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

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

  1. Kev Snowmane

    Kev Snowmane Jedi Knight star 3

    Jan 1, 2013
    ^To be honest, w/o going back and re-reading all three pages, I'm not sure I know where you stand on the original question.

    My personal stance leans towards the idea that he had SOME sort of bigger scheme in mind (of whatever size) but decided to film ANH (whatever ep it was intended to be) because he thought it the part that had the best chance of "making it" at that time.
  2. Darth_Nub

    Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Apr 26, 2009
    Well, I think the question the OP was asking was whether or not this bigger picture really existed in the sense that GL actually had several options as to where he was going to start (and he supposedly started in the middle).
    IMHO, no. He certainly started his story in the thick of the action, with a grand backstory being referred to, but this backstory wasn't fleshed out to the point where it was a story of its own, nor was it originally intended to. It did exist, though, and certain elements would stay consistent from the earliest developments in 1973 to the films of the PT itself.

    However, it quickly took on a life of its own, to the point where GL was privately talking about making an episode set in the days of the Republic as early as 1975, then he mentioned it publicly following the success of SW. While developing ESB, it then grew even more, to the point where he felt it not only warranted its own film, but an entire trilogy.
  3. Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn

    Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 23, 1999
    Seems to me that the structure and characters had to co-evolve, right? Because obviously when he was talking about Mace Windy and CJ Thorpe, the whole idea was much different. The feel/"texture" of the world might have been similar, but any 'story' would have been different. The structure of current wars, Jedi, politics, how the backstory related to the main story, etc, all had to have developed over the course of the drafts of the film.

    However, if we simply mean that Lucas constructed The Star Wars to open 'in the middle of the action'... that seems pretty evident. It might have just been something he liked from filmmaking influences, or it might come directly from The Hidden Fortress, which he looked to specifically as a model as he cast about for plots (I don't know if it opens like that, though - I've not seen it). It could also simply play into the notion of throwing the audience into an unfamiliar situation and making them figure out what is going on. I think I've seen commentary to the effect that that was what had happened to him when he first got into Japanese film, and he wanted to use that same feeling in his own films.

    So my answer might be something like, Lucas had some ideas for a world but that so much for a plot. So he took from various sources, including a lot from The Hidden Fortress. As he shaped a plot, he came up with specific roles for characters, some of whom must have known/dealt with each other in the past. He further developed the political situation in his created galaxy. This, too, must have had some backstory. When he had started writing, he probably identified with some of the characters (I mean, he used the name Luke for one of them) and probably for that reason among many found that story 'the most interesting one' (also because any backstory was probably very vague at that point, and also because he was trying to make a story that was an allegory for political issues of the time, etc). So he really just came up with a story, at some point realized what the things were that had to have led to that story, but for a number of reasons continued with that main story at the time instead of breaking off and focusing on other time periods.
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  4. Samuel Vimes

    Samuel Vimes Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 4, 2012
    I have seen those vids and Empire of dreams and the old making of's. But I have also read the old scripts, some of Lucas old quotes and interviews as wel as more recent ones.
    In short I look at ALL the avaible evidence and don't dismiss one source because I don't like it.
    Doing this often means comparing different sources and seeing which is most reliable and accurate. No source is above reproach, even Lucas.

    Since this thread is about what Lucas had in mind in the mid/late 70's then what he said and wrote back then is more reliable than what he said/wrote 20-30 years later because the human memory is not perfect and new ideas can take over old ideas, even up until the point where you think you always had the new idea.

    The OP question was why Lucas started with ep IV.
    My answer is that he didn't. The first film was ep I or saga one. Lucas had ideas for sequels, he had Alan Dean Foster, who wrote the novelisation of Star Wars, to write scripts that could be turned into to low-budget films. Later ADF wrote "Splinter in the Minds eye." based on what he and Lucas had talked about. "Splinter.." did not feature Han Solo, because Lucas didn't have him under contract. It was also mostly set on a misty planet for budget reasons.

    When Star Wars became a huge hit, Lucas scrapped those low-budget sequels and had in mind many more films, twelve at one point.


    Clone war trilogy
    1 Episode One
    2 Episode two
    3 Episode three
    4 Episode four

    Epilogue/Prologue: 5 Episode five

    star wars trilogy
    6 Episode six
    Luke meets Ben K, becomes aware of the
    force, joins the rebel forces, destroys the
    death star, but not before it disintegrates
    Alderaan. Meets: Han solo / pirate, Leia /
    princess, robots. Also Darth Vader.

    Star wars trilogy(es)

    7 Episode seven
    8 Episode 8
    9 Episode nine
    10 Episode ten
    11 Episode eleven

    Conclusion: 12 Episode Twelve

    So again Lucas had ideas for more films, which I have never denied.
    But they were not firm and and changed alot over the years, esp after the first film became such a huge hit.

    So to say that in 1974-75, he had a clear idea for three preceeding films is not supported by the evidence. Yes clear idea, he supposedly knew what they would be about and what scenes would be in them. He would have to know this in order for the "Lack of technology" explanation to work.
    He did speak about doing ONE prequel film and in that he would see who Luke's father gets killed, which again speaks against the idea that Vader always was Luke's father.

    In closing, Lucas had ideas and wanted to make more films, that is not in question.
    What I don't agree with is that he had already planned out three preceeding films before writing the first one and come up with reasons not to start with them and so he started with the fourth film instead. The avaliable evidence from the 70's simply do no support this idea.

    Bye for now.
    Blackboard Monitor
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  5. Darth_Nub

    Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Apr 26, 2009
    The weirdest thing about what little there is of that story is its striking similarity to TPM (two Jedi sent to a blockaded planet), like an ultra-rough prototype. It did get tossed aside (he effectively started over with his Hidden Fortress-inspired treatment), but GL would eventually return to it. I suspect it was more out of necessity for a broad plotline to begin the PT with, rather than it always having been intended to be Episode I of a six part saga.

    That's very much how The Hidden Fortress opens - two ragged farmers bickering about their misfortunes in the civil war, which is still raging. And yes, you have to pretty much figure out the broader picture as you go along, which is revealed bit by bit.
    GL has also spoken about how HF appealed to him because it was told through the eyes of the two farmers, rather than the general or princess. He has made much of how the entire SW Saga was to have been told through the eyes of C-3PO & R2-D2, but that concept never really went any further than the first act of SW/ANH, after which the story is handed over to Luke.
  6. oierem

    oierem Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2009
    Why are we being overly picky? If you want to know about the origins of the saga, you HAVE to read and analyze all the available material and try to make sense out of it. And that doesn't meant we are complaining about anything!!! Claiming that Lucas didn't have all planned out isn't a complain nor a criticism to the movies!! Please, let's try to accept that having different opinions doesn't mean that we are complaining, because otherwise it's impossible to keep discussing the issue and we will always get distracted by personal attacks and "you just don't like SW as much as I do" ideas.

    It is true that, in at least one occasion, he has said that he knew about Vader being the father but wasn't sure whether to go for it or not (which may very well be true! The possibility could have always been there, as an alternative option). HOWEVER, he also has claimed repeatedly that the genesis of the Saga, the very first script, was about The Tragedy of Darth Vader, the story of a villain who is discovered to be the father of the hero and is finally redeemed. That seems to contradict the idea of "he had the idea of Vader being the father but wasn't sure whether to go for it or not". And that is most certainly NOT true, since there is no original script using that idea at all, nor a reference to that from the 1970s.

    In short, even if "Father Vader" was a possible idea he had in mind in the 1970s (which is possible), the story was clearly NOT about "a tragic villain who is redeemed by his son and becomes the hero" (which is the basis for the prequels).
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  7. obi-rob-kenobi4

    obi-rob-kenobi4 Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 17, 2007
    The main problem here is that some people are trying to make it out like when Lucas says : "I came up with a big story that I had to cut down into separate parts, some to put on the shelf and some to focus trying to make into movies...and during making these movies over time the natural creative process took place and some ideas adapted to fit the story as best as it could."

    In essence thats the bottom line.

    @ Samuel Vimes

    I want to use your last post as an example of the confusion between us here so that we can both come to understanding it. My argument is that even if ALL of what you just posted is 100% true it still doesn't mean lucas is "lying" when he says the words "I had a story that got too big that i cut down into separate parts to prioritize what was going to get made into movies first". Thats all Im saying. So our only point is that everything you took the time to post in your last post (however interesting) is only a much longer, geeky, more complicated way to just say what Lucas basically says, which is "The story I wanted to tell was too big so I cut it down into smaller parts".

    No matter how much anyone talks about all the various ideas and concepts in the EARLY 70's it doesn't matter because when Episode 4 came out in 1977 Lucas had the backstory of what would be the PT in his mind and in his red binder of ideas to peruse. As has been pointed out in this thread WHILE PUBLICLY PROMOTING the first SW film in 1977 he was giving interviews all over the media talking on and on (almost in detail!!!) of how he wanted to have "an old republic movie" where we see "The Young Ben kenobis lightsaber fight with Darth Vader when Lukes father gets killed" before TESB came out even! And all while saying this he also said how unsatisfied he was with SW and how upset he was that he could only get 30% of what he REALLY wants the story to be like.

    So again, the bottem line is that even before the Original Trilogy itself was finished in the year 1983 the FACT was that the OT was called Episodes 4, 5 and 6 with a backstory of "Episodes 1,2 and 3" very much in mind. So much so that key ideas and major events telling the creation of Darth Vader involving a volcano duel with Ben Kenobi always talked about by lucas in detail were kept in the now finished PT films as they exist today. Even "the jedi getting tricked and killed" like Lucas said in this same rolling stone interview survived and went into the PT as it is today. So when people saw this in 2005 they were seeing what Lucas described in 1977 as part of his backstory.

    So when Someone asks about the PT one can freely and honestly say: "Yea George Lucas got to tell his backstory to Star Wars that he always had in mind since the late 70's" And thats the truth. And not even "from a certain point of view" NO. Thats just simply the honest truth. The bottom line.

    Again: Lucas saying what he says (The story I wanted got to big so I cut it down into smaller halves and put half on the shelf to be made into movies latter on" and saying what you say (all the info and details you posted on early ideas) is basically the same exact thing. Now sure you could show what you showed and take the time to get into talking about how this and that detail or idea got switched around before the late 70's and that may all be true, certainly. And it may all be certainly interesting to look through to see all the details of the early drafts and concepts and ideas but it still doesn't change the bottom line: Which is that Before the OT was even finished the PT was absolutely in mind, intended and going to happen and get made into movies that explain the chosen Episode numbering of the OT. The PT was always the trilogy that was intended to be made much more than this new ST ever was for example. See the 3 different Mark Hamil videos posted in this thread.

    So all the hype in the 90's leading up to TPM when fans were waiting in line saying "yea man this is the Prequel that George Lucas always had in mind and wanted to tell to explain the backstory of SW" they were not wrong! I just really want to make sure everyone here understands that. They were not wrong. They weren't "fooled" by some kind of "lie" or "exaggeration" by George Lucas. Lucas was and is well within his rights to say that "This is the backstory to SW that I wanted to tell in 1977". It was just a simple way of explaining the basic situation to normal casual people who asked: "Why is this new SW film called Episode one". Because what people commonly know as Star Wars is really Episode 4 of the Saga and the Prequel Trilogy tells the backstory to SW that George Lucas always wanted to tell since the late 70's. Thats why. Very simple. No big deal. No conspiracy theory. Nobody trying to hid anything from anyone either because guess what? All the minute, details are right there (in your last post) on the net for anyone who is interested to see! So its fine!

    Fans really need to chill out about this subject now. They really need to understand this and let these basic facts sink in.

    And this thread has gone more than far enough than it ever needed to go. There is nothing more to say that hasn't already been covered in DETAIL. I think its very safe to say much more detail than any casual SW fan or person interested would ever realistically want to sit and listen to. IMHO it is really time for this thread to be locked simply because there is nothing left to say that could constructively contribute to the OP's question...that has been more than answered by now.
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  8. oierem

    oierem Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2009
    1) Sadly, you do not decide when a thread is over or not; you can decide not to post anymore, but you cannot take the right from other posters to express different opinions, nor should anyone decide how much should a fan want to know about the creation of the prequels.

    2) Again, we are getting lost by deffending/accusing Lucas of lying/hiding the truth. The deabte should not be about that, because it is clear that it's a delicate issue. We should be able to talk about it without getting offended.

    3)"Before the OT was even finished the PT was absolutely in mind" vs. "when Episode 4 came out in 1977 Lucas had the backstory of what would be the PT in his mind" You make this two statements and i find them contradictory. "Around when the OT was finished the PT was in Lucas' mind": correct, that's why they were called episodes 4, 5 and 6 by that time. BUT the second statment is not exactly the same: did he had the PT in mind in 1977? Not exactly, because we've seen how he was toying with different options (12 episodes, 9 episodes, the first movie being episode 6, the second movie being episode 2....). And the original topic of this thread is not about the time when the OT was done, nor about the time the first movie came out: it's about why Lucas decided to START making the saga with episode IV (if he ever did). Therefore, the question truly is: WHILE he was making the FIRST movie (1973-1976 basically), did he intend it to be episode 4???

    4)"So much so that key ideas and major events telling the creation of Darth Vader involving a volcano duel with Ben Kenobi always talked about by lucas in detail were kept in the now finished PT films as they exist today" Yes, I don't think anyone is denying that Lucas had a lot of ideas that was forced to leave aside and hoped to use in future movies, and he always wanted to portary the backstory somehow. HOWEVER, you fail to mention the very important issue here: was Vader meant to be Luke's father at that moment? (because as you say, Lucas talked in great detail about how Luke's father was killed and how Vader fell into the volcano....). We all agree that the idea to make the prequels and many of the details about them were already in place. But the PT, as we know now, (and by extention the SW Saga) is about Anakin Skywalker, the boy who turned into Darth Vader. Therefore, IF Vader was not the father in Lucas' mind at this point, it means that the very nature of the PT (and the whole Saga) was very different at that time. (and keep in mind what Lucas says about that "first script" in which Vader is the father and is redeemed at the end... which contradicts every other script available).
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  9. Darth_Nub

    Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Apr 26, 2009
    OK, this thread is locked for the time being. It's a worthy discussion, don't want to bury it, but it's getting out of control.

    EDIT: Reopening thread. Please keep the discussion civil.
  10. Chilla

    Chilla Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 30, 2005
  11. Samuel Vimes

    Samuel Vimes Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 4, 2012

    First off, I am not trying to expose Lucas as a liar or destroy him or show that he is a crap writer or anything like that.
    I like all his films, some better than others and I have a great respect for him and his ability as a story teller.
    And I find it to be a great compliment to his ability that he started with a basic idea, made the first film with some ideas for a backstory but the story grew and evolved while he worked with it and he managed to come up with new and interesting twists and managed to keep the whole thing together quite well. Some oddities exist and minor contradictions but those do not weaken my enjoyment of the films.

    So I do not mean it as an insult to Lucas when I say that his backstory changed, that the idea of doing a backstory also changed and how many films that backstory would be and so on.
    What I think happened is simple, Lucas has worked on these films for a long while now, he has written many scripts and drafts, some almost 40 years ago. So I do not find it strange that his memory might not be perfect, that later ideas he had has merged with these old drafts to the point where he considers these new ideas to be old ideas.

    So since this thread started with the question "Why did Lucas begin the saga with ep IV?" To get an answer supported by facts I have looked back in the early drafts, including the shooting draft. The drafts of ESB as well as what Lucas said in private or in public. And the answer I come up with is: Lucas didn't start with ep IV. The first was the first ep or chapter, it had a backstory like most films and Lucas had some plans for more sequels and possible one prequel film. After the first film became such a huge hit, bigger than Lucas could have thought, the story changed and grew. He now realised that he could do more films and possibly MANY more films. I do not find this strange at all, I would find it more strange that Lucas didn't change anything about his ideas after such a huge hit.

    Now to answer some of your comments:
    First they do matter as the question at hand was why Lucas STARTED with epIV. Since NONE of the drafts of Star Wars had ep IV as a subtilte but instead had ep I or saga one, I say take that as evidence that he didn't start with ep IV.
    Second, the shooting draft, that formed the basis of the finished film, had saga one as subtitle. So even in 76-77, when Lucas was shooting the film, there was no ep IV as a subtitle.

    Yes he spoke of ONE film with young Obi-Wan but look at what you said, "Luke's father gets killed" that is a VERY different backstory than "Luke's father turn to the Dark Side". Since the first draft of ESB was called ep II and had the ghost of Luke's father I say that even in 1978, Lucas still saw Vader and Luke's father as separate people and any films films dealing with them would be very different from the PT we now have.
    Later, he had in mind FIVE prequel films, again this would be different from what we now have.

    OF COURSE by 1983 Lucas had three PT films in mind, that has never been called in doubt, at least not by me. But he didn't make the first film in 1983, he made that in 1976 and again the question of the thread is "Why did Lucas start with ep IV?" And I have said several times that the story as well as the backstory changed, grew and evolved.

    He had a backstory in mind sure but that backstory changed and evolved along with the OT films. At first it was maybe one, then it was five, then it finally became three. Some ideas stayed the same, the Jedi being hunted down. But even that changed, in some drafts on ANH there were other jedi around, fighting the empire. Yoda did not exist when the first film was made. Lucas had to create him since he decided to kill of Obi-Wan.
    Other ideas changed, like Vader went from the murderer of Luke's father to Luke's father, Luke and Leias mother went from living with Leia on Alderaan for some time to dying in child birth. Even when writing the PT, many changes occured, early on Obi-Wan did much of what Qui-Gon did and Qui-Gon didn't enter the picture until they got back to Coruscant.

    No not really, because while the early drafts where a bit different it is not really accurate to say that he cut them in three and made three films from them. The very first short draft had trade blockade that made it's way into TPM but beyond that it doesn't match the PT or OT that much. Another short draft was essentially "The Hidden Fortress" in space. When the scripts began to be full length you got Vader, but then he was a human general and not the father of the hero.These full lenght scripts were bascially the first film. Some details were different, Lukes' brother Deak was the one taken by Vader. You had Kiber crystalls, the Boogan Force, Luke also had younger siblings. Vader was now a Sith Lord but he died at the end.
    Later on, Luke was a fully trained Jedi and it was him, not Obi-Wan that cut of the arm of the guy in the Mos Eisley cantina. There was no Obi-Wan here from what I recall. Later still Luke knew that his father was a Jedi and had his lightsaber and left on hos own with the droids and not to chase after R2. He meets with Obi-Wan, whom his father had often spoken of. And so on. Very little of what is in ESB and RotJ can be found in them.

    Lucas has said that he wrote one huge script, called the Tragedy of Darth Vader, and that basically was the whole OT as we know it. He said that he cut this script in three and made ANH from the first part, and presumably ESB from the second and RotJ from the third. Lucas also says that he showed this script to others, ex Coppola but oddly Coppola has no memory reading it. Even stranger, this super script has never seen the light of day in any of the books written about Star Wars, not even Rinzler's fairly recent book.
    Also the time and length is odd, we have access to Lucas other scripts, which are about 200 pages in length and we know when they were written.
    But Lucas also wrote a big, 600 page script while writing all these others, some thing is strange here.

    In closing, the short answer to the OP's question is; Lucas didn't start with ep IV, the first film eventually became that and the backstory eventually became what we know have but it changed over time. I do not understand what is so shocking about this, Lucas changed his mind, what is the big deal? The creative process is often evolving and changing. When Tolkien sat down to write LotR he did not have have a very clear idea what it would be. Then over twelve years the book eventually became what it is now.

    Bye for now.
    Old Stoneface
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  12. Jedi General Gelderd

    Jedi General Gelderd Jedi Master star 5

    Mar 6, 2004
    My thought on this is that he had a grand story to tell, but wanted to dispense with the backstory, the history, the build up and wanted to throw us into the middle of the story, the exciting part. The characters are established and there is already a conflict, a story, a goal to acheive and we are involved in that adventure within moments and it doesn't let us go until the end.

    But of course with the huge success, he then decided people wanted to take their time leading up to the story we know and love with more character development, a story building up and elements that eventually take us to the "exciting middle".
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  13. Darth_Nub

    Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Apr 26, 2009
    Try nearly sixty years from start to finish when you take the entirety of what's now known as his 'Middle Earth Saga' - and he didn't actually finish it.

    Regarding the rest of your post, I do agree, it's all factually accurate - but recently I've started to see things from GL's own point of view, and he has very different point of view about his creation. He's made a few clumsy statements, particularly since the era while the PT was being made, in which he states that "it was like that all along". That's just spin. It helps make the Saga more appealing to the public.

    However, every so often he does let the real story slip through, more so in recent times. There's that interview with Hayden Christensen in which he does pull out some of the usual stuff about the story being one massive six-episode epic that he had to chop in half, etc - but later he makes mention about how his first draft was about "a Rogue Jedi named Annikin Starkiller and his two kids", and that's where it all evolved from.
    He got the name wrong - the father was actually 'Kane' Starkiller, and Annikin was one of the sons (basically an early version of Luke) - but I'm happy to call that an honest mistake. Kane Starkiller wasn't exactly a 'Rogue Jedi', either - the story was still set during the GCW, so all the Jedi were fugitives. He was, however, a cyborg.

    What GL doesn't mention is the Sith Lord who redeems himself - Prince Valorum, BTW, not 'Darth Vader' (Darth Vader was the name of a Tarkin or Jerjerrod type Imperial officer) - but the character was there, directly inspired by General Tadokoro from The Hidden Fortress.

    So if you look at what did exist in 1973, you have a cyborg Jedi with two children, plus a Sith Lord who turns against the Empire he serves in favour of doing the right thing. The elements were there, even if they weren't assembled in the way they would be eventually. It would take another three drafts of one film, various undated notes, several story conferences and two drafts of a sequel - over the space of six years - to come to the earliest stages of what has been described as 'The Tragedy of Darth Vader'.


    A lot of it was there from the start. Not the way GL necessarily said it was (sometimes), but like I said, he looks at his own personal Frankenstein's monster in a very different way to the rest of us, and I don't begrudge him trying to make its creation seem more simple and fascinating to the rest of the world. Your average potential moviegoer doesn't want to hear about how it was like drawing blood just getting one coherent episode out when he or she is trying to decide between seeing Attack of the Clones or Spiderman. The latest instalment in the backstory of a legendary sci-fi epic that's been brewing since the 1970s and has just been waiting for the opportunity to be told - that's another matter altogether.
  14. darkchrono

    darkchrono Jedi Master star 4

    May 23, 2005
    I think it is a little silly how fanboys try to accuse the creator of a series of not remembering everything and having a fading memory when the creator has a much keener insight to what things were meant to be and a much deeper knowledge of the story than any of the fanboys have.
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  15. Heero_Yuy

    Heero_Yuy Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 28, 2000
    Do you have a retort of any of the (factual) points myself and others have raised? Or are childish strawmen all you wish to add to the thread?
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  16. darkchrono

    darkchrono Jedi Master star 4

    May 23, 2005
    Mod edit: Don't tell other users what to discuss or not to discuss.

    If you have no interest in the discussion, or nothing to contribute, you don't have to participate.
  17. Darth_Articulate

    Darth_Articulate Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 1, 2012

    Well, then you came to the right place. Here you will find everyone giving you non-contradictory answers in mutual agreement.