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Star Wars Prequels Entertainment

The Secret History of Star Wars 569

Posted by samzenpus
from the george-shot-first dept.
lennier writes "How exactly did George Lucas develop the script for the first Star Wars? Why were the prequels so uneven when the originals were so good? Did he really have a masterplan for six, nine, or even twelve episodes, and why did the official Lucasfilm position keep changing? And just how big an influence were the films of Akira Kurosawa on the whole saga? Michael Kaminski's The Secret History of Star Wars, Third Edition is a free, thoroughly unauthorized, e-book that brings together a huge amount of literary detective work to sort fact from legend and reveal how the story really evolved. Download it or have your nerd credentials revoked."
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The Secret History of Star Wars

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  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @11:50PM (#23501110) Homepage Journal
    "Download it or have your nerd credentials revoked."

    I like programming in my spare time, when I'm not programming at work. But I hate Star Wars. I guess I'm just not nerdy enough.

    I will have to hand write some PostScript to print my own nerd credentials and post them on my cubical wall.
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @11:53PM (#23501124) Homepage

    It's just a movie.

    • by TheoMurpse (729043) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @12:01AM (#23501150) Homepage
      A movie that has permeated practically every culture on the planet--Jedi is a religion in some countries; when people cup their hands over their mouth and slowly and loudly breath, people recognize it as a Vader impression; and its success made ILM, Skywalker Sound, Harrison Ford, Lucas Arts, Lucasfilm, THX, and the list goes on.

      You may not like the movie, but to say it's "just a movie" is like saying "the Bible is just a book"--perhaps in some literal sense it's "a book," but it's one that has shaped the course of human history.
      • by 19061969 (939279) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @01:00AM (#23501454)

        I think the Jedi as religion was a bit of a joke (similar to a protest vote) done for censuses. I'm not sure if people really and truly consider it as a religion.

        When I was 8, Star Wars came out. I went crazy for it just like most of my friends. We really wanted to see it and queued up for hours in the rain when it finally came to our cinemas. We bought the toys, played at Star Wars in the playground, and lived and breathed it.

        But finally, after a few years, we just grew up a bit more and got into other things like other movies, girls, books, drinking, working, etc. My younger brother was mad keen on the return of the jedi a few years later; for him, it was his formative film, but since then, he also has grown up and sold off his toys.

        We both have soft spots for our formative films and have happy memories of watching them and playing them, but to revere them as one of the biggest global cultural events is a little bit silly. It really is just entertainment with a bit of pseudo-religious babble mixed in there. People might recognise the Darth Vader sound, but it doesn't run their lives. They don't do things like quake in terror and get shocked like I a saw a elderly French woman do when she suddenly saw a dummy dressed in an SS uniform during an exhibition once.

        In all of my travels, Star Wars has changed the world only for a small handful for people. For most, it really is just a movie and nothing else.

        • by J_Omega (709711)

          They don't do things like quake in terror and get shocked like I a saw a elderly French woman do when she suddenly saw a dummy dressed in an SS uniform during an exhibition once.
          Actually, you must not know what a girl in a certain metal-bikini costume can do to some of these people.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rakishi (759894)

        You may not like the movie, but to say it's "just a movie" is like saying "the Bible is just a book"--perhaps in some literal sense it's "a book," but it's one that has shaped the course of human history.

        The bible is just a book, it's Christianity and Judaism that did all the shaping with the bible being more or less a documentation of the early days of those religions. The bible was written afterwards (ie: it documented events and didn't cause them) and was exactly widespread until the printing press a couple hundred years ago (and translations into local languages). In addition Christianity itself actually had a message and a reason behind it's existence (ie: it was I believe a counterpoint against those

    • by Brett Buck (811747) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @12:04AM (#23501176)
      Indeed. It seems as if there is a narrow range of ages that found the original spellbinding, and I was just a few years too old. I recall seeing in in the theater when it came out and, naturally being blown away by the special effects. The audience first gasped and then cheered in the opening sequence where the ship flies overhead. But it was a fairly average movie otherwise, utterly predictable, and is still even watching it now. But guys a few years younger - sat, 10-14 years old - were absolutely transfixed and immediately started memorizing every detail. I was 17 and drove my own car to see it.

                From what I consider an objective standpoint, btw, the prequels were every bit as good story and acting-wise as the originals. Everybody hates Jar-Jar but I don't see the various cutesy robots and critters in the originals to be a lot better, and the Ewoks beat the universe part was, is, and always will be embarrassing.

                Brett
      • by bckrispi (725257) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @02:44AM (#23501942)
        I grew up on the OT (ANH came out when I was 4), so those films will always have a "magical" place for me. But honestly, I think the story from the prequels was far more in-depth and complex than the original trilogy. The OT was pretty simplistic: good guys vs. bad guys. It wasn't until the last 10 minutes of ESB that an element of moral ambiguity was introduced. The Luke/Vader narrative was brought to a fantastic climax, but that was a mere 20 minutes surrounded 1.5 hours of Jabba and Ewoks.

        The prequels didn't shoot for instant gratification. The Good guys vs. Bad guys formula was thrown out. The "Villains" in TPM were weak and cowardly. They weren't bent on conquering the galaxy, but securing trade rights. Trade rights?! It was a bold move that alienated many fans. But the real story was what was happening behind the scenes: Palpatine manipulating the Neimoidians, the Naboo, and the Senate to prepare for his War. The blockade of Naboo was just the first pawns being moved. Many themes of moral ambiguity were pervasive in the prequels. The Jedi were the "good guys", but they were flawed and arrogant. The CIS were the "Bad guys", but their grievances with the Senate were quite valid. The Republic was a bastion of freedom and democracy, but it was mired in corruption. Anakin was the personification of this dichotomy. He wasn't the superhero that Luke (and the OT audience) imagined him to be, but a very flawed, very "human" character. In the noble effort to save his wife and child he, like Lady Jocasta, inadvertently *cause* the very events that they dedicated themselves to prevent.

        It's easy to drill no deeper than the awkward dialog or Jar-Jar fart jokes in the prequels. But by doing so, you're missing the point entirely. The best storytelling in the prequels is what lies between the lines.
        • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @08:02AM (#23503846)
          Ignore the Prequels for a moment... let's take the universe deployed in the original piece. Also ignore the Nazi/Fascist imagery as well...

          Why does random citizen on Planet X care if the Empire is there of the Republic is there? Under the Republic, he was governed by a nobleman, probably a King or Queen (though we don't know if lesser planets, or less connected families had lesser titles like in Dune, which was AN inspiration for Star Wars). If you wanted to rise up and not be ruled by a Monarch, the Jedi Knights were there to "keep the peace" as they have for 1000 generations. While Tatooine is an impoverished fringe world run by the Hutt Mafia, we don't know that being ruled by a random monarch is better.

          The inefficient Republic couldn't really do much, and it clearly lacked a massive military so that the Jedi were keepers of the peace and generally given free range. They seemed to only answer to some Jedi Counsel, and while the Republic certainly appears to be mostly human (judging by the makeup of the Empire -- 100% AND the Rebellion, 50%), the Jedi Counsel seems to be heavily influenced by this little Green Guy we meet.

          That world is somewhat ambiguous. We're told to root for the "White Army" there to restore the noblemen to power (where they are "elected officials," who wants to bet that Princess Leia's election to the Senate, as daughter of the King, was about as competitive of Saddam Hussein or Joseph Stalin's elections) and their Republic government where some form of vote takes place to send their children or other connected allies to the Senate (we don't know if the Senators are elected by the people or some Parliament, and we don't know if that Parliament is elected, appointed, or inherited).

          One presumes that there were wealthy urban planets (or planets with wealth urban cores) with wealthy individuals served by the various courts... they probably lost out as their connections to the monarchs lost value as the imperial governors took power. OTOH, goods appear to be readily available to the wealthy because the smugglers seemed to grow in numbers (including the spice smugglers on Tatooine, but the importance of spice is unclear, or if it's a throw away line to pay homage to Dune), and the decline of the government while the Empire, Imperial Senate, Regional Governors, and Planet Monarchs are no longer aligned to screw the people (admittedly referencing the Trade Federation from Ep. 1, where we see a sanctioned monopoly that can strangle a planet with blockades).

          So, one COULD have kept that moral ambiguity by leaving things in the background, but they didn't. A throw away line or two from Palpatine about the inefficiency of the Republic would have kept the idea that he might have been fed up with the pace of the Republic and the Jedi Knights. In the Prequels, he is made raw evil, in the originals, there is plenty of young rebel nonsense in there.

          As a kid watching the originals, I saw NONE of that, but as an adult watching them, I appreciated some underlying ambiguities. OTOH, Jar Jar isn't substantially more annoying than C3PO's whining other than the fact that "Android/Robot = cool, retarded alien = lame," and I met C3PO as a child, and Jar Jar as an adult. My wife, who never saw Star Wars as a kid, so has no fond memories, thinks that the Droids are just as annoying.

          BTW: I really liked how in Episode I, they delved into some political references. A trade dispute and a deadlocked Senate leads to a No Confidence vote in favor of the Senator from the isolated planet, clearly the rest of the chamber felt that their planet could be next. However, I did NOT like how the rest took events that were described as Epic and made them ordinary. The Clone Wars appeared to be a long war that bordered on a Civil War, instead it appeared to be a short series of events between Jedi and Clones/Storm Troopers/Battle Droids. I guess we don't directly here of a non-Jedi fighting in the Clone Wars, but the Clone Wars definitely seemed more substantial than Episode II made it seem.
  • 533 pages? (Score:4, Informative)

    by kaan (88626) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @12:02AM (#23501154)
    Way... too... long.

    I'm sure there's some interesting stuff buried in there, but damn... 533 pages?

    I couldn't stand episodes 1, 2 and 3, and I sure as shit don't want to read about how / why George Lucas decided to make them suck so bad. Viewing them once apiece was painful enough.
  • A child of Star Wars (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crumbz (41803) <<remove_spam>jus ... > g m a i l .com> on Thursday May 22, 2008 @12:02AM (#23501158) Homepage
    I saw the original Star Wars at the theater when I was six. I saw the next two, Empire and Return, on the big screen when they appeared as well. Seeing these majestic space operas as a child had a profound impact on me. These movies set the stage, along with other contemporary "childrens" novels and sci-fi of the late-70s/early 80's, of a life-long love of science fiction and fantasy fictions. More importantly, this gestalt provided a novel framework for a belief in a limitless future, a need to challenge authority and an implicit belief in the use of technology to create a better future. (Not to sound too grandiose.)

    Seeing Star Wars as a child has had a lifelong effect upon me and my worldview. /Can't say the same for the prequels though...
    • by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @12:44AM (#23501370) Homepage Journal
      I was actually a "child" of 2001: A Space Odyssey, having seen it in the theater when I was six. I was profoundly fascinated by it and later when I read the book my fascination was only increased. But Star Wars was even more profound, possibly because I saw it on the big screen when I was 15 1/5, the prefect age to identify with Luke Skywalker and his desire to live a life bigger than the one he had inherited. It felt like the movie was made for me. After leaving the theater I was so affected I could barely speak for hours.

      The subsequent films almost never mattered. It was the initial blast that forever sealed Star Wars as one of my top two favorite films.
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hidden_Fortress [wikipedia.org]

    and you have the two bumbling fools, the noble princess, and the hero trekking across hostile territory, doing various good deeds and engaging in various skirmishes. the scope of the movie and the plot are completely different, but you can immediately understand why this movie was the jumping off point for the picaresque characters of C3PO and R2D2

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picaresque_novel [wikipedia.org]

    C3PO and R2D2, using their point of view, is really the most risky and rewarding aspect of star wars. now, i don't think lucas would ever admit it, but i think he was trying to conjure up the same sort of picaresque magic twice... with the character jar jar binks

    except that character was a terrible failure, while C3PO and R2D2 are universally loved. i don't claim to understand why one worked and the other didn't, but clearly jar jar falls flat as a humours bumbling low life antidote to the otherwise deadly serious proceedings, while the two robots rocked in the same sort of role

    which brings me to a final thought: movie magic isn't easy. i think a lot of fanboys need to cut lucas a break. he gave us star wars. did you forget that? ok, he fumbled with the final 3 movies. but holding him in scorn for that, while completely forgetting the first 3, is totally unfair of you. if, in your mind, you can't rise above your own frustrated expectations of the latter 3 movies to still cherish the guy for the first 3, you really are taking star wars way too seriously

    oops

    did i just suggest someone might take star wars too seriously? yikes, gotta run and hide now, i just awoke the rabid partisan fanboy beasts...
    • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Thursday May 22, 2008 @12:39AM (#23501344) Journal

      C3PO and R2D2, using their point of view, is really the most risky and rewarding aspect of star wars. now, i don't think lucas would ever admit it, but i think he was trying to conjure up the same sort of picaresque magic twice... with the character jar jar binks
      The devil's in the details. Just drop all the analysis for a moment and actually watch it for what's there...

      Jar Jar has a high, whiny, irritating voice. He appears to be based on an incredibly offensive stereotype. He looks goofy at best. He's clumsy -- he may try to help, but if he actually does any good, it's only because of pure dumb luck. That's just off the top of my head.

      Comparing him to R2 -- R2 is cute. He's got personality, despite being a machine (almost because of it), and initiative. He usually knows what's going on (moreso than 3PO), and is actually helpful.

      I actually liked most of the prequels alright -- saw the first when I was young enough to enjoy it (even Jar Jar), and didn't have high hopes for the second and third (by then I was old enough to hate Jar Jar). There were a few really horrible moments, and also a few moments worth watching.

      But it does say something when Ryan vs Dorkman [ryanvsdorkman.com] is more fun to watch than most of the lightsaber duels in the actual movies.
      • s/Jar Jar/C3PO (Score:4, Informative)

        by Fred Ferrigno (122319) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @02:07AM (#23501782)
        C3PO has a high, whiny, irritating voice. He appears to be based on an incredibly offensive stereotype. He looks goofy at best. He's clumsy -- he may try to help, but if he actually does any good, it's only because of pure dumb luck.

        I guess the problem is they didn't pair him up with a mute midget... or was that Anakin? No, I suppose he talked too much.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      C3PO and R2D2, using their point of view, is really the most risky and rewarding aspect of star wars. now, i don't think lucas would ever admit it, but i think he was trying to conjure up the same sort of picaresque magic twice... with the character jar jar binks

      I always really enjoyed this aspect of the original trilogy, the following of the two droids, though I never knew where the inspiration had come from. And, when the new movies were announced, I was really hoping that Lucas would do the same. He didn't need a new character for that since C3PO and R2D2 are in them as well. Plus, it would have added some uniformity to the style if all six movies had been done in such a manner.

      which brings me to a final thought: movie magic isn't easy. i think a lot of fanboys need to cut lucas a break. he gave us star wars. did you forget that? ok, he fumbled with the final 3 movies. but holding him in scorn for that, while

      I certainly don't hate Lucas for that. In the same vein, people seem to heap

    • by zippthorne (748122) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @12:50AM (#23501408) Journal
      Well.. perhaps because the robots didn't *bumble*

      I suppose you could argue that C-3PO did some bumbling, but it was pretty quick and typically involved disassembly on his part rather than just getting hit on the noggin and mugging the camera.

      And anyway, goldenrod was only even there to give a exposition for the mute clown*, R-2D2. *almost harlequin, if you read too much into it (you can map almost anything onto commedia dell'arte if you're not careful)

      I think you're right though. In the prime-three, he polished some rocks and got diamonds. In the "first" three, he went looking for diamonds and found glass.
    • by jazzyjrw (950758) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @12:55AM (#23501432)
      The thing that annoyed me the most about Jar-Jar was his cowardice. C3P0 and R2D2 display many brave acts of heroism throughout the series (despite the complaints from C3P0), but Jar-Jar's "triumph" is the result of his clumsiness while he was running away from battle. For which he subsequently receives a medal! It's hard to have much admiration for him.
    • by Benaiah (851593) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @01:39AM (#23501650)
      Its because George Lucas wrote the first movie as a man full of angst. Obviously the eyes he used to see the world was tainted by experience with working with kids on the street. Han-Solo, the shoot first ask questions later, Darth killing enemies and allies alike, torture, the destruction of an entire planet, (and then all of the poor subcontractors working on the Death Star.)
      Then he made the last 3 movies a happy man without a care in the world. He did it for the fans. He had no fire burning in his heart when he did it and it shows.
      • by bckrispi (725257) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @02:13AM (#23501814)

        Its because George Lucas wrote the first movie as a man full of angst. Obviously the eyes he used to see the world was tainted by experience with working with kids on the street. Han-Solo, the shoot first ask questions later, Darth killing enemies and allies alike, torture, the destruction of an entire planet, (and then all of the poor subcontractors working on the Death Star.) Then he made the last 3 movies a happy man without a care in the world. He did it for the fans. He had no fire burning in his heart when he did it and it shows.
        Mmmmkay... You had Anakin wiping out an entire Tuskin village, beheading an unarmed man, slaughtering a room full of children, and murdering all the seperatist leaders before strangling his pregnant wife, and finally being left to immolate in a lake of lava after a duel to the death with his best friend and mentor.

        I honestly have to ask you, how much more fucking "angst" did you want?!
        • by arth1 (260657) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @03:32AM (#23502208) Homepage Journal
          But the victims don't seem alive in the I-III series. They're like cutesy puppies even when played by real humans. You don't feel their deaths as significant, because you can't identify with any of them.

          The sand people from the original flick instill more angst than the Darths in the seprequels.
        • by Benaiah (851593) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @05:29AM (#23502712)
          Oh yeah yeah Episode III was better. But only after all the die hard fans told him that that after episode I was akin to watching care bears and II was more like Dawsons Creek he tried to make it as pointlessly violent as he could. Like personally wiping out all the baby jedi.

          Also its fucking stupid. I mean seriously the transition from anikin from emo teenager to psycopathic child murderer was way to fast for me. I mean at the end after Padme died, i could see that as a turning point into darth, but him killing kids didnt make sense as early in the movie as he did.

          In conclusion the clone wars animated series was far cooler and star wars'y than any of the new George movies.
    • I found Episode III very reminiscent of Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" [wikipedia.org] (by the same Japanese director that made The Hidden Fortress [wikipedia.org].)

      Both movies feature a chivalrous order that has outlived its time, and is defeated by opponents more willing to apply ruthless methods. In Seven Samurai, none of the Samurai die by the sword -- all are shot. In Revenge of the Sith, the same happens to the Jedi: they are defeated not by the Sith as dark counterparts of the Jedi, but are shot down mercilessly.

      Given the strong

  • by syousef (465911) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @12:14AM (#23501216) Journal
    I enjoyed the original and Empire (though Empire felt like it had been cut short). I didn't think much of Ewok-ladden strikes back. The prequels got progressively worse. I was downright disappointed at how lousy the story was given that with the potential it had it should have been powerful and epic. I've even read a couple of novels.

    What I don't get is the obsession with how ti was made. Clearly for the first couple of films the right people were in the right place at the right time. I don't think it was all Lucas by any stretch of the imagination and it's only those 2 films that I'd call good at all, so this idea of Lucas as genius with grand plans and grand vision just doesn't appeal to me. In fact unless you're in the movie business I fail to see how it can hold more than a passing interest. I'd rather watch paint dry than read this ebook cover to cover. I just don't care. I accept that Lucas is a hack who had a miracle year (or two).

    Likewise with the actors. I don't mind Harrison Ford (even if he's getting worse not better as he gets older...Airforce One? What was he thinking!?) but Mark Hammil and Carrie Fisher weren't exactly any good.

    As for continuity? Please! One minute Luke and Leia are about to get hot and heavy, and the next we're told they're brother and sister. Vader as Luke's father was unlikely though plausible, that is until the pathetic explanation that was Episode 3.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @12:27AM (#23501270)
    Why were the prequels so uneven when the originals were so good?

    because those prequels are actually sequels. You know, they were actually made *after* the originals. Like all sequels, they are attempts to milk the cash cow created by the original franchise, i.e. ensure money will be made on the sequels just by vertue of the movie's name. And in many cases, the moviemaker thinks the name alone is enough, and forgets to make the sequel original or exciting because he has cold feets he didn't have when he made the first incarnation.

    Examples of good movies with bad sequels:

    Matrix
    Rambo
    Rocky ... shall I go on? you know them.
    • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Thursday May 22, 2008 @01:19AM (#23501544) Journal

      Like all sequels, they are attempts to milk the cash cow created by the original franchise
      Not all sequels. Stargate wasn't that great of a movie, and I'm guessing wasn't that popular -- but SG-1 became a much better show. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was an incredibly campy, shallow movie, but the TV series actually had depth. (In this case, likely because the writer had much more creative control over the series.)

      And not really in the same league, but I don't think anyone would call Serenity worse than Firefly.

      Chronicles of Riddick -- it's not as if Pitch Black was a particularly good or well-known movie. It wasn't even promoted as a sequel that way. Not saying Riddick was great, but it was better than Pitch Black. But that defies stereotypes anyway -- there was a kind of ok anime, but the best was the videogame.

      One more, while I'm at it: Star Trek. Even numbered movies vs odd.

      Matrix
      I actually didn't think the sequels were that bad. In particular, I think what was probably needed was some serious budget cuts and an editor -- the version we saw in the theaters resembles a "Director's Cut".

      Trim down the absurdly long action scenes, trim down the rambling dialog, and they could actually be good. Want to see the original be bad? Play the Path of Neo videogame.

      Then again, the biggest problem is that it's exactly the same story they told with the original -- The One slowly wakes up, discovers a bigger world, gains new powers, and in the last few minutes of the movie, he has an epiphany and simply solves the problem, Deus Ex Machina style. (The Machine swarm consciousness is even credited as Deus Ex Machina.)
    • by Cadallin (863437) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @01:23AM (#23501572)
      Because Lucas was involved. He had intelligent people willing to tell him to keep his hands off of SW and ESB. The skill of the directors of those films (who are not george lucas) shines through. Lucas is a lousy director, a hack writer, but a very successful businessman.
  • by Schmiggy_JK (867785) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @12:44AM (#23501368)
    This is a huge compilation of information here. There are many quality books that would run you $10-50 in the Star Wars world that don't even touch the depth of this content. Congrats to Michael Kaminski offering up his time, bandwidth, and his love of the series for other fans to enjoy with no cost. I will definitely take the time to read through this, even though being a SW nut myself, I probably know over half of it. If only I could print it out for toilet reading... I don't think I have that much paper laying around. :)
  • by Yergle143 (848772) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @01:02AM (#23501462)
    Unlike those plastic action figures that emerged to commercialize the world forever, 'Star Wars' was an organically fallible piece much more in common with 'American Graffiti' than the blockbuster c--- that has dominated the last 30 years. I was a kid in the seats in 1977 and what captured my heart at the time was the gritty broken chaotic mess of the first film. Droids break, spaceships fragment, bizzare languages permeate every scene, plans go spectacularly awry. Even a kid could see that this was life. Spielberg used to capture this spirit in those wonderful scenes where everybody is talking at once; dialog that doesn't translate to the international export market. We all know, the true sequel of Star Wars is 'Firefly.' ---537
    • by Phics (934282) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @02:02AM (#23501756)
      That was part of the charm of the original trilogy, and something that largely seemed to be absent from the prequels - Lucas' idea of the 'used future'. Ships were ruddy and worn. Decks were scratched. Hulls were scored with carbon from blasters and battle. Even uniforms were marked up.

      This was a very new thing for space films - this was no Flash Gordon show.

      Still, when you look at the remake of Episode IV, check out the stormtroopers who were added in on Tatooine. They really lose that 'used' feel. Now check out Episode I. When did we ever see a glossy mirror-like spaceship in the original trilogy? Everything looks contrived - even the planet of Naboo looks far too pristine to be a credible part of the Star Wars universe.

      The characters are the same way. Where are the grungy smugglers and seedy characters which gave Star Wars its intrigue and appeal? Sure, there were some obvious attempts, but they just didn't come close.

      But having said all that, I agree with you. Firefly was a noble attempt to bring back some of that rustic grubby swashbuckling fun that made Star Wars so fascinating.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hankapobe (1290722)
      'Star Wars' was an organically fallible piece much more in common with 'American Graffiti' than the blockbuster

      Dude, you're reading too much "Rolling Stone".

  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @01:06AM (#23501480)
    Why were the prequels so uneven when the originals were so good?

    By the time the prequels were made, Lucas could afford good Crack and Weed.
    (How else does one explain Jar Jar? "Meesa so high...")

  • by Adambomb (118938) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @01:08AM (#23501494) Journal
    But was anyone able to get past the introduction without the whole thing starting to narrate in ones head with the Simpson's Comic Book guy voice?

  • by trveler (214816) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @02:34AM (#23501896)
    I thought this was covered in Geroge Lucas in Love [youtube.com].
  • by Bryan Ischo (893) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @03:13AM (#23502094) Homepage
    I haven't read the whole thing. But so far it doesn't really seem to have many qualities of a real 'book'. It feels more like a really long usenet post that was broken up into chapters and then converted into PDF. Reading the foreword and introduction makes me realize what professional editors get paid for. Obviously no editing was performed on this 'book' because it's far too verbose and also has simple grammatical errors that any editor or proofreader would have found.

    Not to say that it's not worth reading, or that the author shouldn't be commended for his efforts. I'm just saying that it doesn't quite live up to the hype of being called a 'book', which makes it sound like quite a bit more than it really is.

    It's not a book, it's a usenet post (or 'blog post' for the youngsters around here) in book form.
  • Lucas was like Roddenberry, great ideas, but they need to let other more talented writers and such do the polishing of the raw stones into gems. When Gene was heavily involved in the early years of TNG, it was /terrible/, and I say this as a die hard trekkie. When his role was reduced, the show began to shine. all the facets of what Trek could be were able to be explored. And when untalented people got ahold of the franchise (most of Voyager, the first three seasons of Enterprise) it went into the toilet (Season 4 of ENT was genius, Manny Coto is one smart cookie). Same with Star Wars. I'm not a huge SW guy, but I liked the first three, and saw huge problems with the prequel set that a good editor and writer could have fixed very quickly.

    Story wise, Episode 1 needed cut down to about 15 minutes of intro for Episode 2, which is now Episode 1. This is a common problem with movies and TV shows, in that too many writers think we need to be introed to our characters at the dawn of time. It's much better when we join the story already at a decent pace and get the background filled in along the way. This lets the viewer/reader get interested in what's happening without having to spend time in school learning about the history of our characters first. If we wanted school, we'd read a textbook. Also, kill the midichlorian crap, excise JarJar Binks. Midichlorians stole the wonder from The force and JarJar wasn't taht great a merchandising tool anyway, as I STILL see Ep1 crap at the local Big Lots.

    Episode 3 is now Episode 2, except for the last 15 minutes or so. This should end when Kenobi leaves Whinykin, er, Anakin, truncated on the volcano. Ep3 picks up there and we spend the next 2 hours seeing the creation of Darth Vader and how he builds the Empire and WHY. Only knowing that can we truly appreciate him turning on the emperor in Ep6, and what it means for him to look on his son with is own eyes.
  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @05:54AM (#23502830)
    I have a theory I call the Marx Brothers Syndrome and it works like this:

    The Marx Brothers are old and boring today. A person having never seen them before will sit down in front of one of their classics and know all the jokes and nuances and just walk away.

    If they were so great, why is this so?

    It is because the were great, one of the greatest! Everyone in the business learned their tricks, copied their jokes, and expanded and improved on their dialog and themes. Now the Marx Brothers look diminished in comparison to what has developed after.

    The same is true for Star Wars. It was great when it came out. It covered new ground. It did things that people had never seen before. In a lot of ways Star Wars was "dreadful." Today, I watch it and think Luke is such a whiner and C3PO shouldn't be an uptight english comic book character.

    I think the episodes 1,2, and 3 suffered from the Marx Brothers Syndrome because the story, dialog, and "film making" of "Star Wars" has always been fairly flawed and needs to show us something new to allow us to overlook the weaknesses. Unfortunately, the cutting edge for special effects is irrelevant. Once you crossed over the "miniatures and props methodology" to CGI, improvements are now only incremental.

    Star Wars fails because we already know it. We've seen it before in a thousand different ways since 1977. We already know the special effects. We have seen enough space opera, complete with bad dialog and acting, that there is almost nothing that would surprise us.

    IMHO, Star Wars was ground breaking, but the space opera is as depleted a genre as the american western.
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @07:27AM (#23503440)
    1. George Lucas is a terrible writer.

    2. He wrote tons of different drafts for Star Wars, all universally awful, even the better parts he stole from better stories.

    3. George Lucas had enough success to get $10 million to make a movie but he was nowhere close to being the Beard. He says "Fuck you, I'm George Lucas," they say "George who?" So he couldn't do everything his way, he had to listen to the input of others.

    4. The genius of the whole Star Wars project is that Lucas served as a catalyst to bring hundreds of talented people together to make good movies. As Harrison Ford told him, "George, you can write lines like this but you sure as hell can't say them!" He hated, absolutely hated the way Empire turned out. But because he didn't have enough money to reshoot the material, he had to accept what he was given. And it was arguably the strongest of the original trilogy.

    5. Because he had to listen to others, his best ideas were polished up to be brilliant, his worst ideas discarded, and good ideas from others were welded into the structure that is Star Wars. And it was good.

    6. After all that success, the Beard is seen as having made it happen. And for the new trilogy, he felt he could do it on his own. And like the egotistical singer from a rock band who thinks the rest of the act is holding him back, he finds out in his solo career that he really doesn't have the chops to stand on his own. But in this case, the fanbase is so uncritical, so slavish, that he still has massive success even as he's shoveling steaming feces down their throats; they just smack their lips and beg for more.

    That's Star Wars in a nutshell.
  • by bkr1_2k (237627) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @07:48AM (#23503668)
    I gave up my nerd credentials years ago. I choose to retain my "geek" credentials though.

    If you don't understand the difference, you really are a nerd.

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