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Post #122495

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Quotes from Gary Kurtz
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11-Jul-2005, 6:01 PM
Gary Kurtz was a producer who worked alongside George Lucas on the first two Star Wars films, "A New Hope" and "The Empire Strikes Back." He is often credited with helping make the films the classics they are considered today. His absence was felt on the disappointing "Return of the Jedi," which didn't live up to its promise. Here are some interview snippets from Kurtz talking about his involvement with Star Wars.

"Well, the original idea was that it was supposed to be there. It is in the script ... but it was a guy, a human being, this sort of fat guy... looked a bit like Sydney Greenstreet... and the scene is pretty much, I mean dialogue wise, it's exactly what you see in the Special Edition. But it was a person that was there, and we had technical difficulties with that scene. We shot it over three times for camera problems, focus problems, and film stock problem, and then abandoned it because we ran out of time."

"We just said, "Well, the bulk of the information that comes across in that scene, about Jabba threatening Han Solo and wanting his money and all of that, we could get across in the scene in the Cantina, with Greedo." It's basically the same kind of information. So we just added some bits to the Greedo scene to make it a little bit longer that gets across that information, and then jettisoned that other scene. This all happened while we were shooting. It wasn't done in the cutting room."

(as drafted in 1980).
EPISODE 1: Was to focus on the origins of the Jedi Knights and how they are initiated and trained
EPISODE 2: Introduction and development of Obi-Wan Kenobi
EPISODE 3: Introduction and life of Vader
EPISODE 4: There were seven different drafts of the film. At one point, they pursued buying the rights to Hidden Fortress because of the strong similarities. At one point, Luke was a female, Han was Luke's brother, Luke's father was the one in prison (interesting point for some debates) and the film featured 40 wookies
EPISODE 5: Once written, the screenplay of Empire is almost exactly what is seen on screen. The only cut scenes were those involving wampas in the rebel base (cut because of time and unsolved technical glitches) and about two minutes of Luke/Yoda Jedi training with no real dialog.
EPISODE 6: Leia was to be elected "Queen of her people" leaving her isolated. Han was to die. Luke confronted Vader and went on with his life alone. Leia was not to be Luke's sister.
EPISODE 7: Third trilogy was to focus on Luke's life as a Jedi, with very few details planned out. EPISODE 8: Luke's sister (not Leia) appears from another part of the galaxy.
EPISODE 9: First appearance of the Emperor.

"At that time, he always said that he had enough material for three earlier films and three later films, to make a total of nine, and there were outlined materials certainly for a later three that culminated with this big clash with the Emperor in Episode IX. So, we'll never see any of those, based on what he's said now."

"Well a lot of the prequel ideas were very, very vague. It's really difficult to say. I can't remember much about that at all, except dealing with the Clone Wars and the formation of the Jedi Knights in the first place – that was supposed to be one of the keys of Episode I, was going to be how the Jedi Knights came to be. But all of those notes were abandoned completely."

"One of the reasons Jedi came out the way it did was because the story outline of how Jedi was going to be seemed to get tossed out, and one of the reasons I was really unhappy was the fact that all of the carefully constructed story structure of characters and things that we did in Empire was going to carry over into Jedi. The resolution of that film was going to be quite bittersweet, with Han Solo being killed, and the princess having to take over as queen of what remained of her people, leaving everybody else. In effect, Luke was left on his own. None of that happened, of course."

"It would have been quite sad, and poignant and upbeat at the same time, because they would have won a battle. But the idea of another attack on another Death Star wasn't there at all ... it (Jedi) was a rehash of Star Wars, with better visual effects. And there were no Ewoks ... it was just entirely different. It was much more adult and straightforward, the story"

(original prequel vision) "Some of the treatments had references to that and episode one was going to be about the origin of the Jedi and the killing off of the Sith Lords and much more kind of archetypal, political aspects."

(original sequel vision) "Yes, it was very vague. It was Luke's journey really up to becoming sort of the premiere Jedi knight in the Obi-Wan Kenobi mold and his ultimate confrontation with the emperor. That was the outline of it and all that happens."

"There's a lot of undercurrent in Star Wars that, if you take it on the surface, a four-year-old can really enjoy it – but there's a lot else going on, under there. In that sense it's multi-layered, and Empire is as well. That's the thing that bothered me a bit about Jedi and certainly about Episode I, is that those layers, those subtexts – they're all gone. They're not there. You accept what's there on the screen – it either works for you as a surface adventure, or it doesn't. But that's all there is. There's nothing to ponder."

(More on "Jedi")
"The one story thread that got totally tossed out the window, which was really pretty important I think, was the one of Vader trying to convince Luke to join him to overthrow the Emperor. That together they had enough power that they could do that, and it wasn't him saying I want to take over the world and be the evil leader, it was that transition. It was Vader saying, "I'm looking again at what I've done and where my life has gone and who I've served and, very much in the Samurai tradition, and saying if I can join forces with my son, who is just as strong as I am, that maybe we can make some amends." So there was all of that going on in Jedi as well, that was supposed to go on."

"So the story was quite a bit more poignant and the ending was the coronation of Leia as the queen of what was left of her people, to take over the royal symbol. That meant she was then isolated from all of the rest and Luke went off then by himself. It was basically a kind of bittersweet ending. She's not his sister that dropped in to wrap up everything neatly. His sister was someone else way over on the other side of the galaxy and she wasn't going to show up until the next episode."

(More on "Phantom")
"There was an article in the Times about the racial and ethnic stereotypes. Of course Lucas Films official line is, "Well it's in another planet so it's just a race of creatures." But, you look at it and say, "Wait a minute, if the only context that we have is the Earth, so if you're going to do a race of primitive, tribal type people they're going to be equated with primitive, tribal type people, no matter what."

(on Anakin) "From a mythological point of view, I would have like to have seen him older. Because a 12 year-old is the one, that's when you come of age. The age when you leave home, it's the age when you're torn away from your mother metaphorically. I think that would have worked better for people."

"One of the story things that bothers me about it, is you don't have any sense of who the Jedi are. They're just referred to as these amazing characters. Ewan McGregor is supposed to be an apprentice so he's not even supposed to be as good as Liam Neeson, you don't see that either, you don't see any training. The biggest thing that bothers me about Phantom Menace as far as I'm concerned is the destruction of the spiritual center of