I see it as how much the Dark Side cost. He looked older than he was. I wish they would have cast someone more age appropriate, but I think he produced the desired effect. You can’t really look at any of the cast ages in Star Wars.
So, all my ramblings aside (I’m probably starting to sound like a broken record at this point), most people will most likely continue to label anything with spaceships as sci-fi and anything with wizards as fantasy, so all we can really do is provide sub-genres for those of us who do care about the minutiae of fiction. But I find it especially fun to challenge the genre definitions of Star Wars in particular as the very first movie basically has a wizard in a spaceship.
And then you have Star Wars with spaceships and wizards. For me the ESP-ness of the Force places this in Space Opera.
Oh, I agree, there’s definitely a lot of genre overlap with SW. And much of sci-fi does defy any single label. However, since science fiction has the word “science” in it I personally tend to equate it to the term speculative fiction which implies at least a certain degree of what’s being shown will be plausible one day. SW doesn’t really fit into that genre, nor does the Barsoom stories. Now, obviously there’s a lot that isn’t realistic in much of sci-fi, with Star Trek being a very good example. But as I said in my Addendum #2 the premise is one of exploration and there’s always some attempts at keeping the technology somewhat within the realm of possibility, except for when it prevents the stories from being told (like how there is no time-dilation in warp-travel, etc.). Plus, much of the pseudo-science, like telepathy, was believed at the time it was made to be real science, so it was at least an attempt at science fiction.
Besides, I’m not really denying that SW has elements of sci-fi in it, like it does with so many other genre as well, but “Star Wars is surrealism, sci-fi, a western, a samurai film, a space-opera, a fairy-tale, and so forth” doesn’t make for a very eye-catching title. And I do think that it is primarily a fantasy/fairy-tale at it’s core, while the rest are mostly aesthetic influences.
I also think it’s interesting how the sci-fi genre originated in a time when space travel seemed so absurd to people that it might as well have been fantasy, so weather you were reading Burroughs, Doc Smith, Wells or even Robert E. Howard, it was all classified as “science fantasy.” Then after the first satellite, the first man in space and finally the moon-landing in the 50’s & 60’s then suddenly the absurdity of some of the old science fantasy stories didn’t seem all that crazy anymore, and people started to differentiate authors like H.G. Wells from Edgar Rice Burroughs, with the former retaining the science fiction label while the latter gradually being reclassified more and more as fantasy (or Sword & Planet to be more specific).
Well, there is what things ARE called and there is what they should be called. What we call Science Fiction should really be Technology Fiction. Think about it, no matter how much science, the stories all deal with some level of technology. Sometimes, like Steampunk, it is backwards extrapolation of what could have been in a past time. But always technology. Similarly Fantasy is really Magical Fiction. All the stories deal with magic in some way, from magic creatures, to wizards and talismans.
But we are kind of stuck with how the genre names have come down to us and how they are used. Unfortunatley Speculative Fiction is the current umbrella term for all Science Fiction and Fantasy and a bit of Horror as well. Bookstores don’t use it, but writers, agents, and publishers do. And movies are never as divided as literature. Everything even remotely science fiction gets thrown under that label. I have seen some adoption of the term space fantasy, but that is usually just space opera rebranded. A lot of it is just semantics. The word science throws a lot of people off. Asimov usually populated his stories with scientists, but the plausibility of his stories was no better than Burroughs or Star Wars. Especially his Mule and Second Foundation and then the Robots he made responsible for those abilities. But being a scientists himself, he was always good at making his leaps sound logical and plausible even if they were not at all.
This topic dredges up that old topic we’ve addressed around here before, what is science fiction. Some think Science Fiction only realistic, science based stories (specifically labeled Hard Science Fiction). The history of the genre makes it clear that Space Opera, the lighter more free portion of the genre the developed out of the Planetary Romances of Edgar Rice Burroughs, is just as integral to the overall science fiction genre as hard SF is. And it is funny how Asimov is considered hard SF. A lot of his work is far more on the Space Opera side then hard SF. Especially his Robots/Empire/Foundation setting that so obviously had an impact on Star Wars. Lucas himself labeled Star Wars as Space Opera, which it most certainly is. In Space Opera, hard realism takes a back seat to story and it is up the writer to make the audience believe. People steeped in science have always loved to poke holes in Space Opera. Often it is only feasible on a theoretical level. Sometimes not even then. Space Opera writers end up writing quasi-science to give an air of authenticity and possibility to things like ESP, FTL and so many things that current science says are not possible. A lot of that is based on the reality that at one point in time, breaking the sound barrier or going to the moon was considered impossible.
A truth I’ve discovered about most fiction is that it can usually fit in more than one category. There is room to call Star Wars science fiction, space opera, fairy tale and other things. Even a space western or space Samurai cinema. But rather then saying it should not be called X, we should be saying it can be called W, X, Y, and Z. I call it space opera (a subset of Science Fiction) because that is actually my favorite genre and I am well read and well watched in it.
When it comes to the fall of Rome, historians will typically say something about how Rome never really fell, it slowly faded away over centuries, but if you really need a specific date, here are some good candidates (235 AD, 476 AD, 1453, etc). One of these is usually used as THE date Rome fell (476), but almost always with the clarification that that’s not actually how it worked out.
Another Roman history buff? Excellent! My personal view is that Roman civilization disappeared starting with the The Last Persian War of 610-628 and then the Great Islamic Invasions 6 years later. The state that emerged at the end of this period a century later was not recognizable as Roman civilization any longer.
Maybe it could be something like that with the Galactic Republic/Empire. Here’s the date where the Jedi were officially declared enemies of the state. Here’s the date where the position of Emperor was created. Here’s when the Republic began imperializing the Outer Rim. Here’s the first major policy shift away from democracy toward autocracy. Et cetera.
My own attempt to create a backstory for the OT that I am working on in the script writing/re-writing section takes this approach. It starts with government corruption and economic difficulties (a widening gap between rich and poor), then comes The Clone Wars, then comes The Emperor. Even in the official canon we get a glimpse of this idea; in TPM Shmi effectively tells Padme that Republic authority has ceased to exist on Tatooine.
Maybe the date where the Jedi were declared enemies of the state is the 476 AD of the Republic/Empire. Generally accepted to be the turning point, where yesterday you had the Republic, today you have the Empire, but it’s just a convention created millennia later. Not all that much actually changed, and other historians in other contexts would use different dates for different reasons.
It would seem likely that the Jedi would not accept the end of democratic rule sitting down. So the destruction of the order would have to take place before, or almost concurrent with, Palpatine’s assumption of the title of Emperor. However; in the novelization to Star Wars Obi-wan talks about “the later corrupt Emperors”. This opens the possibility to the idea that there was an initial Emperor who was perhaps a benevolent despot - seizing power in order to save the Republic. Perhaps the Jedi served, albeit grudgingly, under the initial Emperor.
Problem is, all of the above would seem to contradict the novels opening crawl where it states that the Jedi had been exterminated at the behest of the corrupt government (the Moffs and Grand Moffs I would guess), that Palpatine declared himself Emperor (implying there were no prior Emperors). Here is the relevant text:
Aided and abetted by restless, power-hungry individuals within the government, and the massive organs of commerce, the ambitious Senator Palpatine caused himself to be elected President of the Republic. He promised to reunite the disaffected among the people and to restore the remembered glory of the Republic.
Once secure in office he declared himself Emperor, shutting himself away from the populace. Soon he was controlled by the very assistants and boot-lickers he had appointed to high office, and the cries of the people for justice did not reach his ears.
Having exterminated through treachery and deception the Jedi Knights, guardians of justice in the galaxy, the Imperial governors and bureaucrats prepared to institute a reign of terror among the disheartened worlds of the galaxy. Many used the Imperial forces and the name of the increasingly isolated Emperor to further their own personal ambitions.
This also implies that Palpatine might not be completely evil. The line that “the cries of the people for justice did not reach his ears” seems to imply that he was being kept in the dark (no pun intended) on what was going on in the Republic. The Moffs and Grand Moffs were the true rulers of The Galaxy Far Far Away.
You have to remember when reading that last part that Palpatine was constantly being duplicitous. His character of Senator/Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine was seen to be easily manipulatable. But as Darth Sidious, he was always controlling things Even the Emperor we get in the OT is an evil and powerful being who could not be controlled by others. He used tricks and the force to get the politicians and bureaucrats to convince him as Emperor to act. So on the surface the Emperor is a puppet, but in reality he is controlling the politicians and bureaucrats who think they are controlling him. An excellent way to maintain power.
Completely spitballing, it’s possible the Republic could have transitioned into the Empire gradually enough that you really can’t strictly say Year X was the Republic, Year Y was the Empire. There’s nothing textual that supports this, but it fits in with the metaphor for American Imperialism.
This firmly plants the start of the Empire at their birth. Why? Vader did not know Luke had a sister which means he was not present at the birth. So the event that turned Vader and started the Empire happened between conception and birth of the twins.
I don’t think we can necessarily assume that Vader turning to the dark side and the rise of the Empire happened at the same time.
There may not have been a moment as you lived through it, but historians would be able to pinpoint a moment when a key thing changed. Hunting down the Jedi could be that key thing.
Well, completely ignoring the PT, I get the following.
Luke. In ANH we find that Vader hunted down the Jedi. Luke’s father died (in ANH there is nothing linking Anakin and Vader). So we can come to the conclusion that the events where the Empire rose were not earlier than Luke’s conception. Anakin knew of Luke’s at least impending birth before he died.
Leia. Kenobi severed her father in the Clone Wars. This doesn’t tie specifically to Leia’s age, but does pin down her father being of the generation of the Clone Wars.
Kenobi. He speaks of the Jedi, before the Empire, before the Dark times. There is no clear link between what he says and the Clone Wars, only that he and Anakin both fought in the Clone Wars. So Kenobi, Anakin, and Leia’s father were all in the clone wars in some capacity.
All of that agrees with the PT.
In TESB we get a more firm timetable of the Empire with Vader being Luke’s father. We do hear Luke thinking Dagobah is very familiar, but we don’t get any reason why. From the context of the film it was most likely a force vision.
In ROTJ we find out that Luke and Leia are twins. This firmly plants the start of the Empire at their birth. Why? Vader did not know Luke had a sister which means he was not present at the birth. So the event that turned Vader and started the Empire happened between conception and birth of the twins.
We still have no indication of when the Clone Wars took place. It could be a month before or a decade before.
From the actors it is also hard to guess. Alec Guiness was was 63 when ANH was released. Sebastian Shaw (true he wasn’t cast yet) was almost 72. Phil Brown was 61 and Shelagh Fraser was 56. So Alec, Phil, and Shelagh were contemporaries and from the dialog in ANH, Sebastian was cast to show how the Dark Side had aged and warped him. Anakin was Kenobi’s student. When you look at the ages in Attack of the Clones, the relative ages of Kenobi, Owen and Beru are not that different, 31, 27, and 18) from the ANH cast (63, 61, 56 about 30 years older). So Anakin was young enough for Kenobi to train (also remember that Yoda said Luke was too old in TESB, so Anakin would be younger than Luke… by a lot). So Sebastian’s advanced age much have had a reason beyond Anakin actually being older than Kenobi.
So from the casting and the dialog just in the OT, the Clone Wars had to have taken place somewhere between 30 and 20 years before ANH. Officially it was 22-19 years before. So all the timings of the PT fit with what we see in the OT, except the age of the actors. But there is also nothing in the movies indicating how long the Clone Wars lasted so adding in another 5 to 10 years of war doesn’t break anything. Also, Ahsoka appears to have grown up considerably more than 3 years, and she is introduced when the Clone Wars are well underway (Anakin was still a Padawn when they started). So the official timeline seems too short and doesn’t really fit with the ages of the actors cast in both the OT and PT.
As a side note, Jimmy Smits was much older than the others in AOTC, but he was contemporary by the time he appeared in Rogue One (he was 61 when it was released).
An examination of the HD broadcasts of the DVD version has shown less anti-noise processing. That plus the way they were captured makes them as good if not better than the later blu-ray release. Especially the way they have been presented for us thanks to Schorman. He also preserved the PT and that is the best quality for the DVD version of TPM and probably the best version of AOTC and ROTS.
The theatrical 97 SE has now been preserved in a scan from 35 mm. I don’t think it has been cleaned up fully and it has not had the color restored. Outside of that there are SD broadcasts from Europe that preserve those version at higher than LD quality. I would call them near DVD quality, but they suffer from missing frames and being PAL. That is also the best preservation of the full original TPM theatrical version.
Currently the only versions not preserved in any form in HD are the 97 SE of TESB, ROTJ, and the theatrical version of TPM. The original TESB and 97 SE ANH are currently unfinished and only in grindhouse form.
- Luke vs. Vader AFTER Vader senses Leia is Luke’s sister.
- The Falcon races from the Star Destroyer after they leave Hoth.
- When Luke and Vader meet in the Carbon Freezing chamber.
- In Ben’s hut.
- Luke meets Yoda.
I think one of the things a lot of fans mistake is how movies get developed. You don’t draft an idea (a treatment) and then write it as a script and then film it. That id not what happened with the original film. In the idea presented you see the origins of Snoke, the First Order, and Luke in exile. Sure it is Maul, Stormtroopers, and Luke trying to find himself, but it is the same kernel of story that we ended up with. Trevorrow’s script similarly has the same general story beats as the final TROS. But for anyone familiar with how movies develop from idea to final film, these are all steps along the way. From what we know of Lucas’s ideas before he sold LFL to Disney, they started with his treatments and developed them from there. They changed things that weren’t working and kept things that did.
So under everything is the treatment that Lucas sold to Disney. You have a remnant of the Empire that is now large enough to fight back. You have their evil leader. The main focus went from mobsters and guerrillas to a well organized remnant of the Empire, which was the main focus of Zahn’s trilogy. But as we see, that was a piece of George’s idea. They dumped the politics that so many didn’t think worked for the PT.
Things that did not change:
A remnant of the Empire
Luke in exile
A new pair for the Dark Side (Maul/Talon not really sith to Snoke/Kylo not sith)
Leia is a significant leader
Leia’s son falls/fallen to the dark side
So the ST is very much based on what Lucas had in mind. It just was not developed from there by him. It was developed much as he might have. We can see that wide variety of options in how Empire and Jedi developed. Had Lucas done the ST himself, it would look nothing like what he has described because it would have gone through the same story development as the OT and PT did. So this idea that these tidbits are exactly what we would have seen is not very accurate. Same with Trevorrow’s script. That was the first draft and it would have changed before the final draft and would have changed even more during filming. So these pieces of development do not equate to what we would have gotten in a final film or trilogy. It is fun to speculate, but that is the same as The Star Wars comic adaption of the early script.
So Lucas wanted to do his own version of the EU. Sounds like with some edits like Luke neither being married or having any children. No wonder Disney threw those treatments in the trash. None of these are new or original stories or ideas he was just cribbing EU characters and plots. Maybe even worse than Disney in a way, more lazy at least for the most part Disney didn’t use the EU as a template.
Darth Maul being the main villain is a joke.
This isn’t what we waited 35 years to see. We waited for the continuation of the OT characters and their story where it left off, as original stories. Not some weird amalgamation of Filoni Clone Wars and EU.
Sorry for the late reply, but I think you have this backwards. It isn’t George cribbing on the EU and Filoni, it was his guidance to the EU authors and his instructions to Filoni that would have created a unified tale. Filoni resurrected Maul at Lucas’s instruction.
Star Wars was huge following the original film’s release. It only built up until Empire came out. But Empire didn’t do as well theatrically as the original. But it was the glory days of toys. I’d say between 79 and 84 was the peak. After 84/85, the Star Wars section in stores shrank and a lot of stores never got some of the later toys. Then it was out on video. Then the West End Games RPG, then the Power of the Force toys, which were everywhere. Not quite like the good old days where there was an entire aisle of Star Wars toys, but a pretty good selection. Some classics were brought back. The momentum carried through the 97 SE and Episode 1. But like the first Trilogy, it dropped off.
I would say Star Wars was at its most popular around Empire and at it’s second most popular around the SE and early PT.
The movies themselves have always been popular. I would say in many ways they are more popular now than ever. But we have a more diverse set of fans where some favor the OT, some the PT, and some the ST, and some one or more of the TV series. I’d say Baby Yoda/Grogu has been as popular as the original film was, and like the original film merchandising, no one was prepared.
Well, I loved all the characters. And Ming-na Wen is such a Star Wars fan. They are shooting Book of Boba Fett right now. She is playing an assassin and I think she did it very well.
First, thank you very much for this. It is very insightful.
That said, having lived through the same time period, this is not how I see things. I too devoured everything I could get of Star Wars. To a point. I did not have a source for comics. I ended up getting lucky enough to get the next 9 (#7 to #15) comics after the movie adaption. I had the the 3 Han Solo books (love them and think Solo is an excellently done lead in to them) and Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. All devoured and absorbed before Empire came out. But my real love was the action figures and vehicles. I and my friends collected everything we could. I expanded on it by customizing and making my own vehicles and characters. For me Empire was not a limiting factor. The characters and additional worlds expanded the universe even more.
I should also add that after Jedi, with no new Star Wars content, I became a fanatic Star Trek fan. It really started before Empire with Star Trek the motion Picture. But Franz Joseph’s tech manual and general plans really sparked my interest. This is where the West End Games really only added fuel to my imagination. I became the game master and got really creative. I ate up all the manuals and loved the detail, but could always imagine more. The sky was always the limit. I loved to mix things. Other books and movies were often fodder for both the older action figure play and later role playing adventures. I can see why for some all the detailed information might take some of the mystery out of it, but for me there was always more. It still is a never ending fountain of ideas.
I also found that when I went to see TLJ and TROS, that I was transported like I remember the movies doing when I was a kid. I was absorbed into the world and lost in the story.
And we differ on our feelings on the interconnections that now permeate the Disney Star Wars universe. I like what Filoni has done because I’ve seen that sort of odd connection myself. To me that is just one web of connections and I know there can be so many more.
So for me none of those things that you feel limit the world in any way limit the world for me. Rather the contrary, it makes it real for me and my imagination soars to think of all the unexplored corners we can yet get stories for. And Lucas continued with no explaining too much. In fact the PT suffers for lack of explanation. I have spent a lot of time looking at the deeper events surrounding Palpatine and Anakin and love the story that is revealed. I think the ST also follows that paradigm and I think that is one thing people dislike about it.
There is plenty of room for multiple opinions and I really enjoyed reading this and appreciate your point of view. Thank you again.
I loved it. Loved how (in its comic Lego way) it is set after TROS and yet brought back 3 characters 42 years later. I was sad only 3 original voices participated, but I think several Clone Wars voices were back.
I’m not sure even Lucas could point out all the influences of all the pieces. We know that the core was inspired by Flash Gordon and Hidden Fortress. But I bet Buck Rogers, Foundation, Dune, Burrough Mars, other Samurai movies, and a lot of other things went in to what we got. Cool to see the old covers and their visuals and see yet another influence.
Technically the GOUT release of ANH created a new version of the film. They used the 1993 master tape and replaced the opening crawl with the version they had scanned for The Empire of Dreams. Before that there are 4 versions of the film and 5 different soundtracks. Most people focus on the the 77 vs. 81 crawl and C-3PO’s tractor beam line, but there is a lot more to it than that. Empire and Jedi are simpler, but there are still some changes. Nothing as drastic and the SE and following releases, but still, noticeable and documentable changes.
It’s weird to me when people say RotJ has issues. I know everyone has different opinions, but it’s my second favorite Star Wars movie behind ANH.
I agree. I have never had any issues with it. I do like the other two OT films more, but I’d give all of them 5 stars.
ROTJ is supposed to be a happen ending (for now) and any of the major characters dying would have been a bummer.
I think I agree. It would have been very open ended in both directions if they had remained unnumbered. The original film still would have had a new crawl for the individual title.
Can someone do this to the briefing room Wedge and the entire Jabba scene in ANH.
What turned me off was the Death of Chewy and the Yuuzhan Vong. That was my jump the shark moment and I stopped reading. The only thing I read after that was Millennium Falcon.
The one thing that no one seems to have mentioned yet is that in 1985 Lucasfilm struck a fresh interpositive of each film. For ANH, this is identical to the theatrical 1981 release. And except for the opening crawl/flyover, it is identical to the 1977 wide release and the international releases. Some previous English Language releases (primarily US, UK, and Japan) have 3 FX shots that are different. So if you compare the 1993/5/2006 version to previous releases you will see a difference in those three shots, but if you compare them to the Silver Screen Edition or 4k77 you will not. TESB and ROTJ are identical to all prior releases. The audio mix was updated, but according to sources here, only ANH had any edits and TESB and ROTJ are indistinguisable. The 2006 DVD releases of this version are unchanged except for in ANH the original 1977 crawl/flyover replaces the 1981 version. So they have the same picture and audio.
Rebels ends with Ahsoka and Sabine going off to find Ezra. Sabine in The Mandalorian makes sense as she is a Mandalorian. She previously wielded the black saber. So she is connected. And Ahsoka is connected in the past to Yoda and the Jedi. Between Luke and Ahsoka, Ahsoka knows more about the Jedi, Yoda, and his species than Luke does. So the best person to answer Din Djarin’s questions is Ahsoka. What I’d like to see is a short arc, 2 or 3 episodes, that cause these characters paths to cross in a way that works for Din Djarin’s story. It would be great to start a live action spin off of Ahsoka and Sabine searching for Ezra, or even an animated series. But it needs to fit in and feel logical. And if Bo Katan and/or Sabine are in the series, it would be nice for them to take their helmets off and hear a reason why they can and Din Djarin can’t. More Mandalorian lore would be great. I really see including Ahsoka as a way to enhance this series and widen the galaxy rather than something that shrinks it. There is so much to the Star Wars universe that has never been touched on that this series has been covering and crossing paths with Ahsoka and Sabine on their path gives lots of chances to expand the universe.
It wasn’t very consistent before though, it’s much more pale in SW compared to ESB. Probably because of the visual effects change. Then the prequels that feature it are different again.
Yeah… I remember seeing the first previews for TLJ and thinking Rian must’ve like the 1977 effect.
Personally the SW/TLJ is my favorite. I thought it was over saturated in TFA.
TFA is over saturated, the whole movie.