There are all kinds of fascinating stories about how Star Wars was created, including entire books devoted to individual films in the series. A new one, chronicling how Return of the Jedi came into existence, is due out this October from author J.W. Rinzler. In anticipation of that big event, The Huffington Post snagged a very cool excerpt from the upcoming tome – one wherein George Lucas essentially lays out the roadmap for the prequels. That’s not too mindblowing – until you realize that Lucas did this during a story conference held back in 1981, meaning he had this stuff planned out almost two decades before the movies came into existence.
There’s a bit of skepticism about this in some corners, and we understand why. Given Lucas’ penchant for revisionist history in his own work (Greedo shoots first…), it’s not a stretch to imagine him “tweaking” the mythology behind the creation of his greatest works. Whether it’s entirely true or not, this discussion certainly makes for an interesting read – and reveals some things that were changed in the final versions.
Of those differences, some worked out for the better (Lucas insists that Yoda was a guru who never actually fought as a Jedi, and that if he had fought Darth Vader, he would have been no match. Anyone who caught Yoda kicking ass in Attack of the Clones is thrilled Lucas changed his mind on that one), while others went off the rails (Lucas envisioned the Force as something anyone could tap into – only the Jedi were dedicated enough to actually master the use. He compares it to yoga and karate, but hey – that’s way better than Midi-chlorians).
Scribe Lawrence Kasdan (who's heavily involved in Disney's future Star Wars plans) offers his comments as Lucas unspools his vision of the prequels, and the whole thing is really pretty exciting from a historical perspective. Check out the excerpt below and then swing by The Huffington Post to see what else Lucas had in mind for Anakin’s story.
REVENGE OF THE JEDI STORY CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT, JULY 13 to JULY 17, 1981—SUMMARY
Participants: George Lucas, Richard Marquand, Lawrence Kasdan, and Howard Kazanjian
Location: Park Way House
Note: Many of the ideas here are conceptual only and should not be considered as canon in the Star Wars saga.
THE STORY OF ANAKIN
Lucas: Anakin Skywalker starting hanging out with the Emperor, who at this point nobody knew was that bad, because he was an elected official.
Kasdan: Was he a Jedi?
Lucas: No, he was a politician. Richard M. Nixon was his name. He subverted the senate and finally took over and became an imperial guy and he was really evil. But he pretended to be a really nice guy. He sucked Luke’s father into the dark side.
Kasdan: The Force was available to anyone who could hook into it?
Lucas: Yes, everybody can do it.
Kasdan: Not just the Jedi?
Lucas: It’s just the Jedi who take the time to do it.
Marquand: They use it as a technique.
Lucas: Like yoga. If you want to take the time to do it, you can do it; but the ones that really want to do it are the ones who are into that kind of thing. Also like karate. Also another misconception is that Yoda teaches Jedi, but he is like a guru; he doesn’t go out and fight anybody.
Kasdan: A Jedi Master is a Jedi isn’t he?
Lucas: Well, he is a teacher, not a real Jedi. Understand that?
Kasdan: I understand what you’re saying, but I can’t believe it; I am in shock.
Lucas: It’s true, absolutely true, not that it makes any difference to the story.
Kasdan: You mean he wouldn’t be any good in a fight?
Lucas: Not with Darth Vader he wouldn’t.
Kasdan: I accept it, but I don’t like it.