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The Secret History of Star Wars

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For the better part of two years now i have been working on a book, which i have since titled "The Secret History of Star Wars." Its something that should be of interest to everyone in this forum and i think would benefit everyone to read it. It explores the writing and creation of the series, beginning before Lucas even wrote his first treatment in 1973 and tracing how that document came into existance, showing how the film was developed draft by draft and year by year. It explores how Darth Vader was merged with Luke Skywalker's father in 1978, forever altering the course of the series, how Darth Vader was turned into a sympathetic character in 1981 and then redeemed, and how the prequel stories came to be and shifted the franchise into a new six-film series, and basically charts the evolution of the series, shattering many myths and presenting some very seldom known facts. I also added a bunch of appendices to address other tangential issues, one of the more interesting ones being an uncovering of what the mysterious "Journal of the Whills" actually is.

There has never really been something as ambituous and far-reaching as this ever done in the fan community, which takes all the x-factors and disconnected little bits of knowledge and finally puts them all together in a cohesive "answer." In a way, that is what i hope this is--a sort of answer, a way for people to finally understand "ah, so that is how that happened." It explains the how, when and why of the Star Wars story itself.

It would be impossible to post this in the thread as some people do with their essays--it clocks in at over 400 pages--but i built a website for it. The book is available for download in PDF format and is just under 4 MB in size. A hefty read? I suppose so. But i guarantee that it will be worth it.

http://secrethistoryofstarwars.com

Also, to put an OT.com spin on it, although the book deals with the overall saga, and most people here will definitly enjoy the first six chapters on the origninal trilogy, the remaining four on the creation of the PT may be of interest--it may shed some light on "where the films went wrong." You can see how, where and why Lucas slowly began changing elements in the universe, and how the first draft of TPM was more along the lines of what we wanted to see--and see why and how he changed it into the TPM that we ended up with and how this affected the following two films. Its also very interesting to see how drastically ROTS was changed--the most major changes occuring after the film was even shot!
I don't have a "fan preservation" video to add to the community so in a way this is my fan preservation--it collects all the information and quotes that are seldom heard and are in danger of being swallowed up by time (ie Lucas original quotes on planning twelve films, Marcia Lucas' thoughts on the divorce, etc.).

enjoy!

http://secrethistoryofstarwars.com

The Secret History of Star Wars -- now available on Amazon.com!

"When George went back and put new creatures into the original Star Wars, I find that disturbing. It’s a revision of history. That bothers me."

--James Cameron, Entertainment Weekly, April 2010

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This looks very interesting. I will definitely check it out and tell you what I thought.


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Hey, this looks very cool. The current issue of Star Wars Insider has an article on how the prequel's "came to be" and how original ideas for the OT were used. I have not read it, but it may be of interest to your project. If you know of it or have read it, please ignor this post.
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I am absolutely speechless......... This is definately one of the biggest projects a fan has ever made! I hope It will gain attention and stir up much controversy and discussion!

So, A VERY HUGE THANK YOU from me!
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I have read some of the part on the Journal of the Whills, and it is very informative. Great work!


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This beats the hell out of most of the fan-edit projects. Excellent work!

http://i.imgur.com/7N84TM8.jpg

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Great work Zombie, I started reading it and couldn't stop it was so interesting. If Lucas just admitted to all this stuff in a documentary, I probably wouldn't have any problems with him changing the saga to where it is now. It is more admirable to saying that he kept reconfiguring the saga as each episode approached rather then having this all planned in the mid 70's. This book is a true example where humbleness breeds respect, and by Lucas constantly saying this and that and the fanbase exposing the lies for 30 years, you have the fans telling the real story rather then the creator.
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Wow, Nice effort. I'm only 20 pages deep but from what I've read so far i'm impressed and I'll definitely finish it.
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Wow! Great work. Thanks a lot for sharing.
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Great book, Zombie. I read the appendixes on the 'Journal of the Whills' and the lost drafts sections, and found it very interesting. I'm certainly going to finish reading it now. Good Job!
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Wow, excellent work. "A real page turner!"

It's always seemed to me that the notion that "kids didn't like Empire" was a mistake. More like "kids DID like Empire, just not as much." That had a big impact on Jedi, and it didn't have to.
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Deserves to be an actual print book. People would/should buy & read something like this. You need a publisher asap.
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But wouldn't he require some sort of license from LFL to be allowed to publish a book containing such information about Star Wars? And, even though I have yet to read it (I will, though, I promise. It sounds very enlightening), it doesn't seem like the kind of thing that George would want out there.

There is no lingerie in space...

C3PX said: Gaffer is like that hot girl in high school that you think you have a chance with even though she is way out of your league because she is sweet and not a stuck up bitch who pretends you don't exist... then one day you spot her making out with some skinny twerp, only on second glance you realize it is the goth girl who always sits in the back of class; at that moment it dawns on you why she is never seen hanging off the arm of any of the jocks... and you realize, damn, she really is unobtainable after all. Not that that is going to stop you from dreaming... Only in this case, Gaffer is actually a guy.

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I've only just begun reading this, but what i've read so far is great. A true shame that you might never get to publish it, b/c it certainly deserves to be in print.
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Could've done without your Christianity comment at the beginning.... but otherwise what a professional, thorough job! What a lot of work.

But there's NO way this could really be published, because it makes Lucas look like a complete fool in the latter part of his life
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It doesn't make him look like a fool. It humanizes him, more than anything. I mean, how many people remember everything they've ever said....especially in a 30 year span?

The greatest thing this shows is the creative process of ALL films. Whether he was lying, he forgot, he's spinning, or he just naturally changed his mind on alot of decisions concerning Star Wars, it just shows a guy continually altering his art until he gets it where he wants it.

The truth about Lucas, as in all things, lies somewhere in the middle.

Interesting and informative write-up, zombie....
Twisted by the Dark Side, young Skywalker has become. The boy you trained, gone he is. Consumed by Darth Vader.

-Yoda; Episode III Revenge of the Sith.
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Originally posted by: Jumpman
It doesn't make him look like a fool. It humanizes him, more than anything. I mean, how many people remember everything they've ever said....especially in a 30 year span?

The greatest thing this shows is the creative process of ALL films. Whether he was lying, he forgot, he's spinning, or he just naturally changed his mind on alot of decisions concerning Star Wars, it just shows a guy continually altering his art until he gets it where he wants it.

The truth about Lucas, as in all things, lies somewhere in the middle.

Interesting and informative write-up, zombie....


It really depends on the specific issue. For certain things you can see that he just plain forgot or "mis-remembered" how things happened, which is why the earlier quotes of his where his memory is still fresh are the most valuable (for instance in the Rolling Stone 1977 interview he very clearly describes the specific earlier drafts in fair detail, but by today he only speaks about them in general and often inaccurate terms). For other issues he has actually cleared up previous misconceptions and admitted to the vagueness of his own story, such as his recent admission to how much of the ROTJ story was "stretched thin" and had to be padded, and ditto for TPM and AOTC. Other subjects he is very clearly lying about, in bold and often ridiculous ways--such as his recent claim that his original script was The Tragedy of Darth Vader. But once you get past the frustration of dealing with all the times the true nature of the saga has remained obfuscated and hidden, there is a deeper respect to be found in the fluid and serrendipitous way with which the story was continuously invented. From the 1973 treatment to the 1977 film we have two completely different series, and from the 1977 film to the 1980 sequel we have yet another totally different series, one that splinters again with the developments in ROTJ and then splinters even more drastically for the prequels, ending with yet another totally different series, and each one of these was mostly made up as it was written and was beset with unexpected last-minute changes. Its fascinating to look at it this way. My conclusion for all of the misleading sentiments about having everything pre-written is insecurity--with the saga upheld as the century's eminent mythology, Lucas had to satisfy the public expectation that all was in capable hands and proceeding according to his meticulous planning, when really he was just making most of it up as he went.

In this respect, yes, it very much humanises him and reveals the man beneath the "Storyteller" and "Creator" facade. I think most people will have a new understanding and respect for him if they read this and discover a more honest account of how the saga was shaped, even if they are exposed to some dishonesties of his.

The Secret History of Star Wars -- now available on Amazon.com!

"When George went back and put new creatures into the original Star Wars, I find that disturbing. It’s a revision of history. That bothers me."

--James Cameron, Entertainment Weekly, April 2010

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zombie,

Which is all very true...but some of what you've written will be used as an "I told you so" mantra when it comes to the Prequels. For me, having read many of his interviews, it was pretty clear that he was making this stuff up as he went on or "mis-remembers" certain aspects and remembers others perfectly well. It is very interesting but at the end of the day, it just goes to show how all-encompassing the creative process is when it comes to film.

I mean, this guy literally to the last moments in the editing room of Episode III, was still shaping the overall thematic structure of the saga, even though the five previous films were already done. I find that fascinating that he can ever do that.

Some would see your essay as the definitive evidence as to why the Prequels "don't work." I find it as evidence that the films themselves have flaws but the whole of the Saga is perfect.

Some of your conclusions I don't agree with, but you do provide ample evidence to said conclusions...most of the time. Again, it's a very informative write-up, you've produced. And, I'm glad you're putting it out there.
Twisted by the Dark Side, young Skywalker has become. The boy you trained, gone he is. Consumed by Darth Vader.

-Yoda; Episode III Revenge of the Sith.
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Originally posted by: Davis
Could've done without your Christianity comment at the beginning.... but otherwise what a professional, thorough job! What a lot of work.

But there's NO way this could really be published, because it makes Lucas look like a complete fool in the latter part of his life


Do you have a problem with christianity?


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Originally posted by: Jumpman
zombie,

Which is all very true...but some of what you've written will be used as an "I told you so" mantra when it comes to the Prequels. For me, having read many of his interviews, it was pretty clear that he was making this stuff up as he went on or "mis-remembers" certain aspects and remembers others perfectly well. It is very interesting but at the end of the day, it just goes to show how all-encompassing the creative process is when it comes to film.

I mean, this guy literally to the last moments in the editing room of Episode III, was still shaping the overall thematic structure of the saga, even though the five previous films were already done. I find that fascinating that he can ever do that.

Some would see your essay as the definitive evidence as to why the Prequels "don't work." I find it as evidence that the films themselves have flaws but the whole of the Saga is perfect.

Some of your conclusions I don't agree with, but you do provide ample evidence to said conclusions...most of the time. Again, it's a very informative write-up, you've produced. And, I'm glad you're putting it out there.


I agree with you, and i think that 90% of the time, when he changed things it was for the better. I think Revenge of the Sith is actually quite decent but if he hadn't changed it, if he had left it as it was shot, i probably would think that it sucked as much as AOTC did, so i am glad that he made such drastic character changes in the editing. The only instance where his changes hurt the story is in TPM and this is in a very indirect way--its not that the story was made worse (i happen to think it was but this is just my personal opinion) but that the following two films were very much affected and compromised in ways that Lucas himself didn't fully realise at the time. Thats the real problem. AOTC was hampered by the fact that everything had to be re-introduced and sped through, and so it came off as disjointed and shallow, and then when he started writing ROTS he realised that he had sabotaged himself from the start so he had to totally re-write the story treatment in the summer of 2002 because "the bridge to Episode IV" was still way too far apart, as he says. Basically a three-film arc was squeezed into two films, and even then AOTC was still fairly irrelavant to the actual story by Lucas' own admission.

Really though, i don't think these things can really be used as significant "anti-prequel" fire--the prequels were lacklustre because the characters, pacing, directing and writing were weak, not because the story turned out a certain way. If the story for TPM, AOTC and ROTS were identical to the final film but handled with more convincing characters, scripting and performances i don't think there would be a lot of backlash--its really the execution rather than the overall plot itself, for most people anyway, though obviously the plot impacts the dynamics of the characters.

The Secret History of Star Wars -- now available on Amazon.com!

"When George went back and put new creatures into the original Star Wars, I find that disturbing. It’s a revision of history. That bothers me."

--James Cameron, Entertainment Weekly, April 2010

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zombie,

With Episode I, I definitely agree as I'm sure many, many fans do that there is an alternative version of Episode I and we pretty much know what that is. At the same time, I see what Lucas was thinking...even if he went a tad too far.

Sure, he could've shown Anakin, as a teenager, to be just as sweet and as innocent and selfless as he is in the film now. But, like all teenagers even if they are only raised by one parent, tend to want to get away from the nest and tend to be a tad rebellious in those teenager years. And if he had done that, there would've been no mystery to Anakin turning into Darth Vader.

At least, at the age of 9, you could literally reflect after the film was over and truly wonder how the hell "that kid" becomes Darth Vader after witnessing the character in Episode I.

I mean, for Lucas, it comes down to two options; do it the way I've hinted at in interviews and what's been hinted at in the EU or go in a totally different, dangerous direction.

The majority felt that the totally different, dangerous direction is what killed the Prequels from day one. But there are some who see what he was going for and believes it works....

But, truly, his decision did change how would eventually come out. For the record, I don't have a problem with the 10 year gap between Episodes I and II. There was enough, in Hayden's performance, to make the connection between how the character was in the first film and what you can infer within that 10 year gap when Episode II starts.

Twisted by the Dark Side, young Skywalker has become. The boy you trained, gone he is. Consumed by Darth Vader.

-Yoda; Episode III Revenge of the Sith.
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I have not read it yet, but am lookiing forward to it. I do have a question - Is the book in it's complete form, or are you still doing revisions?
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Originally posted by: 20th Century Mark
I have not read it yet, but am lookiing forward to it. I do have a question - Is the book in it's complete form, or are you still doing revisions?


In a few months time I'll probably clean up a few things that are bothering me like some grammar and probably add an index, and my section on Journal of the Whills will unfortunately have a fairly significant re-edit, which i will probably post as its own summarised article--in other words, don't worry about waiting for fear of re-reading anything. The book is done. Anything added will be mentioned on the website.

The Secret History of Star Wars -- now available on Amazon.com!

"When George went back and put new creatures into the original Star Wars, I find that disturbing. It’s a revision of history. That bothers me."

--James Cameron, Entertainment Weekly, April 2010

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“Always loved Vader’s wordless self sacrifice. Another shitty, clueless, revision like Greedo and young Anakin’s ghost. What a fucking shame.” -Simon Pegg.