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CT Is Lawrence Kasdan contribution to Episode 5 (& 6) overrated ?

Discussion in 'Classic Trilogy' started by fastcooljosh, Apr 9, 2017.

  1. fastcooljosh

    fastcooljosh Jedi Knight star 1

    Mar 15, 2017
    For real he gets all the credit for the script of Episode 5 but in reality he prob. just made some dialogue and other minor changes to the second draft from George. Actually Kasdan played a much larger role on Return of the Jedi than he did on Empire.

    Lawrence Kasdan quote from Starlog #51 (October 1981):
    PS: And I still wonder why Lucasfilm even put Leigh Brackett name in the credits. From what I read George absolutely hated her 1st draft and made a completely new one that kasdan than "enhanced".

    Did they do this out of respect, because of her death ?
    And why isnt George mentioned in the credits as screenwrter ?

    edit: That explains a lot.

    George Lucas quote from Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays:
    That was very nice of him.
    But in retrospect it was the wrong decision.
    I hope he can add his name there someday, because he derserves it.
  2. icqfreak

    icqfreak Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 7, 1999
    Well considering what him and JJ came up with for TFA without Lucas' input, it's very possible.
  3. Seagoat

    Seagoat Skywalker Saga and Music Section Moderatator star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Jan 25, 2013
    Might end up sounding like a broken record, but there are so many conflicting statements on that, including, iirc, GL's son Jett mentioning that JJ and GL were on the phone, in his own words, "all the time" well after GL's "they didn't use my treatments" statement while at the same time, GL himself was saying things like he wanted to distance himself to experience it like any other fan

    Quite frankly, I'm somewhat doubtful we'll ever know exactly what level of impact he's had
    Lulu Mars and J7Luke like this.
  4. Qui-Riv-Brid

    Qui-Riv-Brid Force Ghost star 5

    Apr 18, 2013
    Well this is the thing. For those who wanted to cling to the narrative where they over-promote about Kasdan's contribution to TESB particularly (not so much ROTJ which they go quiet on) TFA doesn't help that narrative in the least.

    If anything it strikes a crippling punch to the gut.

    The proper credits would say Script by Lucas and Kasdan based on a story by Lucas.

    He gave away credit like crazy on the movies because that is what he does. I mean anyone else would have either taken Kurtz's credit off TESB totally or at least put Kazanjian's name first and Kurtz's second.
  5. DrDre

    DrDre Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Aug 6, 2015
    How does TFA not really help? I think it's pretty obvious Lucas came up with the story for all three OT entries. Kasdan's contribution for TESB was improving the dialogue, which was and is not Lucas' strong suit. So, the crippling punch to the gut is nonsense as far as I'm concerned, as story credit was always given to Lucas.
  6. Ord-Mantell70

    Ord-Mantell70 Jedi Master star 3

    Mar 9, 2009
    I've always wondered what was L.Kasdan's exact amount of contribution and work for the final drafts too. Never had the courage to compare Lucas' final one with Kasdan subsequent pieces for both ESB and ROTJ, if possible.

    It's common knowledge he improved the dialogues, but also tweaked with some scenes...Did he add (Yoda's scenes in ROTJ especially) or completely restructure some on its own ?

    It's clear the backbone is from G.Lucas, but to what extent (80, 75, 70% or less)...I don't know.
    J7Luke likes this.

    JEDI-RISING Chosen One star 6

    Apr 15, 2005
    Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays was very interesting.
    Kenneth Morgan likes this.
  8. Qui-Riv-Brid

    Qui-Riv-Brid Force Ghost star 5

    Apr 18, 2013
    And should have been given to him for TFA as well as a screen writing credit as well as the "based on" credit.

    He did more work on TFA that Brackett did on TESB!

    Many people improperly give LK sole writing credit for the screenplays:

    This was often played up during the press for TFA and Kasdan himself played into it:

    And maybe with the exception of George Lucas himself, Kasdan is the person who most established what Star Wars is. He wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and he co-wrote the screenplays for the upcoming The Force Awakens

    Pure idiocy!

    George said, “do you want to write Empire Strikes Back?” Literally, he threw it on the desk and asked me to write Empire. He said, “we’re in big trouble. Leigh Brackett [who wrote the first draft] has passed away. They’re building sets in England. And I don’t have a script.”

    Lucas had his "first draft" a year before shooting and could have done it all himself like the direction but was still reticent to do after his experience on ANH (also having to also take over Kurtz's producer role as well. Amazing that Kurtz was brought back.)

    He had a broad outline of where he wanted to go, and what was clear from the get-go was that it was the second act of a three-act drama.

    No outline. It was a complete 121 page script. Lucas then rewrote Kasdan's reworking of Lucas' script and so on.
  9. oierem

    oierem Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2009
    I do believe Kasdan's contribution is overrated by some of those who consider Empire to be the absolute masterpiece of the Saga.

    That doesn't mean his contributions weren't important, but they were focused on dialogue mostly (which, in Empire, was changed constantly on set by Kershner and the actors), and don't forget that everything was closely supervised by Lucas himself, along with Kersher or Marquand.

    It's also true that, by the time he started working on Empire, the script was fairly solid in its structure. In Jedi, however, he did have more of an imput in the re-structuring of the script.

    None of the scenes were added by Kasdan "on his own". Kasdan, Lucas and Marquand worked on the structure of the script after Lucas' first few drafts and changed many things (including Yoda's death scene) but all of it was decided and aproved by Lucas of course.
  10. fastcooljosh

    fastcooljosh Jedi Knight star 1

    Mar 15, 2017
    I just realized I could make the same thread about Gary Kurtz.
    Darth Dnej and Qui-Riv-Brid like this.
  11. Kuro

    Kuro Jedi Knight star 3

    Oct 17, 2015
    I tend to believe that Lawrence Kasdan is telling the truth here. George Lucas came up with the plot for the movie, and he deserves credit for making bold story choices, such as combining Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker into one character, but Kasdan deserves credit for taking Lucas’s ideas and giving them warmth, humor, and humanity.

    I’ve read some of the stuff from the Lucas draft. As Kasdan said, the structure of the story is pretty much exactly the same, but frankly, it feels like a film written by an alien who just doesn’t understand how human beings interact with each other. None of the interactions between the characters feels right, and honestly, it’s pretty terrible. In other words, it feels like a prequel. Here’s how Dale Pollock explained it:
    That sounds about right. This is where Kasdan’s contribution really shines through, not in the broad strokes, but in the details of executing Lucas’s vision in such a way that it can actually connect to human beings…again, unlike the prequels.
    Bia Surik, Dr_Cthulhu, TX-20 and 5 others like this.
  12. DrDre

    DrDre Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Aug 6, 2015
    Fine, but you said "TFA doesn't help that narrative in the least. If anything it strikes a crippling punch to the gut." You don't like how Kasdan's contribution to TESB is seen by many, so your answer is to bash TFA, as if that is in anyway related to the question at hand. There seem to be two myths here:

    1) Lucas' involvement was minimal, which is the reason TESB and ROTJ are great. Lucas just got lucky with Star Wars.

    2) Kershner, Kasdan, and Kurtz are all stand ins for Lucas, and the movies would have turned out just as great without their involvement.

    Neither of which are true. You state: Lucas had his "first draft" a year before shooting and could have done it all himself like the direction. This is pure speculation. Nobody knows how the films would have turned out with just Lucas at the helm. The reality is, that everyone involved contributed to it's success. We can have debates on who did what, but that really involves going through the screenplays and making direct comparisons not just to see what scenes were added by whom, but also literally compare various lines, and see how Kasdan improved (or didn't improve) on Lucas' drafts, rather than just spout prejudiced opinions on the matter, without any analysis.
  13. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Five Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    Because of the dialogue, I would say his contribution was not overrated.

    Is it fair to say that he "saved" the movies and that Lucas had little to do with them? No, not at all.

    But I like to give credit where credit is due, to both men.
  14. L110

    L110 Jedi Master star 4

    Oct 26, 2014
    Oh, definitely!
  15. Martoto77

    Martoto77 Jedi Master star 5

    Aug 6, 2016
    No it's not overrated. He is no more and no less deserving of the credit he receives.

    The idea that he deserves more than Lucas or that he saved them from some worse fate is a crock and only held by a minority of folk with little or no facts to support it.

    There's no mistake in giving Brackett a credit.. If it was a mistake, then what were the consequences of that mistake?

    Many first draft writers have received top credit over the protests of producers when the final draft is essentially a new first draft. The producer in this case wished to credit the first draft's author as well as the finished screenplay.
  16. DrDre

    DrDre Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Aug 6, 2015
    For those that are interested, here's a guide to all the scripts, that were written for the OT, including references:

    It's interesting to note, that Lucas is very much aware of his weakness with dialogue, as he readily admits that even for the first film, he had others polish the dialogue:

    A George Lucas quote from Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays, 1997, p. 7: “Dialogue has never been my strong point, and so I talked to Willard and Gloria and asked them to do a quick dialogue polish. I gave them the fourth draft of the script, and they just improved the dialogue where they felt they could make a contribution. Then I took their changes, and sometimes I rewrote some of their lines. Some of their dialogue of course changed again when we started shooting. Some of it survived; some of it didn’t. They did about thirty percent of the dialogue.”

    So, I think it is pretty obvious, that Lucas' struggles with dialogue was a factor in deciding to bring Kasdan on board for the second entry of the series.
    Lt. Hija, J7Luke, KaleeshEyes and 3 others like this.
  17. oierem

    oierem Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2009
    Absolutely, but keep in mind that Kasdan's dialogue (which was supervised by Lucas and Kershner) was being constantly changed during the filming process, the carbon freezing scene being a very good example of it. During production of Empire the script was constantly being changed by Lucas (when he visited the set) and Kershner (with the actors). We can't just assume that the dialgoue, as heard in the final film, comes from Kasdan.

    Did Kasdan contribute to Empire and Jedi? Absolutely
    Is his contribution overrated by SOME fans? Yes
  18. DrDre

    DrDre Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Aug 6, 2015
    Actually we can, because the fourth draft shooting script (1978) written by Kasdan survives: EMPIRE STRIKES BACK - Fourth Draft - Shooting Script - Oktober 1978.pdf does the fifth draft (1979):

    A comparison with the actual dialogue in the film shows, that while there were some changes during shooting, these were fairly minimal.
  19. Jester J Binks

    Jester J Binks Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 19, 2016
    In something human nature rarely allows to take place, an artistic genius, George Lucas, realizes his strengths and weaknesses, works his strengths (the big picture/story/visual elements) and delegates his weaknesses (actor interaction, character dialogue and development beyond the larger plot) to Lawrence Kasdan. The fans are rewarded with one of the best films of all time that is near flawless. The fans show their appreciation by picking sides and turn a beautiful collaboration into a needless rivalry. Unable to grasp that when egos are put in check, the contributions and collaboration of different people is almost always superior to the idea of some supreme and singular genius with everybody else simply being lucky hacks in their wake.

    The fans are overrated.

    Sometimes I think the whole Disney "cutting George Lucas and his ideas loose" is a public relations fabrication that is meant to neutralize the fanatics. Probably not, but it wouldn't surprise me either.

    DrDre - thank you for the links. Best part of the thread so far.
  20. Organafan

    Organafan Jedi Padawan star 2

    Jan 14, 2017
    Dialogue like the "scoundrel" scene and the Echo Base banter between Han and C-3PO and Han and Leia sounded just like some stuff in Kasdan's movie "The Big Chill."
    DrDre likes this.
  21. Rickleo123

    Rickleo123 Jedi Knight star 3

    May 20, 2016
    No such thing as overated. Kasdan did a ton to polish up Empire into the masterwork it became. The script or at least the originals I read sounded majorly like the prequels, tons of exposition, bad on the nose dialogue, and generally over written. The basic structure was there but Lucas needed Kasdan to bring his vision to life.
  22. Strongbow

    Strongbow Force Ghost star 5

    Nov 6, 2014

    It's just an attempt to control the narrative. Ignore it. TFA was warmly received by critics and audiences alike, and that gets up the nose of some of those who think Lucas is an underappreciated genius.
    KaleeshEyes, DarthCricketer and DrDre like this.
  23. Taylore

    Taylore Jedi Knight star 1

    Mar 14, 2017
    As far as TFA goes, I think that it speaks extremely well of Kasdan in the sense of a screenplay being the details of how the broad story plays out. The story isn't too special, but it comes to--in my opinion--wonderful, sparkling life.

    But if anything, this subject causes me to shake my head, step back and appreciate how collaboration is often the source of the magic. When people with complimentary skill-sets work together in a good environment, amazing things can happen. Breaking down who exactly did what is a bit too deep a game for my tastes.

    It's obvious that George Lucas has his strengths and weaknesses, and that in many cases it was good for him to have strong creative partners.
  24. Martoto77

    Martoto77 Jedi Master star 5

    Aug 6, 2016
    It should be noted that Lawrence Kasdan considers the first Star Wars movie the biggest achievement in writing because it succeeds in pulling off a happily ever after ending where everyone triumphs and lives (even Ben is safe in his disembodied Force-voice form). And doing it powerfully. Those kind of endings are normally permitted as a way of ending the movie but are rarely enhanced by them or vice versa. Star Wars audiences where jumping up and cheering as Chewie roared before the wipe to credits.

    His initial misgivings at being offered the chance to write Star Wars II gave way to excitement when Lucas told him he was thinking of making Vader Luke's father, because a) it got him out of having to repeat the success of the first movie and devise a similarly triumphant ending. b) It's no less risky to go the other way, but it's certainly always far more interesting for writer and audience when your heroes are stuck, which they are for the vast majority of the film. Particularly when the characters have already been set up so strongly that the audience has no confusion over who to cheer and who to hiss on to the screen. You can take the audience places they might not necessarily like to go but will be thankful once they eventually get out of it.

    It's what made it a bigger dilemma when he was asked to do Return Of The Jedi which WAS supposed to satisfy the audience's curiosity from Empire AND provide a triumphant conclusion. The latter part being almost never satisfying and in danger of undoing previous good work. I think Return's shortcomings compared to the previous two movies are because of the quality of previous two movies, in writing and in other ways.

    Ultimately Star Wars II didn't have to play out the way it did. It could have provided much the same experience as ANH but with even better production value, sophistication etc and would have gotten away with it, however it turned out, thanks to the goodwill from Star Wars.

    And it didn't have to be as successful in the direction it took. It could have been written by someone not eager to take the direction Lucas wanted, and in turn it might not have inspired Kershner to direct it the way he did.
  25. Qui-Riv-Brid

    Qui-Riv-Brid Force Ghost star 5

    Apr 18, 2013
    This is the point though as seen in ANH and the PT.

    He didn't need him at all.

    Lucas is the one who cuts out exposition like crazy in the script and even more so in the editing. It seems for some that lack of expository dialogue is what they find missing because to them the dialogue is where the story is which is not at all the movie that Lucas is making. Dialogue is support for his movies which are told in the graphics and music.

    There was far more than a basic structure. Lucas wrote a first draft script which if he had wanted to he could have kept on writing and revising. Instead with all the work of the movie plus Lucasfilm he decided after the pressure and health concerns he would rather not direct and have a co-writer (if that term can really be used as it was really a sub-ordinate writer) that would do the day by day writing that Lucas would rewrite and revise as he saw fit.

    Then of course there was plenty of on set rewriting by Kershner himself and adjustments by the actors. This is mostly the ephemeral and I would say very misunderstood importance of dialogue. The dialogue is the easiest thing to change. You have the actors, the sets, the story and you know what is happening and you have the shooting script. So it's just about adjusting the words or shooting multiple takes of different words that all get the same character points across. Knowing that between the editing and looping that it can be changed months down the line there or in reshoots.

    The importance some place on dialogue is mystifying. Even more mystifying is some who are no insistent on TESB dialogue somehow being THE key to the movie never mind how like any Star Wars movies the dialogue gets regularly blasted. When I tell people I know who are casual fans how some dedicated fans treat TESB's dialogue as some sacred thing they look at me in amazement and laugh out loud. They really can't believe that anyone would take dialogue in Star Wars so seriously.

    We do of course and the PT dialogue is far better written and far more intricate than the OT which is pretty open and obvious as per the type of storytelling Lucas was doing.