BTS The Secret History of Star Wars

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

  1. DRush76 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2008
    star 4
    Personally I believe that when Star Wars became a massive hit, Lucas lost the run of himself. Suddenly he could make sequels that weren't low budget, weren't novels etc and I think he got so excited that he started thinking and talking about sprawling sagas over 12 films, then a film every 2 years with different creative people behind each one, then backstories and future stories, none of it really being planned out. It was just Lucas' imagination firing as he thought about what he could potentially do given the massive success of Star Wars, rather than a master plan that went beyond three films and maybe a prequel.


    I don't see how this is a problem, considering that Lucas went on to make five other outstanding SW movies. They weren't perfect, but what movie is?
  2. TOSCHESTATION Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 17, 2003
    star 4
    That's not the point of this discussion/topic.
  3. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2009
    star 4
    It might frighten GL into actually telling the real story in full...
  4. TOSCHESTATION Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 17, 2003
    star 4
    ;)
  5. Jedsithor Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 1, 2005
    star 4
    I don't think Lucas actually knows the real story anymore. I think the way he tells it is exactly what he believes happened.
  6. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2009
    star 4
    OK, I think it's time for this somewhat neglected thread to take a break from the debate over the genesis of Father Vader, as it's coming down to unfalsifiable issues.

    I'm still relatively comfortable with my own position of the Father Vader concept being born sometime roughly between/around the post-production of Star Wars & before the Brackett draft of ESB, despite it being specifically contradicted by the Brackett draft. However, there's no evidence that it did, other than implications & suggestions that it was something that GL may have been somewhat sympathetic to. I certainly don't believe it was around any earlier than the revised fourth draft of Star Wars, i.e. the shooting script, & I don't think it even existed at that point, either.
    Father Vader, I believe, arose as an idea sometime after Darth Vader became an actual character on film. Beyond that it gets tricky, because certain details, such as his heavy breathing - an innovation from Ben Burtt - created their own little backstories first, & that's a crucial point where Vader's mythology developed, just as his armour was originally devised by Ralph MacQuarrie as a spacesuit, not a life-support unit.

    Such developments, however, don't suggest that Father Vader existed before SW/ANH was shot - they contradict it very specifically, as they didn't exist at all earlier. When Uncle Owen says to Beru, "That's what I'm afraid of", the character is still concerned about Luke simply running off to war & getting himself killed, not about becoming a Sith Lord, regardless of how well the scene works in hindsight.

    Where was I? Oh yeah, time to move on. Rinzler's Making Of ESB has provided more questions than answers, & there's another book on the way, but sadly we'll be waiting until 2013 for whatever it chooses to reveal.

    It's 1980.
    The evil Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi's former apprentice, claims that he is Luke Skywalker's father.
    Our hero, Luke Skywalker, has had his hand cut off & been even more traumatised by what the man who cut his hand off had to say.
    The Emperor of the Galactic Empire is clearly some sort of Dark Side Force user.
    An episode number has been attached to the second film of the Star Wars series, but it's not #2, it's a big fat Roman V, soon to be validated the following year by another Roman IV attached to the film we all knew as 'Star Wars', now subtitled, 'A New Hope'.
    George Lucas states categorically that the Star Wars Saga comprises nine films, the two he's just made are episodes 4 & 5. After he finishes the next one, there will be three films set beforehand about Ben Kenobi & Luke's father, & then another three set after the ones we've seen.

    We all know what did happen next - an exhausted George Lucas made one more Star Wars film & took a very long break from Star Wars...

    But what was meant to happen, & what might have happened? ESB was the point where the possibilities were endless, & it seems that a plan was devised regarding the PT & the ST, then the door was shut. What happened to this ambitious, epic plan between ESB & the making of ROTJ?
  7. Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn The Other Saga Moderator

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 23, 1999
    star 6
    Lucas's marriage fell apart is what happened (right?).

    The sequels were always a part of my consciousness as a fan, though... It was common knowledge at that point that they were planned. So... Good topic choice. I'll make a longer post on the actual content when I'm in front of an actual computer.
  8. Gundark31 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 30, 2010
    star 1
    In an alternate reality people are probably watching Star Wars Episode XIII directed by Zack Synder and complaining about how crap it is.

    If Lucas hadn't had so much personal drama in his life I'm sure the Star Wars movie universe would have kept running after Empire indefinitely but instead of continuing the Adventures of Luke Skywalker with an elderly Mark Hamill we would have got a new cast of characters.

    The Adventures of Nellith Skywalker maybe?
  9. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2009
    star 4
    I know why GL wound down the SW saga so quickly in 1983 - in a nutshell, he'd had enough for the time being as it was ruining his life - but with the relative lack of available early drafts & notes for ROTJ (and the complete absence of whatever material existed at the time for the other 6 episodes other than semi-mythical suggestions that such material did exist), it's a bit of a blank when one attempts to discover just what happened to the story in between ESB & ROTJ, & how a nine-episode epic was wrapped up so quickly with only one film to do it in.

    I'm really hoping that Rinzler's Making Of ROTJ (due in two years :_| ) will answer a few questions, but I'm not holding my breath - his book on ESB really glossed over the very existence of the Sequel Trilogy, I imagine the next might be the same.

    Just wrapping up the week from hell, so really need to sit down & think things through, plus dig out my copy of SW: The Annotated Screenplays, but it's this period (1980-1982) that seems to have become muddied over time by misinformation - "Han was meant to die" being the most notorious myth. Or maybe not...?
  10. Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn The Other Saga Moderator

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 23, 1999
    star 6
    Totally agree. In the Backstory thread I've been lamenting the lack of material to study dating from between the end of Empire's production all the way, actually, to the prequels. There are hints of some interesting stuff going on: What other changes went along with the Owen-brother change? When was the other Other, the not-Leia Other (Nellith Skywalker?) discarded? What was the process of doing so? When did Lucas decide to make Anakin very young in the first prequel? (That last must come from the long dark age between 83 and the mid-90s, during which there is no documentation at all.)

    And why isn't there more information available on the origins of ROTJ? I'm guessing the script drafts we have for the other films didn't come from LFL - I know they didn't for ESB and the Brackett draft. Why haven't there been similar "leaks" of ROTJ materials?

    I've been looking at some EU sources to see if through them we can glean any information about the backstory their authors were given by LFL, possibly by Lucas himself. So far it's inconclusive but maybe something will turn up.

    I really do want to try to document/harmonize what we know about the Sequel trilogy, every last bit. I think that's a great idea.

    And you're right about Making of ESB, good as it is. You know the timeline on yellow paper, "Star Wars" as Episode Six? I just have to wonder, what was on the next page?



    I have a DVD of The Dark Crystal which includes a replica notebook with Henson's designs and notes and stuff. How amazing would it be to see something like that for SW?
  11. Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn The Other Saga Moderator

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 23, 1999
    star 6
    BTW, just checked the Annotated Screenplays and the rough draft of ROTJ already has the Leia-sister plot point. February 24, 1981.
  12. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2009
    star 4
    The real problem is that there's a big gap when it comes to ground-level developmental material between about 1979 & 1993-95 (apart from half-baked mumblings leaked from story conferences like "Han was going to die", "Luke put Vader's mask on & became the new Emperor" and "Wicket became a Sith Lord, taking the name Darth Nu-), & that's what's crucial in terms of discovering how the smaller, three-film story in a an ongoing movie serial became a nine-film trilogy of trilogies, was abandoned after three films, came back as a six-film saga and just what was involved in such changes of the vision of this monster known as 'Star Wars'.

    GL has been relatively transparent about developments between when he sat down to actually write the Prequel Trilogy in the early 1990s - how little material he had to begin with, why he made Anakin younger, even how he was completely aware of why showing Padme dying was inconsistent with what was said in ROTJ - but unfortunately, the source material, i.e. the backstory developed between the time of ESB & the early 1990s, is now tossed by LFL into a convenient piece of spin which George Lucas claims began in 1973 as 'The Tragedy Of Darth Vader'.

    Gary Kurtz's increasingly elaborate alternate storylines - ROTJ would finish with Leia crowned Queen of the surviving Alderaanians, Han died earlier in a raid on an Imperial bunker, Luke wanders off at the end like a lone samurai - provide a tantalising glimpse of what might have been, but it's hard to tell when the potential storylines were actually being discussed, or how seriously they were ever considered.

    This is why it's a particularly interesting period, for me, at least - it's hard to tell just what was going on with the SW juggernaut around then, and what might have happened before GL pulled the plug & decided that he'd only give the world one more film to wind up what was absolutely necessary.
  13. wcleere Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2002
    star 3
    I'm glad this thread is still going strong because I was reminded of it recently when watching ROTJ. As is my tradition I crack open the SW films around memorial day every year (even the PT).

    Anyway, I put on the commentary for a lot of ROTJ, and don't think I had ever caught the following:

    During the part where 3PO and R2 are going to Jabba's, Lucas says that he had very little material left when it came time for ROTJ, and basically admits that the movie is padded with the exception of the Emperor/Vader/Luke scenes. I wonder if this explains partially why there is so little pre-ROTJ material. Seems possible that they threw around some more dramatic ideas like Han dying (which Harrison Ford has confirmed was talked about), and then just decided let's wrap it up with the Dark side stuff, and throw in a bunch of puppets and furry guys to fill 2 hours.
  14. TOSCHESTATION Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 17, 2003
    star 4
    :p
    Echo Base likes this.
  15. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2009
    star 4
    The ground battle involving the Ewoks was taken directly from the very earliest drafts of Star Wars, when it would have been Wookiees, not Ewoks. Direct Vietnam War parallel - relatively primitive, under-dog culture takes on a technologically advanced Empire & whips its butt. Surprised he didn't bring up just how early that was developed, considering how much he claims was there in 1973.
  16. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    Foster had the same idea in SOTME.
  17. Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn The Other Saga Moderator

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 23, 1999
    star 6
    Probably a big reason why there is so little actual material (i.e., notes and scripts) is because a lot of ideas were developed and decisions made during the making of Empire. From 1977 to 78 to 79 the "infinite" series turned to a twelve-parter, to a nine-parter. The mentions of Han not returning come from around '79. The "there is another" line and the official confirmation of a Sequel Trilogy (and the two other trilogies, for that matter) come from, respectively, October 1978 to July 1979. In a 2000 interview Gary Kurtz said that the plan on what to do in Star Wars III (Jedi) was already being changed during the production of ESB.

    By the time of the rough draft of Jedi (February 1981), Leia is already the Other and is Luke's sister. So whatever materials we are interested in have to come from a short span of time, probably between winter 1978 and some unknown time in 1980. If the production of Empire changed Lucas' mind, the time span may be even less than that.

    And some of this development may never have been put to paper, only talked about. By the time other parts were mentioned publicly, they may even have been holdovers from previous versions of the story, making dating them difficult.

    In the Annotated Screenplays there is mention of a method they used for figuring out the story on Jedi - taking the individual events and putting them on cards on a board and shuffling them around, trying different sequences. Perhaps some of the concepts we're after were used in this process, but it's possible that even by that point (whenever it was) the attitude with respect to the Sequels had already been changed.
  18. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2009
    star 4
    Taken directly from GL's early treatment, though, just as the Kaiburr Crystal was taken from early drafts.

    SOTME is an odd piece of EU material, as it's influenced by George Lucas in a far more direct way than the rest, it's almost an official sequel. Just how much actual input he had is debatable, but there was definitely discussion between Lucas & Foster, and GL provided him with his early drafts & notes to work with.
  19. wcleere Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2002
    star 3
    That's a good point, i had forgotten that old idea was there. I do know (From the annotated screen plays I *think*) that they spent a lot of time designing a homeworld called "Had Abbadon" where the Emperor operated from which proved unfeasible. Of course that later became Courscant.

    One thing I've always wondered about is the second Death Star...that seems to me something that had to have been just "thrown in." I've never found any reference to a second death star in any notes existing before Empire or even Jedi probably.
  20. Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn The Other Saga Moderator

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 23, 1999
    star 6
    Indeed, Endor (or Jus-Endor) was originally a moon of that city planet. The Emperor lived in the lower levels, just above a lake or lava, which is where the lightsaber battle would take place. In some versions there'd be two incomplete Death Stars orbiting the planet. The McQuarrie pieces relating to the city planet and its surrounding space are some of my favorites, it's a shame it was cut/reconfigured. Imagine a gothic Blade Runner Los Angeles in Star Wars III (!).

    [image=http://images.wikia.com/bladerunner/images/9/9f/Tyrellbuilding.jpg]

    versus

    [image=http://images.wikia.com/starwars/images/5/5c/ImperialPalace-RalphMcQuarrie.jpg]

    And yes, the second Death Star appears to be a retread. I thought I remembered some source talking about how in Jedi they went back to the first film to redo the things Lucas wasn't happy with, making the film a sort of pre-special edition special edition. I can't recall where that's from, but it sure does seem to fit. Gary Kurtz says the "original" plan for Jedi was completely different, but as there is comparatively little pre-production material available and Kurtz's other tales of lost SW concepts seem confused, who knows what he's referring to.
  21. TOSCHESTATION Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 17, 2003
    star 4
    I don't know if the "re-do SW" aspect was ever put in words, but I got that impression nonetheless from watching "The Making of ROTJ" (1983). In the doc, for the Jabba the Hutt segment, they mentioned (and previewed*) the cut Jabba scene from SW. They also presented an FX storyboard by Joe Johnston, with a creature looking uncannily like the one from ROTJ. The storyboard was un-dated, leaving the public thinking that it was from '76/'77. The truth may be that, the storyboard was from 198O/81. Which would mean, while getting Jabba ready for the third film, they were looking at the possibility of re-making (or 'finishing') the FX for the cut scene from SW. Who knows...maybe the Spring '81 re-release - which first put "Episode IV: A New Hope" on screen - was going to be a sort of "pre-special edition" (as you put it) itself. Just a thought.

    *first shown (?) on the ABC special 'Making of SW', Fall of '77
  22. TOSCHESTATION Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 17, 2003
    star 4
  23. Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn The Other Saga Moderator

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 23, 1999
    star 6
    The Jabba design process is fairly well documented, and the slug version of Jabba (with Salacious Crumb) could pretty much only have come from during the making of Jedi . Here's zombie's take on it.
  24. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2009
    star 4
    The original Jabba scene first popped up in the 1983 doco 'From Star Wars To Jedi: The Making Of A Saga', the second of two TV specials about ROTJ (the first was called 'Classic Creatures'). There was no mention of Jabba in the 1977 Making of SW, the only deleted material was a few on-set snippets of the Biggs Anchorhead & Yavin scenes.

    I agree with the storyboards being from the ROTJ era. As to what they originally planned to do with the scene in 1977 - zombie's probably right, that's what it was meant to be, at first, anyway. It's quite possible they turfed it because they decided Jabba should be an alien after the fact, as he eventually was in the Marvel comic. I can't see them ever seriously considering such an ambitious special effect as replacing an entire character in post back in 1977, such a technique was never done convincingly until 1988, with Roger Rabbit, & not completely well until TPM (I'm sure there must be a few other examples, but not in the 1970s). They didn't even attempt such a thing in ESB or ROTJ.
  25. Captain_Cosmos Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 1, 2011
    star 1
    After close examination it?s occurred to me quite a while back that Lucas only really had a vision and imagination for two movies, ROTJ being a rehash of ANH, and the PT being copied scenes from the OT (Lucas: They rhyme). Sad really, because I?ve always seen practically unlimited scope and possibilities for the franchise without the need for ?rhyming? anything or using misplaced slap-stick to cover up for a lack of plot. That?s the reason why I think Kurtz had a better idea of what to do next after ESB. Loved the classic tragic ending for ROTJ that he talked about, and for the film to lead directly into Ep. VII with Luke searching for The Other. I like the idea of Han going out like a hero, similar to George Peppard in Operation Crossbow. Such a great pity and tragedy that Lucas didn?t have the spunk to make that version.