Jim Smith said:
Yep, Georgie boy was definitely making things up as he went along. He never should’ve fired Gary Kurtz. Return of the Jedi was originally going to be about as dark as The Empire Strikes Back but George scrapped that idea much to my chagrin. Instead they went with the version of episode 6 that follows a lot of the same beats as episode 4 does. It’s also quite similar to episode 7. Too much repetition in this saga if ya ask me.
“Return of the Jedi was originally going to be about as dark as The Empire Strikes Back”
The way Lucas described “book three” back in Dec 1975 says otherwise:
“In the third book I want the story to be just about the soap opera of the Skywalker family, which ends with the destruction of the Empire.”
The third “book” they talks about was NOT ROTJ. This was to be the later episodes. Right up until ROTJ was in pre-production, ROTJ was not to be the final episode. The confrontation with the Emperor and defeat of the empire was to have been in those later episodes. Episode 6 WAS originally going to be darker. With Luke being separated from his friends at the end, going off to search for his sister (who was not Leia). When Lucas decided he didn’t want to make any more SW films, he brought those plans forward, dropped the search for the “other” Skywalker and made Leia the sister.
No, book three means book three, not books 3,4,5, and 6. The idea of stretching the story out for 3/4 more movies comes from Gary Kurtz in the 90’s. There’s nothing from the late 70’s of Kurtz and co. mentioning the current story being stretched into Episodes 7-8-9. Those episodes were to be the sequel trilogy featuring the trio as older characters. I would take things Lucas and Kurtz said during meetings in 1975 over what either one of them says in latter days.*
I wish I still had the Alan Arnold “Once Upon A Galaxy” making of ESB book (1980). I seem to remember in that book or in an issue of Starlog from 80 or 81 Kurtz expressing concern with the way ESB is structured that it leaves the third film to resolve everything (!). Kurtz’ concern for the following movie may have been the impetus for proposing that the story get extended for three of four more films. edit: But once Kurtz is on record saying it in the late nineties or so, all of a sudden it becomes the “gospel” of what-was-the-original-plan for the saga.
*I do believe that ever since the OT came out both Lucas AND Kurtz have obfuscated things about how the original trilogy was supposed to go