Saga The Writing of TESB

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Samnz, Jan 19, 2014.

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  1. Samnz Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2012
    star 2
    Ths is something I've thought about for a while. Whenever people call TESB "well written", I perplexed. I just don't see it. I'm not trying to invalidate their opinion with this, I'm just looking for an explanation.
    I can understand when people praise TESB for its cinematography and other things, I just don't get the writing argument. I'd rank TESB high in many aspects, but I'd rank it very low in the writing category.

    If you look at the film, it seems to me that Lucas and Kasdan were only writing for Luke and Darth Vader and that at the expense of other characters and the story.
    I agree that their parts in the film were excellent.

    But apart from that, I don't see good writing and I think the overall story and others characters fell short.
    Lucas und Kasdan completely missed to develop the Rebels/Empire storyline in any way. They kind of nullified ANH's events, fired off a massive battle at the beginning and then dropped that storyline completely. That did not only devalue ANH's achievements, but it also caused a lot of problems for ROTJ. With ROTJ, they had to start from scratch and remind the viewers that there was actually something at stake. ROTJ gets a lot of critism (it's also my last favourite of the six), but I think a lot of its problems stem from writing shortcomings on TESB.
    It's similar with Han and Leia (ESB's clifhanger with Han also placed a heavy burden on ROTJ). TESB's Han is by far my least favourite representation of the character. He seems to be written solely for the purpose of "bad-assness", devoid of any character development. I mean, he is more egoistic and disrespectful to others in this film than in the prior film. Leia also got nothing to do. She was bait in ANH and remaind in that position sadly, the only difference that Han joined her.
    It's feels, at least to me, that 50% of the film was actually well-written while the other 50% were lazily written filler. Think about the "space slug", what was that? Filler within filler, so filler²? Would it have hurt to give Han and Leia more to do than to be on the run all the time? Would it have hurt to show any consequences of "Hoth" for the Rebellion? Probably with any hints leading to their future strategy?
    I just think that a "well written" film should manage to give all its lead characters a meanigful story and not ignore the overall plot.

    Lust but not least, I also don't think that TESB's dialogue is better than in the other films. "My hands are dirty. My hands are dirty too". "Scruffy-looking nerf herder". "Laserbrain". "You look absolutely beautiful. You truly belong here with us among the clouds". "You could use a good kiss".
    There is plenty of ridiculous stuff in it, too, if you ask me.

    I don't intend this as a bashing thread, so I'd like to avoid that this turns into a contest of "what's worse." I'd rather like to read arguments why you think the film was well-written and why my complaints did not bother you. Of course I'm also interested to see if there are others who are less than impressed with TESB's writing.
    Your thoughts?
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  2. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 29, 2009
    star 4
    I think the continuing pressure from the Empire after Yavin was done very well in "Empire", showing that Vader was now actively hunting them, even landing personally on Hoth to prove a point. Han & Leia running through Echo Base, with Threepio complaining all the way, is a classic moment in the OT.
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  3. PiettsHat Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 1, 2011
    star 4

    See, I actually thought that the aspect of Vader's hunt just reinforced how marginalized the Rebellion had become. From the beginning, Vader is obsessed primarily with Luke. When he discerns that the Rebels are on the Hoth system, he makes it a point of saying that he is sure Skywalker is with them. During the battle, the focus seems to be less on actively stopping the Rebellion than getting to Luke. And once the Rebel transports are away, the Empire seems to completely forget about them. Instead, Vader goes completely after Han and Leia because he intends to use them as bait to get Luke. He never really focuses on their value as Rebels and he dedicates several star destroyers to this cause solely to get his son.

    By the end of the film, has anything really changed for either the Rebellion or the Empire? Is one stronger or weaker? The films never really give us any indication. It seems like the Rebels managed to get away just fine and the Empire doesn't seem worse for wear either. It just feels like no progress has been made in their conflict.

    Moreover, ESB really doesn't show how the destruction of Alderaan and the destruction of the Death Star impacted the galaxy. Did more people join the Rebellion? Was the Empire weakened by the loss of their most important weapon? There's really nothing said about this -- it makes no impact on the story. Which is why, in my opinion, the Death Star II battle in ROTJ seems kind of pointless. The last time the Rebels destroyed a Death Star, nothing changed. So why should it this time? Instead, it seems as though the galaxy was freed because Palpatine was killed. In which case, basically all the credit goes to Luke (with a little to Anakin).

    I think the biggest indicator that Luke really "becomes the plot" in ESB can be seen in the conversation between Vader and Palpatine. Here, they speak only of Luke. Palpatine doesn't care about how the battle went, he doesn't inquire into the strength of Vader's forces, and there's no conversation about how, after the loss of the Death Star, the Empire can't really handle having a Jedi Knight opposing them. It's just about Luke being a threat to them and how he could be a powerful ally if turned.

    Best and most appropriate typo ever, Samnz! [face_laugh]

    I agree with basically everything you wrote, but this especially I wanted to make a comment on. It really perplexes me that people say that Han and Leia's dialogue is good. Maybe it's because I had read Gone with the Wind before I ever watched the film, but some of their dialogue (the "scoundrel" stuff in particular) is basically lifted or paraphrased straight from there. It never impressed me.

    That, and I really don't get why people think the "I know" is so great. I agree with Lucas that "I love you too" is better. It might reinforce Han's image of a devil-may-care scoundrel to say "I know," but it also feels really unkind to Leia (in my opinion). Han might have died during the carbon freezing process. Doesn't Leia deserve to know that he loved her too? It just strikes me as such a horribly egotistical thing to say. "Yeah, I know you love me -- how could you not?"
    Last edited by PiettsHat, Jan 19, 2014
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  4. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 29, 2009
    star 4
    The main difference about the second Death Star battle was that Palpatine deliberately orchestrated it as a trap. The first station was more of an intimidation tactic; Tarkin even says so in the briefing scene.

    The OT presents Leia as being the most resolute member of the Rebellion; Tarkin blew up Alderaan to try and make her crack, but failed. Luke even admits in "Jedi" that Leia's far stronger emotionally, compared to him or Anakin.
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  5. PiettsHat Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 1, 2011
    star 4
    Right, but how exactly does destroying the second Death Star do anything to free the galaxy or hurt the Empire significantly? What I mean is -- it seems like after the destruction of the first, the Empire was still as powerful as ever. Why then should we believe that destroying the second one will do anything? It just seems as though the reason the Empire fell in ROTJ was due solely to Palpatine dying. In which case, the galaxy was freed basically by Luke alone since Palpatine definitely would have had time to escape if he hadn't been killed.

    Yeah, that's true. But again, in ESB, she's basically just used as a means to draw Luke out of hiding. As far as I can tell, Vader never questions her on Rebel secrets. He doesn't even seem interested in that fact. She's just in the movie, basically, for the romance and to draw Luke out. Her one relevant action is to go back to save Luke at the end of the film.
  6. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 29, 2009
    star 4
    It's like the old saying, "if you want to take out an army, go after the general first".

    Vader tortured Han because he knew Luke would sense it through the Force, and make an immature decision based on fear. He later froze Han in carbonite to emotionally affect Leia.
  7. PiettsHat Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 1, 2011
    star 4
    The problem is, though, that in doing so, it renders the Rebellion completely pointless and ancillary to the plot. Luke is the one who saves the galaxy, basically by himself. If he hadn't gone on board, Palpatine would certainly have had time to escape.

    Errr…yes? That's kind of my point. Han and Leia are only there because of their relation to Luke. Vader doesn't seem to care about their positions in the Rebellion. Leia and Han are basically MacGuffins for Luke to chase after rather than characters with their own plot-relevant storyline. They're not on a mission for the Rebellion. They're just there to be bait for Luke in his journey. Which I think was the point Samnz was getting at.
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  8. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 29, 2009
    star 4
    They only fulfill that role in relation to Vader's storyline; Luke sees them as people he doesn't want to lose, because he loves them. Han's capture also sets up his rescue from Jabba's palace later on, which results in the Hutt's death at Leia's hands.
    Last edited by Moviefan2k4, Jan 19, 2014
  9. PiettsHat Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 1, 2011
    star 4

    Yeah, but that's my point -- they're only important to the story in relation to Luke. It's the fact that Luke loves them that gives them any weight within the story. On their own, they don't get to contribute anything. They're relegated to a love story and being people Luke cares about. It's like Anakin's mother in AOTC. She doesn't get her own character arc -- her purpose, in the story, is to be a motivator for Anakin. I would argue that this is more problematic for Han and Leia, though, since they're supposed to be major characters yet they're kind of pushed to the side. To say nothing of the Rebellion.
    Last edited by PiettsHat, Jan 19, 2014
  10. Visivious Drakarn Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 20, 2013
    star 2
    OK, first of all, I love the diversity of SW movies. Each one is unique on it's own way. TESB stands out for being very personal movie and that basically nothing important for the galaxy happens. I find TESB very well written (just the dialogs which I find very natural) and superbly acted (even those guys who fire with blaster cannons on walkers acted like they're in main roles).
    But TESB suffers on some fronts, mostly on story part. In the opening crawl it is said that a group of freedom fighters led by Luke Skywalker... Why did they made Luke a leader, what's the point of that, especially when we do not see it on screen? Vader obsessed with Luke Skywalker. It's a shame we haven't seen Vader finding out about him. And when Palpy contacts him and tells him that Luke is the son of Skywalker, has Vader already known then or has Palpy enlightened him? When the Imperial fleet comes out of lightspeed, what's the point of exiting hyperspace farther from the system? Is the idea: If you're closing to the system slower, you're invisible? Falcon getting to Bespin without hyperspace. Falcon escaping from Bespin as close as they can get to Imperial SSD. Entering in open space in an asteroid/slug with just breathing masks on. The space slug. Oh, boy. Plus those things mentioned before, the lack of consequences of ANH Rebel actions. Plus timeline issues Luke learning on Dagobah - Han, Leia, Chewie on Bespin. Out of all of these problems, the most troublesome I find losing Leia as she was in ANH. Strong character and important member of the Rebel alliance was reduced to Han's love interest while Han got the lead role - He saved Luke, saved the Falcon crew in space, brought them to his friend Lando and was frozen thus making the viewers worried for his fate.
    Imagine if one of the PT movie had those things. We'd never hear the end of it. [face_coffee]
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  11. oierem Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2009
    star 3
    Regarding the lack of importance of the Rebels vs.Empire plot (and the almost total focus on the personal story of Luke vs. Vader), I think we have to look at the time the basic plot was created: late 1977. At that poing, SW was an open saga, with the galactic conflict serving as a backdrop to potentially endless stories and movies about the Rebels (similar to a TV series). In that context, it is logical that some adventures are basically "rebels on the run" and don't advance the galactic plot in any significant way. There was no need to build towards a final victory of the Rebels. It was just backdrop.
    Of course, things changed during the making of the movie, and SWs became a trilogy, but the basic story of Empire remained unchanged. Then, they found themselves with only one episode left to resolve the whole storyline. Therefore, the Rebels. vs. Empire plotline becomes questionable and not very well developed (but that's the fault of Empire and Jedi equally!)

    Another possible reason: if we look at the PT, episode I balanced the personal ("fall of Anakin") and political ("fall of the republic") storylines pretty well, focusing more on the political story. However, as the trilogy went on, the personal story became the main focus, and the political story just background commentary (episode III is entirel based on Anakin's story, and the creation of the Empire happens rather suddenly and not in a climatic moment).
    I think the same happened in a way in the OT: in a very natural way, it started presenting a political and personal story, but gradually, the personal story took over.
  12. DRush76 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2008
    star 4
    I think the triumphs of the Empire were balanced nicely from both a political and personal standpoint. I feel that the political view of an Imperial triumph ended with the Rebel Alliance's victory at Hoth. And from a personal view, the Imperial triumph played out on Bespin . . . with one exception, namely Vader's failure to capture Luke.
  13. CommanderDrenn Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 19, 2013
    star 4
    I like how it ends a bit darker, and it is better written than 90% of other movies out there, in my opinion.
  14. MOC Yak Face Moderator, Classic Trilogy

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    Jan 6, 2004
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    ESB, like all of the other films apart from ANH, was written as part of a saga which was constructed as it went along, and the writing reflects this. In my opinion, this film isn't great because of it's writing. It's great on many other levels.
  15. Seagoat Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2013
    star 4
    I understand your sentiment. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love it as much as any other part of the saga, but when looked at as an individual film rather than just part of one grand opera, it fails in many of the departments you mentioned. I mean, really nothing happens in the galaxy other than Luke training, getting daddy issues, and Han inconsequentially being frozen. The audience only cares because they like Han (though not everyone does...)

    I mean, look at the other films
    TPM: brings the realization upon the Jedi that the Sith are still around, Palpatine orchestrates his plan and gets himself in a position of power, the Chosen One is found and begins training
    AOTC: Do I even need to elaborate? The entire galaxy gets into a huge war, Anakin's mother dies, driving him closer to the dark side, Anakin and Padme get married, setting the events for a tragedy, etc
    ROTS: The entire balance of the Force is thrown out of whack, Anakin becomes Vader, the war ends, the Republic becomes the Empire
    ANH: The Rebellion has a major victory over the Empire, destroys their super weapon, and Luke begins training in the ways of the Force
    TESB: Luke... trains some more and finds out Vader is his father. Nothing immediately galactically important happens.
    ROTJ: Anakin redeems himself, kills Palpatine, (seemingly) eradicating the Sith, and (seemingly) brings balance to the Force, and the Empire and the war (again, seemingly) come to an end
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  16. Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn The Other Saga Moderator

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    You may be interested to know that in the first draft of Empire, there is a scene where Dodonna uses a 3D map to explain the political situation and ripple effects in the galaxy at the time when the rebels are on Hoth. The earlier opening crawl versions make note of how the Empire established martial law in response to the destruction of the Death Star.

    The shift in focus from those elements to Luke's journey is very much like the shift in Anakin's turn/the storyline in ROTS. I can see why each is a problem for some people; they alter the 'shape' of the story. Sometimes I wonder what a saga following the storyline as Ben told it in Star Wars would be like. In other words, a saga where the familial elements are still strong and relevant, but the universe still feels as 'open' as in SW. Combining Anakin and Darth Vader was part of the first move in condensing this, and making Anakin the 'main character' of the saga - "The Tragedy of Darth Vader" - completed it.

    I just happen to like the patter in the ESB script, along with Yoda's philosophy and humor, the general aesthetic palette of the film, the soundtrack...

    Really good point.
    Last edited by Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn, Jan 19, 2014
  17. Yanksfan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2000
    star 5
    First off, ESB is more of a "character-driven" movie, which I think is one of its strengths. So the story is scaled down a bit, and the story lines are a lot more personal. I actually find it, on balance, an excellent film. Luke's training is handled really well, and the Han/Leia storyline…well, I don't what to say, but I strongly disagree with whoever suggested it was merely a "throwaway" plot line . I found it exhilarating. Fleeing Hoth in the nick of time, the asteroid chase, Vader's ambush of them at Cloud City, the carbonite scene (omg, my favorite scene in the entire saga!). I loved it all. And the love story was great! And I think what that poster is missing, is that the love story in itself is a means of character development for both Han and Leia. So, no, I don't think they're left dangling in the wind. If you're looking at it purely in terms of "but they don't do anything for the major cause", then I think you're missing the point. They give us plenty of exciting moments, and their characters both grow throughout the film. So, no. I don't think they're wasted at all.

    And it's funny, because ESB? Is far and away my favorite incarnation of Han. He seems a more dimensional character than in ANH, while not losing that edge that seems disappear in ROTJ.
  18. MOC Yak Face Moderator, Classic Trilogy

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    I agree with all of this. It's character driven and likewise actor driven. There's story inconsistencies and clunky dialogue as in all of SW, but despite that it really resonates for me on a human level. Regarding the Han / Leia relationship, I've come to the conclusion that if you like fantasy relationships, you're unlikely to like it, whereas if you like Earthly relationships within a fantasy story, you will.
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  19. Force Smuggler Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    The Force is with you young Skywalker, but you aren't a Jedi yet.
    Enough said.
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  20. PiettsHat Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 1, 2011
    star 4
    It would have been nice if they had included that scene with Dodonna. I've always been really interested in what the fallout was from ANH, especially the destruction of Alderaan. It would have really brought the conflict to life in terms of how it is affecting the galaxy. One of the things I would have liked to see the OT tackle is how life was for Imperial citizens. We do see Tatooine, but it's remote and there's not a real presence there. Luke even says it seems so far away. Then there's Cloud City, but it isn't really under Imperial control.

    I don't lament the focus on Luke's story, but I do think it would have been possible to better implement the Rebellion storyline. One big thing would have been not to repeat the Death Star plot line, but I feel ESB is also responsible in that it doesn't do much to advance the conflict and almost negates much of what occurred in ANH by not showing its impact. One of the things I really like about the PT is that, although Anakin does get the chance to save the Republic, Palpatine's plan doesn't hinge on him. If Anakin hadn't been discovered by Qui-Gon, then Palpatine's plan could still have gone forward. I like how Lucas has the macro and micro stories intersect but not be wholly dependent on one another. There are large parts of Anakin's story, for example, that have nothing to do with the fall of the Republic -- save as his life in slavery or his mother's death at the hands of the Tuskens. I feel that the OT (and ESB in particular) don't do enough to differentiate and bolster the Rebellion plot line.

    I agree, though, that the familial elements are the most important and that Yoda and the technical merits of the film are stupendous.



    I would actually disagree about Han and Leia's relationship being "Earthly." It's based off Rhett and Scarlett's relationship, but it clearly doesn't understand what that relationship was about or why it is considered a classic. Rhett and Scarlett were dysfunctional and abusive. To base Han and Leia off of them and give them a happily-ever-after is…misguided, to say the least. It just seems to me that Gone with the Wind was chosen as the inspiration because it was considered one of the greatest romances in cinema. Well, so is Romeo and Juliet, but if you want to live into your old age, that's not an example you want to follow.
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  21. Yanksfan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2000
    star 5
    Oh, no, PIettsHat, don't bring that GWTW argument back into this. Ha ha, the two of us hashed this out months ago!! You already know all my rebuttals to that line of thinking.
  22. PiettsHat Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 1, 2011
    star 4

    Don't worry, I remember. :)

    I guess I'll just never understand what they were thinking when they based Han and Leia's romance off a couple whose dysfunctions included not just verbal abuse and threats of physical violence, but also marital rape. I know when the book was written, what Rhett did was not illegal. But by 1980, I would have thought that the writers would think twice before looking to it as an ideal to be mimicked...

    Granted, South Korea just criminalized marital rape in 2013, so maybe I'm expecting too much.
  23. MOC Yak Face Moderator, Classic Trilogy

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    That's quite a segway you've got going there PH!
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  24. PiettsHat Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 1, 2011
    star 4

    What exactly do you mean by segway?

    The connection is pretty clear:

    Han – Come on, admit it. Sometimes you think I’m all right.
    LeiaOccasionally, maybe… when you aren’t acting like a scoundrel.
    Han (grabs her hand) – Scoundrel? Scoundrel! I like the sound of that.
    Leia (meaning the fact that he is caressing her hands) – Stop that.
    Han – Stop what?
    Leia – Stop that. My hands are dirty.
    Han – My hands are dirty too. What are you afraid of?
    LeiaAfraid?
    HanYou’re trembling.
    LeiaI’m not trembling.
    Han (leaning towards her) – You like me because I’m a scoundrel. There aren’t enough scoundrels in your life.
    LeiaI happen to like nice men.
    Han (closer) – I am a nice man.

    Compared to:


    “Don’t giggle,” he said, and taking her hand, he turned it over and pressed his lips into the palm. Something vital, electric, leaped from him to her at the touch of his warm mouth, something that caressed her whole body thrillingly. His lips traveled to her wrist and she knew he must feel the leap of her pulse as her heart quickened and she tried to draw back her hand. She had not bargained on this -this treacherous warm tide of feeling that made her want to run her hands through his hair, to feel his lips upon her mouth.
    She wasn’t in love with him, she told herself confusedly. She was in love with Ashley. But how to explain this feeling that made her hands shake and the pit of her stomach grow cold?
    He laughed softly.
    “Don’t pull away! I won’t hurt you!
    “Hurt me? I’m not afraid of you, Rhett Butler, or of any man in shoe leather!” she cried, furious that her voice shook as well as her hands.
    “An admirable sentiment, but do lower your voice. Mrs. Wilkes might hear you. And pray compose yourself.” He sounded as though delighted at her flurry.
    Scarlett, you do like me, don’t you?
    That was more like what she was expecting.
    Well, sometimes,” she answered cautiously. “When you aren’t acting like a varmint.
    He laughed again and held the palm of her hand against his hard cheek.
    I think you like me because I am a varmint. You’ve known so few dyed-in-the-wool varmints in your sheltered life that my very difference holds a quaint charm for you.
    This was not the turn she had anticipated and she tried again without success to pull her hand free.
    “That’s not true! I like nice men -men you can depend on to always be gentlemanly.”

    [IMG]

    I don't think it's just in my head.
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  25. MOC Yak Face Moderator, Classic Trilogy

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    Han and Leia >>> Marital rape in North Korea.
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