, but he does have a good and original development of speculative material.
  16. Danaan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2008
    star 4
    I liked Thrawn :D A formidable villain who was not a force user!
  17. DarthIshtar Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 9
    I would have liked to see more of the Force-blind stories in the PT because we do see a lot of it in the OT.
  18. Danaan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2008
    star 4
    ? Not sure I follow you. Actually, I'm sure I don't ;)
  19. Loupgarou Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 19, 2010
    star 3
    I'm planning on attempting this as well, though i'm trying to stick with characters, locations and planets from the PT, though often re-imagined, and with a far different story. Mine will span less time too, because it will start with Anakin and Obi-wan the ages they are in AOTC, but before the war begins, and the first rewrite will still center on naboo. I have pretty much all of the first one thought out, and basic ideas of the rest. It is also not a jab at the prequels but just my own creation.Oddly i actually spent more time re-imagining the CIS and Republic than i did the main characters, but i know as i actually write it that will change.
    The CIS are probably the most different of anything.

    I think an important question to ask is, does anyone think there are a few moments or facts that absolutely should NOT be changed in a rewrite? Like, if that is changed, it's not star wars anymore sort of attitude. I can't think of any, but if anyone has any opinions, do tell.
  20. Danaan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2008
    star 4
    Looking forward to your version!

    As for your question - no. That is to say, since I start with a blank slate, I let the story that builds dictate what should be there, rather than trying to shoehorn in scenes or facts from the official films. But I do retain many of the themes that are there - the problems with a democratic system, the rise of authoritarianism, war vs heroism, the Jedi Order as captive by its own rules to some extent, pride vs. the Jedi War, and so on. They are quite powerful. As such, there are many turning points from the official films one can draw upon - like the Obi-Wan vs. Anakin battle, Palpatine becoming chancellor, and so on. And when I find a spot where I can draw upon the official films or even the EU to fill in a blank, or "anchor" it in the official GFFA, I do so. That goes for lines
  21. DarthIshtar Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 9
    For those who didn't get my meaning, I wanted in short more Han Solo and less Luke Skywalker. In the OT, we had a lot of people not using the force as significant characters. In the PT, everyone was a Jedi, Sith or Padme, it seemed.
  22. Danaan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2008
    star 4
    This, I agree with. And it goes beyond that, for me, too. Now, I know Lucas wanted to show the Jedi "at their prime", but I find he went OTT with just how powerful they were, flipping, leaping, twirling around. Just the level of physicality that leaves everything we see in the OT in the dust. And when we see Dooku flipping about and moving as adeptly as two young Jedi in their prime, the fight between Vader and Kenobi just comes across as...jarringly inconsistent. I think there was Force inflation in the PT, which caused the devaluation of how special the Force and the Force user is. And I'm not even going to address the issue with Yoda using a lightsaber...
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