BTS Why did George Lucas begin the saga with Ep IV?

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by TheProtocol, Mar 27, 2013.

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  1. TheProtocol Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2012
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    If someone were to ask me why, directly, I wouldn't be able answer.

    Did GL always intend to start with Episode 4? Or did he realise later in production that there was a bigger story and then decided to make the first one Episode IV?

    I've always been intrigued by his reasoning and I don't think I've ever found a solid statement explaining why it was done this way with a whole lot of contradicting explanations/statements.
  2. Placeholder Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 30, 2013
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    He was inspired by serials. He wanted the movie to take place in a world larger than the story. So, we are introduced to the story in progress in a sense. He didn't know Star Wars would ever be succesful enough to lead to more. That's why even though it takes place in this frame work, it also has a clear beginning, middle and end.

    We discover Luke, he leaves on his adventure, he rescues the girl and saves the day
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  3. Heero_Yuy Chosen One

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    Nov 28, 2000
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    Star Wars wasn't even Episode IV A New Hope when it was released in theaters in 1977. The episode number and titles were added in 1981. As it was planned, it was always meant to be the beginning of a story, not the middle.
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  4. The Supreme Chancellor Jedi Grand Master

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    Sep 4, 2012
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    It's answered in the GL and Hayden Q & A.
    ^ That.
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  5. darkchrono Force Ghost

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    May 23, 2005
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    Yes the original Star Wars was made to be a standalone movie. However Lucas did create a larger story before Star Wars was released and ANH was always intended to be the middle part of that story. The other stories probably were not developed enough yet to make a movie but they were there and in Lucas's mind already.
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  6. Heero_Yuy Chosen One

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    Nov 28, 2000
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    Certainly he had a backstory mapped out in his mind and his notes. However, by his own admission, he never initially intended on using that backstory in an actual film. It was purely for HIS reference.
  7. darkchrono Force Ghost

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    May 23, 2005
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    He never intended on using it for the first film. He put the other parts on the shelf because the entire story was far to big to put in an actual film. Once the film was successful though he knew he could go back and put those other ideas into a movie form.

    Go watch that Empire of Dreams documentary. It is the most detailed documentary they have about the OT and the making of it.
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  8. only one kenobi Jedi Grand Master

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    Exactly this.
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  9. oierem Jedi Grand Master

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    Mar 18, 2009
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    Sorry but that's not accurate at all. The backstory was meant to be just backstory, and it was a very different backstory.

    Lucas created a big story in the serial style, which means that it was an adventure set in a bigger conflict, but the nature of the conflict was really important. He cut it down, yes, but he didn't take the first third of the script: he just adjusted the script to fit the budget and lenght of a feature film.

    Empire of Dreams is a good documentary about the production of the OT, but it doesn't give a good impression of the actual creation of the scripts and the story.

    So, to answer the original question, George Lucas wanted to evoke the serial feeling with a movie that didn't explain the origin of the conlict or the backstory of the characters; it started in the middle of the action. However, he was not thinking about a 6/9 part saga, and therefore, he didn't intend the film to be "episode IV" of anything.
    Last edited by oierem, Mar 29, 2013
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  10. Ingram_I Jedi Grand Master

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    Sep 7, 2012
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    For the original 1977 release of A New Hope (or simply Star Wars back then), it is my understanding that Lucas did in fact intend for the opening scroll to begin with 'Episode IV' only to then be denied by the studio execs because they thought it would be too confusing for audiences.
    Last edited by Ingram_I, Mar 29, 2013
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  11. only one kenobi Jedi Grand Master

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    Nov 18, 2012
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    Where did you get this understanding from? When work began on TESB it was subtitled Episode 2.
  12. Ingram_I Jedi Grand Master

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    Sep 7, 2012
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    Right. That's what I mean: when making and releasing Empire, Lucas was in full control and so began the conceit of numbering the films as episodes.
  13. obi-rob-kenobi4 Force Ghost

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  14. darkchrono Force Ghost

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    May 23, 2005
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    Notice Lucas says in the OT video (and this is exactly what I have heard all along) that he chose to start out in the middle. That is what I have always heard as well. I think many of the people in this thread are just confusing the fact that since Ep. IV was made to be a standalone move that that meant he had no intentions of going further with it back in '77.
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  15. Grigsy Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Mar 24, 2013
    The fact that he created the rough ideas for the prequels and the fact that ANH was meant to be a stand a lone movie are not contradictory. It was a hard movie to sell to the executives, and he got lucky with Fox. It had to be made as a stand alone in case it was a flop. Most people were convinced that it would be. When it did well, he was able to draw upon his random thoughts and possibly writen notes with others to revise as needed to complete the original triology. In all likely hood (given the references to the Clone Wars in episode 4, Lightsabers, the fact that it was clearly estabished Darth Vader had an history with Obi-Wan Kenobi, etc.) there had to be a lot some idea of a past narrative in Lucas` mind. To what extend, we can guess, but I imagine it was like Harry Potter. JK Rowling once said, she wanted from the start Harry and Ginny to wind up together, thus the small mention in book 1 (SS), only to flesh out the character later on. The only difference, this was pointing to the past in Starwars as opposed to the future.
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  16. oierem Jedi Grand Master

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    Mar 18, 2009
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    But that's a misleading statement, to say the least. He did wanted to start in the middle of the action, telling a story set in a larger conflict. But he didn't actively decide to start with the middle chapter of a single coherent story and then go back and do the previous ones.
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  17. darkchrono Force Ghost

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    May 23, 2005
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    Oierem. He has stated over and over and over again that Star Wars was a much larger story then just the three OT movies and that he created the backstory's at the same time he was creating the story for the OT. You will have trouble getting many people to buy the fact that ANH was originally intended to be Ep. I. ANH was always intended to be Ep. IV but it was just a matter if the movies would be successful enough to make more. They were and so we got the rest made into movies as well.

    I think you will have better luck with saying that none of the ST movies were in Lucas' mind at the time the OT and PT movies were made. Anything that has to do with Anakin Skywalker though I think has been in his mind from the very beginning.
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  18. oierem Jedi Grand Master

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    Mar 18, 2009
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    I agree with most of what you say: he created rough ideas for sequels and prequels and was able to use some of those ideas once the first movie was a hit. But it's important to note that these ideas were quite different from the final version that we see now: the past narrative was different (and that means that the current "main story" of the saga was not created back then).
    I think the comparation with Rowling is not entirely adequate, though. First, we don't know much about the creative procees behing HP. When Rowling created HP she wasn't a writter yet and spent several years just planning the story,whereas Lucas had to create a film as soon as possible.Therefore, Rowling had a good idea of how the story was going to evolve before she published the first book, whereas Lucas had only vague notions and ideas that would eventually change. And finally, they're creative methods are different: Rowling is essentially a planner, she likes to create complex plots and plan them carefully. Lucas is more like an sculptor: he's constantly adding, changind, eliminating, finding new ways, trying new ideas...
  19. oierem Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2009
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    I was smiling while I was reading your post because I used to think exactly the same thing... that Lucas had the grand 6-part Anakin Skywalker story in his mind from the beginning.... But I learned that I was wrong. (and keep in mind that I love the current 6-part Anakin Skywalker story!)

    He has stated over and over and over again... in the last few years!! But if you read his statements from when the original films where made, it's a very different story! And everything, from his own comments from the 70s and 80s (totally different from his comments from the past decade) to the different drafts of the scripts he wrote contradict you. "Episode IV" was never in any original script (though "Chapter 1" was). The plot from the following episodes were not created before the first movie was out. Which is not a bad thing!

    Have you ever read The Secret History of Star Wars? If you're sure of your account of the story it and don't want to have a different perspective it won't interest you, but if you're really interested on the actual process of creating the saga, I highly recommend you (although, of course, don't believe everything it's said on the book: but there are a number of actual FACTS that contradict what you (and Lucas) are saying).
  20. darkchrono Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2005
    star 4
    Ok then post all those articles and statements from the 70's and 80's that say this. So far you are basically saying this. this. this, and this is true yet it goes against everything Lucas is saying and you havn't given any proof of your own to back it up. And sorry but I have read bits and pieces of the secret history of star wars and I think I will pass on looking at it further. If I remember right that guy spends about twenty pages talking about the problems Lucas had with his dad.
    Last edited by darkchrono, Mar 29, 2013
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  21. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    Apr 26, 2009
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    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4UwMUg-9EVSQjR1V0M1Rk52OVU/edit

    By no means comprehensive, but the simple fact of the matter is that the overall vision did change over time. There was a backstory, but it was just that, and not originally intended to be three episodes worth of story. There was even an early, abandoned 2-page outline called 'The Journal of the Whills', which, despite being pretty incoherent, reads like a very rough outline of TPM. It was, however, tossed aside and GL started over from scratch with his 13-page treatment based on Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress.

    It's also worth noting the 12-episode outline in which SW/ANH is listed as Episode Six, along with the second draft of SW being subtitled 'Episode 1'.

    All the early drafts of SW/ANH, plus a few for the later films, can be found here, and they're the real deal:

    http://starwarz.com/starkiller/
    Last edited by Darth_Nub, Mar 30, 2013
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  22. Samuel Vimes Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2012
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    Se Darth-Nubs post, he also has a thread at the top of the first page in this forum where you can find this.

    FACT: ANH or Star Wars as it was known back then, the scripts did have Ep I or saga one as a subtitle, no script has Ep IV. Also FOX have stated that the only change they requested that removing the definitive article "THE" from the title. So instead of The Star Wars, you got Star Wars.

    FACT: The first drafts of ESB had Ep II as a subtitle.

    FACT: These first drafts also had Anakin Skywalker as a ghost which clearly say that Vader was NOT Luke's father. So no six episodes that were about Anakin Skywalker.

    Early on, before ANH was released, Lucas said that he hoped he could make three film and maybe ONE prequel film and that film delt with how Anakin died and Obi-Wan and Vader as younger people. Then there was talk of tweleve films, loosely connected like the Bond films.
    Then a trilogy of trilogies.

    Lucas changed his mind, nothing more or less. He made one film with potential for sequels and he had created a backstory for the universe and the characters, something most writers do. The first film did better than he could have imagined and so he could make more films. The creation of Star Wars was an evolutionary process many things were chnaged and added along the way.

    Bye for now-
    The Guarding Dark
  23. darkchrono Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2005
    star 4
    Sorry but that Secret History of Star Wars is utter crap. I have no clue why someone would waste their time reading that whole thing. 90% of it is the authors own personal opinions and him trying to piece things together himeself. The few actual useful quotes he does have really don't tell you much about what you want to know regarding the making of the films.

    In anycase I think you guys are basing to much on the very early notes he wrote down back in the early '70's. By the time the films started being released in '77 it looks like he has a very firm grasp of what he wants to tell and it resembles what we have today a great deal. Of course a writer changes things around a lot while he is still trying to come up with the concept of the story. You can't base much off of those notes he made in '73 when the actual movie wasn't released until '77. Sorry but this just confirms you guys are reaching for straws. If this Secret History of Star Wars is the best info you have then you don't have much info at all. You could of found out everything in that Secret History of Star Wars that was worth noting in the Empire of Dreams documentary as well.

    Again I'm not concerned about notes he had in '73. I pay attention to what his thoughts were and vision was after he was already working on the films.
  24. only one kenobi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2012
    star 3
    You mean like Star Wars/ANH being subtitled Episode 1 in draft, and TESB being subtitled Episode 2?
  25. oierem Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2009
    star 3
    We're not talking about some obscure notes made in 1973. We're talking about all the different drafts and quotes from the time the OT was made, and even later. The Secret History of Star Wars (have you read it or not???) is just a book that compiles all that information and analyses it. You can disagree with some of the conclussions (as I do), but still you have all that information, actual FACTS, that proove that Lucas' statments from the last decade are not accurate.
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