Latinpost.com Repost Star Wars Episode 7 Spoilers, Rumors: Revisiting Original Trilogy Controversies From Special Editions

young Anakin BS

This is a repost from Latinpost.com (link: http://www.latinpost.com/articles/71553/20150812/star-wars-episode-7-spoilers-rumors-revisiting-original-trilogy-controversies.htm)

“Star Wars” has the largest fanbase in the world. No other franchise or brand can boast the numbers that the galaxy far, far away has.

Yet with all of its numbers, there has been a great deal of division within the “Star Wars” ranks. The prequels have been a source of animosity. However, the special editions have prompted equal or greater levels of vitriol against the creator George Lucas.

Lucas is no longer at the helm of the franchise and, starting on Dec. 18, fans will see a new cinematic galaxy owned by Disney.

With the first major step about to be taking, some have sought ways to bring fans to peace with the current versions of all the films in existence, including the Special Editions. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the changes (and some, such as the rocks hiding R2-D2 in “Episode IV,” fall into the category of overthinking details), Lucas most did most changes with some level of intent and major alterations usually had some rationale behind them.

With that in mind, let us look at some of the controversial changes to the original films and examine their impact and how they fit into Lucas’ overall vision. One must realize that in changing the special editions, Lucas sought to blend them better with his new vision for the series that was altered by the prequel films. As a result, the films could not simply work on their own, but had to fit a larger perspective and expanded universe.

Darth Vader’s “No!”

At the end of “Return of the Jedi,” Darth Vader is faced with watching his son die at the hands of his master or save him. In a series of closeups, the audience sees Vader’s plight and eventually watches in awe as he grabs the emperor and hauls him down a nearby precipice. The action plays without any dialogue, a moment of sheer cinematic beauty that has captivated for years since.

For the 2011 Blu-Ray release of the films, Lucas did some tinkering and added some dialogue to the scene. When Vader finally makes up his mind to throw away the emperor he utters the cry of “No,” taken out of “Revenge of the Sith.”

The moment in Episode III is one of the most parodied and defiled by fans and detractors, many noting that it turns the formerly dominant villain into a pathetic character.

However, Lucas himself confirmed those very intentions during an interview with the Rolling Stone back in 2005.

“He’s done a lot of horrible things in his life that he isn’t particularly proud of. Ultimately, he’s just a pathetic guy who’s had a very sad life,” said Lucas.

At the point in time when he shouts out the “No” in “Revenge of the Sith,” Vader has just found out that he has lost his beloved Padme. In fact, based on the emperor’s own words, Vader has killed the very thing he sought save. His shout is one of powerlessness.

By reminding viewers of that very moment in “Return of the Jedi,” Lucas hints at Vader’s own realization of his powerlessness to save Padme and thus his pathetic “No” turns into a rejection of his futile nature and thus seeks to compound his sense of strength and power in that moment using this very counterpoint.

He has finally done for his son what he failed to do for his wife and mother. It might not be the most subtle of ways to go about expressing the idea, but it certainly brings “Episode III” to consciousness right away, thus linking the ideas, themes and the overall arc of Vader’s transformation from a pathetic and helpless man to one in control of his destiny, no longer powerless to save his loved ones.

Hayden Christensen’s Force Ghost

Another controversial choice and undeniably misguided one for most fans (this writer included). Luke has just seen his father unmasked, so when he sees the force ghost he would likely recognize the face he has just seen. Why would he recognize the face of a man younger than him? How would he know that this is his father?

There have been a number of ideas regarding this change. The most obvious is that when watched in order of episodes, audiences grow to know Hayden Christensen as Anakin and seeing him at the end links the two trilogies together.

Another idea comes from Obi-Wan Kenobi’s speech to Luke early in the film where he states that once Anakin turned to the dark side and became Darth Vader, he ceased to exist as Anakin. Henceforth, by returning to the light, Anakin retains the physical form of his light side self; since he was last in the light as Hayden Christensen, then that would be the form that appears as a force ghost.

Han Shoots First

The Han and Greedo debate is at the forefront of most complaints regarding the special editions. In 1977, there was no doubt that Han Solo shot Greedo in cold blood, establishing himself as a selfish rogue that would not allow anyone to get the best out of him. That he eventually heads back to save Luke in the Death Star trench run represented a shift from the selfish murdering smuggler to a selfless team player.

In 1997, Lucas tinkered with the moment, having Han shoot after being shot at by Greedo. It has haunted fans since. Lucas has made changes in subsequent releases, bringing the shots closer together as if to appease fans, but the reality is that the late versions still have Greedo shooting first with Han retaliating.

So what does this all accomplish? By having Han retaliate, it softens him as a character. He still murders Greedo, but now he is only doing it because he was assaulted first. He thus becomes slightly less of a menace.

One interesting way to view this change would be from one of the major themes in Lucas’ saga — the aggressor ultimately falling on his or her sword. This theme was championed by David Begor in his “Defense of the Clones,” published by Bright Lights Film Journal.

The cycle of violence is a major theme in all six movies, coming to an end only when Luke Skywalker drops his weapon, realizing that his aggression will only beget more aggression; as noted, only when Luke does drop his weapon does the tide turn for the rebels and do they finally manage to defeat the empire. Prior to Luke’s action, audiences bear witness to characters on the attack repeatedly seeing that violence turn against them. We see it in the Jedi’s decision to start the Clone Wars. We see it in Obi-Wan’s impetuous attack on Darth Maul, pushing him to his near death. We see it from the Separatists and their multiple murder attempts on Padme. We see it from Anakin in his own misguided moments of violence, such as his aggressive assault on Count Dooku at the end of Episode II.

We see it in the subversion of bounty hunters going from the hunters to becoming the hunted.

In the original films, the Empire’s aggressive use of the Death Star in “Episode IV” and its seeking out Yavin winds up being its doom. At the end of that same film, Lucas includes visual allusions to Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will” during the medal ceremony that celebrates the rebel victory, thus linking it to the Nazi regime. This suggests an empty victory, a fact confirmed at the start of “The Empire Strikes Back.”

On a smaller level, having Han shoot second thus perpetuates the theme, making Greedo a victim of his own violence. Of course, Greedo was already holding Han at gunpoint prior to the shots being fired and this in and of itself is a form of violence. However, in the “Star Wars” universe, where every character constantly shows off his or her weapon in broad daylight, it seems that a more overt sign of aggression is required for it to be complete violence.

How I Feel About The New Star Wars Trilogy

Star Wars Episode VII

The new Star Wars trilogy got me riled up for a number of reasons, with the main reason being that Disney had gotten their hands on the franchise. Simply by virtue of Disney’s involvement, I was wary of how true they would be to George Lucas’s original vision. As a matter of fact, I initially resisted the idea of going to see “The Force Awakens”. However, it only took a few days after the film was released for me to cave in, and so I found myself watching the Disney version of the iconic sci-fi/fantasy story line on Christmas Day.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed “The Force Awakens” and thought Disney did a decent job of keeping the audience riveted, and the character development of the new characters was also acceptable. I went to see the film a second time on New Year’s Day, and that was when I began to analyze and dissect the story much more. I guess you could say the George Lucas fan in me awoke and began to scrutinize the details of the newest trilogy.

Though Lucas had initially spoken of developing three Star Wars trilogies, and even proposed and wrote out brief story elements of Episodes VII to Episode IX while filming “The Empire Strikes Back”, he never fully fleshed out those episodes. He was quoted in 1980, stating “It’s a nine-part saga that has a beginning, a middle and an end. It progresses over a period of about fifty or sixty years with about twenty years between trilogies, each trilogy taking about six or seven years.”

Somehow along the years, George Lucas lost the impetus to carry through with all three trilogies, and by the late 1990’s, stated that he had no intention of making the third trilogy, and would not allow anyone else to do so either.

George Lucas Disney
Here’s an interesting excerpt from Wikipedia in which George Lucas responded to questions about the trilogies:
(link is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars_sequel_trilogy)

In August 1999, at a press conference in New York City to discuss The Phantom Menace, Lucas described the “nine year commitment” required to make a Star Wars trilogy. In 2002, he said: “Basically what I said as a joke was, ‘Maybe when Harrison and Carrie are in their 70s, we’ll come back and do another version.’ The thing I didn’t realize then, and that I do realize now very clearly, is that not only would they be in their 70s, but I would be in my 70s too.” In 2007, Lucas described making the films at that age as “an idea that seemed amusing at the time, but doesn’t seem realistic now”, and suggested that ‘off-the-cuff’ comments he had made in earlier years had been misconstrued as absolute statements.

At a 1997 “Special Edition” press conference, Lucas said: “Everyone said, ‘Well, are you going to do sequels to the first three?’ But that was an afterthought; I don’t have scripts on those stories. The only notion on that was, wouldn’t it be fun to get all the actors to come back when they’re 60 or 70 years old and make three more about them as old people.” In a 1997 issue of Star Wars Insider, he said: “The whole story has six episodes…. If I ever went beyond that, it would be something that was made up. I really don’t have any notion other than, ‘Gee, it would be interesting to do Luke Skywalker later on.’ It wouldn’t be part of the main story, but a sequel to this thing.”

In an interview published in the February 1999 issue of Vanity Fair, Lucas said: “When you see it in six parts, you’ll understand. It really ends at part six. I never had a story for the sequels, for the later ones.” In 2008, after all six films had been released, Lucas said: “The movies were the story of Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker, and when Luke saves the galaxy and redeems his father, that’s where that story ends.”

In 1999, when asked about the possibility of someone else making Star Wars films, Lucas said, “Probably not, it’s my thing.” In a 2008 interview in Total Film, Lucas ruled out anybody else making Star Wars films. Asked if he was happy for new Star Wars films to be made after his death, he said: “I’ve left pretty explicit instructions for there not to be any more features. There will definitely be no Episodes VII–IX. That’s because there isn’t any story. I mean, I never thought of anything. And now there have been novels about the events after Episode VI, which isn’t at all what I would have done with it. The Star Wars story is really the tragedy of Darth Vader. That is the story. Once Vader dies, he doesn’t come back to life, the Emperor doesn’t get cloned and Luke doesn’t get married…”

Then things took a shift following the 2012 Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm. I can’t say that I blame Lucas for selling Lucasfilm, especially since he was probably lured by the $4 billion for which he sold both the company and the rights to Star Wars. However, his most recent interview last month suggests that he may have deep regrets about having relinquished rights to his baby, Star Wars. He had some inkling that Disney was about to pull the rug out from under him when they informed him in 2012 that they would not use the story treatments he had submitted. The powers that be at Disney essentially flexed their muscles and pushed Lucas away.

Disney fucks with Lucas
Here is another excerpt from Wikipedia which summarizes some of the ideas Lucas had about later episodes:

Episode VII would begin roughly 20 (or perhaps 30–40) years after the end of Return of the Jedi (according to Lucas in 1980 and 1982).

R2-D2 and C-3PO would be the only characters who might continue through all nine films (Lucas in 1980, 1981 and 1983).
The trilogy would deal with the rebuilding of the Republic (Lucas in 1980).

“It’s like a saga, the story of a group of people, a family” (Lucas in 1980).

The focus would be on Luke Skywalker’s journey to becoming the premier Jedi knight, with Luke’s sister (who was not Leia) appearing in Episode VIII, and the first appearance of the Emperor, and Luke’s ultimate confrontation with him, in Episode IX (a storyline as planned pre-1980, according to A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back producer Gary Kurtz).

Luke would have a romantic relationship with a female love interest (Lucas in 1988).

The main theme of the trilogy would be moral and philosophical problems, such as the necessity for moral choices and the wisdom needed to distinguish right from wrong, justice, confrontation, and passing on what you have learned (Lucas in 1983 and 1989).

The key actors, Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Ford as Han Solo, and Fisher as Princess Leia, would appear, in their 60s or 70s (Lucas in 1983).

In Episode IX, Hamill would cameo, “like Obi-Wan handing the lightsaber down to the next new hope” (according to Hamill, in 2004).
“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” (Lucas in 1980).

Interviewed in 2012 after the announcement of the new trilogy, Lucas biographer Dale Pollock said that he had, in the 1980s, read the outlines to 12 Star Wars episodes planned by Lucas, but had been required to sign a confidentiality agreement. Pollock said:
“The three most exciting stories were 7, 8 and 9. They had propulsive action, really interesting new worlds, new characters. I remember thinking, ‘I want to see these 3 movies.'”

The next series film would “involve Luke Skywalker in his 30s and 40s.”

Disney would probably use Lucas’s outlines as the basis for the sequel trilogy. “That’s in part what Disney bought.”

Author Timothy Zahn, whose Star Wars novel series, the Thrawn Trilogy, is set in the Star Wars expanded universe, was also interviewed in 2012. Zahn confirmed the sequel trilogy would not be based on the Thrawn novels, but said he had been briefed years before on Lucas’s plans for the sequels (Zahn had discussions with Lucas before the first Thrawn novel was published in 1991). Zahn said:

The original idea as I understood it—and Lucas changes his mind off and on, so it may not be what he’s thinking right now—but it was going to be three generations. You’d have the original trilogy, then go back to Luke’s father and find out what happened to him, and if there was another seventh, eighth, or ninth film, it would be Luke’s children.

directed by J. J. Abrams who co-wrote the screenplay along with Lawrence Kasdan, co-writer of the screenplays for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. George Lucas was set to provide Abrams with advice as a creative consultant; however, he had no involvement in the film, with his representative saying Lucas “ideally would love not to see any footage until he walks into the theater next December. He has never been able to be surprised by a Star Wars film before and he said he was looking forward to it.”

george-lucas

The following text is from the most recent interview conducted with Lucas, in which he criticizes the most recent “Star Wars”film:

George Lucas has criticized the latest installment of “Star Wars,” the series he created, in an interview with Charlie Rose, describing the film as too “retro” for his taste and jokingly comparing the Walt Disney Company, which bought the rights to the franchise in 2012, to “white slavers” who had bought his children.

The hourlong interview, broadcast on Dec. 25 and released online this week, focused on Mr. Lucas’s legacy, which was celebrated at the Kennedy Center Honors this month. But he was harsh in criticizing the film industry for focusing on profit over storytelling.

At one point he said that filmmakers in the Soviet Union had more freedom than their counterparts in Hollywood, who, he maintained, “have to adhere to a very narrow line of commercialism.”

Mr. Lucas appeared particularly unhappy with the direction the “Star Wars” franchise has taken since he sold the rights to it, along with Lucasfilm, his company, to Disney for $4 billion. He compared the sale to a breakup and a divorce.

“These are my kids. All the Star Wars films,” he said. “I love them, I created them, I’m very intimately involved in them.”

He added, trailing off with a laugh: “And I sold them to the white slavers that take these things and. …”

Mr. Lucas said that he decided to sell his company in part because his filmmaking interests had changed and that the more experimental movies he wanted to make would not be financially successful enough to ensure the health of the company and the well-being of its employees.

Still, he said he had begun working on another “Star Wars” film before the sale, including preparing story treatments and “working with a writer.” But, he said, Disney was not “that keen to have me involved.”

“They decided they didn’t want to use those stories,” he said. “They decided they were going to do their own thing. So I decided, ‘Fine.’ ”

The film that Disney made, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide since its release on Dec. 18 and received mostly positive reviews from critics.

But not from Mr. Lucas. On Mr. Rose’s show, he criticized the producers and writers of the latest film for emphasizing familiar elements of his previous work — some of which he said had issues — over innovation and storytelling of their own.

“The first three movies had all kinds of issues,” he said of the original trilogy, which was released between 1977 and 1983. “They looked at the stories and said, ‘We want to make something for the fans.’ All I wanted to do was tell a story of what happened. It started here, and it went there.”

“They wanted to do a retro movie,” he continued. “I don’t like that. Every movie, I worked very hard to make them different, make them completely different with different planets, different spaceships, to make it new.”

Getting over “Star Wars” is like getting over a lost love, Mr. Lucas said. He told Mr. Rose that he tried to approach it the way one would approach the end of a relationship, by focusing on the future instead of the past.

“You have to put it behind you, and it’s a very, very, very hard thing to do,” he said. “But you have to just cut it off and say, ‘O.K., end of ballgame, I have to move on.’ And everything in your body says, ‘Don’t, you can’t.’”

On Thursday, Mr. Lucas apologized for his “white slavers” remark and backtracked on his criticism of Disney.

“I misspoke and used a very inappropriate analogy and for that I apologize,” he said in a statement released to several trade publications.

“I am thrilled that Disney has the franchise and is moving it in such exciting directions in film, television and the parks. Most of all I’m blown away with the record breaking blockbuster success of the new movie and am very proud of J.J. and Kathy,” he said, referring to J. J. Abrams, the “Force Awakens” director, and Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm’s president.