Cult Film, TV, Geek Art
Here’s an interesting article from the December 1980 issue of Fantastic Films. Bill Hays presents his predictions and theories on the future of the Star Wars saga. This was written after Empire Strikes Back but before Return of the Jedi so there was still a lot of room for speculation.
I’ve listed some highlights and included the article in its entirety below.
The Empire Strikes Back is a spectacular box office success, guaranteeing the return of Luke and the rest of the Star Wars gang in Episode 6: Revenge of the Jedi. The bad news is that Jedi won’t appear at your local theater for another THREE YEARS. No one has the slightest doubt that Luke will defeat Darth Vader at exactly one hour and 56 minutes into that two hour film, but exactly how he’ll do it, and the answer to that all important question of the identity of Luke’s real father, are mysteries that lie in a 12-page outline in George Lucas’ desk drawer. But there are clues, sprinkled through the first two movies and the Star Wars novels. Combined with various interviews George Lucas has given, and a little imagination, they might give us a pretty good idea of what could happen in the next episode of the “Adventures of Luke Skywalker.” Let us indulge in some purely deductive speculation.
Like any good detective novel, we should start with the background first. George Lucas signed a two-picture contract with United Artists sometime around 1970. The first picture was to be American Graffiti, and the second a “space-fantasy” film. When UA decided not to do Graffiti, he took the picture to Universal Studios. Before it was released, and became a huge success, UA also backed out of its option to do Star Wars. Lucas took the idea to 20th Century Fox and was paid $10,000 to write a script.
Writing that script took him two years. He started with a storyline, but soon realized it was too long for a single picture. He cut it in half, and then divided each half into three episodes. What we first saw as Star Wars has been re-titled Episode 4: A New Hope. Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back and Episode 6: Revenge of the Jedi will complete the second trilogy, and then Lucas will go back to film Episode 1. This is important because Jedi must be viewed as the climax of the entire saga, involving characters from the first half that we haven’t met yet, most notably the pilot Skywalker, who Obi-wan Described as “the best pilot in the galaxy…and a good friend.”
The first script Lucas wrote was about Luke’s father and his relationship to Darth Vader and Ben Kenobi. Lucas decided he didn’t like it and wrote a completely different second script with Luke as its main character. The plot was straight out of The Hardy Boys. Luke’s older brother, a battle-hardened warrior, arrived on Tatooine to find Luke so they could rescue their father, an old Jedi. Slowly, the characters evolved. The father figure became a friend of the father, Ben Kenobi. The older brother became Han Solo, a cynical smuggler. At one point, Luke was a girl and Han fell in love with her.
Then Lucas decided to use both Luke and the girl, and Leia was created, also with a four-letter name beginning with L so no one would get confused. A climactic battle with hundreds of Wookies invading the Death Star was replaced by a World War II aerial dogfight copied from The Dam Busters.
The first three episodes will depict a much younger Ben Kenobi leading Skywalker into the Clone Wars. They take place about 20 years earlier, and according to Lucas, will show “the early life of Luke’s father when Luke was a little boy.” Since Luke’s father is supposed to die at the end of the trilogy, I wonder why Lucas qualified it as his “early life”?
The evolution of Darth Vader is interesting too. In the second script, Vader started as an intergalactic bounty hunter, tracking down and murdering Jedi Knights for the Emperor. Then Vader became a Dark Lord, with religious overtones, and Lucas created Boba Fett from that early concept of Vader as a bounty hunter.
In the first trilogy, Vader is a “very young Jedi” who becomes Obi-wan’s apprentice. I can’t imagine any boy younger than ten going through the kind of Jedi training we’ve already seen, and I can’t picture Obi-wan describing anyone over 18 as a “very young Jedi.” In Empire, Luke is somewhere between 21 and 25, and Yoda says he is too old to begin the training. Skywalker is old enough for Kenobi to call him a “friend,” probably around 25 or 30. Yoda describes Skywalker as a “powerful Jedi with much anger in him.”
Darth Vader betrayed and murdered the pilot Skywalker. Obi-wan opposed Vader, and at the end of a fierce sabre duel, drove Vader into the molten lava of an active volcano. Vader survived, but his body was ruined, and he must wear an ominous black breathing mask that also hides his disfigured face. A powered exoskeleton added a foot to his height and tremendous strength to his crippling limbs.
Too weak to face Vader again, and knowing that his fellow Jedi Knights were either disbanded, disorganized, or dead, Obi-wan his in the Tatooine desert until Skywalker’s son was old enough to become a Jedi Knight and defeat Darth Vader. Tatooine was Skywalker’s home, where he owned a farm before he joined Obi-wan in the Clone Wars.
How does the story end? The entire story, not just the half we’ve seen so far. Obi-wan, presumably seeing through the Force, has warned Luke, “Only a fully trained Jedi Knight, with the Force as his ally, will conquer Vader and his Emperor.” But Luke leaves Dagobah before he completes his training, and Obi-wan grieves, “There goes our only hope.” Yoda disagrees with him.
“No,” Kenobi’s former teacher corrected him, “there is another.”
Another? Another what? Another fully trained Jedi Knight besides Luke? George Lucas comments that there is another, and “there has been for a long time.” The mystery deepens, but Lucas says it won’t be completely explained until the saga ends with Episode 3 some time in 1992. That’s ridiculous. I think we can make a pretty good guess who the “other” is right now.
Let’s pretend (and that’s the name of the game, isn’t it?) that we can see July of 1986 through the Force, and Episode 1: The Clone Wars has just opened in San Francisco theaters.
The story opens with young Obi-wan Kenobi pushing his way through a crowded, far-off city, when he senses a tremor in the Force. He follows it to a slave boy surrounded by an angry crowd.
Slavery keeps appearing in the Star Wars galaxy, and one of the duties of the Jedi Knights was to stop it. The mark of a slave is a steel collar around the neck. It’s also an obedience device. At a radio signal, solenoids tighten the collar around the slave’s throat, choking him.
The boy’s collar was too small for him, and when his cruel Master touched the punishment button, it started to crush his windpipe. Out of blind self-preservation, the boy used the Force. Like Luke, he had no idea it existed, but in his last desperate moment he willed his Master to know exactly how it felt to die. To his surprise, he discovered that the illusion of suffocation was just as deadly as the collar itself.
The penalty for killing a Master was death, but Obi-wan intervened. He purchased the boy at a fair price, recognizing him as a lost Jedi offspring. The boy gave his name as Darth Vader, but when he tried to call Obi-wan “Master,” the great warrior admonished him sternly.
Upon their return to his ship, the Millennium Falcon, Obi-wan watched carefully as the boy met the Falcon’s pilot, Skywalker. Carefully, because he had recognized Vader as an identical clone to Skywalker, though several years younger.
Here’s the answer to Empire’s burning question. When Vader claimed to be Luke’s father, Luke didn’t want to believe him, but “somehow he could feel the truth in the Dark Lord’s words.” The Force told Luke that Vader was his father because Vader is a clone from the same donor as Skywalker. Genetically speaking, Vader is Skywalker. This also explains why Luke saw his own face under Vader’s mask on Dagobah.
There is another way to interpret Vader’s startling revelation. He could be saying that the pilot Skywalker succumbed to the Dark Side of the Force, killed Vader and donned Vader’s mask and costume. If that’s true, why didn’t Skywalker kill Yoda with the rest of the Jedi’s? If he trained under Yoda, he knows that Luke will wind up on Dagobah eventually, and could have saved a lot of Imperial Probe Droids. No, Vader doesn’t know about Yoda, and that means he can’t be Skywalker.
Let’s talk about the Millennium Falcon for a moment. What an odd name for a beat-up freighter! A Falcon is a bird of prey, a fighting bird. Millennium refers to the thousand generations of Jedi Knights before Luke. Didn’t you ever wonder why the Falcon is the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy? Because she was designed by Jedi scientists as Skywalker’s private warship, to protect his cover identity as a smuggler. In Star Wars, Luke said, “My father didn’t fight in the Clone Wars. He was no knight-just a navigator on a space freighter.”
This gives us another clue about the mysterious Skywalker.
He liked disguises, so people would underestimate his powers.
On Mos Eisley, Obi-wan knew fate was helping them when Han introduced himself as “the Captain of the Millennium Falcon; maybe you’ve heard of her?”
“Should I?” answered Ben, tongue pressed firmly in cheek.
Han bragged that the Falcon’s speed came from his “special modifications,” but she was just as fast when Lando owned her. Remember, Han was originally Luke’s older brother, and it would only be natural for him to bring along his missing father’s personal ship. Han’s identity was changed, but he kept the Falcon.
Okay, let’s go back to the Clone Wars.
A clone is a human being grown from the cells of an existing person, producing an exact genetic duplicate. Normally, a child is a random combination of genes from two separate parents, and thus unique. If one parent possesses a special talent, a normal child might or might not inherit it. A clone definitely would.
Only certain people can use the Force. Obi-wan suggests it can be inherited. “Only certain individuals could recognize the Force for what it was. They were mercilessly labeled: Charlatans, fakers, mystics-and worse…”
The Force is not magic. The Force is a scientific explanation for those mysteries we call magic or religion.
In THX 1138, George Lucas gave us a brief glimpse of a Reproduction Center, where tiny fetuses were growing inside bottles. We saw those bottles again in Empire, when Luke is treated for injuries inside a tank of water. One thing you can say about George Lucas, he never throws an idea away. The same ones show up again and again.
THX 1138 was Robert Duvall’s name in that picture. R2D2 and C3PO have been shortened to Artoo and Threepio because that’s how they sound when spoken. Consider Obi-wan. That’s obviously OB-1, but why does Ben get a special name? In Star Wars, only robots get names like that. And why did he stop using it? He told Luke, “Obi-wan…now, that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time. Of course I know him; he’s me. I haven’t gone by the name Obi-wan since before you were born.”
What happened just Before Luke was born? When Princess Leia sent the message in Artoo, she used the title. “General Obi-wan Kenobi, you served my father in the Clone Wars…”
OB-1 is a clone designation. Using it might have attracted attention, and perhaps one of the Emperor’s bounty hunters. Obi-wan was the first clone of a man with the initials O.B.-but who?
Remember, the saga describes the fall of the Republic, and the rise of the Empire. Lucas didn’t invent those names. He borrowed them, and much of his plot, from the actual fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. In our galaxy, that took place about 100 B.C.
In the Star Wars universe, Rome never fell because it was protected by Jedi Knights, an ancient religious order with control over the Force. A Jedi Knight has no interest in ruling, only in keeping the rightful government in power. Yoda said, “Adventure, excitement, a Jedi craves not these things…anger, fear, aggression, the Dark Side of the Force they are. Easily they flow, quick to join in a fight. Beware of them. A heavy price is paid for the power they bring.”
What famous person taught that philosophy during the Roman Era? To give you a clue, he also chose to die rather than fight back against an evil tyrant. Immediately after he died, his body mysteriously disappeared, and he reappeared in a vision to his disciples.
Jesus Christ, of course.
Go back to THX 1138 and watch how Lucas mocks the confessional booth, with a computer’s voice preaching nonsense Jesus’ poster staring from the wall like Big Brother in 1984. The Force is the “basis of all primitive religion,” including Christianity, and those who used it were “misunderstood by their fellows- and worse.”
Worse is right. One was crucified. A lot more were locked away in asylums, or burned at the stake.
Is Obi-wan supposed to be Jesus Christ? Yes and no. Obi-wan is one thousand generations down the line from the first Jedi, who would have been the Jesus of the Star Wars universe. The first Jedi was probably a scientist instead of a religious fanatic, who recognized his ability to perform miracles was something less than divinity that could be passed on through the DNA double helix. For a parallel, read about The Mule in Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, which curiously also deals with the fall of the Galactic Republic and the rise of the Empire.
How does Lucas answer the question? He says, “Ben started out as Luke’s father and became the friend of Luke’s father. I wanted a character that was an old warrior, very stately, a father image for Luke. He evolved out of that. He wasn’t meant to be Christlike, but rather a thoughtful and intelligent man with a noble bearing a symbol of goodness and mystical power.”
And yet, when Obi-wan appeared on the screen, he was wearing a beard and robe identical to Christ’s. In all probability, Jesus didn’t have light brown hair and blue eyes, the way he’s portrayed in modern paintings. No, those artists reduced Jesus’ teachings to their basic elements, and then painted a face to match them. That’s how Lucas did it, too. He studied dozens of ancient legends, including King Arthur and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and isolated the most common elements, trying to come up with a story so basic that the audience thinks they remember it from somewhere else. “Thou shalt not kill” and “Do unto others…” appear in almost every story, and so does the struggle between Good and Evil. The good guys always wear white and the bad guys wear black.
Lucas created Obi-wan as the most credible source for his philosophy. An old soldier knows more about the morality of killing than a young conscientious objector. Luke is the innocent farm boy he teaches how to avoid the pitfalls of life in the big city.
The confusion about Jesus comes from thinking he was the only legendary figure who underwent a resurrection. There were lots of others, particularly in Roman mythology. It’s probably the most popular attribute of the legendary hero. Death is the most terrifying of all of mankind’s experiences because none of us can escape it; therefore, only the greatest heroes can conquer it.
Obi-wan was originally supposed to lead the Wookie attack on the Death Star. About halfway through the filming, Lucas decided that the Falcon’s escape from the Death Star was too easy, and told Guinness that his character was going to die in his duel with Vader. Conquering death is the last heroic act, and usually isn’t added until after the hero has made his reputation. When Lucas added the mystical aspect of Obi-wan coming back from the dead, he turned Obi-wan into a Christ-figure, whether that was his original intention or not.
There are two important differences.
The Jedi’s actively support the government in power, instead of looking toward the world beyond this one, and the philosophy of “Turn the other cheek” has been updated to “Speak softly and carry a big light-sabre.”
Obi-wan isn’t above amputating a few arms in the name of the cause.
Obi-was is probably closer to Merlin in the King Arthur legend, and Luke is the young Arthur who finds the magical sword, Excalibur. Leia is his beloved Guinevere, who falls for the dashing young Lancelot (Han Solo). All the old legends have the same characters, anyway.
The Jedi Knights have preserved the Republic for a thousand generations. In Biblical days, a millennium was only a thousand years, but Lucas thinks big – a thousand years of peace under divine guidance before the Antichrist appears to fight the ultimate war. And who is the Antichrist, who serves Satan, an ex-angel who succumbed to the Dark Side of Evil? You tell me.
Better yet, tell me what Jedi stands for. In Latin, the plural of Jesus would be Jesi, but that’s too obvious. If the early Christians cloned Jesus to preserve his unique DNA, they might have built the Jesus Eugenics Development Institute. It provided a home for the galaxy’s greatest minds, robot as well as human. No mere human brain can comprehend the complexity of a DNA molecule. That task remains for computers, and artificial minds such as Artoo’s, that unobtrusive observer from the JEDI Institute.
Lucas says that Star Wars is really the robots’ story. Did you think it was just a coincidence that the first R2 unit Uncle Owen bought blew it’s motivator at precisely the moment Artoo wanted to escape? After watching Vader fighting Luke, we know that the Force can be used to control inanimate objects at a distance. Is it possible that the Jedi Knights were cloned from an artificial gene created by robots, to give mankind the religious leaders it wanted?
Could OB-1 be job, a wealthy man who had everything taken away by Satan, as a test of his devotion to God? Or, everything taken away by the Emperor, as a test of his devotion to the higher ideals of the Jedi? Job wandered the desert for years, covered with boils and slowly going mad. The original script described Obi-wan as “an old desert rat”? When he saw that, Alec Guinness asked himself, “Do they expect me to play some wild, eccentric, half-dotty old man appearing out of a hole in the sand dunes?” Lucas went back and re-wrote Obi-wan as a more sympathetic character, but it was Guinness who really created the role.
In that perspective, I’ll merely note that O.B.E. stands for “Officer of the Order of the British Empire,” and Guinness has been knighted by Britain’s Queen.
While mixing the sounds for American Graffiti, Walter Murch asked, “George, get me R2, D2,” meaning the second reel and the second dialogue track. Lucas replied, “That’s a great name, Walter,” and wrote it down. So don’t bother looking for any deep significance in Artoo’s name.
When I think of Princess Leia Organa, it always reminds me of “getting leid.” Since Lucas wanted to make a strong moral statement, her last name probably came from “organic,” not “orgasm.” When defending himself against a lack of female roles, producer Kurtz points out that several were cut out or reduced because of time limitations. What was cut out from the beginning of Star Wars? A girl covered with sunscreen oil:
“The skin of the girl on his lap had been equally protected, and there was a great deal more of the protected area in view. Somehow even dried sweat looked good on her…. The girl on his lap stretched sensuously, her well-worn clothing tugging in various intriguing directions.”
Interesting, but not likely to draw any applause from the feminist movement.
I like to think that the original Boba Fett was a woman, hiding her face to enter a male-dominated profession. Boba could be a family nickname for a Roberta. Fett is the last survivor of a group of Commandos the Jedis Exterminated during the Clone Wars, so she could hold a grudge against all Jedis, including Skywalker. Removing her armor, she tricked Luke’s father into falling in love with her, and led him into Vader’s trap.
When Darth Vader was still in his apprenticeship, the Emperor offered him a chance to destroy those who had murdered his foster parents and sold him into slavery. Vader succumbed to the Dark Side of Revenge, and the Jedi Knights tried to stop him. When the Emperor sentenced all the Jedis to death, it touched off a conflict that became known as the Clone War.
Vader betrayed and murdered the pilot Skywalker – or so everyone believed. Actually, Skywalker escaped Vader’s trap, leaving behind a charred body, and donned a disguise. For 20 years, he has moved among the Imperial troops, waiting for his chance. He has hidden Jedis and falsely reported their deaths to Vader, slowly working his way into the Dark Lord’s confidence.
Where is Skywalker? Obviously, he hides his face, and tries to fade into the background, but if you look closely, he’s there.
When Luke entered Cloud City, he saw Han being carried away. Suddenly a blaster bolt struck the wall in front of him, warning him of Vader’s trap. How could Boba Fett, the deadliest bounty hunter in the galaxy, miss such an easy target? More important, why did R2D2 bump Luke’s arm?
Because Luke’s real father is hiding behind Boba Fett’s scarred battle armor. Only a fully trained Jedi Knight will defeat Vader. “There is another, and there has been for a long time.” Ben really thinks Skywalker is dead, but he didn’t know about Yoda’s “other” either.
Remember, I told you George Lucas never throws an idea away. At the end of Star Wars, we thought Han Solo was gone, but he reappeared at the last moment. At the end of Revenge of the Jedi, Skywalker will reappear to save Luke’s life, and after the battle’s over, sits down to tell Luke how it all happened. Only we’ll have to wait another three years to hear his story begin, in the next episode – actually the first episode – of the Star Wars saga.
More likely, we won’t get to see Skywalker in Jedi. No, Lucas will keep that secret until the end of Episode 3, when Skywalker fights his way out of Vader’s trap. Lucas has said the whole story won’t be revealed until then, and then everything will become obvious.
And what about the Emperor? Will he survive the next episode, and come back in the third trilogy set another 20 years in the future? For the record, although his voice in Empire was done by Clive Revill, the face belonged to Alec Guinness. My guess is that Guinness will portray the Emperor in Jedi as a clone of Obi-wan, making the Clone War a struggle between the evil Emperor and his good clone. Skywalker and Vader are just pawns in a much larger struggle.
Alec Guinness developed serious eye problems in his left eye about eight months before Empire started filming. Specialists warned him he could go blind if he didn’t stay out of bright lights. He stopped making films, except for a one-day appearance for his Empire duties, and requested that his name not appear in the ads to keep from disappointing the fans who might have come to see him.
Did you notice the Emperor’s funny eyes beneath that cloak? Guinness was wearing special sunglasses to shield him from the bright studio lights. I think he will portray the Emperor as a blind man, his eyes burned out to keep him from seeing “visions,” who turned to the Dark Side to avenge their loss. Remember how Paul Newman’s thumbs were broken in The Hustler? Same idea.
What else will happen in Jedi? Luke will return to Dagobah to finish his training; at least, Lucas has said the Dagobah set will be rebuilt. Supposedly, more than a year will pass in Luke’s life before the film begins.
He’ll wake up from nightmares with terrible pain in his artificial hand. Leia will diagnose it as psychosomatic, explaining that Luke’s subconscious is trying to avoid another confrontation with Vader, because Luke now believes he will lose.
Luke can’t control his light sabre as well with the artificial hand, but he compensates by practicing with the Force’s power over other minds. When Leia resists Luke’s romantic advances, out of loyalty to her absent Han, Luke agonizes that he could make her love him by planting the suggestion in her mind, and she would never know. Thus, Luke discovers his own Dark Side.
Ben keeps worrying that Luke will be seduced by the Dark Side, but so far it hasn’t offered Luke anything he wants. This is the biggest flaw in Star Wars.
Luke’s only real dilemma has been whether to save his friends’ lives at the risk of losing the bigger fight against the Emperor, and Yoda negates that by revealing there’s another warrior to take Luke’s place.
What about Han Solo, that classic case of a juvenile delinquent who grows up during the Big War? If he’s spent a year out of suspended animation without Jabba killing him, he’ll probably be locked into a slave collar and working the Spice Mines of Kessel. More likely, he’ll still be inside the carbonite, propped up in Jabba’s spaceship like a Picasso sculpture. When Lando and Chewie show up, their job won’t just be to rescue Han, it’ll be to con the pirate fleet into joining the Rebellion.
Meanwhile, back on Trantor (Remember how Luke described Tatooine as the farthest point from the bright center of the galaxy? That’s from Foundation, and the final battle will take place above the Emperor’s home planet, where Leia used to work as a Senator, at the bright center of the galaxy.), the Rebels don’t have enough ships to defeat the Imperial Fleet. Han arrives at the crucial moment, leading the pirates and all the Jedis that Boba Fett only pretended to kill, and shows us Kenner’s new line of space toys for that Christmas.
Afterward, Jabba points out that his ships won the battle, not the Rebels, and demands his share of the spoils. Han suggests a compromise. He will marry Leia and establish a dual monarchy, one from the pirates and one from the rebellion, until the Republic is restored throughout the galaxy. Jabba agrees, and then Han has to convince Leia – but true love conquers all.
A lot of the Territorial Governors have their own Fleets, and 20 years later Leia is still on the throne and Han is off fighting wars and Luke wonders if he’s fighting to restore the Republic or Leia’s birthright – but that’s another trilogy, the third.
Enough guessing. As George Lucas says, the movies are Gospel, and everything else is Gossip, but he certainly can’t expect us to wait three years without trying to unravel his clues. That’s the new motto for Star Wars fans: Three Years Is Too Long. And don’t forget the old motto: May The Force Be With You.
Credit to sonofjorel for the magazine scans