Monday, April 7, 2014

And just because I'm on the topic: This is the cover of the 1976 novel Star Wars. Credited to George Lucas, it was actually written by sci fi author Alan Dean Foster.

The novelization was published in November 1976 by Ballantine Books. It was designed to drum up support for the film, which was being badmouthed in Hollywood as "that space picture". It contained 16 pages of full-color stills from the film's production.

The book is based upon Lucas's fourth draft of the screenplay for Star Wars. There is a short prologue from the "Journal of the Whills" (Lucas originally conceived of his film as more fantasy than sci fi) describing the collapse of the Republic and the rise of the Empire, and several scenes which fleshed out Luke's relationship to Biggs, Luke's desire to become an Imperial stormtrooper, and more. Some elements of the film were still in flux, and thus are different in the novel from the motion picture. For example, Vader kills Obi-wan in the novel (this was changed during production so that Ben commits suicide), and Obi-wan never senses the destruction of Alderaan. The book also establishes what the Sith are and calls Vader a "Lord of the Sith", although it never ties the group to the Force. The Sith would not be mentioned on film until The Phantom Menace.

The novel also made no mention of Emperor Palpatine being a Sith Lord. The emperor is not named in the novel, as I recall. In fact, the emperor is said to be a good man manipulated by "bureaucratic bootlickers" who don't tell him the truth about what's happening and who get him to do to terrible things by lying about them. Lucas clearly drew a lot from Tolkien in writing early drafts. His early-draft emperor is more like King Theoden than Adolf Hitler.

Lucas' heavy, heavy reliance on the Japanese movie The Hidden Fortress -- which Lucas refused to acknowledge until it was discussed publicly by unauthorized biographers -- is also readily apparent in the novel. (Lucas continues to minimize that film's influence, too, by the way.)

I also find Lucas' concept of females is very "damsel in distress", and (I find) borderline misogynistic.

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