Introduction

Written and directed by George Lucas, Star Wars premiered in 1977 and became a huge success. The film (subtitled Episode IV: A New Hope) and its two sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, constitutes the middle instalment of a planned nine-part saga.

The purpose of this essay is to show the development of the Star Wars script, from the original short outline to the final screenplay version, as regards the plot, the characters, the setting, and the main themes. My intention is to establish Lucas’s ideas and inspiration, as well as provide an insight into the creative process, pointing out the changes that were made during the writing. I have looked at what was added and deleted between the drafts, what was reused in the sequels, and what might end up in the forthcoming Star Wars episodes.

The first chapter outlines the writing process, providing a summary of Lucas’s work with the Star Wars screenplay, as well as giving some background information. The following five chapters are divided according to the individual manuscript versions—one short synopsis and four major screenplays—each one beginning with a summary of the story. I have analyzed the plot, the characters, the setting and the themes, and these four points are featured in all of these chapters. I have looked for the same themes in every script version: the religious idea; the dichotomy between technology and mankind; the father/son relationship; and the acceptance of personal responsibility. The last chapter deals briefly with some of the other draft revisions that were made, and how they relate to the scripts which I have analyzed.

The five versions of Star Wars, all written by George Lucas, which I have examined are: the first 1973 story synopsis (The Star Wars), the rough screenplay draft from 1974 (The Star Wars), the 1975 second draft (The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”), the third draft finished in 1975 (The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller), and the public version of the 1976 revised fourth draft (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope—From the Journal of the Whills). I obtained the synopsis and the first three drafts through the Internet. These versions have been acquired by collectors and later been scanned or typed into electronic text documents—they have never been published commercially. All the drafts used for this essay were found at the Starkiller Multimedia Source Page (maintained by Owen S. Good), which is dedicated to pre-Star Wars material. Besides the Internet, the public version of the revised fourth draft is available in The Art of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (edited by Carol Titelman), which also contains many pre-production sketches and paintings. Two additional draft versions were obtained through the Internet and read: the first draft from 1974 (The Star Wars), and the shooting script version of the revised fourth draft (The Adventures of Luke Starkiller—As Taken from the “Journal of the Whills” (Saga I): Star Wars). However, these two screenplays were not distinct enough from the others to be handled in individual chapters. Most of the information about George Lucas was gathered from Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, written in 1983 by Dale Pollock. I also read other specialist literature on both science fiction and Star Wars, but much of my inspiration came from different Internet sources (Brendon Wahlberg’s The Development of Star Wars: A New Hope was very helpful, as it contains comprehensive summaries of some of the drafts). Furthermore, the Star Wars trilogy, the scripts to The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and the three comic book adaptations were fundamental to the writing of this essay.



1.
The Writing of Star Wars

On May 25, 1977, Star Wars premiered in thirty-two theatres across the United States. It grossed $100 million within three months of its release, which was faster than any other motion picture in history. The space adventure won five Academy Awards, and was nominated for five more (including Best Picture, Direction and Original Screenplay). Star Wars (a.k.a. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) and its two very successful sequels The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983) make up the only filmed trilogy in a planned series of nine films set “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away…”1

American film director, screenwriter, and producer George Lucas (b. Modesto, California, May 14, 1944) was ready to retire from directing in 1972, when his second feature film American Graffiti was being edited. He felt that writing and directing took too much of a physical toll on him. However, his first feature THX 1138 (1971), a science-fiction story set in a grim dehumanized world, had strengthened his wish to do a romantic space fantasy adventure—the kind of film he himself had been waiting to see. After the editing of American Graffiti in February 1972, Lucas began working on his space opera.

The first visual result was a thirteen page, handwritten story synopsis entitled The Star Wars, which was finished on May 25, 1973. Both its basic plot and main characters were taken from the 1958 Japanese film The Hidden Fortress by Akira Kurosawa (a hero of Lucas’s), but it had the feel and fantasy elements of the old Flash Gordon serials which George had admired as a child. Lucas had researched fairy tales, mythology and social psychology when he was not writing—his intention was to blend traditional story elements with modern technology, and to do this he had to study “the pure form to see how it worked”.2 He also read both contemporary and classic science-fiction novels by authors like Isaac Asimov, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Alex Raymond, Frank Herbert and E.E. “Doc” Smith. The synopsis was at first meant to be a screenplay draft, but although Lucas had a lot of ideas, he had a hard time getting them on paper, so he decided to write an outline instead. The story was very confusing and the spelling was horrible, since Lucas had never learned proper spelling or punctuation.3 His agent and lawyer were puzzled and did not understand the story, and it was actually due to the popularity of American Graffiti that they eventually managed to sell the film to Twentieth Century Fox—after it had been rejected by both United Artists and Universal Pictures.

A rough screenplay was completed one year later in May 1974, and still carried the title The Star Wars. It was the first of four major drafts and several revised versions. Lucas’s main inspiration was THX 1138, the film he had done in 1971. He wanted to use its idea of technology in opposition to mankind and add the elements of a fairy tale. His intention was to recapture the amazement he had felt when he saw the first American space flights on TV, but at the same time he wanted to return to more traditional, positive values of the kind he had experienced while growing up in the 1950s.4 “I wanted to make a kids’ film that would strengthen contemporary mythology and introduce a kind of basic morality”.5 Each week he bought a large selection of comic books and science-fiction magazines, and even though he felt it was important to make a timeless adventure rather than a science-fiction film, he looked through everything from Buck Rogers to 2001: A Space Odyssey. He wanted his settings to be different from those of any previous films, but still be realistic enough that the audience could identify themselves with the story. He wrote eight hours a day, five days a week, which made him feel like he was back in school. Lucas still had troubles expressing his vision, and as a result, he continually suffered headaches, stomach-aches and chest pains. In desperation he used to cut off snippets of his hair with a pair of scissors. He carried around a small notebook at all times, where he could write down different ideas which came to mind. He played around with the amount of description and dialogue he should use in an attempt to get the right rhythm in his writing. When the screenplay draft was finished, however, Lucas still thought it was a mess.

The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars” was the title of Lucas’s second draft which was delivered on January 28, 1975. This was a more character-driven story with more character development, which was important since Lucas wanted the film to make an emotional impact. Lucas had realized that his first screenplay would not fit into one movie, so he put a large part of the rough draft aside when writing the second. Since he now had material for three films, he decided that he would use the deleted parts if he ever got the opportunity to do any sequels. In his strivings to create his own perfectly coherent universe, Lucas began writing an outline about the characters, where they came from, and what would happen to them after the film itself ended. This backup story would later result in his vision of a nine part saga spanning more than fifty-five years. He let his friends (among them director Francis Ford Coppola) read the scripts and tape-recorded their comments in order to get some advice. However, the suggestions from his wife Marcia (a film editor who later won an Oscar for Star Wars) were the ones he took most seriously, even though her criticism sometimes made him angry.

The third major screenplay which was finished on August 1, 1975 was called The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller, and by this time, most of the plot was established. Lucas felt quite comfortable with his characters, but he still thought that the dialogue needed improvement, and was very concerned that his story might never make it to the silver screen.

Lucas’s revised fourth draft was the one which was used when filming began in Tunisia on March 25, 1976. A slightly edited version of this draft, entitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope—From the Journal of the Whills, was published in 1979 as the official screenplay of the film (the final editing of that public version—erroneously dated to January 15, 1976—was done after Star Wars went into production, probably after the film’s May 1977 release). Lucas had consulted his co-writers from American Graffiti (Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz) to sharpen the dialogue, which he felt lacked humour and bounce, and although he rejected most of what they came up with, their new ideas gave Lucas renewed confidence in his work. Another inspiration for the later Star Wars drafts was Ralph McQuarrie, an illustrator who was hired to do production sketches and paintings for the film. He helped Lucas to envision his characters by drawing them for him and pointing out what would make them look better on film.
Lucas had written the kind of story he had set out to write, and from now on his problem would be adapting it to the screen—and surviving the directing.



2.
The Story Synopsis, May 1973
The Star Wars

The Plot

The galaxy is plagued by a civil war between an evil Empire and rebel forces. Two bickering Imperial bureaucrats try to flee from a space fortress which is under attack, and crash land on the planet of Aquilae. A wanted rebel princess and her relentless general Luke Skywalker, on their way to a space port in order to get the princess to safety, find and capture them and after a hazardous journey the group make it to a religious temple where they discover a band of young boy rebels. The boys decide to follow them across the wasteland in spite of the general’s reluctance, and they soon reach a shabby cantina near the space port where the general is forced to use his “lazer sword” to kill a bully who is taunting one of the boys. The group, pursued by Imperial troops, must steal a fighter ship in order to escape and after a long chase they manage to hide in an asteroid field. However, the rebels’ ship is damaged and they are forced to jettison towards the forbidden planet of Yavin with rocket packs. On Yavin, they travel on “jet-sticks” made from their rocket packs, until they are attacked by giant furry aliens who capture the princess and the bureaucrats and sell them to an Imperial platoon. Skywalker is almost killed, but one of the aliens helps to take him to an old farmer who knows where the Imperial outpost is. After an attack on the outpost, the general and the boys learn that the princess has been taken to Alderaan, a “city-planet” and the capitol of the Empire. After rigorous training, Skywalker and the young rebels man a squadron of fighter ships, and disguised as Imperial rangers they manage to reach the prison complex of Alderaan. They free the princess, but an alarm goes off and a few of the boys are killed before the group is able to escape to the friendly planet of Ophuchi. There, everyone (including the bureaucrats) are rewarded at a ceremony, as the princess reveals her true goddess-like self.


This thirteen page synopsis bears little resemblance to the 1977 Star Wars picture. The space opera feel of old science fiction films like The Forbidden Planet is present, and the laser weapons and the constant action were trademarks of the Flash Gordon serials Lucas had seen in his childhood.6 The idea of a galactic empire was most likely borrowed from the novels of Isaac Asimov.7

The overall plot, however, is borrowed from the Japanese film The Hidden Fortress, co-written and directed by Akira Kurosawa in 1958. The similarity between The Star Wars and The Hidden Fortress is evident if one compares Lucas’s outline with a plot summary from Donald Richie’s 1965 biography The Films of Akira Kurosawa:

The Star Wars:
“It is the thirty-third century, a period of civil wars in the galaxy. A rebel princess, with her family, her retainers, and the clan treasure, is being pursued. If they can cross territory controlled by the Empire and reach a friendly planet, they will be saved. The Sovereign knows this, and posts a reward for the capture of the princess.”8

The Hidden Fortress:
“It is the sixteenth century, a period of civil wars. A princess, with her family, her retainers, and the clan treasure is being pursued. If they can cross enemy territory and reach a friendly province they will be saved. The enemy knows this and posts a reward for the capture of the princess.”9
This transcription-like example is not representative of Lucas’s entire synopsis, but it gives a good insight into the influence of The Hidden Fortress as well as Lucas’s struggle to get his own ideas down on paper. Both The Star Wars and The Hidden Fortress contain a journey across enemy lands, but while Kurosawa’s characters mount horses, Lucas lets the general, the princess and the bureaucrats travel in “land speeders”. The rebel princess’s clan treasure is two hundred pounds of “aura spice”, while Kurosawa’s princess brings sixteen hundred pounds of gold with her. A horse chase in the Japanese film has been adapted to a scene where the rebels, on their jetsticks, are being pursued by the furry aliens, riding bird-like creatures much like those in the John Carter on Mars books by Edgar Rice Burroughs.10 General Skywalker is challenged by one of the aliens to a spear fight, a duel which also is present in The Hidden Fortress. The cantina scene, which stays almost intact through all of the drafts, and the reward ceremony at the end are also elements borrowed from Kurosawa. Although parts of the later drafts can be traced to the Japanese picture, Star Wars would go from a story based on The Hidden Fortress, to a film merely inspired by it.


The Characters

Just as in the final movie, the hero of this first outline is named Luke Skywalker, but instead of being a young boy, he is an incredibly powerful general, almost inhuman in his actions. Just like Makabe, the general in The Hidden Fortress (played by Toshiro Mifune), Luke is harsh, uncompromising, cold and relentless, but still a man to admire. The best depictions of Skywalker’s character are the ones in which he interacts with the young rebel boys:
The boys laugh in anticipation of the blow they will strike the Empire in the name of the princess. They all stop laughing, but the laughing continues and they look around in consternation. Into the sanctuary ambles Skywalker, scratching himself, amused at the idealism of the youths. He barely glances at them. The contrast between the boy rebels with their terse nods, their meaningful glances, and Skywalker, a real general, a real man could not be greater.11
Like the “lightsaber” wielding Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi of the final film, Skywalker is a skilled warrior, but his weapon is called “lazer sword” and instead of “turning off” the “blade” it is replaced into a sheath. There is hardly any room at all for character development in this short outline, and the biggest change Skywalker goes through is seen through the eyes of the young boys, as in the space chase from Aquilae: “A few of the boys are angered at his cold and relentless directions, although they grow to respect him when they begin to see the results of his training.”12 The general is also forced to accept the boys, as they turn out to be worthy apprentices. The name “Skywalker” was a title of Loki, the Norse god of fire, while “Luke” is commonly associated with light.13 However, the general’s first name arises from the Greek root “Loukas”, and if you compress the name to first name and last initial (“Luke S.”), the presence of the screenwriter is evident.

The rebel princess, again a character taken from The Hidden Fortress, can be considered the driving force of the story, since almost the entire outline deals with getting her to safety. We do not learn her name (Skywalker is the only one with a name in this synopsis), and the only thing we know about her is that she is wealthy and wanted by the Empire, until the end where she is revealed to be a demigod.

The two bureaucrats, modelled after two bickering farmers in Kurosawa’s film, “are essentially comic relief inserted among the general seriousness of the adventure.”14 At first they do not realize that they are the general’s captives. They believe that they have managed to infiltrate the rebels, and plan to steal the princess’s aura spice. However, as the story evolves, the pair come to know better, and they end up being rewarded for their participation in the rebellion. If the general is inhuman, the bureaucrats are very human, something that makes them easily identifiable. They argue with each other, they get terrified when there is a fight, and they get drunk when they realize that they have been adventuring with a goddess-like princess.

We do not learn much about the remaining characters. The young boys are idealistic and brave (much like the Luke Skywalker of the 1977 film), the Empire is led by an evil Sovereign who never takes part in the actual story, one of the giant furry aliens is kind (an early version of Chewbacca in the final film), and the rebels get help from a cantankerous farmer who is married to an alien and hates the Empire.


The Setting

This story synopsis is set in the distant future, in the thirty-third century, but Lucas would change this in his later screenplay drafts, probably in order to make his adventure more timeless. Four main locales are used throughout the outline; the planets of Aquilae, Yavin, Alderaan and Ophuchi; but they are not described in detail.

Aquilae is said to be a blue-green planet, but the rocks, the wastelands and the plains where large beasts roam, give an impression of a sterile world. There is a religious temple here, and a space port city called Gordon (an obvious tribute to the old Flash Gordon serials) with a murky little cantina situated in its outskirts. The briefly mentioned space fortress orbiting around the planet would later become the “Death Star” battle station of the film.

We are told that Yavin is a forbidden world, but it is never stated in what sense. The Yavin moon of the Star Wars film is a rain forest world, and there are some suggestions that this Yavin also is a tropical place. One of the aliens disappears into the foliage, and the general manages to grab a vine when he is thrown into a thousand foot crevasse which contains a boiling lake.

Alderaan is situated in the centre of the galaxy, and is only described as an impressive city-planet which is the capitol of the Empire.

Ophuchi is a friendly planet, ruled by the princess’s uncle, and so far spared from Imperial entanglements.


The Themes

The 1977 Star Wars film deals with four major themes: religion; technology in opposition to mankind; the father/son relationship (made even more prominent in the sequels as the villain turns out to be the hero’s father); and perhaps most importantly, the acceptance of personal responsibility. The seeds to all of these themes can be found in the 1973 synopsis, but they will go through much development in the later drafts.

There is a sanctuary, a religious temple, in the story, but we are not told anything more about it. The princess is “revealed as her true goddess-like self”15 at the end, and the general, in all his excellence, can also be considered a demigod, but the religious message is very subtle in this short synopsis. After the princess’s revelation “the drunken bureaucrats stagger down an empty street arm in arm realizing that they have been adventuring with demigods.”16 This indicates that God is among us, and also confirms Lucas’s thoughts that God is there if you want him to be.17

The message that technology cannot replace mankind was something that Lucas wanted to make clear in Star Wars, but in this first outline that message is not very clear at all. The fact that one of the aliens with a primitive spear in his hand is cut in half by the general’s advanced lazer sword in a duel, actually seems to advocate the opposite. On the other hand, the sword and its sheath are reminiscent of ancient times and have connotations much more primitive than those of a laser gun. The evil Empire is mostly described as containing troops, platoons, ships and fleets, and not individual characters. This and the fact that the most “human” characters (the bureaucrats and the idealistic young boys) are rewarded at the end, are perhaps the most evident signs of mankind prevailing over technology.

There is no biological father/son relationship in this version of Star Wars, but Skywalker is something of a father figure for the young boys. Even though he does so reluctantly, the general takes the rebel band under his wings and trains them in warfare. A mutual respect evolves as the boys begin to see the general’s relentlessness pay off, and Skywalker realizes that the young rebels are more than idealistic fools.

Lucas has said that “you can’t run away from your fate”, meaning that we have a calling or a mission in life which we cannot escape, and a duty to do what is expected from us.18 In other words, we have to accept personal responsibility. In this story synopsis, the general has the responsibility to accept and train the boys; the young rebels must learn to respect Skywalker and face the brutality of the real world; the bureaucrats are forced to overcome their fears and do good things instead of bad; and they all have the responsibility to bring the princess to safety (the latter coupled with the the fact that the princess is a demigod might suggest that their obligation is towards God).




3.
The Rough Draft, May 1974
The Star Wars

The Plot

The Jedi-Bendu warriors served the Empire for many millennia, before rebelling against the new corrupted emperor. Hunted down and killed by the Knights of Sith (a sinister rival sect), the Jedi are now all but extinct and a New Galactic Empire has arisen.

Kane Starkiller, a Jedi-Bendu master, is in hiding on the Fourth Moon of Utapau with his two sons Annikin and Deak, when a Sith warrior finds them and Deak is killed. The surviving Starkillers head to the Aquilae system, where they are met by Kane’s old Jedi friend, General Luke Skywalker. Kane, whose war-battered body is a concoction of artificial limbs, knows that he is dying, and persuades Luke to become Annikin’s Jedi teacher. He then travels to the city of Gordon, leaving his son with Skywalker and the King of Aquilae. Clieg Whitsun, a rebel spy on the emperor’s planet of Alderaan, has learned that an Imperial fleet, led by General Darth Vader and Governor Crispin Hoedaack, is about to conquer Aquilae with a “death star” space fortress. Rebel fighters are sent out to stop the attack, but the Aquilaean king is killed, and instead of Princess Leia (the rightful heir), a corrupt senator takes over, surrendering the planet to the Empire. Annikin, Luke and Whitsun, joined by Artwo Detwo and See Threepio (two bickering robots who have escaped from the space fortress), bring Leia and her two younger brothers to the spaceport at Gordon, from where they can reach safety. After a fight at a cantina, where Skywalker uses his “lasersword” to kill his antagonists, the group meet up with Kane and his alien friend Han Solo who have arranged transport to a friendly planet. They need a power unit for suspended animation in order to get past Imperial scanners, and Kane heroically rips one from his body, causing his death. After avoiding a trap set by Vader and Prince Valorum (the black Knight of the Sith), the rebels are pursued into space, where the arguing Leia and Annikin realize that they love each other. Their craft is damaged in an asteroid field and Whitsun dies as it explodes, but the others abandon ship in time and land on the jungle planet of Yavin, where Leia is captured by alien trappers. Annikin tries to rescue her, but only succeeds in freeing five “Wookees” (huge, grey and furry beasts), and Leia eventually ends up in the hands of the Empire. After a tip from two anthropologists, the rebels and the Wookee tribe (including Prince Chewbacca) attack an Imperial outpost, and a forest battle ensues. When he learns that Leia is held captive aboard the space fortress, General Skywalker starts training the Wookees to fly fighter ships in order to conquer the death star. Annikin is sceptical of the plan and gets onto the fortress (together with Artwo) on a mission of his own, dressed as an Imperial “skyraider”, but he is soon captured and tortured by General Vader. Valorum sees this and realizes that the Imperials are completely without honour and codes, and that he has more in common with the young Jedi than with the emperor. Turning his back on the Empire, he frees both Annikin and Leia, and they escape down a garbage chute. After almost being crushed in the garbage receptacle, Valorum, Leia, Annikin, and Artwo manage to abandon the station just before the Wookees destroy it, killing both Vader and Governor Hoedaack. Back in her throne room, Queen Leia honours the heroes (including Valorum), and Annikin is appointed new Lord Protector of Aquilae.


A year in the making, the rough draft contained nearly two hundred scenes, and compared with the story synopsis, it constituted a big step forward for Lucas. The script carries through many of the ideas from the outline, but the content is infinitely superior to the Flash Gordon type first synopsis and adds much of the distinctive feel of the Star Wars trilogy.

This screenplay introduces the first version of the famous text roll-ups which follow the main titles in the Star Wars films and give us background information about the story. Although it is far from its final form, the script contains the basic story elements of the 1977 movie: The Jedi are almost extinct; the Empire tries to conquer the galaxy with a battle station; an aging Jedi leads a group of freedom fighters against the Empire; a young Jedi is taught by an older one; the princess is rescued; and the space station is destroyed in a final battle.When the first rebel ships are sent out to stop the Imperial invasion, the rebel pilots use code names (Pilot Leader, Devil Two, Devil Three etc.), and their intercom conversation is reminiscent of the one in the film. The fortress also has a weak spot—“the main crosslink transformer”. Some of the dialogue in the cantina scene was kept intact through all the drafts:

HUMAN

Don’t insult us. You just watch yourself. We’re wanted men. I Have the death sentence on twelve Systems.

GENERAL

I’ll be careful then.

HUMAN

You’ll be dead.19

When the rebels leave Gordon, Annikin and Whitsun fight off their Imperial pursuers with lasercannons in a scene very similar to the escape from the “Death Star” in the Star Wars film. This draft also features the first version of the trash compactor scene.

Many of the scenes in this screenplay were deleted during the writing of the following drafts, but Lucas later used some of them in episodes five and six of his saga. The rebels try to lose the Imperial fighters in an asteroid belt, just like the crew of the Millennium Falcon do in The Empire Strikes Back, and the forest battle featuring the Wookees is a clear precursor to the fight between the “Ewok” tribe and the stormtroopers in Return of the Jedi, complete with the swinging of stone pendulums from the trees and the capturing of one Imperial tank to be used against the others. Lucas admits that the Wookees were the main influence for the Battle of Endor in episode six: “I basically cut them in half and called them Ewoks.”20


The Characters

The main character of the first synopsis was a veteran general, but Lucas saw that there could be more character development if the hero was a younger man who gradually becomes a warrior. Annikin Starkiller is a handsome boy of eighteen, tall and heavy-set, trained in the Jedi ways since birth, but still very immature. He originated in Lucas’s own dual nature: innocent and idealistic, but at the same time cynical and pessimistic.21 The Han Solo character played by Harrison Ford in the trilogy would adopt the latter trait and much of Annikin’s rudeness: “The cute aide goes back to her duties, flirting with Annikin as she passes. The young warrior pinches her on the ass, which startles her, but she goes on like nothing happened.”22

Leia is the daughter of King Kayos, the ruler of Aquilae. The rest of the family consists of Queen Breha and the two princes Biggs and Windy. Leia is “about fourteen years old, possessing a soft beauty and iron will”23, and although she is captured, she is never the traditional damsel in distress. The adversarial relationship between her and Annikin is introduced in their first conversation and continues throughout the story:

PRINCESS

You are such a barbarian. I’ll have my father cut you into little pieces when we get back…and I’ll take pleasure in feeding you to the GONTHAS….a little bit each day. I may save your eyes though. I’ll have them petrified and made into a necklace.

STARKILLER

Your sweetness is only surpassed by your beauty. Just try to remember, I’m only following orders.

PRINCESS

… to beat me and abuse me?

STARKILLER

I’m afraid I’ve only learned one way to treat wild animals.24

This love-hate relationship would later become Leia’s love interest with Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back.

General Luke Skywalker, Commander of the Aquilaean Starforce, is one of the last surviving Jedi warriors. Once the First Bodyguard to the emperor, he later led the Jedi Rebellion against the new evil monarch. With an aura of power, he is a continuation of the general in the synopsis, although not as cold and relentless. In him, we also see the first features of the Obi-Wan Kenobi character of the motion picture: “His face, cracked and weathered by exotic climates, is set off by a close silver beard, and dark, penetrating eyes.”25

The Darth Vader character of the movies can be traced to three of the characters in this script: Kane Starkiller, Prince Valorum and General Vader. Kane is a great Jedi warrior, but just like the Vader of the films, he is half man and half machine:
The old Jedi warrior’s forearm cracks in two, spewing forth wires, and many fine multicolored electronic components. The artificial limb flops lifelessly to Starkiller’s side. The warrior rips open his tunic, revealing a plastic chest stuffed with flashing electric parts.26
Like Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi, Valorum turns from personifying the evil to representing goodness at the end of the rough draft. The Sith is never mentioned in the films, but the three official screenplays and novel versions describe Darth Vader as a “Lord of the Sith”. Prince Valorum is called a “Knight of the Sith” and he “is dressed in the fascist black and chrome uniform of the legendary Sith One Hundred.”27 General Darth Vader’s name would later be applied to the Sith Lord, forming the character of the final film.

The two bureaucrats of the outline have evolved into two construction robots named Artwo Detwo (a short tri-pod) and See Threepio (a tall android). Both of them speak, although it is mostly just to bicker and insult each other. The name Artwo Detwo was scribbled down by Lucas during the filming of American Graffiti, when he was asked for R2, D2 (Reel 2, Dialogue 2) of the film.28

Emperor Cos Dashit (an appropriate name for one who is the cause of so much trouble), is the ruler of the New Galactic Empire and “a thin, grey looking man, with an evil mustache”.29 His treacherous right hand man Governor Hoedaack underestimates the Wookees’ attack on the space station and dies when it explodes, refusing to abandon ship (as Governor Tarkin does in the film).

Clieg Whitsun, only twenty years old and the best of the rebels’ agents, risks his life infiltrating the Imperial forces. He is also the voice of reason when it comes to Annikin and Leia’s relationship: “You’re asking for trouble… She’s a queen… You’re a warrior….”30 Han Solo is introduced as an underground rebel contact, “a huge, green skinned monster with no nose and large gills.”31 Chewbacca, the Wookee prince, who would become Han Solo’s co-pilot in the films, was largely based on Marcia Lucas’s pet malamute Indiana (who also provided the name for the hero of Raiders of the Lost Ark). The term “Wookee” (later spelled “Wookiee”) originated in 1970, when the background dialogue of THX 1138 was being edited. During a chase scene, an improvising disc jockey blurted out “I think I ran over a Wookiee back there”, making Lucas laugh so much that he never forgot the word.32 The cantankerous farmer, who was married to an alien in the outline, has become an anthropologist named Owen Lars, and his wife Beru is now human.


The Setting

It is not mentioned whether this draft is set in the past, present or future; but it is stated that generations of Jedi have “perfected their art as the personal bodyguards of the emperor”33 for one hundred thousand years. Again, Lucas uses several different locales, making sure that the audience is kept interested: “I’m very conscious of the environments, and I try to have at least three environments in a movie, and I try to have them as different as possible.”34

We first meet Annikin and his father on the fourth of the planet Utapau’s five moons situated in the Kessil system. The moon, with its bleak grey surface and harsh gales, is not the most pleasant world to be in exile on: “Annikin makes his way across the colorless landscape and rushes into the crumbling building. The interior of the hut is shabby, but manages to abate the howling winds.”35

The capitol of the Empire lies in the Alderaan system. The descriptions of the gaseous planet of Alderaan and the emperor’s city, could just as well be applied to the Cloud City of Bespin in The Empire Strikes Back: “The towering white oxide clouds pass, revealing the Imperial city of Alderaan. The magnificent domed and gleaming city is perched, mushroom-like, on a tall spire, which disappears deep into the misty surface of the planet.”36 The city holds the Plaza of the Daders, where the emperor speaks to his troops, and is famous for its chrome splendid nightclubs.

Aquilae is a planet of desert wilderness with red plains, rugged desert mesas, and a foreboding dune sea; inspired by Frank Herbert’s Dune chronicles.37 In contrast stands the residence of Aquilae’s ruling family, the Palace of Lite, which “is a sparkling oasis, with low concrete walls and great turrets spilling over with foliage from rooftop gardens.”38 It lies in connection to the rebels’ underground military fortress. Gordon is a very crowded space port city where Imperial bureaucracy has resulted in chaotic boarding procedures. In a nearby cantina, an array of weird creatures huddle over their drinks and laugh. Aquilae also boasts a pair of twin suns, just like the planet Tatooine does in the movie.

Yavin is a blue-green planet with steaming vine jungles and rat-sized insects. Like the Ewok village in Return of the Jedi, the Wookees’ camp lies in a gargantuan forest, but their bark and mud hovels are situated on the ground instead of in the trees. There is also an Imperial outpost on Yavin, and a tree-house belonging to Owen and Beru Lars.

For the first time, we are taken beneath the complex surface of the space fortress. The “artificial moon” is dominated by vast corridors and elevators, and holds offices, docking bays and a large detention area.

The friendly planet of Ophuchi is only mentioned briefly in this draft. So is Anchorhead, the system from where the fortress departed.


The Themes

The religious theme of the rough draft is not much more elaborate than the one of the 1973 synopsis. The most evident progress is the introduction of the phrases “May the force of others be with you” and “May the force of others protect you”; variations of the Christian phrase “May the Lord be with you, and with your spirit.”39 It is never stated what “the force of others” is, and ordinary phrases like “thank God” and “God save us all” are also used. The briefly mentioned Grande Mouff Tarkin, one of King Kayos’s senators, is said to be wearing “the long, black robes of the Aquilaean religion”40, and the force of others is probably a part of that faith. Although the Jedi use meditation in their training and Skywalker is the most frequent user of the phrase, there is no actual proof of a connection between the force of others and the Jedi sect. However, Lucas would deal with this connection and develop his religious ideas in the later drafts.

Lucas was seduced by the technology/mankind dichotomy of THX 1138: “I was fascinated by the futuristic society, the idea of rocket ships and lasers up against somebody with a stick. The little guys were winning and technology was losing—I liked that.”41 This idea was used to its fullest in Return of the Jedi, but also in this rough draft:
Alarms sound, troops rush from the low block houses, and a battle rages inside the outpost. Wookees with spears, axes, and arrows, manage to hold their own against the lazer weapons of the stormtroopers. Explosions erupt everywhere, as the Wookees begin to use captured lazerrifles. They are much fiercer fighters than the soft Imperial troops.42
Lucas modelled the Imperial stormtroopers in The Star Wars after the robot policemen in THX 1138. The feeling that technology is a representative of evil is shared by Kane Starkiller, who hates his artificial body, although it keeps him alive: “I’m not the same. There is nothing left but my head and right arm… I’ve lost too much, Luke…”43

Kane’s relationship to his sons is very loving, but although he is a great warrior, he cannot prevent the death of Annikin’s brother: “Kane sees his dead son Deak, and goes to him. He lifts him into his arms and begins to weep.”44 Realizing that he is dying, Kane knows that General Skywalker is the only one who can make a man out of his son:
Take my son! The JEDI-BENDU must survive. We must pass it on. Only a JEDI can stop the Empire. We’re very old, Luke. A new generation of JEDI must be started. Take him; teach him the way of the JEDI-BENDU…45
Kane’s death is very similar to the death of Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. Both men sacrifice themselves in order to save their sons: Kane by supplying the power unit which is necessary for Annikin’s escape, and Vader by turning against the Emperor who is trying to ensnare Luke. As their spirits leave their mechanical bodies, both men transform in the eyes of their sons: Annikin pays more respect to his father’s honour than he ever thought possible, and Luke sees his true Jedi father Anakin Skywalker instead of the evil Lord Vader.

As the son of one of the last surviving Jedi-Bendu, Annikin knows that he has the responsibility of keeping their heritage alive, but he is also a very shiftless person. At one moment he seduces a beautiful aide in a closet, and at the next he manages to hold his own against Skywalker during lasersword practice; something the general points out to the young learner: “You are trained well, but remember, a JEDI must be single-minded, a discipline your father obviously never learned, hence your existence. Clean yourself up. Discipline is essential. Your mind must follow the way of the BENDU.”46 It takes the deaths of his brother and father, and the capturing of his loved one, before Annikin fully accepts his fate. However, after facing his responsibilities, he gains much more respect from General Skywalker, who even lets him go after Leia on his own. The general no longer sees the princess as a distraction, and Skywalker’s parting words are filled with confidence: “Bring her back safely.”47




4.
The Second Draft, January 1975
The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”

The Plot

Once there was a holy man called the Skywalker who discovered an energy field which could influence the destiny of all living things. Known as “the force of others”, it consists of a good half (the Ashla), which the Skywalker came to know, and an evil part (the Bogan) which he was able to resist. His powers grew strong, helping him to found the Republic Galactica, but since the Bogan can bring much suffering in the hands of someone weak, he entrusted his secret only to his twelve children. For many thousand years, the descendants of the Skywalker (known as the Jedi Bendu of the Ashla) served the force of others and brought peace to the galaxy. As the Republic grew, however, the Great Senate became corrupted, and the Jedi who interfered were denounced as traitors. Wars and terrorism increased to the point where citizens welcomed a police state, and the tyrannical First Galactic Empire was born. A Jedi named Darklighter fell victim to the Bogan, teaching its evil ways to a pirate clan known as the Black Knights of the Sith, who became Imperial servants and hunted down and killed most of the Jedi. Now, a growing rebel Alliance led by the Starkiller (a surviving Jedi) has won a crucial victory over the Imperial fleet, but the Bogan is very strong, weakening the old Jedi. However, according to the prophecies, a saviour shall come—known as “the son of the suns”.

Deak and Clieg, sons of the Starkiller, are on their way to their brother Luke on the planet Utapau, sent by their father to retrieve the diamond-like “Kiber Crystal” which a Jedi can use to intensify either side of the force a hundred fold. However, their ship is boarded by Lord Darth Vader (a Black Knight of the Sith) and his stormtroopers, and Clieg is killed. Vader believes that Deak is the last son of the Starkiller, and as Deak wears his father’s crest, the Lord takes for granted that the Starkiller is dead, and that he has altered destiny by capturing “the son of the suns”. Vader orders the attack of the rebel base on Ogana Major, not knowing that Artoo Detoo and See Threepio, two of Deak’s robots (or “droids”), have escaped to Utapau in order to bring a message to Luke. After a run-in with some filthy “Jawa” scavengers, they reach the farm where Luke lives with his two younger brothers Biggs and Windy, his Uncle Owen Lars and Aunt Beru, and their daughter Leia. Luke has never met his legendary father, and when he learns that he must bring the crystal to him he feels intimidated. Owen has taught Luke the ways of a skilled warrior (including the “laser sword”), but the spiritual ways of the Jedi can be taught only by his father. Accepting his destiny, Luke takes the crystal and leaves with the droids for the spaceport at Mos Eisley. There, Luke is forced to use his laser sword against three drunken creatures in a cantina, impressing Han Solo (who claims to be a starpilot) and his companion Chewbacca (a “Wookiee” creature), who offer Luke passage to Ogana Major for a huge sum of money. Han, who is merely a cabin boy, fakes a reactor failure on board his Captain Oxus’s ship, tricking Oxus (and the crewman Jabba the Hutt) into evacuating. Han and Chewbacca, together with the ship’s science officer Montross Holdaack, then lift off with Luke and the droids. They reach Ogana Major only to find it completely destroyed. Believing his father is dead, Luke assures Han that his brother Deak will provide payment for the passage—but they will have to rescue him from the Imperial dungeons of Alderaan. Approaching Alderaan, they hide in secret compartments as the ship is towed inside the Imperial city. Their ship is searched without result, as Han and Luke take out two troopers and steal their uniforms. Montross stays behind as Han, Luke, Chewbacca (posing as a prisoner), and the droids leave for the detention area. They find the tortured Deak, and after escaping a horrible dungeon monster, Chewbacca manages to bring him back to the hangar. Luke and Han, however, are cornered by Sith knights and forced to jump down a debris chute, ending up in a garbage room, where they are about to be crushed when the droids rescue them. They reach the ship and blast off into space, defeating their pursuers in a dogfight. As Luke uses the Kiber Crystal to heal his brother, he receives a mental message from his father, telling him to come to the new rebel base on the fourth moon of Yavin. On the jungle moon, Luke meets his wizened old father for the first time, but the “Death Star” (the battle station which destroyed Ogana Major) is approaching, and Luke’s Jedi training will have to wait. An assault on the station is organized, but Han, content with his momentous reward, leaves with Chewbacca and Montross, refusing to help. With Threepio and the ranger Bail Antilles as his gunners, Luke pilots one of the rebel ships attacking the Death Star, while his father uses the crystal to fight the Bogan. Sensing the Ashla, Lord Vader realizes that the Starkiller is alive, and joins the battle in his own fighter. He is just about to destroy Luke’s ship, when Han reappears, sending the Sith knight to his doom. In a final attempt, both Threepio and Antilles manage to hit the station’s weak point, reducing the mighty fortress to space dust. Back at the base, the heroes are greeted by the Starkiller who praises their victory as the start of the revolution.


This second draft took Lucas eight months to write. He had pared the previous screenplay, basically cutting it in half, but it still contained two movies; the rescue mission, and the battle of the Death Star: “I sort of tacked the air battle on, because it was the original impetus of the whole project.”48 The title, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”, indicates that Lucas had begun plotting the sequels, and at the end of the draft there is actually a roll-up title which serves as a teaser about the next chapter of the saga:

…And a thousand new systems joined the rebellion, causing a significant crack in the great wall of the powerful Galactic Empire. The Starkiller would once again spark fear in the hearts of the Sith knights, but not before his sons were put to many tests…the most daring of which was the kidnapping of the Lars family, and the perilous search for:

“The Princess of Ondos.”49

The roll-up at the beginning of the screenplay is also very interesting, as it features an elaborate description of the forming of the Empire and the Sith knights. In another scene, Luke tells his younger brothers an in-depth story about their Jedi heritage. This information could just as well be applied to the filmed Star Wars trilogy, and considering the amount of cut scenes which ended up in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, these subjects may be dealt with in Lucas’s forthcoming “prequels” (that is Star Wars episodes 1–3).

In order to catch the attention of the audience, there is immediate action already in the first scene, as Deak’s ship races past Utapau: “The small rebel spacefighter is being chased by four giant Imperial stardestroyers. Hundreds of deadly laser bolts streak from the Imperial warships as they dive on the smaller craft.”50 The final Death Star battle is much improved, and the difficulty of hitting the small “thermal exhaust port” (the station’s weak point) adds suspense to the scene.

Oddly enough, Leia steps out in favour of Deak, who is the one who must be rescued from the Empire. The rescue mission itself, however, closely resembles the one in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope; including Han and Luke dressed as stormtroopers, and Chewbacca pretending to be a prisoner on the loose. Among the new scenes that would reach the silver screen are Vader choking a commander with the force, and the Death Star’s annihilation of a planet.

Even though it is shorter, the second script features more plot twists than the rough draft. The Starkiller’s quest for the Kiber Crystal, which may bring chaos in the hands of the Sith knights, serves as a kind of subplot to the story. This idea did not make it to the final film, but Alan Dean Foster’s 1978 novel Splinter of the Mind’s Eye (the first officially licensed sequel to Star Wars) features the “Kaiburr Crystal”—“a Force-enhancing artifact, capable of strengthening the abilities of those who wield the Force.”51 Furthermore, this is the first script version which uses the droids as its narrative thread—wherever there is action, the two bickering robots are present—from beginning to end. It is said that R2-D2 and C-3PO will be the only element common to all nine Star Wars films.52


The Characters

The hero of this screenplay is Luke Starkiller, a short and chubby eighteen-year-old researcher, studying fossils in the Dune Sea of Utapau. Luke is the archetypal young man, taking his first steps into adulthood. He is full of admiration for his older brothers, considering himself inferior to them, but at the same time he is a very mature role model for his younger brothers. He has been taught by his uncle how to use a laser sword in order to be prepared for the day when he will be forced to join his father in the rebellion. Still, he is a rather mediocre warrior—as Uncle Owen puts it: “I’ve trained seven of your father’s sons and it’s clear that you are not the most gifted in the disciplines -- not in power or speed, at any rate…”53 Luke’s heritage as a Starkiller, however, seems to make up for his lack of skills—as in the cantina:

Little Luke’s laser sword sparks to life, and in a flash, an arm lies on the floor. The rodent is cut in two, and the giant, multiple-eyed creature lies doubled, cut from chin to groin. Luke shaking, and somewhat amazed at his reflex powers, replaces his sword in its sheath.54
(Also see Appendix.)

Luke’s father, known only as “the Starkiller”, is a legendary Jedi, deeply respected by his allies while putting fear into his enemies. Believed to be (according to an Imperial commander) over three hundred years old, he is a large man and strong with the force of others, “but shriveled and bent by an incalculable number of years.”55 He has many sons, but only five of them are mentioned—the oldest ones being Clieg and Deak. Clieg is merely reported as being killed at the beginning of the story, while Deak is described as an imposing young Jedi:
His chrome laser pistol still rests in its holster; but his laser sword sparks to life with a sharp hum. One of the troopers senses his presence and turns freezing momentarily. The rest of the troops turn a second later, almost as a reflex action. A slow grim smile creeps across Deak’s face, as the troops realize they are outmatched.56
In contrast, the powerful Deak is the one who needs to be rescued from the clutches of the evil Empire.

Owen and Beru, the anthropologist couple from draft one, now run a “moisture ranch” and have become Luke’s uncle and aunt, but their exact relation to the Starkillers is unknown. Owen is hardly the Starkiller’s brother, as he is no Jedi and his last name is Lars, but he has raised the Starkiller sons and been trusted with the precious Kiber Crystal. Their sixteen-year-old daughter Leia (not a princess in this version) might be Luke’s cousin, but it is unlikely since there seems to be a love interest between the two of them: “He lovingly roughs up the twins, and starts to give Leia a kiss, but thinks better of it and gives her a short polite hug before retreating to the speeder. Leia is greatly disappointed.”57 Biggs and Windy (princes in the previous draft) are seven-year-old twins, and the youngest of the Starkiller sons.

While still lacking the semi-artificial body, Darth Vader takes a giant step towards becoming like his film version in this screenplay (combining Prince Valorum and General Vader from draft one): “His sinister face is partially obscured by his flowing black robes and grotesque breath mask, which are in sharp contrast to the fascist white armored suits of the Imperial stormtroopers.”58 He is the first Knight of the Sith, and right hand to His Eminence Prince Espaa Valorum, the Master of the Bogan. However, the prince is only mentioned (just like the Emperor in the first film), making Vader the single all-purpose villain.

Han Solo has left his gills from the rough draft behind in favour of the cocksure attitude displayed by Harrison Ford in the films. He is a Corellian pirate, a few years older than Luke, working as a cabin-boy but pretending to be an experienced starpilot. A thinly disguised version of Lucas’s friend Francis Ford Coppola59, Solo “is a burly-bearded but ruggedly handsome boy dressed in a gaudy array of flamboyant apparel.”60 A bizarre trait of this character, however, is presented in a short scene set in Solo’s dwelling, where we are introduced to what appears to be his girlfriend: “Han is greeted by a female “Boma” named OEETA. The Boma is a fur-covered creature about five feet high and looks like a cross between a brown bear and a guinea pig.”61

“Chewbacca, the Wookee prince” has become “Chewbacca, the Wookiee co-pilot”. Lucas had deleted the forest scenes, but he liked the furry creatures so much that he decided to use one anyway: “I took the Wookiee out of the battles, and made him the co-pilot.”62 Unlike the familiar film version of Chewbacca, this two-hundred-year-old Wookiee wears brown cloth shorts, and a flak jacket underneath his bandoliers. (Also see Appendix.) Han Solo’s other companion, the science officer Montross Holdaack, makes up for the Vader character’s lack of a mechanical body—once one of the greatest warriors in the galaxy, most of his limbs are now artificially replaced, but Holdaack still manages to keep up with the pace of his young pirate friend.

The two robots, now referred to as “droids”, are established as the main thread of the story. Artoo has stopped talking and started beeping, while some of Threepio’s now-classic bickering lines appear: “Don’t call me a mindless philosopher, you overweight glob of grease!”63 Oddly enough, the golden art deco-droid Threepio is the one who blows up the Death Star together with the Aquillian ranger Bail Antilles.

Jabba the Hutt, prominently featured in Return of the Jedi as a vile gangster and “a repulsive blob of bloated fat”64, makes a first cameo appearance. Merely a human in this draft, Jabba is a gruff and grisly crewman aboard the same ship as Solo. The dwarf-sized, filthy, hooded little Jawas also appear for the first time. They travel in a giant “sandcrawler”, scavenging the Utapau wastelands—but unlike the Jawas of the movie, they melt their findings down instead of trading them. The Jawas are an amalgamation of the rough draft’s alien trappers and the hunchbacked “shell dwellers” of Lucas’s first feature THX 1138.65


The Setting

Again, Lucas does not tell the audience whether the story is set in the past, present or future. We learn that the Jedi Bendu knights have known the force of others for a hundred thousand years, and that they were the most powerful warriors in the Universe until “the tragic Holy Rebellion of “06””.66 However, it is not revealed whether “06” refers to a specific period of time.

Orbited by five lifeless moons, Utapau is a warm planet with an amber surface. It has most of the characteristics of the rough draft’s Aquilae planet, including Jundland (or “No Man’s Land), where the Great Dune Sea and the desert mesas meet. Gordon spaceport has become Mos Eisley spaceport, characterized by its concrete structures and semi-domes—the docking bays and the cantina remain. Mos Eisley is also the home town of Han Solo. Other settlements are Anchorhead, with its power station, and the Lars homestead, which is a moisture ranch. (Also see Appendix.)

The Imperial city of Alderaan is still very reminiscent of the Bespin Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back, but it has been slightly modified as it is now the setting of the rescue mission. Montross describes the city quite well as he points out the difficulties of their task:
There is only one way into Alderaan, and NO way out. It’s an island city suspended in a sea of cirrus methane. The dungeons have triple guards, scramble scanners, gas locks, and every sector is isolated…and most important, it’s the dwelling place of the Bogan Master: Prince Valorum.67
In the belly of the city, the Sith keep “Dai Noga” monsters, a terrible cross between a spider and a squid. The garbage receptacle with the moving walls is now in the Imperial city instead of aboard the space station.

While the Alderaan setting is used more prominently than before, there are only two interior scenes of the Death Star in the second script version—a Death Star which now is capable of destroying entire planets.

Ogana Major in the Ogana System was the home of the rebellion until the planet was pulverized by the Death Star.

The outpost of Masassi, situated among the gargantuan trees of the emerald green fourth moon of Yavin, is the new rebel base. From above, “All that can be seen of the fortress is a lone guard standing on a small pedestal jutting out above the dense jungle.”68 Inside the base, there is an electronic library, a conference room, and a war room filled with computers and displays keeping track of the fighting. (Also see Appendix.)


The Themes

In this second screenplay we learn that the force of others is a powerful energy field which can influence the destiny of all living things, and the fact that the force now has two opposing sides, clearly establishes the dichotomy between good and evil. Lucas’s homemade religion had developed considerably, which becomes even more apparent in comparison with the ideas of Christianity. The good side is called the Ashla (reminiscent of Aslan, the Christ symbol of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books69) and was first discovered by the holy Skywalker who taught his knowledge of the force to his twelve children (just like the holy Christ taught his twelve apostles). Entrusting their force teachings to their own children, the wielders of the Ashla became known as the Jedi (while the disciples of Christ spread their message and became known as Christians). A Jedi named Darklighter fell victim to the evil Bogan side of the force (like Judas betrayed his teacher), teaching it to the Sith knights who hunted down the Jedi (the crucifixion of Christ). The Jedi are almost extinct, but it is written in the Journal of the Whills, 3:127 (reminiscent of a Bible paragraph) that “in the time of greatest despair there shall come a savior, and he shall be known as: THE SON OF THE SUNS”70 (in Christianity, the Saviour is Jesus Christ). Even though the black-clad Vader and the silver-bearded Starkiller can be considered personifications of the Devil and God respectively, it is important to point out that Lucas’s religion is based on a universal deity—the force is a supreme being, not a god (the words “god” and “religion” are not even mentioned in this version). This would allow Lucas to incorporate a diverse group of religious and spiritual ideas into the force.

The technology/mankind dichotomy takes a few new twists in draft two. Some descriptions of Montross’s artificial body are identical with the ones of Kane Starkiller in the previous script, and like Kane, Montross claims that there is nothing left but his head and right arm, that he has “lost too much”, and that he is dying. It turns out, however, that his situation is far from critical, and instead, his problems with holding himself together provide some comic relief to the story. A pirate crewman asks “Montross fall apart again?”71 when he notices Holdaack’s lifeless limb, and, in reply, Jabba mockingly comments about their disintegrating science officer. Later, after replacing it, Montross sits down, flexing his arm: “This new arm is a lot stiffer than the last one. They just don’t make these things the way they used to…”72 Another take on this theme is found in a scene where the Jawa sandcrawler collides with a boulder which creates a hole in the chassis and allows the droid captives to escape:
The “common labor” robot runs past the confused Artoo and Threepio.

LABORER
We’re free! We’re free!

Amidst the confusion of the fleeing robots, Artoo and Threepio carefully make their way toward a break in the side of the crawler. Several Jawas appear at the opening with pistols, but before they can fire, they are knocked over and trampled by the fleeing mechanical men.73

This scene has an ironic twist as the Jawas, with their guns and their ungainly crawler, symbolize technology; while the robots, fighting for their freedom, actually portray the victory of mankind. (Also see Appendix.)

Raised by their uncle, Luke and his younger brothers have never met their real father. Biggs and Windy even believe that he is dead, until Luke tells them about their heritage, just as Deak once told it to him and Clieg told it to Deak. Even though Luke’s uncle has taught him much, Owen himself suggests that blood is thicker than water: “I have taught you the ways of a skilled warrior, but I am not a Jedi Bendu. The ways of the spirit you must learn from your father.”74 The Starkiller’s spiritual bond with his sons is indeed powerful, as he sends a mental message to Luke about the new rebel base on Yavin: “Luke suddenly sits bolt upright. A thought seems to come to him and he dashes out of the cabin.”75 When he meets his father for the first time, Luke stares at him in awe, being at once proud, moved and slightly frightened. When Luke hands his father the Kiber Crystal, they seem to make up for some of the lost time, as “Years seem to drop from the old man as the Kiber’s force moves into his body.”76 It is also notable that the older Starkiller sons seem to have strong paternal instincts towards the younger ones, while Biggs, Windy, and Luke deeply admire their older siblings. Furthermore, there seem to be no female Jedi—Luke’s mother is dead (only a grave site reminds us of her), and all the Starkiller children seem to be boys.

Unlike Annikin in the rough draft, Luke immediately realizes the importance of accepting his destiny. He is very scared, however, especially of meeting his unknown father (“I would rather help Deak trapped in the heart of the Empire than face this father I don’t remember”77), but his uncle persuades him: “Luke, you’re not a researcher, or a philosopher. You’re the son of a Jedi. Your brothers accepted their destiny with joy and pride. Anyone would. Why can’t you?”78 His acceptance is clear as he leaves the Lars homestead and Windy asks him why he is going away: “Because our father needs me, as he will need you someday.”79




5.
The Third Draft, August 1975
The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller

The Plot

The Republic Galactica is dead—ruthless trader barons have replaced democracy with the First Galactic Empire. The Jedi knights were the guardians of peace in the galaxy for more than a thousand years, but now they are all but extinct, destroyed by the Emperor’s agents: the Dark Lords of the Sith. The Jedi and the Sith are both users of “the Force of Others”, an energy field which controls one’s actions, yet obeys one’s commands. Two sides of the Force are always present: a positive side, which the Jedi store in themselves, and a negative side (called the Bogan), which is used by the Sith. Either side can be amplified using a “Kiber Crystal”, but all known crystals have fallen in the hands of the Dark Lords. However, Rebel Armies have won a crushing victory over the Imperial Starfleet, and the Emperor—afraid of losing control of the Outland systems—has sent his most ferocious Dark Lord to find and destroy the rebels.

Above the planet of Utapau, stormtroopers led by Darth Vader (a Sith Lord and right hand of the Emperor) overtake a rebel spaceship, and conduct a search for the stolen plans to the Empire’s “Death Star” battle station. A young rebel princess called Leia Organa is captured by the Imperials, but she refuses to reveal the whereabouts of the information. A young farm boy named Luke Starkiller has seen the space battle from Utapau’s wasteland with his “electrobinoculars”, but when he tells his friends at Anchorhead about it, they dismiss it as a fantasy. Luke is deeply impressed by (and jealous of) his best friend Biggs Darklighter who has graduated from the academy, becoming a startrooper cadet. Before the princess was captured, two robots named See Threepio (a tall “Human Cyborg relations droid”) and Artoo Detoo (a short, beeping triped) abandoned the rebel ship, crashing in the Utapau desert. Artoo carries the Death Star plans and a message from Leia in his innards as the two “droids” are captured by “Jawa” scavengers and taken to the Lars homestead where Luke lives with his Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen. The Jawas peddle the robots to Owen, and Luke decides to apply to the academy now that they have two extra droids on the farm. When it turns out that his academy savings were spent on the robots, Luke wishes his late Jedi father were there. Cleaning Artoo, he stumbles upon the hologram message, in which Leia wants the droids delivered to Organa Major and says that she has been taken to Alderaan. Luke runs away from home with the droids in order to get help from General Ben Kenobi, a Jedi knight his father had told him about. After being attacked by barbaric “Tusken Raiders”, Luke is found by old Ben who claims he has become too old for adventures, proving his point by angrily cracking open his artificial arm. After some thought, Ben changes his mind, but since he has little Force left in him, he starts teaching Luke about the Force of Others as they leave with the droids for Mos Eisley spaceport. On Alderaan, Vader and his fellow Sith Lords feel something old awakening, strengthening the Force. After using his “laser-sword” to defend Luke against some creatures at a Mos Eisley cantina, Ben and his friends follow a furry “Wookiee” called Chewbacca to a nearby docking bay where they are introduced to a cocky starpilot named Han Solo who agrees to take them to Organa Major for a considerable amount of money. Han tricks some evil pirates—including Jabba the Hutt, the financier of his ship—into leaving the docking area, and as the heroes leave Mos Eisley, a furious Jabba is left behind. Aboard the ship, Ben feels that something horrible has happened, and when they reach Organa Major they find the planet destroyed by the Empire. Now they must rescue the princess from the Imperial city of Alderaan in order to find the rebels. At Alderaan, their ship is boarded by stormtroopers, but only Threepio is found since the others are hiding in scan-proof lockers. Luke and Han steal stormtrooper uniforms, and with Chewbacca posing as their prisoner, they leave for the detention area, where they wreak havoc and find the tortured Leia. The groggy princess takes command of the situation, and after getting past a “Dia Nogu” monster, they jump down a chute leading to a garbage masher from where they are saved by the droids. Using the Force and his laser-sword, Ben has managed to retrieve one of the Kiber Crystals, but he meets Vader on his way back, and a duel commences. As the others make it to the hangar, Ben slams down a blast door between Vader and himself, and everybody manage to escape in Han’s ship. Four pursuing “tie” fighters are shot down, and the ship reaches the Masassi outpost on the fourth moon of Yavin, where the rebels plan an assault on the approaching Death Star (the plans inside Artoo give a “thermal exhaust port” as the station’s weak point). Han leaves after receiving his money, while Luke claims a place in the battle as his reward. The attack has gone poorly for the rebels, when Luke approaches the target with the Kiber Crystal in his hand. Vader feels the Force in Luke and starts chasing him in his fighter, when suddenly, Han’s ship turns up firing, causing the Sith Lord to collide with his wing man. As Vader’s ship spins out of control, Luke fires a torpedo into the exhaust port and the Death Star explodes. At a ceremony back at the outpost, Luke, Artoo, Threepio, Han and Chewbacca are awarded gold medallions.


The third draft is the first one to closely resemble the final film, and by now, Lucas felt that he was on the right track. Even though he had shortened the screenplay itself, the backup story about the characters was still expanding, and the fact that this script lacks an episode number might indicate that Lucas was uncertain which part of his saga the first film would constitute.

The text roll-up at the beginning of the draft still tells us about the death of the Republic, the birth of the Empire, and the struggle between the Jedi knights and the Dark Lords of the Sith; but there is no longer any mention in the script of the origin of the Jedi, the Sith, and the Force. When Luke meets Ben for the first time, he claims that he knows Kenobi’s “‘Diary of the Clone Wars’ by heart.”80 This is very interesting, considering that Lucas’s upcoming Star Wars trilogy (episodes 1–3) will deal with the Clone Wars.81 According to A Guide to the Star Wars Universe:

The Clone Wars was a terrible conflict that erupted during the time of the Old Republic (some thirty-five years prior to the start of Star Wars IV: A New Hope). The conflict produced such heroes as Bail Organa, Anakin Skywalker, and Obi-Wan Kenobi, who served as a general. Few details about the period have been revealed, but we know that the Jedi Knights and their allies battled to defend the Old Republic against its enemies.82
Judging by this third draft, the “unknown” enemies of the Old Republic might turn out to be the Dark Lords of the Sith.

It was always Lucas’s intention that Star Wars would be more of a fairy tale than a science-fiction story, therefore it is hardly surprising that the rescue mission once again deals with the freeing of a princess. Lucas has kept the quest for the Kiber Crystals (there are now several of them) as a subplot, as Ben enters the Alderaanian crystal chamber while the others save the princess. A new addition to the rescue sequence is the duel between Vader and Ben:
Ben makes a sudden lunge at the huge warrior but is checked by a lightning movement of the Sith. A masterful slash-stroke by Vader is blocked by the old Jedi. Another of the Jedi’s blows is blocked, then countered. Ben moves around the Dark Lord and starts backing into the massive starship hangar. The two powerful warriors stand motionless for a few moments with laser-swords locked in mid-air, creating a low buzzing sound.83
The descriptions of the duel are almost exactly the same as in the official screenplay, with the important exception that Ben is not killed in this version.

The opening of the script, where a giant Imperial stardestroyer overtakes a rebel ship, is much like the one of the film, and R2-D2 and C-3PO are the first characters to be introduced as they make their way through a shaking passageway. The first line of this draft is identical with Threepio’s now-classic first line of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope: “Did you hear that? They’ve shut down the main reactor. We’ll be destroyed for sure. This is madness!”84


The Characters

The Luke Starkiller of the third draft is not far from the Luke Skywalker of the movie—either in his appearance or in his actions. One of the reasons Lucas started with the middle trilogy was that it starred Luke, the character with whom he felt most secure.85 The lovable Starkiller is a twenty-year-old, short-haired farm boy longing for adventure, but although his late father Annikin was a great Jedi knight, Luke seems destined for a life at his Uncle Owen’s farm. When he finally runs away from home, he wants to act urbane, and actually lies to Ben at their first meeting:
BEN
What brings a young boy like you way out here?

Luke bristles at the use of “boy.”

LUKE
I’m Luke Starkiller, guardian of the Bendu.

BEN
Oh, so you’re a warrior then?

LUKE
Of course. I’m a Bendu officer.86
Luke’s innocence is quite obvious in the cantina scene, when he cannot hear the bartender talking to him since he is “still recovering from the shock of seeing so many outlandish creatures”.87

Owen and Beru Lars are Luke’s uncle and aunt, and again their relation to Luke is uncertain. Just as in the movie, Beru is a very loving and motherly woman, but Owen seems more bitter and cross than his film counterpart:
LUKE
You used my savings! You stole my savings. If my father were here…

OWEN
Your father’s dead. Don’t ever forget who’s taking care of you, giving you food, giving you shelter, and giving you the allowance in the first place. If you plan to work at the academy the way you work around here, you won’t last very long. I don’t want another word. Finish your dinner, then finish cleaning those ‘droids.’88
It is notable that Owen and Beru, unlike in the film, are not murdered in this version.

At the Anchorhead power station we get to meet Luke’s friends: the rugged-looking Fixer and his sexy girlfriend Camie, two tough boys named Deak and Windy, and the academy graduate called Biggs Darklighter (note that Deak, Windy and Biggs were Luke’s brothers in the previous draft, while Darklighter taught the Bogan to the Sith—roles and names still underwent considerable shuffling). As a startrooper cadet and a guardian of the Bendu (the Bendu is no longer connected to the Jedi), Biggs’s “flashy uniform is a sharp contrast to the loose-fitting tunic of farm boys.”89 Luke has the same admiration for Biggs as he has for Deak in the second script. (Also see Appendix.)

Darth Vader, the seven-foot tall Dark Lord of the Sith, is now the right hand of the Emperor. He still lacks the mechanical limbs, but he “speaks in an oddly filtered voice through his complex breathing mask.”90 The tale of Vader as the fallen student is told for the first time. According to Ben Kenobi, it happened at the battle of Condawn: “It was a black day. One of my disciple’s (sic) took the crystal and became a Sith Lord.”91 The crystal that he stole from Ben was the last one in the possession of the Jedi, and when Vader joined the Sith, the power of the Dark Lords was completed. Vader’s maniacal laughter in this draft was later given to the Emperor in Return of the Jedi.

Ben Kenobi makes his first appearance in the third script, but many of his traits can be traced to both General Luke Skywalker of the rough draft and the Starkiller of draft two. General Kenobi also has artificial body parts—just like Kane Starkiller in the rough screenplay and Montross Holdaack in the second—and for the third time the phrase “I’ve lost too much” is spoken. Furthermore, the eccentric and prank-loving Jedi Master Yoda (who appeared in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) seems to have his roots in this incarnation of Ben: “The wizened old man begins to giggle like a child, putting his frail hand to his mouth in a vain attempt to contain himself.”92 Kenobi once served as the commander of the White Legions under Annikin Starkiller, Luke’s late father, and is (according to Annikin) the greatest of all the Jedi knights.

Leia Organa is a beautiful rebel princess and member of the senate, about sixteen years old, but despite her young age she is very defiant when she is captured by the dark Sith Lord. As a “swan sensana”, she knows the art of mind control, thus resisting the mental torture of Vader’s mind probe and not telling him where the stolen information is. When she is rescued from her cell, Leia takes charge of their escape, creating some conflict between herself and Han. As in the scene where Han tries to shoot their way out of the garbage room:
LEIA
Put that thing away or you’re going to get us all killed.

HAN
(sarcastic)
Yes, your highness. I’ll let you open it then. It won’t be too long before they figure out what happened to us. This has turned into a brilliant escape!93
This bickering is somewhat reminiscent of that in the trilogy, but there is no apparent love interest between the two of them.

Han Solo, no longer bearded, is “a tough James Dean style starpilot about twenty-five years old. A cowboy in a starship -- simple, sentimental and cocksure of himself.”94 Han is quite selfish, caring about little more than his reward, but he is still very resourceful to the rebels since his bravery is unquestionable. When Luke asks him if he believes in the Force, Solo gives a good explanation of his philosophy: “Sorcery! I believe in myself… I determine my destiny, not some mystical energy field.”95 Although Jabba the Hutt paid for it, Han has built his ship himself. The “long Rube Goldburg-pieced together contraption, which can only be loosely called a spaceship”96 is the first version of the Millennium Falcon which was featured prominently in all three films.

Still wearing clothes, Solo’s Wookiee companion Chewbacca is a huge and deadly creature with a horrifying laugh. When they encounter the Dia Nogu monster, however, we see a different side of Chewbacca’s character: “Han turns and wades back to Chewbacca, who is huddled against the wall. The Wookiee is shaking and wailing like a small child.”97 (Also see Appendix.)

The love/hate relationship between Artoo Detoo and See Threepio is now very close to its final form. Threepio is furious when Artoo decides to take his own direction in the desert, but when they meet again he shows his affection, embracing the little droid. This time, Artoo is the one who joins the battle of the Death Star, communicating with Luke’s computer monitor as a “part of the exterior shell of the starship”.98

As he is now Han’s employer, Jabba the Hutt takes a small step towards his Return of the Jedi version. He is still human, but his scarred face shows that he is a vicious killer. (Also see Appendix.) Montross has become one of Jabba’s evil pirates. The barbaric Tusken Raiders, nomad creatures who travel the desert on mammoth-like Banthas, make their first appearance. The Tusken Raiders (as well as Han Solo) carry laser-swords, which later would become exclusive Jedi weapons.


The Setting

The story is still not set in a specific time period, and the history of the Jedi (guarding the galaxy for over a thousand years) combined with the futuristic weapons and spaceships create a timeless adventure, which was Lucas’s intention.

The planet of Utapau, with its reddish-yellow mass, is basically a desert planet. It is characterized by rock formations and canyons, separated by sand dunes which are travelled over by the dwarf-like Jawas and the Bantha-riding Tusken Raiders. Mos Eisley is a spaceport city, attracting humans and aliens from all over the galaxy. On a bluff overlooking the city, Ben calls Mos Eisley a “wretched hive of scum and villainy”99, a description which has been quoted in several of the licensed Star Wars novels and comic books. A few scenes are also set in Kenobi’s small desert home: “The clean but spartan cave dwelling radiates an air of time worn comfort and security.”100 The Anchorhead power station and the Lars homestead are featured again, both consisting of block-house type buildings, while the homestead also has a courtyard which serves as a small oasis in the desert.

Alderaan is prominently featured for the last time in this screenplay version. Most of the interior of the Imperial city would be applied to the Death Star in draft four as the rescue scenes were relocated. The mushroom-like exterior would reappear in The Empire Strikes Back as Bespin Cloud City, an art deco type mining colony run by Han’s pirate friend Lando Calrissian. Ironically enough, the name “Alderaan” would be transferred from the heart of the Empire to the pacifistic homeworld of Princess Leia. In the third draft, the Alderaan city contains a crystal chamber where a Kiber Crystal is placed on an altar, in front of which the Sith Lords chant their prayers. When it is not in use, the chamber is protected by an intricate alarm system which is triggered if an intruder should pass through any of the invisible beams in the room.

As the heroes arrive at the fourth moon of Yavin, they are met by “a forest of gargantuan trees shrouded in an eerie mist. The air is heavy with the fantastic cries of unimaginable creatures.”101 Inside an ancient temple, known as the Masassi outpost, the rebels have constructed a massive war room. The rebel base also holds a medical chamber, a briefing room, a hangar and a throne room.

There is only one interior scene of the Death Star, describing the chaos of war: “Walls buckle and cave in, sucking debris and personnel into the vacuum of space.”102 The exterior is described as a complex globe with radar domes, antennas and protruding gun towers. The rebels’ main target is a small thermal exhaust port, an unshielded shaft which leads directly into the reactor system.

Organa Major is destroyed by the Death Star before Han’s ship reaches it. The planet must be considered rebel friendly, since Leia wants Artoo and the stolen plans to be delivered to its authorities. Whether the planet was named after the royal family or vice versa is not known.


The Themes

Like the second draft, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller begins with a quotation from the Journal of the Whills about the saviour known as “The Son of The Suns”. This is not dealt with later on in the script, however, but it might be an indication of Luke Starkiller’s potential as a Christ symbol. The Force of Others is a power controlling the actions, yet obeying the commands of the people who can use it. It is an energy field generated by all living things, and when a creature dies, its generated energy remains. The Jedi and the Sith are able to tap into this force, collecting and transmitting it through the use of a Kiber Crystal, turning them into skilled magicians and warriors. The power of a Jedi is measured by the amount of Force that is stored within him, and a Kiber Crystal can amplify that power. There are two halves of the Force of Others: a positive side (the Force) that will help you if you learn how to use it, and a negative side (the Bogan) that will kill those who are not careful. According to Ben: “Both halves are always present. The Force is on your right, the Bogan is on your left.”103 Darth Vader may be the personification of evil, but Lucas makes it clear that the negative side is in all of us. As a redemption of our “original sin”, however, Luke is the one who triumphs, and not Vader.104 Both sides are used in different expressions throughout the draft. “May the Force be with you” is a parting phrase which would be used in all three films, while “Bogan weather” and “Bogan times” are more informal sayings. Lucas’s concept of the Force was heavily influenced by the controversial Tales of Power, written in 1972 by Carlos Castaneda. The book is one in a series of accounts of a Mexican Indian sorcerer, Don Juan, under whom Castaneda claims to have studied. Don Juan, who uses the phrase “life force”, was turned into Ben Kenobi, the wise man who aids the hero.105

Once again, a mechanical arm appears as a symbol of technology in opposition to mankind. This time it is Ben who “suddenly ignites in a rage and swings his left forearm down across the solid metal table with a mighty blow. His arm cracks in two, spewing forth wires and electronic components”106 as he claims that he is too old and not the same man as he once was. The idea of an artificial limb would be used again in episodes five and six of the saga. In The Empire Strikes Back, just before he reveals that he is Luke’s father, Vader cuts off his son’s right hand in a “lightsaber” duel, and at the end it is replaced with a mechanical one. They meet again in Return of the Jedi, where Luke symbolically severs Vader’s right hand: “Luke looks at his father’s mechanical hand, then to his own mechanical, black-gloved hand, and realizes how much he is becoming like his father.”107 The traits of the two bureaucrats in the 1973 synopsis are still found in Artoo and Threepio. Whenever there is danger, they react in the same way that ordinary people would—by quarrelling and getting scared. Thus, the two mechanical men can be considered symbols of humanity.

The late Jedi knight Annikin Starkiller, Luke’s father, had mentioned the Force of Others to his son, but never taught him its secrets. There are several indications that Luke and his father are much alike. When Luke runs away from home, Owen claims: “That boy is going to get himself killed… He’s just like his father.”108 Ben, on the other hand, says to Luke: “In many ways you’re a lot like your father. He was an indulgent man, but a clever warrior.”109 In the Star Wars trilogy, it turns out that Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father: Once a student of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker (note the similarity between the names) was seduced by the dark side of the Force and became Darth Vader. His twin children (Luke and Leia) were placed into hiding and never knew what happened to their father. It was not until he wrote The Empire Strikes Back that Lucas decided that Vader would be Luke’s father, but there are some indications that he played with the idea already in the third draft: Annikin Starkiller was killed at the battle of Condawn, during which one of Ben’s disciples, Darth Vader, became a Sith Lord (in the movie, Ben claims that Darth Vader killed Luke’s father). Furthermore, when Vader pursues the young Starkiller during the Death Star battle, he speaks to Luke with the Force: “You’re next, Blue Five… I have this feeling I know you. The Force is strong with you.”110

In the third screenplay draft, Lucas coupled his research on fairy tales with the theme of accepting one’s personal responsibilities. He wanted to make a timeless fable that could demonstrate, not pontificate on, the differences between responsibility and shiftlessness.111 A common fairy tale motif is found in Luke—he is the ugly duckling who turns into a hero. Luke is considered a dreamer among his friends at the Anchorhead station. When he tells them about the fighting he has observed above Utapau, they make fun of him, not taking his words seriously: “Don’t worry about it, Wormie.”112 Luke is not very self-confident when Ben tells him that he will not join him to Organa Major, but he learns something from the old Jedi:
LUKE
But you must! I can’t do it alone. I’m not at all like my father. I’d never make it.

BEN
I already know you think you’re worthless. I recommend you learn to think of yourself in a better light, for what you believe you are is what you become.113
After Ben has accepted his Jedi duties and left with the young man (“You were right. It is my responsibility. The Force of Others brought the message to you and then it brought you to me”114), Luke gradually accepts his destiny, gaining respect at the same time. This is shown in the scene where Luke is asked to name his reward for the rescue of the princess:
LUKE
I… I don’t know. I guess I never thought about it… I just want to help. I want to be in on the attack. I want my own ship.

LEIA
If you’re as good a pilot as you are a swordsman… We’re the ones who have been awarded.115



6.
The Revised Fourth Draft, Public Version
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope—From the Journal of the Whills

The Plot

There is a civil war between the evil Galactic Empire and a Rebel Alliance. In order to crush its opponents, the Empire has constructed the “Death Star”—a space fortress capable of destroying planets—but the Rebels have managed to steal secret plans to the station, and now, the Rebel Princess Leia Organa is on her way home to Alderaan with the stolen information.

Above Tatooine, Leia’s ship is overtaken by an Imperial Stardestroyer. Leia is captured by Darth Vader (the Emperor’s Dark Lord of the Sith), but his stormtroopers do not find the plans. Artoo-Detoo and See-Threepio, two Rebel robots (or “droids”), abandon the ship in a lifepod, crashing in the Tatooine desert. Imperials locate the pod, but the data is not there—the robots have been captured by “Jawa” scavengers. Luke Skywalker has spotted the space battle with his “electrobinoculars”, but his friends at Anchorhead do not believe him. Luke’s best friend Biggs Darklighter is the first mate on a space frigate, but as an Academy graduate he is likely to be drafted into the Imperial Starfleet, thus he has decided to jump ship and join the Rebellion. The Jawas’ “Sandcrawler” arrives at the farm where Luke lives with his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, and the two droids are sold to Owen. Luke is cleaning Artoo when a hologram of Leia appears, begging for the help of an Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luke wonders if she means the hermit Ben Kenobi, but Owen claims that Ben is dead. Owen further upsets Luke by telling him that he cannot go to the Academy since he is needed at the farm. Meanwhile, Artoo has escaped, and Luke and Threepio leave in a “Landspeeder” in search for him. Upon finding Artoo, they are attacked by vicious “Tusken Raiders”, but the creatures are chased away by an old man who turns out to be Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi. At Ben’s dwelling, Luke receives his father’s “lightsaber”, learning that his father and Ben were Jedi Knights. The Jedi served as peace keepers of the Old Republic, but were hunted and killed as the Empire grew. According to Ben, Darth Vader, a pupil of his, was seduced by the dark side of “the Force” (an energy field which binds the galaxy together) and murdered Luke’s father. Leia’s hologram tells Ben about her capture and asks him to deliver Artoo to her father on Alderaan, since the droid contains vital information. Luke declines to follow Ben to Alderaan, but agrees to take him as far as Anchorhead. On their way, they find the Jawas killed by what seem to be Imperial troopers. Luke drives home, fearing for the lives of Owen and Beru, but only their smouldering remains are left. Meeting up with Ben, Luke says that he will go to Alderaan, learn about the Force, and become a Jedi. At Mos Eisley Spaceport, Ben uses the Force to get past Imperial guards, and when Luke is threatened by some hideous creatures in a cantina, the old Jedi shows his lightsaber skills. Han Solo (captain of a ship called the Millennium Falcon) and Chewbacca (his “Wookiee” co-pilot) agree to take the group to Alderaan if they are well paid, and Luke and his friends leave to sell the speeder. Han avoids getting killed by a bounty hunter at the cantina, but back at his ship he is confronted by the mercenary’s employer—Jabba the Hut. Solo is heavily in debt to Jabba, and the alien pirate threatens to put a large prize on Han’s head if he does not pay him soon. The Empire is on their trail, but Luke, Ben, the droids, Han, and Chewbacca manage to escape into hyperspace with the Falcon. On the Death Star, Vader and the Grand Moff Tarkin (a governor), tired of Leia’s loyalty, order the destruction of Alderaan. During Luke’s lightsaber practise, Ben feels a sudden disturbance in the Force, and as they reach Alderaan, the planet is gone. Without realizing it, they approach the Death Star, and their ship is towed aboard the station with a tractor beam. The Falcon is searched without result since the crew is hiding in smuggling compartments. Han and Luke steal trooper uniforms, and the group con their way into a command office where Artoo locates the tractor beam’s power source. Ben leaves to shut it down, while Artoo notices that Leia is held aboard the station. Luke and Han leave for the detention area with Chewbacca posing as their prisoner. After some fighting, Leia is freed from her cell, but they are cornered by Imperials and forced to slide down a garbage chute. After almost being drowned by a tentacled “Dia Nogu” and crushed by moving walls, they are released from the garbage room by the droids and fight their way back to the ship. The tractor beam is shut down, but Ben encounters Vader, and a lightsaber duel commences. Realizing that the others are safe, Ben ceases fighting and is struck by the Dark Lord. Only the cloak is left of Ben as the Millennium Falcon shoots down the pursuing “TIE” fighters and heads for the Rebel outpost of Massassi on the fourth moon of Yavin, where Luke is reunited with Biggs. Han leaves with his reward, as Luke, Biggs, and the Rebel pilots attack the Death Star. Most Rebels, including Biggs, have been killed when Luke’s “X-wing” ship approaches the weak point which was found using Artoo’s plans. Vader, in his personal ship, is about to fire on Luke, when the Falcon turns up, sending the Dark Lord spinning into space. Luke hears Ben’s voice and uses the Force to hit the small target. Tarkin and his battle station are reduced to space dust, while the heroes are rewarded by the princess back at the base.


Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope—From the Journal of the Whills was published as the film’s official screenplay and dated to January 1976, but the draft is actually a re-revised version of the shooting script from March 1976. The story was now established as part four of the Star Wars saga, but although the subtitle “Episode IV: A New Hope” is given in the screenplay, it was not added to the actual film until 1981, after the release of The Empire Strikes Back.116 Thus, the film is generally known as merely Star Wars. Apparently, all the scenes in this draft were filmed, although some dialogue was slightly altered and a few explanations in the narrative were contradicted. Two major subplots, however, were cut from the movie prior to its release: the scenes with Biggs Darklighter and Han’s encounter with Jabba the Hut.

Luke, out in the wasteland, notices a bright sparkle in the morning sky caused by the fighting between Leia’s ship and the Imperial Stardestroyer. After observing it with his electrobinoculars, he jumps into his Landspeeder and drives to a power station at the Anchorhead settlement. He rushes into the building, waking his friends The Fixer and Camie, and runs into a small room, where he finds Deak, Windy, and the slightly older Biggs. Luke is surprised by the appearance of Biggs, who has been away at the Academy, and they give each other a hug. Biggs has signed aboard a frigate as first mate, and has come to say good-bye to his friends. Luke drags his friends outside to show them the battle, but Biggs assures him: “That’s no battle, hot shot…they’re just sitting there! Probably a freighter-tanker refueling.”117 Later, when Luke drinks a malt brew with him, Biggs confesses that he did not come back just to say good-bye: “I made some friends at the Academy. (he whispers)…when our frigate goes to one of the central systems, we’re going to jump ship and join the Alliance…”118 He continues: “It’s what we always talked about. Luke, I’m not going to wait for the Empire to draft me into service. The Rebellion is spreading and I want to be on the right side—the side I believe in.”119 The friends part, not knowing if they will see each other anymore, but in the hangar, prior to the Death Star battle, they meet again—and their parting words are fateful:

LUKE: I told you I’d make it someday, Biggs.

BIGGS: (going off) You did, all right. It’s going to be like old times Luke. We’re a couple of shooting stars that’ll never be stopped!120
Later, when Luke is flying his X-wing along the Death Star trench leading to the station’s weak point, Biggs cover for him and ends up being killed by Darth Vader: “Luke is stunned by Biggs’ death. His eyes are watering, but his anger is also growing.”121 Apparently, George Lucas came up with the idea of Luke noticing the space battle, and racing to his friends, in order to introduce the main character early on in the film. However, he wanted his film to be under two hours long in order to get maximum audience turnover; thus, six minutes of Biggs Darklighter scenes were cut from the film, and he can only be seen as one of the pilots in the Death Star attack.122 Luke mentions Biggs twice when he complains about being stuck at the farm, but there are no suggestions left in the film indicating that “Biggs, the friend” and “Biggs, the pilot” is the same person (the 1997 Star Wars—Special Edition re-release, however, contains part of Luke and Biggs’s reunion in the hangar on the fourth moon of Yavin). It is notable that both the Star Wars novel, radio drama, and comic book adaptation feature the cut Biggs scenes. (Also see Appendix.)

In the Star Wars film, we learn (through the bounty hunter Greedo) that Han is in debt to someone called Jabba, but it is not until Return of the Jedi that we get to meet the Huttese gangster. However, a scene with Jabba was shot already for the 1977 movie. When Han and Chewbacca prepares the Falcon before the Alderaan trip, Jabba the Hut (now spelled with one “t”) enters the docking bay with his grisly alien pirates: “Han, my boy, there are times when you disappoint me…why haven’t you paid me? And why did you have to fry poor Greedo like that…after all we’ve been through together.”123 The capture of Han in episode five comes as no surprise after reading the dialogue between Han and Jabba in this draft:
JABBA: Han, Han! If only you hadn’t had to dump that shipment of spice…you understand I just can’t make an exception. Where would I be if every pilot who smuggled for me dumped their shipment at the first sign of an Imperial starship? It’s not good business.

HAN: You know, even I get boarded sometimes, Jabba. I had no choice, but I’ve got a charter now and I can pay you back, plus a little extra. I just need some more time.

JABBA: (to his men) Put your blasters away. Han, my boy, I’m only doing this because you’re the best and I need you. So, for an extra, say…twenty percent I’ll give you a little more time…but this is it. If you disappoint me again, I’ll put a price on your head so large you won’t be able to go near a civilized system for the rest of your short life.

HAN: Jabba, I’ll pay you because it’s my pleasure.124
When shooting the scene, Lucas had a large man dressed in a fur suit as Jabba, planning to use special effects to place the creature’s face (with eyes on feelers) over the actor. Because of time constraints, and the fact that neither the budget nor the technology of the time allowed for a scene that fit Lucas’s vision, Jabba was left in the cutting room.125 However, in the 1997 special edition of Star Wars this Jabba scene is used, and the man in furs is replaced by the Return of the Jedi version of Jabba using computer technology. The Jabba scene can also be found in the novel and comic book adaptation. (Also see Appendix.)


The Characters

Due to the cut Biggs scenes, Luke is introduced fairly late in the film. In the official script, however, the main character appears very early on:
The tremendous heat of two huge twin suns settles on a lone figure, Luke Skywalker, a farm boy with heroic aspirations who looks much younger than his eighteen years. His shaggy hair and baggy tunic give him the air of a simple but lovable lad with a prize-winning smile.126
The character of Luke is basically a fairy tale prototype. As the traditional young hero, he is trapped between childhood and maturity, experiencing the difficulties of adolescence. Like a mythological hero, he undergoes an initiation: a tragedy strikes (the killing of Owen and Beru), after which he is given a mission to accomplish. With the help of supernatural forces, he scores a decisive victory, and, true to the fairy tale spirit, he eliminates the threat of annihilation.127

Luke lives at the Lars homestead with his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. Although it is not mentioned in any of the films, Owen Lars is actually the brother of Ben Kenobi. According to the Return of the Jedi script, Ben gave Luke into Owen’s care right after Luke was born.128 Luke, however, has always believed that the large, burly Owen and the warm, motherly Beru were his real uncle and aunt.

Luke’s friends at Anchorhead are the same as in draft three: The Fixer, Camie, Deak, Windy and Biggs. In this version, however, Biggs is a Rebel and participates in the Battle of Yavin (in which he is killed). Dressed in a flashy city attire, he seems to enjoy being the focus of his younger friends’ attention. As in the scene where Luke asks him if he has come back home because he did not get his commission:
Biggs has an air of cool that seems slightly phony.

BIGGS: Of course I got it. Signed aboard The Rand Ecliptic last week. First mate Biggs Darklighter at your service…(he salutes)…I just came back to say good-bye to all you unfortunate landlocked simpletons.

Everyone laughs. The dazzling spectacle of his dashing friend is almost too much for Luke, but suddenly he snaps out of it.129
(Also see Appendix.)

From a dramatical point of view, Darth Vader can be considered the driving character of the script. He is the one who gets the story going by overtaking the Rebel Blockade Runner, and throughout the screenplay, his evil intentions force the other characters to act. He does not develop during the script, and is ultimately defeated by the heroes.130 In the sequels, as Vader’s character becomes more nuanced, the Emperor (who does not appear in this draft) steps into Vader’s shoes as the driving character. Vader used to be a Jedi, but he was seduced by the dark side of the Force and became a Dark Lord of the Sith. We do not learn anything about the mysterious group called the Sith—in fact, the Sith is not mentioned in any of the films. However, Lucas will probably deal with the Sith Lords in the upcoming Star Wars episodes. Note that Vader was still not wearing his black armour in this screenplay. It was the production painter Ralph McQuarrie who convinced Lucas that Vader was not menacing enough in fluttering black robes—thus, the Dark Lord was given a heavy armour and hoarse mechanical breathing.131

Ben Kenobi has evolved into the long-suffering, dignified Jedi Master who was portrayed by Alec Guinness in the film. Going by the name of Obi-Wan, Ben served Leia’s foster-father as a general during the Clone Wars, but he was forced into hiding when the Jedi were hunted down by the Empire. Ben is considered a crazy old hermit by the locals, and he explains to Luke why Owen never told the truth about him: “He feared you might follow old Obi-Wan on some damned-fool idealistic crusade like your father did.”132 His suffering becomes more apparent in the Return of the Jedi script, as Ben’s ghost tells Luke about his part in the creation of Darth Vader: “I took it upon myself to train him as a Jedi. I thought that I could instruct him just as well as Yoda. I was wrong. My pride has had terrible consequences for the galaxy.”133 Ben’s ultimate self-sacrifice comes when he helps the heroes to escape from the Death Star: “Vader brings his sword down, cutting old Ben in half. Ben’s cloak falls to the floor in two parts, but Ben is not in it. Vader is puzzled at Ben’s disappearance and pokes at the empty cloak. As the guards are distracted, the adventurers and the robots reach the starship.”134

Princess Leia, dressed in white, can be considered the main antagonist of the driving character, the Dark Lord Vader. Both are featured throughout the whole script (without character development), and they are equally powerful, but their aims are conflicting. Leia is strong, brave and target-oriented—something that the Grand Moff Tarkin learns: “Governor Tarkin, I should have expected to find you holding Vader’s leash. I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board.”135 Apparently, George Lucas came up with the idea of Leia being Luke’s twin sister during the writing of the sequels, since this public version of the revised fourth draft describes Leia as about sixteen years old (two years younger than Luke).

Han Solo “is a tough, roguish starpilot about thirty years old”136, and can be considered the script’s main contrast character. A contrast character is deliberately made different from the main character, but develops in a similar way in order to shed light upon the main character’s progress.137 At first, Solo is only interested in one thing: “Look, I ain’t in this for your revolution, and I’m not in it for you, Princess. I expect to be well paid. I’m in it for the money!”138 After his involvement in the Death Star battle, however, Solo has developed just as much as Luke, but in his own way:
LUKE: (laughing) I knew you’d come back! I just knew it!

HAN: Well, I wasn’t gonna let you get all the credit and take all the reward.

Luke and Han look at one another, as Solo playfully shoves at Luke’s face. Leia moves in between them.

LEIA: (laughing) Hey, I knew there was more to you than money.139
Chewbacca (now with the nickname “Chewie”) is “an eight-foot-tall-savage-looking creature resembling a huge bushbaby monkey with fierce baboon-like fangs. His large blue eyes dominate a fur-covered face and soften his otherwise awesome appearance.”140 With his production paintings, Ralph McQuarrie had convinced Lucas to soften the two-hundred-year-old Wookiee’s frightening features and eliminate his clothes, leaving the two chrome bandoliers.141 Beside the script, Lucas constructed a detailed culture for the Wookiees. They live in giant trees (just like the “Ewoks” in Return of the Jedi) on their homeworld Kashyyyk, and they have their own version of the Force based on their empathy with plant life. Their most sacred custom is the life debt, which Wookiees pledge to those who save their lives. When Chewbacca was saved from Imperial slavetraders by Han Solo, he pledged a life debt to Han, and now he travels with his saviour in order to carry out his sacred obligations.142 (Also see Appendix.)

Lucas wrote a dossier on the protocol droid C-3PO as well: Threepio is fluent in over six million galactic languages, he is 112 years old, and Luke is his forty-third master. As he is devoid of irony, Threepio is the cause of many outrageous situations.143 Artoo, on the other hand, has a fixed purpose which his two-legged friend does not seem to approve of: “Master Luke here is your rightful owner. We’ll have no more of this Obi-Wan Kenobi jibberish…and don’t talk to me of your mission, either.”144

The Grand Moff Tarkin has appeared briefly in the previous drafts as a Rebel leader, although his name was spelled differently. Now, he is Vader’s superior officer, and the governor of the Imperial outland regions. The character, played by Peter Cushing in the film, is reminiscent of both Emperor Cos Dashit and Governor Hoedaack in the 1974 rough draft.

The fatherly-smooth, yet deadly personality of Jabba the Hut in the public version of the 1976 script is very much in line with the characteristics of the vile Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi. However, in the official screenplay, Jabba is bipedal and does not speak Huttese. “He is a fat, slug-like creature with eyes on extended feelers and a huge ugly mouth.”145 (Also see Appendix.)


The Setting

The official screenplay begins “A long time ago, in a galaxy, far, far, away…”146—Lucas’s version of the fairy tales’ “Once upon a time”. Together, the primordial scenery and futuristic technology constitute a setting which is intended to capture the audience’s imagination.

Tatooine, a sand-covered world with twin suns, is situated in the Outer Rim Territories—as Luke tells Threepio: “if there’s a bright center to the universe, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from.”147 A vast Dune Sea, beyond which Ben Kenobi lives, stretches across the Tatooine wastes. Within the twisting confines of the planet’s canyons, Luke and his friends use to race “Skyhoppers” and engage in mock dogfights. Luke also spends much of his spare time in Anchorhead, a tiny settlement located on Tatooine’s desert flats, where he frequents the Toshi Station. He lives outside the sleepy town at his uncle’s “moisture farm”, where tall “vaporators”, protruding from the ground, extract valuable water from the air. Mos Eisley is characterized by half-buried buildings (including a smoke-filled cantina with exotic big band music) protecting from the heat, and instead of having a central landing area, the entire city is a spaceport, with craterlike docking bays scattered throughout.148

The Death Star is now prominently featured as a setting. The battle station, the size of a small moon, has more destructive power than the whole Imperial fleet. Artificial mountains and canyons are formed by the control towers, gun emplacements, trenches and docking ports that cover the surface. One of the enormous trenches leads to the stations weak point, a “thermal exhaust port”. The interior is very similar to the previous draft’s Alderaan city, but the Death Star also has a service trench that powers the huge tractor beam, and a central core shaft where Luke and Leia swing across the abyss using a grappler hook.

After destroying Leia’s peaceful homeworld of Alderaan, the Death Star’s target is the new Rebel base, but the Imperials must orbit the reddish-yellow planet of Yavin in order to reach it, since the Alliance stronghold is hidden on the far side—on the planet’s tropical fourth moon. The base has been established in one of the lush moon’s massive temples, apparently ruins of a now-dead civilization called the Massassi.149 Threatened by the Death Star, the Rebels launch an assault on the station from this location, and the Battle of Yavin ensues.

Several scenes are set inside Solo’s ship, the Millennium Falcon, but although it is a fast craft, Ben is not fooled when Han tries to impress him with obvious misinformation: “It’s the ship that made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs!”150 (Solo does not realize that the parsec is a measure of distance.) The Falcon has undergone major overhauls, refittings and modifications, and is a beat-up, yet lovable starship. However, Luke’s first impression is full of disapproval (“What a piece of junk”151), and so is Princess Leia’s: “You came in that thing? You’re braver than I thought.”152 When production began at Elstree Studios outside of London, one of the sets created was a full-scale model of the Falcon. However, Lucas did not approve of the gleaming sets, and ordered them to be made dirty and grimy (the art directors were depressed as they kicked their lovingly constructed R2-D2, rolled him in the dirt, and nicked him with a saw). “Lucas wanted an “organic” atmosphere—“not futuristic, not designy, and not noticeable.” The actors had to dominate Star Wars, not the sets.”153


The Themes

In drafts two and three, Lucas refers to the prophetical Journal of the Whills, but (according to its subtitle) the public draft version is actually a part of those scriptures. This idea was not incorporated in the final film (nor in its sequels), but Lucas apparently thought of his saga as a galactic version of the Bible. Star Wars has been described, at various times, as a metaphor for the tenets of Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam. However, Lucas wanted to instil in children the idea of a universal deity—not a religious god.154 That supreme being, known as the Force, is explained by Ben Kenobi: “the Force is what gives the Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.”155 A Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him, as it both controls his actions and obeys his commands. It can be a powerful ally, but the Force’s influence on the weak-minded is strong, and they can easily be seduced by its dark side and turn to evil. In the official script to The Empire Strikes back, Luke learns more about the dark side from the old Jedi Master Yoda:Anger… fear… aggression. The dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.”156 The Force embraces Oriental philosophies and the Judeo-Christian ethic of responsibility and self-sacrifice. Yoda has a Buddhist approach to the Force, as he claims that it requires calmness and should be used for knowledge and defence. Lucas sees the Force as a means of looking into yourself, realizing your potential, and facing the obstacles in your way. Lucas himself had gone through this introspection following a car crash in 1962 (when he was eighteen, just like Luke Skywalker), and now he wanted the audience to know that the “laws really are in yourself”.157

Even though Vader would become more machine-like in the final film (in order to be more frightening), his incredible strength and black breath mask constitutes a distinct symbol of rapacious technology. However, Lucas insisted that his characters remain human—thus, Vader is terrifying, but still a man.158 In fact, the Sith Lord has quite a scornful view of technology—something the bitter Admiral Motti is forced to recognize:
MOTTI: Any attack made by the Rebels against this station would be a useless gesture, no matter what technical data they’ve obtained. This station is now the ultimate power in the universe. I suggest we use it!

VADER: Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

MOTTI: Don’t try to frighten us with your sorcerer’s ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebel’s hidden fort…

Suddenly Motti chokes and starts to turn blue under Vader’s spell.

VADER: I find your lack of faith disturbing.159
Evoking Nazi soldiers, the armoured Imperial stormtroopers with their anonymous covered faces are the epitome of an inhuman society. So is Governor Tarkin, whose death is caused by his faith in technology as he refuses to leave the Death Star: “Evacuate? In our moment of triumph?”160 Furthermore, Lucas created a complex colour scheme for his film: the sequences on Tatooine have warm, organic colours (shades of gold and brown), while the battle with the Empire features the evil shades of technology (black, white, and grey): “The good guys are all the earth colours, and the bad guys are all colourless.”161 (Also see Appendix.)

In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Kenobi and Vader can be seen as symbols of the good and the bad father, but although the Dark Lord’s name was intended to evoke “dark father”162, Lucas was still uncertain of the paternity of Luke at this time. Ben explains how Luke’s father died: “A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights. He betrayed and murdered your father.”163 In Return of the Jedi, Ben’s ghost is confronted by Luke and admits that he has lied: “Your father was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I have told you was true… from a certain point of view.”164 Luke also learns that Leia is his twin sister, and that they were hidden from their father in order to be protected from the Emperor. The Return of the Jedi script is more elaborate than the film:
When your father left, he didn’t know your mother was pregnant. Your mother and I knew he would find out eventually, but we wanted to keep you both as safe as possible, for as long as possible. So I took you to live with my brother Owen on Tatooine… and your mother took Leia to live as the daughter of Senator Organa, on Alderaan.165
The trilogy ends with the rebirth of Anakin, as Vader removes his mask before dying in the arms of his son: “Just for once… let me look on you with my own eyes.”166 Anakin’s seduction will be dealt with thoroughly in Star Wars episodes 1–3, and Lucas will probably reveal more about Luke and Leia’s “mysterious” mother as well.167

Lucas wanted Luke to provide a ray of hope for all the children who feel that life is a never-ending struggle with impossible obstacles, and that they are always doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.168 Thus, Luke shares those feelings at first, but during the movie he realizes his potential and accepts his true destiny. George Lucas’s main inspiration came from THX 1138, the titular hero of his 1971 feature, who escapes oppression and “faces the unknown responsibilities of a new existence”.169 (There is a subtle reference to THX aboard the Death Star, as Luke tells an officer that Chewbacca is being transferred from Block “one-one-three-eight”.) The following ten steps show Luke’s development from a simple farm boy to the saviour of the Rebel Alliance:
1. When Artoo plays Leia’s hologram recording, Luke’s curiosity is aroused.

2. When the droid escapes, Luke meets old Ben and learns about his Jedi heritage, realizing why he does not feel at home at his uncle’s farm.

3. As Owen and Beru are killed, Luke leaves his old life behind him and joins Ben to help the Alliance.

4. Aboard the Millennium Falcon, Luke begins his Jedi training, proving that he is able to control the Force.

5. During the escape from the Death Star, he is forced to develop both cunning and bravery.

6. Luke is on his own when Kenobi is killed, but through the mysterious powers of the Force, the old Jedi still guides him.

7. Luke proves his independence by manning one of the Falcon’s gunports and destroying several pursuing TIE fighters.

8. During the Battle of Yavin, Luke pilots a one-man fighter.

9. Even though the other X-wings retreat or are shot down, Luke continues along the Death Star trench leading to the Rebels’ target.

10. Eventually, Luke switches off his targeting computer, relying solely on the Force as he fires a torpedo into the exhaust port—it is Luke and the Force against the Galactic Empire.170
With Star Wars, Lucas conveyed his firm beliefs to the audience: “Hard work, self-sacrifice, friendship, loyalty, and a commitment to a higher purpose: these are the tenets of Lucas’s faith.”171




7.
The Other Star Wars Drafts


George Lucas wrote four major screenplay versions of Star Wars after the 1973 story synopsis, but in between these drafts he constantly came up with new ideas and made several script revisions. The number of screenplay revisions remains uncertain, but two of the ones known are the first draft (dated to July, 1974) and the shooting script version of the revised fourth draft (dated to March 15, 1976—although some changes were done during filming).

The first draft is entitled The Star Wars, and its plot is identical to the one of the rough draft which had been finished two months earlier. It is basically a word-for-word transcription of the previous script, with the exception that Lucas had changed almost every single character name, as well as several of the specific “Star Wars” terms:

The Rough Draft, May 1974:
“A sea of stars is broken by the vast blue surface of the planet, Utapau. […] Until the recent GREAT REBELLION, the JEDI BENDU were the most feared warriors in the universe. For one hundred thousand years, generations of JEDI perfected their art as the personal bodyguards of the emperor. They were the chief architects of the invincible IMPERIAL SPACE FORCE which expanded the EMPIRE across the galaxy, from the celestial equator to the farthest reaches of the GREAT RIFT. […] One by one they have been hunted down and destroyed as enemies of the NEW EMPIRE by a ferocious and sinister rival warrior sect, THE KNIGHTS OF SITH.”172

The First Draft, July 1974:
“A sea of stars is broken by the vast blue surface of the planet, OGANA. […] Until the recent GREAT REBELLION, the DAI NOGAS were the most feared warriors in the universe. For one hundred thousand years, generations of DAI perfected their art as the personal bodyguards of the King. They were the chief architects of the invincible ROYAL SPACE FORCE, which expanded the King’s power across the galaxy, from the celestial equator to the farthest stars. […] One by one, they have been hunted down and destroyed as enemies of the NEW GALACTIC KINGDOM by a ferocious and sinister rival warrior sect, THE LEGIONS OF LETTOW.”173
Other notable changes in the first draft are as follows (with the rough draft equivalent in brackets): Justin, Akira and Bink Valor (Annikin, Kane and Deak Starkiller); Zara, Oeta and Puck (Leia, Biggs and Windy); Captain Dodona (Prince Valorum); A-2 and C-3 (R2D2 and C3PO); King Son Hhat and Governor Mara Horus (Emperor Cos Dashit and Governor Crispin Hoedaack); Clieg Oxus (Clieg Whitsun); Boma (Chewbacca); Jawas (Wookees); Huu and Beru Tho (Owen and Beru Lars); Granicus (Alderaan); Plaza of the Donns (Plaza of the Daders); and Townowi (Aquilae). “Ogana” became a rebel planet in draft two, and was later modified into Leia’s last name “Organa”. The term “Dai Nogas” would turn into the film’s “Dia Nogu” trash monster, while the “Jawa” label would be transferred from the furry beasts to the desert scavengers. Some of the character names (like Oeta, Dodona, Oxus and Boma) would be reused or slightly altered in later drafts, but most of the first draft’s new additions were discarded.

The version of the revised fourth draft which was used when filming began in March 1976 is very close to the previously analyzed public edition in most respects, but there are a few interesting differences. The script is titled The Adventures of Luke Starkiller—As Taken from the “Journal of the Whills” (Saga I): Star Wars. The hero’s last name was not changed until the first day of shooting174, and this change can actually be found in this draft, as Luke is called Starkiller in the first half only to enter Leia’s Death Star cell with the words: “I’ve come to rescue you. I’m Luke Skywalker.”175 A great deal of scenes are marked merely with a number and the word “OMITTED”, indicating that most of the final changes to the script had been done. The main difference from the official screenplay is found in the scene descriptions, which have references to storyboards as well as detailed camera movement instructions:
Full Shot. Luke, Biggs and Wedge’s X wings dive toward the Death Star surface, and split up. Luke’s ship goes off camera left. […] Full Shot of the three X wings in formation above the Death Star surface. The horizon races by behind them. […] Full Shot as Luke streaks out of the distance and over the camera. Biggs and Wedge can be seen as light points far in the distance. Lasers are everywhere.176
Another difference is the designations for the Rebel pilots’ ships during the Battle of Yavin. The film’s “Red” squadron (Red Leader, Red Two, Red Three etc.) is a “Blue” squadron (Blue Leader, Blue Two, Blue Three etc.) in this draft, while the “Gold” pilots of the movie have a “Red” designation in the shooting script. This version of the Rebel designations can also be found in the Star Wars novel and comic book adaptation. Roy Thomas, the writer of Marvel’s 1977 comic version, based his adaptation on a private screening of the film’s rough cut—featuring hand-drawn arrows instead of laser beams and Darth Vader speaking with a British accent (before actor David Prowse’s voice was replaced with the sepulchral tones of James Earl Jones).177 The sequencing of some of the scenes in the shooting script, as well as some of the dialogue, is moderately different from that of the public version. Most of these slight differences can also be found in the comic book adaptation, indicating that they might have been filmed and made it as far as the rough cut. They include: Vader being spoken of as a Sith Lord by an Imperial commander; Leia mentioning her foster-father’s name in the hologram message; Han (aboard the Death Star) claiming that “Getting back to the ship’s going to be like flying through the Five Fire Rings of Fornax”178; and Ben’s condemnation of Vader during their confrontation: “You only know half The Force, Darth. you (sic) perceive its full power as little as a spoon perceives the taste of food.”179

For Lucas, the draft revisions were a means of exploring his ideas and deciding which ones to use—resulting in several concepts that might seem strange today. At various points in the creative process he had Han Solo as Luke’s battle-weary older brother, and their father as an old Jedi. In an other version, well documented by production paintings and sketches, he had Luke as a sixteen-year-old girl who fell in love with the bearded Han Solo, who was then the central male character.180 (Also see Appendix.)




Summary and Conclusion

My intention with this essay is to show the development of the Star Wars screenplay, written by George Lucas, from the first story synopsis to the official script version. I have looked at the plot, the characters, the setting and the themes, pointing out the changes that were made, as well as establishing Lucas’s ideas and inspiration.

The plot of the thirteen page story synopsis from 1973 (The Star Wars) was largely based on Akira Kurosawa’s Japanese film The Hidden Fortress, and some of the scenes would end up in the final movie. It was inspired by old science fiction films, the Flash Gordon serials, as well as contemporary science fiction novels. The rough screenplay draft from 1974 (The Star Wars) contains many of the story elements of the final film, incorporating the text roll-up at the beginning and the idea of the Jedi warriors. Some of the scenes were deleted before the writing of the next draft, and later turned up in the sequels. The 1975 second draft (The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”) was shorter than the previous version, but Lucas had begun plotting the sequels. R2-D2 and C-3PO are established as the narrative thread of the story, which features elaborate background information about the Jedi and the Sith. The rescue mission is reminiscent of the one in the final film, but Deak is the one who is saved—not the princess. The 1975 third draft (The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller) gives us less background information than the second, but it is the first one to closely resemble the Star Wars film. The story contains the first confrontation between Ben and Vader, and the princess is once again saved from the Empire. The public version of the revised fourth draft (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope—From the Journal of the Whills) is the last screenplay version. The scenes with Luke and his friend Biggs at Anchorhead, and Han’s confrontation with Jabba were cut from the final motion picture.

The names and personalities of the characters underwent considerable shuffling during the writing of the drafts. The film’s Luke Skywalker got his name from the general of the first synopsis, and his idealism is a trait of the young rebel boys. His name is Annikin Starkiller in the rough draft, which applies Lucas’s own personality to the character. In the second and third draft, he is called Luke Starkiller, and evolves from a chubby researcher to an adventurous farm boy. The last screenplay establishes Luke Skywalker as a traditional fairy tale hero. The Darth Vader of the movie can be traced to three characters in the rough draft—General Vader, Kane Starkiller (a machine-like Jedi), and Prince Valorum (a Knight of the Sith). The two bureaucrats of the synopsis, modelled after two farmers in The Hidden Fortress, developed into the bickering R2-D2 and C-3PO. Ben Kenobi first appeared in the third script version, but his traits can be found in characters in the previous drafts. Leia does not go through much development (except for the second draft, where she is replaced by Deak), while Han starts out as a green-skinned monster, adopts the traits of Annikin, and becomes the cocksure personality of the film. The early drafts contain precursors to most of the characters in the Star Wars movie (like Chewbacca and the “Jawas”), as well as some of the characters in the sequels (like the Emperor, and Jabba the Hutt).

The setting was gradually changed from the distant future in the synopsis to the distant past in the official screenplay. Lucas wanted a timeless setting which would capture the audience’s imagination, while not distracting them from the story. The sets should be “organic”, not futuristic. The desert world of the film originated in the short outline’s Aquilae planet and eventually became Luke’s home planet of Tatooine. The jungle world of Yavin is featured in all of the script versions, most prominently in the synopsis and rough draft. The final version of the “Death Star” is a combination of the exterior of the space fortress and the interior of the Imperial city in the previous drafts. A couple of the settings in the sequels can be traced to these early screenplays as well.

The religious theme is very subtle in the synopsis and rough draft, but in the last screenplays Lucas developed his idea of the “the Force”. At first, “the force of others” is very influenced by Christianity, complete with its own “story of the Creation”. However, inspired by Oriental philosophies and Carlos Castaneda’s “life force”, Lucas established the Force as a universal deity and means of introspection. The idea of technology in opposition to mankind came from Lucas’s 1971 film THX 1138, and Lucas used the struggle between the Empire and the Rebels as a metaphor for this theme. The bureaucrats in the synopsis are easily identifiable as their actions and reactions are human. These traits of humanity were later transferred to R2-D2 and C-3PO. The father/son relationship is very different from draft to draft: General Skywalker serves as a symbolic father figure for the boys in the synopsis; the rough draft features the self-sacrificing Kane as the father and General Skywalker as the hero’s mentor; Luke is intimidated by his legendary father in draft two; Luke remembers his late Jedi father with pride in the third draft while Ben is his teacher; the public version of the revised fourth draft gives very little information about Luke’s father, setting the scene for the revelations in the sequels. The theme of accepting one’s personal responsibilities is found in all the drafts. The first versions points out the importance of respect, facing one’s reality, and overcoming one’s fears. In the later drafts, Lucas incorporated mythological ideas and fairy tale motifs. As he takes his first steps into adulthood, Luke Skywalker accepts his destiny and realizes his true potential.


This essay is intended to shed light on the development of the plot, the characters, the settings and the themes of the Star Wars scripts. As a long-time Star Wars fan, I have always been interested in new information about the films, and as the translator for the Swedish Star Wars comic book, I have come across many of the recently licensed products. However, this is the first time I have thoroughly researched the “pre-1977 Star Wars”, and it has been a real treat to study these early incarnations. I agree with Brendon Wahlberg in The Development of Star Wars: A New Hope: “It is like Star Wars through the looking glass, a glimpse of what might have been, and an insight into the creative process.”181 George Lucas may not be the world’s greatest writer, and his stories may sometimes be quite clichéd, but he is certainly a distinguished story-teller with an incredible imagination, and his tales are often more profound than they might seem at first glance. In his book Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, Dale Pollock points out the resemblance between the creative process of Star Wars and that of a novel.182 This is probably true in most cases, but in my book, the immense research and constant revisions are the distinctive traits of the making of a C-essay—and while I have been working with this essay, Lucas has once again been writing about the adventures “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away…”183 Twenty years after the release of Star Wars, Lucas has returned to his back story, and the “prequel” trilogy is finally being done. In conclusion, I would like to summarize my feelings about the writing of this essay by paraphrasing Lucas’s thoughts about the Star Wars experience:

“The making of it was a huge adventure.”



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2 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 134.

3 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 148.

4 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 143.

5 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 144.

6 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 142.

7 Brosnan, John (1991), The Primal Screen: A History of Science Fiction Film, p. 179.

8 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Story synopsis.

9 Richie, Donald (1965), The Films of Akira Kurosawa, p. 134.

10 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 142.

11 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Story synopsis.

12 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Story synopsis.

13 Lim, Julie, The SW Names FAQ.

14 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Story synopsis.

15 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Story synopsis.

16 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Story synopsis.

17 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 139.

18 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 140.

19 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

20 “An Exclusive Interview with George Lucas: Part 3 of 3.” (1995) Star Wars: Jedins återkomst.

21 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 144.

22 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

23 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

24 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

25 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

26 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

27 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

28 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 141.

29 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

30 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

31 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

32 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 156.

33 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

34 “An Exclusive Interview with George Lucas: Part 3 of 3.” (1995) Star Wars: Jedins återkomst.

35 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

36 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

37 Brosnan, John (1991), The Primal Screen: A History of Science Fiction Film, p. 179.

38 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

39 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 148.

40 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

41 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 138.

42 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

43 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

44 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

45 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

46 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

47 Lucas, George, The Star Wars. Rough draft.

48 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, pp. 146–147.

49 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

50 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

51 Slavicsek, Bill (1994), A Guide to the Star Wars Universe, p. 252.

52 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 146.

53 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

54 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

55 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

56 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

57 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

58 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

59 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 146.

60 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

61 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

62 “An Exclusive Interview with George Lucas: Part 3 of 3.” (1995) Star Wars: Jedins återkomst.

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65 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 142.

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67 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

68 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

69 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 145.

70 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

71 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

72 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

73 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

74 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

75 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

76 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

77 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

78 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

79 Lucas, George, The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): “The Star Wars”. Second draft.

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86 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

87 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

88 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

89 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

90 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

91 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

92 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

93 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

94 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

95 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

96 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

97 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

98 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

99 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

100 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

101 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

102 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

103 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

104 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 141.

105 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 140.

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109 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

110 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

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112 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

113 Lucas, George, The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. Third draft.

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130 Nemert-Svedlund, Elisabet & Rundblom, Gunilla (1987), Filmboken, pp. 62–63.

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153 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 160.

154 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 139.

155 Lucas, George (1994), “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope—From the Journal of the Whills.” Revised fourth draft, public version. Titelman, Carol (ed.), The Art of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, p. 49.

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169 Pollock, Dale (1990), Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, p. 142.

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