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This George Lucas conference call from 1981 shows how far back the prequel stories were in development

May. 23, 2013by: Alex Maidy

It is crazy to think that this year mark's the 30th anniversary of RETURN OF THE JEDI, the lone STAR WARS original trilogy film released during my lifetime. Man, I feel old. Introducing the original trilogy to my kids was a moment I will never forget. I still love revisiting the films and learning all sort of new tidbits about them. With that in mind, this October will show the release of J.W. Rinzler's "The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi" which follows his massive books for the first two films in the series as well as a book on the Indiana Jones saga.

The Huffington Post has shared an excerpt from Rinzler's book that will surely interest fans of the saga. The quote comes from a conference call during the development of REVENGE OF THE JEDI between George Lucas, Richard Marquand, Lawrence Kasdan, and producer Howard Kazanjian. In order to successfully script the close of the trilogy, Lucas had to share details from the background of the characters in play, specifically Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. What Lucas explained differs from the prequel trilogy that was released 18 years later. Lucas compares Emperor Palpatine to Richard Nixon, explains that Jedi Masters are not Jedi warriors, and more. Aside from those differences, the core origin is the same as what we saw in EPISODES I through III. Here is Lucas' original explanation:

Well, anyway, Lukes father gets subverted by the Emperor. He gets a little weird at home and his wife begins to figure out that things are going wrong and she confides in Ben, who is his mentor. On his missions through the galaxies, Anakin has been going off doing his Jedi thing and a lot of Jedi have been getting killedand its because they turn their back on him and he cuts them down. The president is turning into an Emperor and Lukes mother suspects that something has happened to her husband. She is pregnant. Anakin gets worse and worse, and finally Ben has to fight him and he throws him down into a volcano and Vader is all beat up. Now, when he falls into the pit, his other arm goes and his leg and there is hardly anything left of him by the time the Emperors troops fish him out of the drink. Then when Ben finds out that Vader has been fished out and is in the hands of the Empire, he is worried about it. He goes back to Vaders wife and explains that Anakin is the bad guy, the one killing all the Jedi. When he goes back his wife, Mrs. Skywalker has had the kids, the twins, so she has these two little babies who are six months old or so. So everybody has to go into hiding. The Skywalker line is very strong with the Force, so Ben says, I think we should protect the kids, because they may be able to help us right the wrong that your husband has created in the universe. And so Ben takes one and gives him to a couple out there on Tatooine and he gets his little hideout in the hills and he watches him grow. Ben cant raise Luke himself, because hes a wanted man. Leia and Lukes mother go to Alderaan and are taken in by the king there, who is a friend of Bens. She dies shortly thereafter and Leia is brought up by her foster parents. She knows that her real mother died.

If anything, this proves that Lucas always had in mind the layout for the STAR WARS saga from beginning to end, just not the specific details. What I find most interesting is that this conference call even existed. If Lucas had employed a team like this for the prequels, they would have potentially turned out a little better. This gives me hope for STAR WARS: EPISODE VII and beyond since Michael Arndt and J.J. Abrams likely got this rundown from Lucas on what he envisioned for the stories and they are now running with it.

What do you think of this newly revealed information about RETURN OF THE JEDI and the prequels?

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10:18PM on 05/24/2013
Heh, it reminds me a lot of the way Lucas described his idea for A New Hope in "Lucas In Love", using lots of anachronistic or out of place terms, "president", "farming space wheat" and the like.
Heh, it reminds me a lot of the way Lucas described his idea for A New Hope in "Lucas In Love", using lots of anachronistic or out of place terms, "president", "farming space wheat" and the like.
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7:19PM on 05/23/2013

The prequel trilogy would have been a lot cooler...

...if it had followed this original synopsis.
...if it had followed this original synopsis.
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1:44PM on 05/23/2013
I want to see that movie....Anakin slowly going full on darside as he murders his compatriots one at a time? What the hell happened?
I want to see that movie....Anakin slowly going full on darside as he murders his compatriots one at a time? What the hell happened?
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12:25PM on 05/23/2013
Man, imagine if the prequels were made immediately following the original trilogy, just 3 years apart. They would have been out in '86, '89, and '92 respectively and probably would have turned out a lot better. There's something more charming about movies of that time period.
Man, imagine if the prequels were made immediately following the original trilogy, just 3 years apart. They would have been out in '86, '89, and '92 respectively and probably would have turned out a lot better. There's something more charming about movies of that time period.
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12:14PM on 05/23/2013
No on ever said George wasn't a good "Idea Man" he just does not have the talent in the Directors chair unless he has help, especially with getting performances from the actors. This change is the best thing that could have ever happened to Star Wars, get some young blood in there that has the passion we did for the original trilogy and let them have a crack at it. Bottom line it would be hard to do a worse job.
No on ever said George wasn't a good "Idea Man" he just does not have the talent in the Directors chair unless he has help, especially with getting performances from the actors. This change is the best thing that could have ever happened to Star Wars, get some young blood in there that has the passion we did for the original trilogy and let them have a crack at it. Bottom line it would be hard to do a worse job.
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12:05PM on 05/23/2013
Sorry... this only proves that he had a rough outline of what happened in the third prequel. What is interesting is that the only part of the prequel trilogy that arguably works, was originated in 1981. Everything else he added later was garbage.
Sorry... this only proves that he had a rough outline of what happened in the third prequel. What is interesting is that the only part of the prequel trilogy that arguably works, was originated in 1981. Everything else he added later was garbage.
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11:35AM on 05/23/2013
What!? No mention of Jar Jar Binks...
What!? No mention of Jar Jar Binks...
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11:29AM on 05/23/2013
I really like that Making of Indiana Jones book. There's some fascinating stuff in there and I took the bulky book to and from school to read in between classes. I shall be on the lookout for this one as, for some reason, ROTJ is my favourite of the Star Wars films. Yes, objectively it shouldn't be, but I like that movie a lot. Say what you will about Lucas, but the guy thought big. He dared to wish that his brainchild would become this colossal success, and against lots of odds, it did.
I really like that Making of Indiana Jones book. There's some fascinating stuff in there and I took the bulky book to and from school to read in between classes. I shall be on the lookout for this one as, for some reason, ROTJ is my favourite of the Star Wars films. Yes, objectively it shouldn't be, but I like that movie a lot. Say what you will about Lucas, but the guy thought big. He dared to wish that his brainchild would become this colossal success, and against lots of odds, it did.
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