Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Crap ideas George Lucas wanted to do in The Return of the Jedi but was dissuaded by people who knew better:

1) No Yoda. Director Richard Marquand forced Lucas to abandon this idea, because he said fans were arguing about whether Vader had lied to Luke about being his father in The Empire Strikes Back. Since only Yoda knew for sure, Luke had to go back to Dagobah and get the straight dope.

2) Add A Sandstorm. Lucas wanted a sandstorm to catch Luke, Leia, Han, et al., as they left Jabba's sail barge. Their ship would crash, they'd trek through the sand, there'd be some touching moments, etc. Marquand said it was not essential to an already-long picture and bogged it down. Lucas insisted. So they spent several hundred thousand dollars filming it. When editing the film, Lucas agreed it dragged the film to a dead stop. It was dropped from the film.

3) The Force Makes Your Telepathic. Lucas wrote a scene in which Darth Vader talks to Luke using the Force before Luke enters Jabba's palace. Marquand said this was silly; why hadn't Vader tormented Obi-wan for years, then? Why hadn't Vader targeted Luke before this? Lucas insisted. A scene was filmed, but dropped in the editing room.

4) Planet of the Wookies. Lucas originally wanted the Death Star to travel to the Wookie planet and be destroyed there. Marquand asked "If it can move, why do the rebeles think it is 'unfinished'? And why move it if it cannot fire its terrible planet-destroying ray? In fact, everyone will suspect it IS finished!" So Lucas changed the Wookies into Ewoks.

5) EVERYONE HATES EWOKS. Except George Lucas. He loves them. Concept artist Ralph McQuarrie refused to design them once he realized what Lucas actually wanted. Costumers hated them. Cameramen hated them. Editors hated them. Sound designers hated them. Cast members hated them. Lucas loved them, thinking fans would love them. Fans hated them. Apparently, Lucas believed the Ewoks would be the "toy line of the future" and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues for him.

6) EVERYONE HATED THE EWOK CELEBRATION DANCE. Both crew and cast openly ridiculed the scene. Cast and crew, even those playing Ewoks, thought it was stupid and worthless. Marquand had a tough time getting people to stop laughing and mocking the scene long enough to film it. Carrie Fisher in particular loathed it, and did mocking "Ewok dances" and an "Ewok song" on the set. Mark Hamill had trouble keeping a straight face, he found it so ridiculous. Ewok extras often ruined shots by pretending to fornicate in the background.

7) Han Dies. Everyone knows that Harrison Ford was not signed for a third film. They originally had him dying inside the carbonite, sight-unseen. Even when he did sign up to appear in Jedi, the assumption was that he would make himself available for only a few days. So Lucas' early scripts had Luke unsealing the carbonite at the END of the film. Once Ford agreed to do most of the movie, Ford pushed hard to have his character die a heroic self-sacrificing death mid-way through the picture. Lucas (to his credit) refused his suggestion.

8) Luke Hates Han. Lucas tried to punish Harrision Ford for holding out by humiliating Han Solo and having the character do bad things. In one scene, Leia leads an attack on the Imperial Walkers. Han tries to stop her because "it's suicide!" Luke uses the Force to slam Han against the Millennium Falcon and then keeps him there for the rest of the battle.

9) The Sarlacc Had Arms. Remember the sarlacc, the desert beastie that Jabba the Hut is going to toss Luke and Han into? On screen, it has a mouth and teeth and tentacles. But Lucas originally wanted it to have arms complete with fingers and opposable thumbs, too. So they built a $50,000 animatronic arm, and filmed the scene. Then Lucas changed his mind, and ordered Marquand to just put a fabric tentacle around the guy's legs, pull it off, and run the film in reverse. That's what you see in the movie.

10) Obi-Wan Becomes The Walking Dead. During the Ewok celebration, Yoda and Obi-Wan weren't supposed to just show up as ghosts. No, they actually GET THEIR BODIES BACK. See, "good Jedis" never die, they become more powerful than you can possibly imagine and remain immortal. According to Lucas, Obi-wan and Yoda duped Luke into killing Vader so they could become immortal. Marquand was so appalled, he put his foot down. The plot twist was yanked.

11) Obi-Wan Stops The Emperor. Because Sir Alec Guiness hesitated to come back for the final film when all he did was stand around as a ghost, Lucas tried to give him a bigger role. So during the fight between Luke and Vader, Obi-wan and Yoda were going to stand around the throne room in ghostly form and taunt the Emperor. When Luke battled Vader, Obi-wan gave him pointers on how to fight back. "Use your sword overhand! Now parry! Thrust! Parry! Spin around!" And instead of the Emperor killing Luke, Obi-wan actually inhibits him from using his full powers -- which allows Luke to survive.

12) Alan Webb Is The Emperor Palpatine. Marquand cast elderly British actor Alan Webb as the Emperor. But Webb fell ill (he actually was so ill, he died), and Marquand had to cast a new person. He sought out someone who could handle the heavy makeup and costumes (which Webb had had trouble with), and chose Ian McDiarmid.

13) Anyone Can Use The Force. The movies make it clear that only very special people can use the Force. But that was not what George Lucas intended. He wanted the Force to be like learning yoga: Anyone can do it, you just have to be trained.

14) Yoda Can't Fight. George Lucas was adamant in early scripts that Jedi masters NEVER fight. They are teachers, not real Jedi. Only Jedi knights are warriors, but they can't teach. Lucas also told Marquand that Vader would have torn Yoda apart in a battle.

15) These TWO Operational Battle Stations...! Lucas wanted there to be two Death Stars. He thought that because there was one Death Star in the first movie, there should be two in the second. After all, two is better than one. Right? And twice the threat is twice as thrilling. Right? Uh... Lucas' script had the first, half-completed Death Star being destroyed after Rebel fighters blow it up with torpedos. He never was able to figure out how the second one gets destroyed. So, instead, he junked the second half of his film and ended it with the first, incomplete one going kablooey.

16) Vader Jumps In A Pool of Lava. The climax of the film is a battle in a half-finished throne room in an incomplete Death Star. But that wasn't the original version. Instead, Lucas planned to have Luke travel to the Imperial City of Abbadon. (Abaddon is the Hebrew term for hell. Lucas couldn't even come up with original names!) Lucas ripped off J.R.R. Tolkien's Silmarillion and imagined Abaddon to be a dungeon-like city with hundreds of levels below-ground. (Angband, anyone?) At the lowest level was the Imperial throne room. The throne sat on a rocky island in the center of a lake of lava. (Why? "Because it's cool!" No, you'd burn to death.) Luke was supposed to duel Vader on the island. Vader would then betray the Emperor, grab him, and they'd both go hurling into the pool of lava. (Just like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, eh?) Lucas later transformed his lava lake into Mustafar, the Jedi world covered in lava in Episode III.

17) Luke Becomes Vader! George Lucas wanted a bright, fluffy, happy ending. But to get it, he decided that he needed to destroy his main character: Luke. Lucas' story line had Luke removing Vader's helmet, and Vader dying. Then Luke was to put on the helmet, and declare: "Now I am Vader! Now I will go and destroy the Rebel fleet and I will rule the universe!" Lucas later got rid of the moment, because he decided Return of the Jedi should be a children's movie. That's right, fan-boy: You're watching a CHILDREN'S MOVIE.

18) Imperial Officers Have the Best Dialogue. Lucas was stung by accusations that his films had little characterization in them. To counter this criticism, he wrote a lengthy scene in which officers aboard the Death Star discuss the ethics of destroying planets, committing, genocide, and supporting the Emperor. It was filmed, and edited out.

19) Darth Vader is Laurence Olivier! Richard Marquand tried to cast a famous actor in the role of Darth Vader for the scene where Luke removes Vader's helmet. He contacted both Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud, and had feelers out to other famous actors as well. But Lucas felt this would "distract" the audience. So Marquand chose the most nondescript person he could. Lucas approved. Later, Lucas tried to morph markedly handsome young actor Hayden Christenson into this scene to make it appeear as if "his" Anakin was in the mask. This effort failed.

20) That Chatty Obi-Wan Put Everything In Motion. To give Alec Guiness more to do in the movie, Lucas wrote a long scene in which Obi-Wan tells Luke that everything that has gone wrong in the universe is his fault. He's the one who discovered Vader, he's the one who introduced Vader to Vader's wife, he's the one who tried to kill Anakin and only made him into the far more powerful Vader, he's the one who told Vader how to build a Death Star, he's the one who accidentally betrayed Leia to Vader in Star Wars, and more. He also admits that everything he's done in the movies has been to manipulate Luke into destroying Vader and cleaning up Obi-wan's messes. (Lucas stole this idea from The Lord of the Rings, where Wormtongue accuses Gandalf of merely manipulating everyone to Gandalf's purposes -- not for their own good.) Obi-Wan also reveals that Uncle Owen was Obi-Wan's brother, making Obi-wan and Vader brothers-in-law. It had the unintentional effect of making Luke into Obi-wan's grandson by marriage.

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