BTS The Secret History of Star Wars

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by zombie, Mar 18, 2007.

  1. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    I figured this would be the best place to post this since it deals with the overall "Saga." For the better part of two years now i have been working on a book, which i have since titled "The Secret History of Star Wars." Its something that should be of interest to everyone in this forum and i think would benefit everyone to read it. It explores the writing and creation of the series, beginning before Lucas even wrote his first treatment in 1973 and tracing how that document came into existance, showing how the film was developed draft by draft and year by year. It explores how Darth Vader was merged with Luke Skywalker's father in 1978, forever altering the course of the series, how Darth Vader was turned into a sympathetic character in 1981 and then redeemed, and how the prequel stories came to be and shifted the franchise into a new six-film series, and basically charts the evolution of the series, shattering many myths and presenting some very seldom known facts. I also added a bunch of appendices to address other tangential issues, one of the more interesting ones being an uncovering of what the mysterious "Journal of the Whills" actually is.

    There has never really been something as ambituous and far-reaching as this ever done in the fan community, which takes all the x-factors and disconnected little bits of knowledge and finally puts them all together in a cohesive "answer." In a way, that is what i hope this is--a sort of answer, a way for people to finally understand "ah, so that is how that happened." It explains the how, when and why of the Star Wars story itself.

    It would be impossible to post this in the thread as some people do with their essays--it clocks in at over 400 pages--but i built a website for it. The book is available for download in PDF format and is just under 4 MB in size. A hefty read? I suppose so. But i guarantee that it will be worth it.

    http://secrethistoryofstarwars.com


  2. Anakin's Daddy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 13, 2002
    star 4
    very VERY impressive. I downloaded it and plan on reading it.
  3. MisterVader Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 17, 2006
    star 3
    Wow, zombie! Great stuff! I had no idea that you were doing this...
  4. Obironsolo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 7, 2005
    star 1
    Incredible work!

    Great stuff. I haven't read the whole thing yet, but I plan to. I looked around, and I already have a question.

    Has it been confirmed that they are actually screaming Son of Suns at the end of TPM and ROTJ? I always heard it, but I have never seen Lucas or anyone else comment on it.

    Great catch on the whole Jedi garb mistake. After all these years, I'm amazed when anyone finds anything I haven't heard of or thought of before. Amazing that Owen was wearing that same farm outfit, and somehow it later was designated as Jedi. Nice call.

    I'll go read some more. Again, good work.
  5. lawnmowerman603 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 23, 2002
    star 2
    By strange coincidence, the first installment of TOS's podcast debunked this as part of their mail segment recently. Basically they went straight to skywalker sound and got to play the actual voice recording. It does sound like Son of Suns, but it's just random huttese "zhee shada gasha."
  6. MisterVader Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 17, 2006
    star 3
    No way. It has to be "Son of the Suns." I didn't even know what that was when I heard it. It's definitely audible in ROTJ, but not in TPM. It's still the same sound bite in both, for sure. I'll check it out again, though...
  7. MisterVader Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 17, 2006
    star 3
    Yeah, it's definitely "Son of the Suns." I listened for that Huttese part, and it's NOT the same part. The specific Huttese you mentioned is right before it. Go check it out. :)
  8. lawnmowerman603 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 23, 2002
    star 2
    it seems the OS minced words....

    while I'm at it,

    Zombie, this is very impressive and I've only just skimmed over it.
  9. Plo_Koen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2001
    star 4
    Nice work. One thing though:

    Being a Dutchman, I can confirm that "vader" is the Dutch word for father.
    However, "darth" does not mean dark. It's not even a Dutch word.
  10. Obironsolo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 7, 2005
    star 1
    I believe it is Son of Suns, I was just hoping for an official word. For one thing, it sure is an awful strange coincidence that that same exact cheer is used in both endings, and there is no question about that. It seems extremely strange that they would choose to use the same Huttese cheer for both endings.

    Anyway, perhaps this should be a different thread, as this thread should be focused on this amazing book. I'm anxious to keep reading.
  11. DarthPoppy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2005
    star 4
    Zombie,
    That is amazing. I have only read the intro, part I, the conclusion and some of the appendices so far, but that is the best, most concise, clear, to the point, consistent history of Star Wars I have seen. It confirms many suspicions I have long held and seems irrefutable. Thanks so much for your hard work. You have to explore ways of publishing this in some form. I have a PhD in art history from Harvard and I would say your book is at least as well researched and written as my dissertation. Have you thought of reworking this as a PhD thesis in a film studies program? This would allow you to have it entered in the scholarly/academic record, which I think it really ought to be. As you probably know from my posting here and at ORS, my only problem with Lucas and his empire is the false history which you so eloquently expose and explore. Wonderful work! Congratulations and thank you!
  12. Cryogenic Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 5
    I am reading through this and will provide feedback in due course.

    Note: I intend to read ALL 420 pages. It will probably take me a couple of weeks to get through and formulate my response. Just flicking through now, I can see a tremendous amount of effort has gone into this, and the writing and analysis is up to a very high standard. It would do you a great injustice for something of this scale not to be treated seriously and thoroughly read, so I'll give this as much attention as I can.
  13. lawnmowerman603 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 23, 2002
    star 2
    In regards to the Son of Suns thing, I don't have the dvd's on me right now, so I can't go listen to it. Therefore I suggest you go listen to the podcast and make a judgement as to where the discrepency lies. I don't mean to derail the thread any further than I already have, but I thought I'd share that advice.

    Zombie,

    First off, many thanks for putting this thing together. I skimmed over it before actually sitting down and reading it. I wanted to stand up and applaud when I noticed the comparison of Anakin and the Clones' march on the Jedi Temple to the similar scene from Dune. Reason being, that section of the movie when Anakin becomes Darth Vader and Yoda senses it from the other side of the galaxy has always reminded me of the scene from the Dune movie when Paul takes the water of life and the reverend mother senses it from the other side of the galaxy. Anyway, I'm about 40 pages or so in and it's insanely interesting. I can already see you bring up Dune a number of times actually! For a little six degrees of seperation story, Rudy Wurlitzer, one of the guys who wrote Two Lane Blacktop, would later write a Dune screenplay with Ridley Scott before that folded and David Lynch became the director, true story.
  14. Cryogenic Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 5
    And can I also just say that this is a gripping read?

    Well, I guess I just said it.

    I've been dipping in and out at various bits (undisciplined mofo that I am), and it has proven consistently detailed and engrossing. What has been wrought here -- if I'm not jumping the gun at this very early stage -- might be nothing less than a true epic of curtain pulling; in this book, zombie plucks us up from Kansas with the force of a raging hurricane and lands us deep in Oz, taking us to the Emerald City, showing us the Wizard in all his splendour, and all his mundane reality, then finally depositing us back home, never to be the same again. Quite simply, this thing is a BEAST. For all my disagreements, clashes, analyses, discourses and whatever else, all ultimately in favour of the films as a single story, which I still hold to 100%, there is this whole other side to SW that I have been waiting to see written about. And not in the piecemeal fashion till now ... I mean a true, no-holds-barred, mammoth, gargantuan brute of a book. Well, ladies and gentlemen, this appears to be that book.

    The saga is a true testament to 30+ years of imagination, creativity and talent. And yet here is this entire side that is never talked about. When it has entered discussions, here and elsewhere, it's usually been done to attack the saga and its fans, so this scholarly bison is not only refreshing, but deeply impressive. I've been loving every minute of it! I was hoping something would be done on the subject one day, but I never expected such a trenchant and vigourous work to come so soon. Bravo, zombie! Again, perhaps I'm jumping the gun, but I feel you should DEFINITELY be looking to get this published eventually (OK, so it hasn't proven practical for the time being, but I think it will be worthy pursuing this with even greater ardour in the future).

    Now, I have, of course, seen formatting and grammatical errors, and even a few stylistic errors I would quibble, not to mention a few pieces of interpretation and factual assertions that seem either dubious or wrong, but I'll go into further detail once I've completed my read-through. It almost seems ridiculous to point this one out, but just to throw one out that can't be disagreed with (i.e. they don't come any easier than this): On page 266, you assert that Jar Jar was "totally absent save for one scene (with no dialog) in the third film," but this is incorrect; Jar Jar actually has two scenes in the final cut (one on Coruscant, with a single line of dialogue, where he is there with the other senators to greet Palpatine after his rescue, and the later scene on Naboo at Padme's funeral with no dialogue, which I presume is actually the one you were thinking of). And, for the record, I thought this was hilarious: "I've become the very thing I swore to destroy" (George Lucas, as quoted on p. 272). Obi Wan tells Anakin the same thing! I wonder what was running through Lucas' head, then, when he actually wrote that line for the first time? The stuff on the production of TESB and ROTJ is profoundly moving, actually. This book is a JOURNEY. The films and the people behind them, especially Lucas, really come to life. The drama of making these films is at least the equal of the films themselves. It would make a bloody brilliant film! But this book will certainly suffice! Well, I guess I broke my vow there and started referring to things before I've really started (let alone finished) ... "oops!" I'll try and settle down now and remain silent until I'm through with this Goliath.
  15. BlackPool Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 29, 2000
    star 4
    This is a story that needs to be told and I am grateful that you are telling it in such an intelligent and respectable way. You prove to be very knowledgeable about SW and up to challenge of bringing to light what many of us have been suspecting and debating for years. My only critique is your choice of using Christianity to make a point of Star Wars becoming a religion. It compromises your point (which is a good one) because..and I hate to say this, but you are just factually wrong in your assertions of how the faith came to be.
  16. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    I'm about a quarter of the way through (on the ESB section) - awesome stuff! It'll be very interesting to compare to the imminent Making of Star Wars book.
  17. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    Thanks for all the kind words. Feedback on any kind is appreciated--no one has ever read it before and i really have no idea how it will turn out. There are of course instances where my own limitations as a writer comes through since i am not one by profession, and it is probable that there are some technicalities that need to be (eventually) cleared up--i really appreciate all criticisms and comments.

    Also, there are some hyper-sensitive fans i have noted, perhaps best called Lucas Apologists if such a term does not seem too derogatory, who have skimmed through a bit of it and interpreted all criticism, and even read in criticism where none exists, as some kind of anti-Lucas agenda at hand. I addressed this in the website FAQ but i am always surprised to find that there are those so defensive. The reality is that Lucas is a human being who is imperfect, as are his creations, including his films and companies--and why should anything analysing these things for what they are be considered derogatory? My feelings is that this book is utterly in support of Lucas' genius and creativity, showing how he struggled and sometimes failed but ultimately triumphed, shaping his story over a thirty year period as it transformed into many different things. Some have mis-interpreted this as saying that "Lucas changing the story is bad" but it couldn't be further from the truth--i am not judging whether or not his decisions were good or not, except when they self-contradicted themselves as some of his self-sabotage ended up doing in ROTJ for example, but more to chart when, how and why they changed. I think this book reveals him as more human than most behind-the-scenes books because you get a feel for how his own personality and personal life impacted the scripts, and how the emotional roller coaster ride of making the films in turn reciprocated and impacted his own personality and personal life. Overall, i think i am sympathetic to him at the times of most criticism--although i berate Lucas in the section examining the actual "star wars conspiracy" (sounds silly, i know) for hiding the truth about the sequels and the Darth Vader issue, i conclude that such things were ultimately done out of insecurity--with the saga upheld as the 20th century's premier mythology, Lucas felt pressured to satisfy the public expectation that the series was in capable hands and proceeding exactly according to his meticulous planning, when really he made most of it up as went and was constantly in a state of personal turmoil.

    I don't think Lucas made the series worse because he changed, or that the prequels sucked because they deviated from his plan--quite the opposite actually, the point of my work is to show that the series never really stayed constant, and that the original film has never really been viewed the same since its release because by 1978 the film was being re-written into a totally different beast than what was originally intended. Lucas' final configuration--The Tragedy of Darth Vader--is probably the neatest and most fascinating development, to see how far the story was able to be taken as it drifted into something totally different. This isn't about some agenda or anything, its more like a history book to preserve the seldom-heard side and illuminate a better understanding of a monumental work of art that has never been illuminated in such a cohesive way before. Yes, some of this is due to Lucas' own doing--for instances where he just plain forgot how exactly things happened, and in other instances where he very clearly is trying to erase, hide or revise things--but a lot of it is simple due to the fact that no one has tied any of this together into a sort of "explanation" before. Its a work that attempts to understand how and why the franchise was made, and a defining feature of our series is that it has constantly been in a state of evolution and flux.

    Anyway, I hope everyone is enjoying reading it. Some sections are more entertaining than others but i tried to balance in-depth factual dissection with the exciting narrative of L
  18. lawnmowerman603 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 23, 2002
    star 2
    It's not hyperspace, it's free. I couldn't find it by searching the site so I just went into itunes and searched for it there. It's called the Star Wars podcast special.
  19. Cryogenic Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 5
    And I pledge to make both, giving my genuine thoughts and feelings at all times.

    So, regardless of histories and factions and this and that, please don't take anything I say too personally, or as some kind of incitement or battle cry, because that's really not my intention at all. Quite frankly, I am drained of all the arguments and clashes now; it was fun while it lasted, but I'd rather see time better spent -- and I cannot think of a SINGLE worthier cause within the SW community than this book.

    This is a sad aspect of human nature. As a fan of the life and work of Elvis Presley, I see it constantly; you've got the staunch apologists, the extreme bashers, and a few objective people who can deal with multiple ideas and are willing to work in more than two dimensions.

    HOWEVER ... if I may be so bold, since you brought it up ...

    I think you're hurting yourself with some of your remarks. There is a slight didactic tone (a positive one, but also a pejorative one) that resonates a little too loudly at times. I'm thinking of the introduction of your book, and also on your site, where you make assertions about this community and others, and also where you pass direct comment on the quality of the films themselves. Now, we all have our personal thoughts and feelings on these matters, and for better or worse, they have proven the lifeblood of debate, but I feel it would be better if you left those remarks out. Then again, if you're not bothered by making them and having them potentially skew the perception of your work that little bit, then neither am I. Honestly, I'm not. (Note: that "little bit" remark is not sarcastic, either; I don't see them as *that* corrosive, at least not in this epic context). If this book were JUST some incendiary piece of fluff, I think people would be right to take you to task, but that would clearly be doing your work a gross injustice. I try to judge people by actions, not just words. Words are the surface detail; it's their actions that give them context. (Which is how Lucas approaches dialogue, BTW). Anybody who takes the time to write a 400+ work, exhaustively referencing hundreds of sources, is hardly looking simply to cause a ruckus. There are far easier ways to say, "SW sucks!" than writing a half-million word BIBLE!

    Based on everything I've read so far: I couldn't agree more. I have found the book surprisingly moving in this aspect. The scope is tremendously impressive.

  20. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    Well, i think it is impossible to be 100% neutral--because i am not just presenting facts. For an example of that, see The Annotated Screenplays--it lays out facts and quotes but does not analyse, interpret or make judgements. That is the key difference i think--a lot of the "insight" given is my own analysis, interpretation and observation of things, filling in the gaps, reading between the lines, striking down inconsistencies and tying everything together. The only instance where this becomes touchy is if i have something negative to say about Lucas or his films, namely the prequels. But i think you have to accept a certain judgement because this book is also my own perspective--i happen to think that this perspective is as objective and as well-researched as can be, but of course there are those that inevitably will disagree with one or two things. When i say how brilliant or clever is Star Wars is, thats opinion too, but theres no insensitivity to that in this community, but perhaps a more non-biased reader might think i went too far. I expect that the most opinionated chapter, the one on TPM's reaction, may cause disagreements with some "gushers" because i acknowledge that the film had its problems--but within the proper context with which i place them, and backed by the amount of facts, i don't think my opinions are at all unreasonable. I was very careful to not judge the film itself directly but more observe the context with which it was released--but at a certain point, i decree that the film is "ultimately so-so", for example, which is what history has so far deemed it: a film with stunning visuals but dissapointing character dynamics, ultimately a good and imaginative childrens film but not a landmark piece of cinema. Even the gusher who wrote that "Anticipation" book about TPM concluded this as well, since the popular theory instead was that it was a complete turd that everyone hated with a passion. When you analyse an artist you inevitably have to pass some amount of judgement on him--the difference is whether or not the one judging is qualified a
  21. G-FETT Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2001
    star 7
    Before I download this e-book, can someone please inform me;

    What is the "Star Wars Conspiracy?" Because I wasn't aware there was one? [face_blush]
  22. Master_Shaitan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2004
    star 5
    Zombie, first of all I do have to applaud you on what is a remarkable feat in putting together all of this information. Seondly, you have made your point and expressed your views very well.

    However, I would say that I would have found the book more interesting if you put less focus on the notion that Lucas changed the saga over the years and was dishonest about it. Admittedly, I havent read the entire thing but what I have read all seems to be geared towards slating Lucas for changing the saga and individual films over the past thirty years - for me that is natural for any artist. No one ever wakes up one day with an entire story in their mind and mahically transfers that on to screen. Things develop. I also think you need to take into account that Lucas gets quoted a lot. These quotes arent absolute and its not like he is reading of a thesis each time regarding whatever subject he is discussing. Star Wars is thirt years old, he is bound to forget somethings and get other information mixed up when having a casual discussion with someone. The interesting parts of the book were the true links to other mythological stories etc and Star Wars' roots. It's great to have a resource that compiles all the information we know of into one place and shows the development of Star Wars. But I have to be critical of the anti-Lucas focus the book has, as that for me makes it tedious.

    Again, just my opinion and well done in creating this superbly structured book.
  23. CaptainYossarian Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 30, 2003
    star 3
    On the matter of the 'Son of the Suns', it is true that the cheering in TPM and ROTJ is something else entirely. The point is made that not only is the recording not 'Son of the Suns' but it isn't even English. Also, 'Son of the Suns' has never been used for any offical publications in SW and it only ever existed in the draft scripts for ANH. Here's the link to the podcast that says all about it, the relevant part begins at about 20 mins 33 seconds.

    http://www.starwars.com/welcome/about/news/news20070228.html
  24. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    Zombie, I'll post more later, but a couple of quick comments\suggestions: This book could be of emmense value to the legacy of SW. SW has been consumed by its own myth. And that's not really any one person's fault. While it is true GL has contributed to that himself, it's really a case of something simply becoming so big it reaches the status of legend, and people often confuse facts with rumor in regards to legends. As such, for the preservation of SW's true history, this could be very valuable.

    That being said, it is important that the book be objective as possible. I would caution from openly stating too much personal opinion on how good\bad any one movie is as much as possible. It may be impossible to avoid it altogether, which is fine, but ask yourself each time "Is this really neccessary to make the point?". The open statement of personal opinions runs the risk of portraying agenda, and if people suspect agenda they will not take it as seriously.


    Also, regarding Blackpool's comments:

    "My only critique is your choice of using Christianity to make a point of Star Wars becoming a religion. It compromises your point (which is a good one) because..and I hate to say this, but you are just factually wrong in your assertions of how the faith came to be."

    I haven't read what he is referring to, but he brings up a good point. Making analogies of SW to real world matters such as religion or politics will muddle any point you try to make if you do so in a way that stirs contraversy in regards to that religous faith or political view. For example here, if you make a statement about Christain origins that we (Christains) take issue with and dispute, it is unlikely that most who take exception will see past that disagreement to your actual point, which is about SW not Christainity. You could probably make the same point another way.

    These statements are made with the idea in mind that as objective as the book appears (without comprimising its points and purpose), the broader appeal it will have. I would like the secret history to come out, so I encourage a style of doing so that will reach beyond one type of SW fan, and in fact beyond SW fans in general, so that SW will be remember as it was and has become, both in equal meassure, not just the later.
  25. Cryogenic Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 5
    Darth-Stryphe: That was an excellent post -- on multiple levels. A tip of my hat to you.

    Nail. On. Head.

    Much agreed.

    Superbly stated.

    That said: I also agree with what zombie wrote: "When you analyse an artist you inevitably have to pass some amount of judgement on him." I would add "the artist's art", too. The key, as I have argued elsewhere on other subjects and matters, is ... BALANCE. You don't want to appear any more biased than the premise of a work organically allows / requires.

    But this is also where I come back to agreeing with Stryphe. Take the final line of the introductory text: "Consider this my gift to all you fans out there who have kept watching that classic film for all these decades." I wasn't even born till 1983 and didn't properly sit down and encounter "Star Wars" (i.e. watch the film) until the 1990's. I believe you are also the same age as me (23), correct? This last line makes it sound as if you are directly appealing to veteran fans, but there are plenty of younger fans -- like you and I -- who have only discovered the classic film and the rest of the series more recently. (By definition, we have all only discovered the final parts of the series very recently). So I feel your language / focus there is a little constricting. It sounds like you're talking to a smaller audience, and when an author does something like that, they're putting up a kind of barrier between themselves and the reader ... IF the reader falls outside of that limited demographic.

    It almost starts to sound a little self-aggrandising, too. You're entitled to dedicate a work to whomever you choose, of course, and it's no crime to be honest about specific groups that prompted you into getting underway and spurred you on, but going back to the last paragraph, I'd be careful about limiting yourself as to who you're addressing in an introductory text for an historical publication. Don't forget: "Star Wars" is a very democratic movie and movie series, so on top of the reader-writer relationship, I feel your text should reflect that important quality to the best of your ability.

    Just something to think about.

    Brilliantly said.

    The more specific you get, the more trouble you're going to get into. Ironically, the inverse applies, too: the more general you get, again, the more trouble you're going to cause. I think it also comes down to an issue of balance. You probably need to be so vague that you're neither general nor specific. If you just drew up an analogy to the way language / culture /