Discussion Article: To Angst or Not to Angst (Lucas v. Ex-Producer)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by furrylittlebantha, Aug 14, 2010.

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  1. furrylittlebantha

    furrylittlebantha Jedi Master star 3

    Dec 2, 2005

    The above article from the LA Times describes the reasons Gary Kurtz, producer of Episodes IV and V, separated from the Star Wars franchise. The entire piece is a fascinating read, but what jumped out to me as a fanficcer is the excerpt below. I found it cool and thought I'd share it with you guys.

    ?We had an outline and George changed everything in it," Kurtz said. ?Instead of bittersweet and poignant he wanted a euphoric ending with everybody happy. The original idea was that they would recover [the kidnapped] Han Solo in the early part of the story and that he would then die in the middle part of the film in a raid on an Imperial base. George then decided he didn?t want any of the principals killed. By that time there were really big toy sales and that was a reason.?
    The discussed ending of the film that Kurtz favored presented the rebel forces in tatters, Leia grappling with her new duties as queen and Luke walking off alone ?like Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns,? as Kurtz put it.

    I know scripts go many rewrites, but those are some pretty big changes. It's a little boggling to think that the happy Ewok luau is, in a very tenuous way, an alternate universe deviating from the originial original story where everything is more angsty and Empire Strikes Back-ish. If you read the article, he submits that the drive for toy sales was the reason for the changes. How successful would the franchise have continued to be had it ended in the way of the original outline? It seems there would be less opportunities to expand with the EU, even, perhaps. I'm sure the audience was considered as well; perhaps they anticipated the fanbase would be happier with happy. Could the payoff in integrity (assuming the original, bleaker script was a better one) have outweighed the advantages of the final cheery version of RotJ? And about the idea itself, how do you guys think the components of it fit in with the characters and settings as they are, were and evolved to be?

  2. moosemousse

    moosemousse CR Emeritus: FF-UK South star 6

    Oct 3, 2004
    There is a lot of love for Han Solo, so killing him off would have had a huge impact on the EU. Although, had it ended tragically it could have opened up for a sequel trilogy with new characters to replace the dead ones. That said, I'm not sure it would have worked that well. ESB is pretty grim with the Empire winning and Han Solo frozen in carbonite and Luke losing his hand as well everything else.
  3. The_Face

    The_Face Ex-Manager star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 22, 2003
    Luke walking off alone ?like Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns

    This part alone I feel like could have shut me off to the whole idea of post-RotJ EU, or at least stories featuring Luke. The last thing I want to see with an artful ambiguous ending is somebody coming in and tying everything up with a tidy bow. A bow made of answers. ...I'm just saying, there's a reason we don't have Shane 2. Well, there's a lot of reasons, but that's one of them.

    Though now that I'm picturing it, I guess the idea of Luke returning after a long absence - now an outmoded lone practitioner of a dead religion - to find a government barely held together where none of its problems can be solved by hitting glowy sticks against things is sort of appealing to me, actually. Chewie still grieving, Rogue Squadron et al doing their best to fend off a hundred power-hungry factions seizing on their weakened state, Lando perhaps in some kind of political position out of guilt over Han and/or concern for Leia? [face_thinking]

    Okay, it's actually a decent jumping off point for an AU. I guess the key here for me is a time jump, which the EU no longer has the luxury to do re: cast getting ancient. But at the very start, it could have happened. And kind of did, really, right? Zahn's books started, what, five years later? And the in-between time got filled in by X-Wing and such?
  4. Gush

    Gush Jedi Master

    Aug 15, 2010
    Wow, as a fan of character deaths (in general) I really would have dug that ending. In some ways that ending would have presented so many more possibilities for the EU to expand upon than the cannon, which tied everything up completely.
  5. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Chosen One star 9

    Mar 26, 2001
    I like the possibilities of that ending, but I've written something similar. I'm all about the angst.
  6. Persephone_Kore

    Persephone_Kore Jedi Master star 4

    Jan 19, 2006
    I wouldn't be nearly as interested in Star Wars as I am now. The ending as it stands is bittersweet but triumphant, and while it's obvious that there's a lot of work coming up, the overall story is meaningful in large part because of the triumph.
  7. TKeira_Lea

    TKeira_Lea Jedi Knight star 5

    Oct 10, 2002
    Having just listened to some panels at C5, including the Maker's, I get the impression that the story of Star Wars evolved from a kernel of an idea/story over a period of time. And most stories do that. In Denning's writing panel and also Filoni's storyboarding panel, they talked about working on ideas, fleshing them out and reinventing them so the story is better. The OT, in Lucas' mind, was originally one story, but it was too long to make one movie. He specifically talked about his concern that ESB was just too dark because it's really just Act Two in a three-act story with little or no resolution.

    In Denning's panel he mentioned that as writers we need to answer a question with first the story, then each act, then each chapter. In answering the question, he posed that despite the rising tension of the second act, the reader will still get the release of answering a question.

    I think it's fair to say most people are happier that Han made it through ESB. My guess is that as a storyteller Lucas didn't want Han's death to overshadow the stunner of Luke's discovery of Vader being his father. So he changed his secondary story arc to better suit his primary story arc, which was the hero's journey.

    edit: Thanks, Ish
  8. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Chosen One star 9

    Mar 26, 2001
    That makes sense, though I think you mean you just listened to a panel at C5. :p Having the comic relief die off heroically would have been too much of a distraction.
  9. TKeira_Lea

    TKeira_Lea Jedi Knight star 5

    Oct 10, 2002
    Yes, I did. Fixed, thank you. I feel like a walked a few hundered miles and saw about a few million things in the course of one weekend [face_hypnotized]
  10. FelsGoddess

    FelsGoddess Game Host star 5 VIP - Game Host

    Sep 5, 2004
    I've heard in various stories regarding Harrison Ford and some books about him that the fact that Harrison did not have a contract regarding the third movie lead to some plot ideas that Han would die. I believe the actor himself wanted the character to die.
  11. Jade_Pilot

    Jade_Pilot Jedi Master star 5

    Dec 10, 2005
    FURRY!!!!!!!!!! *tackle hug* [:D]

    ESB is my fav SW movie. I'm all about the angst and would have still been a fan if GL had elected to go with his original plotline.
  12. RK_Striker_JK_5

    RK_Striker_JK_5 Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Jul 2, 2003
    Well, barring one or two non-fanfic examples, I find angst to be trite and overused. A lazy way to take your story. So I would not be a fan of that original ending. I'd hate, loathe and despise it. ROTJ was the first SW movie I ever saw. So, after seeing an ending like that...

    Bye bye, Jon.
  13. PonyTricks

    PonyTricks Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jul 25, 2003
    Huh. I can say for certain I would have hated that angsty ending, and would never have remained a SW fan for the next thirty years. As it is, I've given up entirely on the EU books, and stick to fanfic stories. :cool:
  14. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    I would've been okay with such an ending - all in all, the fact that zero big name heroes die is sort of frustrating, and does lead to the inevitable Stormtrooper Effect and other such overdone cliches and tropes.

    However, if we take for truth that concept that Lucas had planned 1-6 all out in his mind and in writing, with technology or time or money or motivation standing in the way, then I raise this idea.

    Movies 1-3 feel very different, yes, but look at the ending to Revenge of the Sith! My god, Anakin is straight evil, the Death Star is being built (Where is Bevel Lemelisk!!!), Obi-Wan and Yoda are in hiding, and Bail Organa is looking at a happy family in the midst of a terrifying onslaught of tyranny.

    When comparing the arcs of the first three to the last three (ignoring the 'goodness' or 'watchability' of them), then it seems clear to me that the viewer is meant to feel a sense of dread heading into A New Hope, and when they come out on the other side of the roller coaster ride, ESB being the low point, then we're meant to feel full redemption and closure with the characters and their success. Yes, it's improbable, and most Star Wars fans can't stand the prequels, but the emotional impact over the series makes sense when watching it that way.
  15. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
    I wouldn't have minded the possibility of Luke walking off into the sunset. In retrospect, that would have been a far more palatable ending than the mockery of a character that he's become in the EU.

    Han dying...err, no, absolutely not. He's the essential component of a triumvirate that would suddenly lose its balance if he were to have died.

    Leia as the Ruler Alone...that does have some intriguing aspects. It would definitely have been something to explore if the last minute addition to the script of Luke and Leia being siblings hadn't been hurked up. The original idea of having Luke's sister being somewhere out in the galaxy, yet to be discovered, would have been interesting if there was a real possibility of continuing the series post-ROTJ.
  16. ardavenport

    ardavenport Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Dec 16, 2004
    Um, I'm glad that got changed. The nebulous, semi-tragic endings in 1970's movies don't wear well with time. Plus, it would have clashed with the whole black-and-white-ness of the movies in general. AND without a definite ending people would have been nagging George for more 'til the end of time.

    Nope, better to have a clear-cut ending. I find it hard to believe that this was seriously considered. Lucas always said that SW was styled after movie serials and those ALWAYS had happy endings. They still got a little happy-sad anyway with Luke lighting his father's funeral pyre.
  17. TKeira_Lea

    TKeira_Lea Jedi Knight star 5

    Oct 10, 2002
    Just a thought, but perhaps endings - angsty or otherwise - are reflective of the times they are created and brought to the screen/page. When society is on a successful upswing and the masses are happy the creative teams can afford to produce dramatic stories full of angst and sorrow. It's almost a form of societal guilt trip for being too happy. Conversely, at times such as these days where more people are in dire circumstances, moviegoers and readers are more likely to be drawn to stories that project hopeful and happy outcomes.

    It appears George picked the right time to play out the PT, whether that was coincidence, genius or luck is another matter.
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