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The Original Conception of the Star Wars Trilogy
The ORIGINAL original Star Wars Trilogy
We've all seen the classic STAR WARS trilogy, consisting of Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Return of the Jedi. We all know the story and the characters. It's a modern piece of folklore.
But many people might be surprised to know that what we saw on screen was not what writer George Lucas had intended to film. Due to disagreements with actors and interference by the studio brass at Fox, Lucas was forced to change many aspects of the story arc to suit unforeseen circumstances that prevented him doing the trilogy as intended.
As a bit of trivia for STAR WARS fans, here's a hint at what you would have seen if the classic trilogy hadn't been changed.
The Plot of A New Hope: An original, important aspect of the plot of the the 1977 film were some objects called 'The Kyber Crystals'. As many people know, the 1977 film was based partly on the classic Akira Kurasawa film "the Hidden Fortress", which featured some hidden gold. Here, the gold was replaced by the Kyber Crystals. Princess Leia was on her way to Tatooine to find the ancient Kyber Crystals, which had the power to destroy the Death Star. When she was captured by Vader, she sent R2D2 and C3PO to Tatooine to get the crystals. Part of the reason Obi Wan was living on Tatooine was to guard the legendary crystals. He and Luke had to avoid the sand people while then retrieving the crystals, but Luke's uncle Owen (Originally meant to be a treacherous character) sold them out to the Empire. They escape the Empire troops and then hire smuggler Han Solo to transport the crystals to the rebel stronghold so they can use it to destroy the Death Star, only to be caught by the tractor beam and taken to the Death Star itself. There they discover Leia is also a prisoner and help her escape, bringing the crystals back to the rebels.
However, the studio was looking to cut down the time and budget of A New Hope (They weren't confident of its success) and they insisted that the scenes of Obi Wan and Luke retrieving the Kyber Crystals and being betrayed by Uncle Owen were too long and tedious and required extra tunnel sets. They asked Lucas to omit that section of the film. Without the Kyber Crystals, Lucas had to rewrite the script. He came up with the idea that Leia had stolen the plans for the Death Star and hid them in R2, so that Obi Wan and Luke had to get R2 to the rebels, instead of the Kyber Crystals. (Also, Uncle Owen was no longer needed as a villain and so became merely hardworking but cantankerous.)
Obi Wan "Ben" Kenobi: Obi Wan was not originally supposed to die in A New Hope. He was supposed to be a major character in the entire trilogy. Lucas had planned for Obi Wan to escape the Death Star with Luke, Han and the others. In the climax of the film, Obi Wan was supposed to encourage Luke via the radio (rather than telepathically communicating from the afterlife as in the theatrical version) and advise him to let lose his feelings and use the Force to destroy the Death Star (In the original script, it was a bomb made from the Kyber Crystals, rather than firing into the trench that destroyed the base.) In the second film, 'Empire', Obi Wan physically accompanied Luke to the jungle planet Dagoba where he continued training Luke himself. (Yoda didn't train Luke in the original script. But I'll have more on Yoda later.) In the final film, Jedi, Obi Wan was supposed to die on Dagoba, while telling Luke about his father. (Not Yoda.)
Or at least that was the plan. However, actor Alec Guinness had other ideas. Alec Guinness was never a fan of science fiction. He agreed to do Star Wars films because his long career was winding down and work was becoming harder to get. He hoped that by 'slumming' in a sci-fi film, he could raise his profile in the American film market. But after filming A New Hope he decided that it was an immature fantasy and beneath an actor of his distinction. He asked to be released from the contract that required him to do Empire and Jedi. The studio convinced him to compromise. He would appear in the next two films but in a very reduced capacity. (He filmed his scenes in a day or two.) Therefore, Lucas needed someone to fill the role that Obi Wan was supposed to play in Empire and Jedi. Hence, Yoda was thrust into the limelight.
Yoda:Yoda was not originally planned to be a Jedi Master. He was supposed to be a friendly but simple forest creature who plays host to Obi Wan and Luke while they train on Dagoba. Supposedly Yoda was to be an old friend of Obi Wan from his pre-Jedi days who helped out Obi Wan in his youth. His distant dwelling of Dagoba became a sort of Fortress of Solitude for Obi Wan. Obi Wan was supposed to have hid there for a while after the fall of the Jedi before going to Tatooine. Obi Wan brings Luke there to train because its so secluded and off the beaten path. Yoda was originally supposed to act as comedy relief during the training scenes on Dagoba.
But when Alec Guinness insisted that Lucas lower Obi Wan's profile, Lucas rewrote the part of Yoda and made him into an ancient Jedi Master, so he could become Luke's new mentor. Yoda proved so popular that he was retroactively written into the history of the Jedi.
Han Solo & Lando:Han Solo wasn't supposed to be frozen at the end of Empire. He was supposed to escape with the Leia and Chewy. However, Harrison Ford was tiring of his character and wanted out of his contract. Lucas therefore didn't know if he would be able to use Han Solo in the third film or not. As a result, he left Han Solo's fate hanging at the end of Empire by freezing him. If Ford returned, Han could easily be unfrozen. If he didn't return, Han would remain frozen and not have appeared in Jedi at all. The character of Lando Calrissian was supposed to die in Empire while helping Han escape but Lucas decided to keep him alive so he could fill in Han Solo's part in Jedi, if necessary.
Harrison Ford did return for the third film. (And the whole prologue with Jabba the Hutt was added to Jedi) However, Han was supposed to die in Jedi. Instead of joining Luke, Leia and the others on the Forrest moon of Endor, he was supposed to lead the attack against the incomplete Death Star. Han was originally supposed to sacrifice himself to destroy the Death Star. Lucas changed his mind, however, since he now had the extra character of Lando to play with. Therefore, Han was free to join the Endor mission while Lando led the Death Star assault. Lando was supposed to die in battle, piloting Han's ship, (Hence Han's comment at the beginning of Jedi that he felt he would never see the Millennium Falcon again) but at the last minute, Lucas changed his mind, feeling that it would be too much of a downer. He wanted the ending to be happy and uplifting, so he allowed Lando to live, too.
Leia/Luke's sister: In the theatrical version of Jedi, we find out that Leia is Luke's sister. That was not the original plan. Lucas had originally planned to do a Nine film franchise. He planned to do three prequels (which he eventually did) followed by three sequels, taking place years after Jedi. The final three installments were supposed to be about Luke training a new generation of Jedi knights, including Han and Leia's children. (Originally, Leia was supposed to announce she was pregnant at the end of Jedi after Han's planned death.) During these films; Luke was supposed to meet a woman who would turn out to be his long lost sister. (Which is what Yoda meant by his comment in Empire about there being "another". As well as his line "There is another Skywalker" at the beginning of Jedi.)
The studio, however, wasn't convinced that the audience would accept waiting until the 7th or 8th fim to find out who Luke's sister was. They put doubts in Lucas' head and he started to wonder if he should wrap up all the subplots from the original trilogy. His doubts won out and he chose to quickly tie up the sister subplot by making Leia Luke's sister.
Darth Vader: Vader was originally planned to be a more normal looking man. He was supposed to be a general in a uniform, sidekick to the Emperor. It was decided later that since the main villain (the Emperor) wouldn't show up until the third film, his sidekick Vader should have a more imposing appearance. He was partially based on the comic book villain Doctor Doom, but more specifically, he was based a the villain called 'the Lighting' from the old Republic Film Studios serial "Devil Dogs of the Air". Vader became one of the classic film villains of all time.