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

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, Luke’s 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 killed—and it’s because they turn their back on him and he cuts them down. The president is turning into an Emperor and Luke’s 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 Emperor’s 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 Vader’s 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 can’t raise Luke himself, because he’s a wanted man. Leia and Luke’s mother go to Alderaan and are taken in by the king there, who is a friend of Ben’s. 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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