This Blogpost is Dedicated to the Editor of the Original Trilogy: Marcia Lou Lucas-Rodrigues
The Myths of the Holy “Journal of the Whills” Codex and the Books-before-the-movies
There is a story told and retold in the realm of Star Wars is of these holy notebook(s) or legal pad(s) that contain the outline of the entire saga of Star Wars written down by Lucas before the first film was in production. This myth is repeated by articles, fans, the stars themselves, and even Lucas…however, it is bullshit. Throughout the time period between 1978 and 1981 and even up until the writing of the Prequels from 1999-2005 , there numerous stories and rumors about a holy text that tells us of the complete (and floating number of) Star Wars films, but from exhaustive research, this myth is busted. Due to the weird road that the central story of Star Wars took from the early 1970's to the form that we know today, there is no way that Lucas had a master plan.
The majority of the overall arching themes, characters, and storylines were only introduced during various script develop and while some of these were likely drawn form a holy notebook that is guarded like the recipe for Coca-Cola, the vast major were not. While I am sure that the Bearded One had some ideas stretched out and notes scribbled down concerning the Prequel timeline, they were very basic…at best. Backing this up is a 1978 (a key year in SW development) interview by TIME Magazine with Lucas where he said after the sequel to Star Wars there would be “10 other planned sequels.” So, at this time when Lucas was talking, he a vision of a grand 12 picture Star Wars epic. So, was this already laid out in an yellow legal pad outline? Of course, this is before Star Wars broke the soul of its own creator. The most damning evidence against the complete storyline being contained in an 15 page holy codex notebook is the changing role of Darth Vader and the fusing of Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader into a single character. When original Lucas had envisioned the Sith Lord and the Jedi Knight to be separate people, which is one of the most critical elements of the entire complete storyline of the Star Wars universe. Due to the lack of an complete outline by Lucas and the amount of time between the conceptional Star Wars Prequels that floated around in Lucas head to the actual writing of the Episode I in November of 1994, it is likely that there was a lot forgotten and altered leading us down the dark path of Jar-Jar.
There are some myths that have been around since the very dawn of the Star Wars franchise that continue onward to this very day. Some say that "Episode IV" was part of the original crawl, others that the Biggs scenes on Tatooine were included in the original theatrical release of Star Wars and that there were Star Wars books before the films that foretold the complete story of the Star Wars universe, including the sequels and prequels. The existence of “the books” is an often repeated pre-internet myth, and one I've encountered believed to this very day with people I known saying that the complete story of the Star Wars saga was published in book-form prior the films, thus making the SW films based off of books not scripts. The odd thing is that this is sort of based in truth. Let us first clear something up: Star Wars is not based off of a series of books that George Lucas published prior to the film! What has fueled this rumor is the release of an novelization of the first film by Alan Dean Foster and published in December of 1976 under the of Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker by Ballantine Books. Coming six months before the release of the film, the book is different than the finished film with information not included or released. One strong element is the cover art commissioned by the publisher, Ballantine Books was by Ralph McQuarrie. It is likely this 1976 novelization, that was a hit in its own right, was the source of the "books-before-the-movies" rumor.
Historical Context: 70's Lucas vs. 80's Lucas and 90's Lucas
In a 2013 Interview, Mark Hamill discussed the importance of George Lucas’ “Secret Weapon”: He's in his own world. He's like William Randolph Hearst or Howard Hughes, he's created his own world and he can live in it all the time. You really see that in his films, he's completely cut off from the rest of world. You can see a huge difference in the films that he does now and the films that he did when he was married. I know for a fact that Marcia Lucas was responsible for convincing him to keep that little "kiss for luck" before Carrie [Fisher] and I swing across the chasm in the first film: "Oh, I don't like it, people laugh in the previews," and she said, "George, they're laughing because it's so sweet and unexpected"--and her influence was such that if she wanted to keep it, it was in. When the little mouse robot comes up when Harrison and I are delivering Chewbacca to the prison and he roars at it and it screams, sort of, and runs away, George wanted to cut that and Marcia insisted that he keep it. She was really the warmth and the heart of those films, a good person he could talk to, and bounce ideas off of, who would tell him when he was wrong. Now he's so exalted that no one tells him anything.
While he achieved more than he could have dreamed, it came at a price. Lucas and his wife Marcia adopted a daughter, Amanda, but the stress of the back-to-back projects with no break caused a fatal faction in their marriage. By the time she was editing ROTJ at Skywalker Ranch, they were barely speaking. To end the drama, Lucas gave her $50 million and stripped her name off the editing house at Skywalker Ranch he built for her and systematically removed her from the history of Star Wars.
to buy his freedom from the great machine". He wanted to be the master of his own destiny and he got it. For years, the 80's Lucas worked on what he wanted and nothing else while being there for his kids and his relationships. This included the underrated Tucker and the bizarre Howard the Duck. In some ways, he was the man that Marcia was waiting on. When the 1980's closed out, George Lucas was a more whole man that had put his house into order, made some successes and failures, one of last successes was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. This is when we ushered into the 90's Lucas and the return of the king to his old castle.
The Evolution of the Prequels: Hitting a Moving Target
When It Started: When “Star Wars” Became “Episode IV: A New Hope”
What was Coming Next: The Prequels or the Sequels?
Why Wasn’t the Prequels made in the 1980’s?
In an interview by Rolling Stone published on July 21st, 1983 around the time of ROTJ release, Lucas had a great deal to say about his (then) present state of mind and the future of Star Wars. He commented that “(Return of the) Jedi almost killed everybody, every department, from costumes to building monsters to the sophistication of the mechanics to the special effects. Everything was very, very hard on everybody”. Speaking to this, Lucas at the time stated that he was going to “rearrange his priorities”, putting his family first “and the movies second” for a period of about two years. This was due to Star Wars consuming his life since 1973 where he remarked about every day for a decade being about these films, in one way or another, causing him to miss out on his daughter’s life, putting stress on his marriage to the breaking point. “I don’t have any life of my own”, he said adding that “it’s not going to be owned by Luke Skywalker and his friends”.
I’ve put up with Star Wars taking over and pushing itself into the first position for too long. I’ve been trying to shove it (Star Wars) back. Every time I kick it down, it comes rearing its ugly head back up again. This time I’ve kicked it down for, I think.” This all means that mentally, Lucas was in no way close to telling the tale of the Clone Wars. When Lucas was more rested and ready to helm another film project, the window for the Prequels or the Sequels was gone. While most believe that since 1977 Star Wars was at the top of its game year-after-year, the times after Return of the Jedi were tough.
Lucas Address the 1988 Episode One Rumor in 1988...
-STARLOG "There were rumors in the industry that pre-production on Star Wars #1 was beginning in January 1988."
-LUCAS: "That is untrue".
This speaks volumes about what was going on at the time in the minds of fans and the sci-fi press and even possibly Lucas in the 1980's. So, if there was some evidence of this, why didn't Lucas begin making the Prequels in the 1980's? There are several concrete answers and some conjecture. During the run-up to the release of The Phantom Menace in 1999, there was all-out press assault of hype concerning the the first new SW movie in 16 years and Lucas stated repeatedly that he had to wait for the technology to catch up to his vision of the world of Star Wars before the Empire and once he had seen the Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, he knew it was time. There is some direct proof of this besides the primary sources. In 1997, LucasFilm was re-release the Holy Trilogy with new special effects to fulfill the vision that Lucas had and he continued to mess with the films since to make them better. It is likely that Lucas knew enough about the Prequels that he could have fulfill his vision with the technology at the time in the 1980's. We also have to remember that Lucas had to found Industrial Light & Magic to accomplish what was be asked for the original 1977 film.
What is with the Crazy 1988 Episode One Rumor?
Was there more than just a fan-crazy rumor of the Prequels beginning some form of production in the mid-1980's? I originally did think that is all there was until I checked out Brian Jay Jones' excellent 2016 bio on the Bearded One: George Lucas: A Life from my local library. On page 342, there is some light shed on the possibility of more Star Wars being explored around 1985 and this could have been vehicle for the rumors of an upcoming Episode I. As stated above, the 1980's were a dark and trying time for Lucas, the Star Wars band, and the whole of Lucas's empire seated at the nearly constructed Skywalker Ranch. While ILM was busy with SFX work, there was no real studio money flowing in due to the lack projects and Lucas himself was still not interested in coming back to the director's chair, but did serve as producer on a number of projects. Another major source of income that LucasFilm depended on was the licensing of merchandise for Star Wars, especially the Kenner toyline. According to figures provided by Brian Jay Jones' book via the Wall Street Journal, the overall sales of Star Wars toys was only $35 million in 1985, a drop of $100 million from the previous year.
The Rumors of the Connection between Willow and the Prequels
Would the Prequels be better if they had been made in the 1980's?
At the very heart of my thesis statement is that IF the Bearded One had committed to the starting of the Prequel trilogy in the mid-1980’s, they would have much better films than the plastic-and-wood three films we did get. To me, the Prequels were like your wife going out and cheating on you then giving you an STD as a souvenir…that’s how betrayed I feel by them by breaking the promise of these long awaited film…but FWS has a whole blogpost on that one coming soon. For some reason the magic of the original films was not reflected in the Prequels and could have been due too much time passing between the original trilogy and the new films that caused ideas to be lost, talent to leave( like Marcia Lucas), and technology to change how films are made. We could have more solid writing, Lucas more willing to work with others on the film rather than being a solely Lucas helmed project, and there would also been a more reliance on more traditional special effects than the dreaded plastic-looking special effects of the films we got…and part of that is due to their overuse to fulfill Lucas’s vision. In addition, the original ideas would have been fresher than they were in the following years, allowing for something closer to the original trilogy with more organic SFX that would have been stylistically closer to the original films. I believe firmly that the accompanying toyline would have been closer to the original line in grandeur instead of their recent lackluster offers outside of the Legos and the Black Edition “toys”.
Then Came 1994...
ver $100 million", and he was still unsure about the emerging CGI SFX technology, despite its rapid pace of development. Only about seven months later, Lucas would begin writing the screenplays for Episode I on November, 1st, 1994 just after getting his kids off to school on a regular Tuesday morning with a pencil and a legal pad. The odd thing is that we have video of this entire event like some sort of vlog.
The Prequels before the Prequels: What We Knew
The General Outline of the Entire SW Saga Laid Out
“All the prequel stories exist: where Darth Vader came from, the whole story about Darth and Ben Kenobi, and it all takes place before Luke was born. The other one – what happens to Luke afterward – is much more ethereal. I have a tiny notebook full of notes on that. If I'm really ambitious, I could proceed to figure out what would have happened to Luke”.
-Source: Rolling Stone Interview with George Lucas July 21st, 1983
The Clone WarsOne of the key components of any older veteran warrior character is their service during a previous conflict that colors them and their decisions. This allows the wiser warrior figure to be an experienced teacher to the younger warriors. This idea was mined by Lucas for the teacher of Skywalker, Obi-Wan and Lucas added a veteran background to Obi-Wan’s character via the mysterious “Clone Wars”. In the original 1977 film, this critical conflict of galactic history is mentioned twice in a single scene and then the Clone Wars are never mentioned again in the rest of the holy trilogy.
This became a central mystery of the Star Wars fictional history and a topic of conversation for years by the fans. Propelling these fan discussions was the painful lack of nearly any information on these wars that involve the Jedi and maybe the “supertroopers”. Even during the development of the Expanded Universe via books and comics, the Clone Wars were ruled by Lucas as a quarantined time period and a forbidden subject for creators. This caused alternations to the Zahn books by order of LucasFilm and there were only very brief mentions of the Clone Wars in the Dark Horse comics and in some of the older Marvel comic series, specifically issue #68. In the 2016 book George Lucas: A Life by Brian Jay Jones, the conditions of the book deal between LucasFilm and Bantam Books for the Zahn Trilogy were explained. According to the book, Lucas told Lou Aronica of Bantam Books that the books had to be set in the post-Jedi timeperiod and there was to be no discussion of the Prequels, because Lucas was saving that for himself...even back in 1989 when the deal was inked. Beyond that, there is nothing known about the Clone Wars. While many have placed the fall of the Republic, the hunting down of the Jedi, the rise of Vader, and the death of Anakin all in the context of the Clone Wars…we never actually knew when those wars were fought and if all those key events fell during the same time. So, not even the time period relative to the Battle of Yavin IV was known for the Clone Wars. I know that I am harping on this, but it is amazing when researching the topic of the Clone Wars just how little was known about them prior to 2002.
Why is this? Lucas first mentioned the Clone Wars in the 3rd draft of THE STAR WARS From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller (August 1975) script and it appeared the subsequent drafts as mere mentions that were never expanded on. It is my belief that even Lucas did not know who or what the “clones” of the Clone Wars were until the work started on the script of Episode II. There were some early drafts of TESB in which Lando is a clone, but the concept was abandoned and then there is the abandoned Kenner 1986 toyline that dealt with clone troopers. Rarely mentioned in the history of SW toys is the attempted “Expanded Universe” toyline that takes place after the fall of the Empire: Star Wars: The Epic Continues.
Kenner pitched to LucasFilm a toyline constructed out of holdovers from the previous toylines in 1986 and wrapped these new figures and vehicles up into a new story concerning a powerful post-imperial warlord, Atha Prime, that uses cloning technology left over from the Clone Wars to build an army to fill the vacuum while challenging the New Republic. There was to be remains of the Empire added in as well, who were under the leadership of Grand Moff Tarkin This Atha Prime warlord was also a key figure in the Clone Wars as well and the toyline would have included a “clone trooper” that were the army building figure of the line. It is likely that these clone troopers of The Epic Continues would have been related, by Kenner’s backstory, to the clones of the teased Prequels. This could have been part of the reason that LucasFilm did not approve the new toyline, this was just a bridge too far for LucasFilm. The company was not yet interesting in exploring the post-ROTJ timeframe. Sadly, the rejection of The Epic Continues was part of a string of bad news for the Star Wars universe. In 1986, the Kenner toyline was ended, Droids and Ewoks were done for, and Marvel Comics ended their Star Wars comics with issue #107. It wasn't until the release of 1991's Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn that the Star Wars started to emerge from the darkness of the Lean Times.
The “Supercommandos” or “Supertroopers”
“He wears part of the uniform of the Imperial Shocktroopers, warriors from the olden time. Shocktroopers came from the far side of the galaxy and there aren’t many of them left. They were wiped out by the Jedi during the Clone Wars”.
Owen Lars, Ben Kenobi and Anakin
So, I took you to live with my brother Owen on Tatooine...". At some point prior to filming ROTJ, this connection was abandoned, just like Vader and Fett being brothers, and later replaced with the Shmi Skywalker marrying Daddy Lars....which is an okay explanation. This original connection between Own and Ben Kenobi open ups the possibility that Obi-Wan Kenobi real name was Ben Lars and that when Jedi enter into the fold, they adopt a nom de guerre like the Dark Lords of the Sith do as well as Popes of the Catholic Church and soldiers of the French Foreign Legion.
However, if we examine the dialog of the original film, we see that Ben Kenobi refers to Owen Lars as "your uncle"and that Lars worried about Luke following in the footsteps of Anakin going on "damn fool idealistic crusade" This means that the waters are still muddled and it could be chalked up to Lucas not planning out as well as original thought and claimed. If we had indeed gotten the Prequels in 1988, it is likely that Owen Lars and Obi-Wan Kenobi would have been brothers, which would explain a great deal.
The Duel on Mustafar between Obi-Wan and Vader
What's the story (behind Vader’s suit and breathing)?
It's about Ben and Luke's father and Vader when they are young Jedi knights. But Vader kills Luke's father, then Ben and Vader have a confrontation, just like they have in Star Wars, and Ben almost kills Vader. As a matter of fact, he falls into a volcanic pit and gets fried and is one destroyed being. That's why he has to wear the suit with a mask, because it's a breathing mask. It's like a walking iron lung. His face is all horrible inside. I was going to shoot a close-up of Vader where you could see the inside of his face, but then we said, no, no, it would destroy the mystique of the whole thing.
Here is some random information from other sources about the Dual:
BEN: “We fought ... your father fell into a molten pit. When your father clawed his way out of that fiery pool, the change had been burned into him forever â€” he was Darth Vader, without a trace of Anakin Skywalker. Irredeemably dark. Scarred. Kept alive only by machinery and his own black will”
-Source: The Novelization of ROTJ
Luke sensed the underlying meaning in Kenobi’s statement, he heard the words as a command. He shook his head back at the vision. “I can’t kill my own father.”
“You should not think of that machine as your father.” It was the teacher speaking again. “When I saw what has become of him, I tried to dissuade him, to draw him back from the dark side. We fought … your father fell into a molten pit. When your father clawed his way out of that fiery pool, the change had been burned into him forever–he was Darth Vader., without a trace of Anakin Skywalker. Irredeemably dark. Scarred. Kept alive only by machinery and his own black will …”
-Source: The Novelization of ROTJ
Luke and Leia’s Mother
Here is the actual dialog from ROTJ:
Luke: Leia... do you remember your mother? Your real mother?
Leia: Just a little bit. She died when I was very young.
Luke: What do you remember?
Leia: Just... Images, really. Feelings.
Luke: Tell me.
Leia: She was very beautiful. Kind... but sad. Why are you asking me this?
Luke: I have no memory of my mother. I never knew her.
George Lucas: "The part that I never really developed is the death of Luke and Leia's mother. I had a backstory for her in earlier drafts, but it basically didn't survive. When I got to Jedi, I wanted one of the kids to have some kind of memory of her because she will be a key figure in the new episodes I'm writing. But I really debated on whether or not Leia should remember her."
Star Wars - The Annotated Screenplays, page 291
"When you father left, he didn't know your mother was pregnant. Your mother and I knew he would find out eventually, but we wanted to keep you both as safe as possible, for as long as possible. So I took you to live with my brother Owen on Tatooine...and your mother took Leia to live as the daughter of Senator Organa on Alderaan".
-Source: The Novelization of ROTJ
The Hidden Skywalker Twins
C3PO and R2D2
The entire story of Star Wars is actually being recounted to the keeper of the Journal of the Whills—remember that?—a hundred years after the events of Return of the Jedi by none other than R2-D2.”
The Trade Federation?
The Hunting Down of the Jedi
treachery and deception”. But nothing was directly spelled out and we do know that many believed that Darth Vader was the last of the breed, according to what Grand Moff Tarkin said in the first film,
helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights." In the 1981 the Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi by J.W. Rinzler, Lucas and Kasdan were discussing the events of the Prequels and the subject of the Jedi dying off was bought up. Lucas stated that “lots of Jedi have been getting killed-and it’s because they turn their back on him and cuts them down.”
Senator-to-Emperor: the journey of Palpatine
No, he was a politician. Richard M. Nixon was his name.”
Jedi Master Yoda
Another misconception is that Yoda teaches Jedi, but he is like a guru; he doesn’t go out and fight anybody.” Shocked at this, Kasdan responses with this: “A Jedi Master is a Jedi isn’t he?” Then Lucas retorts, “Well, he is a teacher, not a real; Jedi. Understand that?” Kasdan adds a finer point on this: “You mean he wouldn’t be any good in a fight?” Then Lucas drops the bomb: “Not with Darth Vader he wouldn’t.” That means that some point, Lucas changed his mind and allowed Yoda to deliver the beat down to Count Dooku in ATOC. During my extensive research, I recall reading that one of the reasons that Lucas did not envision Yoda fighting traditional with his lightsaber was to the limitations of special effects.
Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker
He’s more machine than man now”.
The Z95 Headhunter and the Victory class Star Destroyer
The Crawl from the 1994 LucasArts Star Wars Screen Entertainment CD-ROM
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away Good and Evil battled to determine the fate of the Universe. The struggle is chronicled in STAR WARS, nine episodes which depict the reign of the Empire and a small, brave band of rebels who threatened to topple it.
The middle third of the story was told in Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. We followed a young farm boy, Luke Skywalker, and his commitment to the Rebel Alliance.
We watched as Luke learned about the Force from Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda, and felt his pain when he discovered that Darth Vader, the most highly regarded commander in the Imperial Navy, was his father.
The STAR WARS saga actually begins 40 years before Luke has the pivotal meeting with Obi Wan that sends him down the path to his destiny. The first three episodes begin with the friendship of a young Ben Kenobi and Luke's father, Anakin Skywalker. When Ben meets Anakin, he sees that the talented pilot is very strong with the Force and decides to train Anakin in the ways of a Jedi. But the Emperor senses Anakin's growing power, and determined to harness it for the Empire, sways the young Jedi to the Dark Side. Anakin Skywalker ceases to exist, and in his place Darth Vader emerges.
The new movies will feature all the action of the first three. Much of the drama, however, will revolve around betrayal -- between friends and within the Empire. In this part of the story, things are not always as they seem and you never quite know who the good guys and bad guys are. I plan to start the screenplay for episode one by the end of 1994, and release the prequels by the year 2000.
Next Time on FWS...
Something Funny to Easy the Pain...
Some Scans of the Starlog Magazine Articles: