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Considering Star Wars as a single film

Discussion in 'Original Trilogy' started by Chairman Kaga, Jan 9, 2015.

  1. Chairman Kaga

    Chairman Kaga Rebel Official

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    Honestly, I think the best way to really appreciate Star Wars to the fullest as a film, and a work of art, is to watch it as a standalone work. Don't factor in the Lucas's retconning or the occasionally haphazard leaps of logic necessary to make it all work as a multi-part saga. Just watch the film as it was conceived and presented - one chapter of an expansive story that we'd never see. Star Wars is much more of an artistic statement than we tend to give it credit for being. It's really high concept stuff, stipped of the context of the other five films, hundreds of novels, hours of television, etc. As a stand alone movie, and really try to consider it as a stand alone movie, it's pretty wild, weird, brave stuff. I know it's hard to consider the film devoid of any context from any other Star Wars related work, but try. It's crazy, right?

    So within the context of Star Wars (meaning A New Hope) and Star Wars alone... Why was Obi Wan on Tatooine? To watch over Luke, or simply because it was his home, just as it was Luke's?

    If you presume the story is exactly as it was explained, that Vader was a bad guy who killed most of the Jedi including Luke's father, then it's far less of a coincidence Ben and Luke are together. The Jedi were abundant. They lived everywhere. Obi Wan and Luke's father were friends, possibly partners, or maybe members of a larger group of knights originally from Tatooine or possibly stationed there. And there could have been any number of children of Jedi Knights on any habitable planet in the galaxy.

    So is Luke special? Just in that he's in the right place at the right time (R2 and 3PO), is a hotshot pilot, and is spurred by learning his father was something of a hero coupled with his own yearning for heroic adventure. That Leia was beautiful didn't hurt. Obi Wan was tasked with teaching Luke about his father once he was old enough, which is right in the dialogue, but I don't know if there was an obligation to take him in as a student.

    If you also presume that anyone could use the force (even if the force is stronger in some than others) and become a Jedi, then Luke's decision to accompany Obi Wan and learn to be a Jedi was more of a classic "knight and squire" situation than a Chosen One scenario, and the whole story makes a lot more sense. Again, just within the context of Star Wars as a standalone film.

    I think over time, thanks to the sequels (including the prequels) and their copious and frequently illogical retroactive continuity, we've overcomplicated what was once a VERY simple, classical hero called to adventure story. There is intentionally not a lot of subtext in this movie. There is a thrilling amount of dangling exposition though (Clone Wars, Dantooine, the Emperor, etc) that excites the imagination, and I think that's intentional. I believe Lucas wanted the audience to ask those questions and imagine what the answers might be. That's what I mean by brave, and also supports my belief that Lucas was once far more rebellious (what studio would allow that sort of exposition-free dialogue now?) and artistically inclined than he is now, at least with his public facing work (who knows what Salinger-esque works he has hiding in his vaults). I do think we'd consider Star Wars as more of an artistic accomplishment if there'd never been another, but come on. Empire Strikes Back rules.
     
    #1 Chairman Kaga, Jan 9, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2015
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  2. Pastor Barndog

    Pastor Barndog Force Attuned

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    Interesting. Well there is a certain element of fate/destiny involved. Luke wasn't just a random farmboy. Ben has Anakin's sabre. There are too many "Luke is asking the wrong questions" glances between Owen and Beru at dinner.
     
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  3. Echo-07

    Echo-07 Rebel Official

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    I see your point, Chairman Kaga. However, I can't say that I am even able to look at any of the movies as individual films. In fact, part of why I am a fan of the PT is because I look at Star Wars (including the Clone Wars and now Rebels) as one entity. Yes, it has it flaws -- moreso in the PT than the OT of course -- but irregardless it is one cohesive story for me that I no longer break apart. In fact, I can't remember the last time I watched just one of the films alone without the other two of its trilogy.
     
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  4. Fish

    Fish Clone

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    I was just watching the original Star Wars yesterday, and listening to the commentary track.

    A surprising number of the comments are about things being cobbled together at the last possible moment, that if the camera shot had lingered for a few frames longer, or moved a foot to the right, you'd see everything fall apart. The actors were delivering their lines, but the backstory was not defined for them, really. The only person who really might have been able to interpret the welter of bizarre references was Lucas, and it seemed he kept a lot of information in reserve.

    That being said, the choices in Star Wars are phenomenal. You're given just enough information to identify with Luke, but not enough to really get a sense of history.

    I think this must be one of the secrets to Star Wars success. Very artfully, the movie fires up your imagination and asks you to fill in the narrative gaps as your sense of the story develops...

    I like to look at Star Wars that way. The movie works because it suggests what may be. I think your exercise is essential. A few things jump out at me:

    When Vader says, "The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the force." This delivered with absolute conviction. I thought, wow. There are so many things Vader might mean by this. Has he seen the Force used on a scale even greater that what the Death Star is capable of? Or does he mean that the Force can be a more effective tool in keeping the Empire in control?

    Just before the rebels attack the Death Star, "May the force be with you". Again, it reminds me that there is so much undefined. Is the Force the religion of the rebellion? Then why is it OK for Vader to practice it? Is it taken as more of a universal spirituality? Then, why were the Jedi persecuted?

    When Ben refers to the lightsaber as a weapon from "a more civilized age". To me, this evokes a time of etiquette that predates the savagery of war and political strife. In my imagination there was a time when Jedi and Sith obeyed a common set of rules. They might challenge one or the other to a duel for a precise purpose, to protest, or to make an assertion.

    Like in Game of Thrones, when there is a trial by combat, the Gods are supposed to favor the champion of the just. Jedi should settle their differences with a civilized duel, and the Force will favor the righteous.
     
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  5. Grand Master Galen Marek

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    Ben kept Anakin's lightsaber because he knew it was his son's destiny to redeem his father & that the force is in his blood, Luke did have many questions that Owen & Beru had to put up with.
     
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  6. Kabe

    Kabe Rebelscum

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    You have perfectly summarized many of the reasons why STAR WARS is easily my favorite Star Wars movie, and one of my favorite movies of all time. Thank you.
     
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  7. Stormagadon

    Stormagadon Cantina Court Jester
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    Brilliant! I believe the original Star Wars is the best example of a standalone movie becoming part of a series. If you don't worry about the rest of the trilogy and the other trilogies, it still makes sense. But on the flip side, it's such a great chapter in the saga!

    I know Lucas intended this to be a series, but if you don't know that and only ever heard and watched this movie, it wouldn't feel cheap or feel like you missed something.
    It's also great just imagining the universe this movie is set without knowing what the other movies say and what not. In some ways, it makes the world bigger that way! It can go as far and as wide and as deep as YOU want it to be!

    Of course, I'm glad we got a full trilogy, and even the Prequels in many ways, and now a new trilogy with spinoffs until who knows when!

    Excellent post Chairman Kaga!
     
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  8. Darth Lexor Kai

    Darth Lexor Kai General of the Future Folk

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    i wish i had the ability to change my perspective at will. If i could watch the original star wars for the first time, not as a 7 year old boy, but as an adult...what a thrill it would be. I agree with you that as a stand alone movie it is a beautiful work of art. im not sure that i could simplify it now that i know the whole story through the PT and the OT. the truth of the matter is though that nothing in star wars happens just by chance. either the force wills it or some sort of connection between characters.. such as the light saber as mentioned above. i dont necessarily like having all the answers but i do feel more satisfied after knowing them.
     
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  9. Grand Master Galen Marek

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    It's the knowing that matters.
     
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  10. Darth Lexor Kai

    Darth Lexor Kai General of the Future Folk

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    yeah it really is...unfortunately. maybe ill get a dose of amnesia and get to experience it all over again.
     
  11. Grand Master Galen Marek

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    Is it worth reliving what you already know good on ya.
     
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  12. DEKKA129

    DEKKA129 Professional Slinger of Balderdash

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    Bravissimo!

    I couldn't agree with you more. Having first seen Star Wars at age 9 when it first came out in 1977, I can attest to the fact that there was something truly special about that film back when it was "Star Wars!!!!!" and not merely one small part of a massive story franchise of wildly varying quality. It holds up surprisingly well as a stand-alone movie, which a lot of people don't really consider anymore with there being all these other movies in the series. Relieved of the weight of the context of stories that hadn't been written, that had barely even been conceived of at the time it was made, Star Wars is a classic adventure story in the vein of the old Errol Flynn swashbuckling films like Captain Blood.

    In that movie, you didn't need to know exactly what had happened to Peter Blood during his earlier military career that prompted him to "hang up the sword and pick up the lancet". That the backstory was set with but a few sentences in the film's first scene was more than enough to provide the necessary context. We also didn't need to know what became of Peter Blood after he was made governor of Jamaica. The story as told over the course of the movie itself was more than enough, and it was a helluva fun tale at that.

    Star Wars, as it was in 1977, was exactly that. A helluva fun tale that suggested more story, but which didn't need more story in order to give the audience a mindblowing and deeply satisfying hero's adventure yarn. Yeah, there are backstory elements sprinkled liberally throughout the story, like mention of the Clone Wars, the old Rebel base on Dantooine, the fact that the Imperial cruisers are Corellian-made, etc., but taking Star Wars as a stand-alone movie, those details just serve to make the film world seem more expansive and lived-in. It's a bit of a parlor trick, like the way mirrors often make a room look bigger than it is. But that's the mark of a great stand-alone story.

    But as you say, at its heart this is a very simple, straightforward adventure story in which a young hero braves impossible odds to save the damsel in distress from the clutches of a powerful dragon. I would very much like to see Disney/LFL release a non-special-edition version of the original film with this "throwback viewing" thing in mind. There are so many people out here who were there at the very beginning, and who have very fond memories of Star Wars before it was an endlessly expanding franchise and when it was just one single solitary unbelievably fun movie that blew everyone's socks off one summer long ago. It would be fun to watch the movie again without the CGI additions, and to see if it's possible to "unlearn what we have learned" and view it as its own self-contained story.
     
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  13. thx1138

    thx1138 Clone Commander

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    I agree, and while I also love ESB, when I watch Star Wars I try to forget about the sequels and prequels and almost pretend I'm watching it for the first time. It's definitely worthy of standalone and I actually even enjoy imagining that Vader really did kill Luke's father, who was a good friend of Obi Wan.

    Incidentally I feel the same way about the Matrix trilogy (watched all of them recently), and for me the first one is enough. I don't need to see the 2nd and 3rd, and I can make my own mind up about what eventually happens.
     
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  14. Jedi77-83

    Jedi77-83 Force Sensitive

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    As a fan who saw all OT movies the year they came and then waited for them on HBO years later, you had to watch them all as standalone movies back then so part of me never changed. I don't think I saw my first SW marathon til early 90's.
     
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  15. Darth Jason 141

    Darth Jason 141 Rebel Commander

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    I miss the feeling of this. :)
    I was 4 when Star Wars hit the big screen for the first time,and I remember exactly where I saw it. And I didn't even know there would be a sequel,and when THAT happened,I was just blown away.Star Wars and it's 2 sequels ruled my life for a good 6 to 8 years. :D
     
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  16. DaceDiath

    DaceDiath Clone Trooper

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    This is something I think about a lot. For me what's interesting is that Lucas turned out to be a serious career fantasist and that SW came to envelop all the richness of Dune or Lord of the Rings while remaining unique. Most directors make at least one fantasy of some kind or another but Lucas was unique among his peers for really pursuing it, even to the point of co-writing a massive fantasy book trilogy. He loves the genre and it really wasn't going to play out any differently even with such diverse films in his filmography as Mishima, Tucker, More American Graffiti and Red Tails.

    Last summer I watched the PT, TCW (in the right order) and the OT as one long "movie" over 3.5 months. It made many things clear and most of the SE changes worked in its favor. I can't sit through 6 hrs of movie but stretched out over a specific time period telescoped certain things and certainly made the whole experience stronger. I think every SW fan should try it once. I'd say that GL only became braver as an artist as he went on, and that his final stretch is truly impressive and unique.
     
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  17. Talon Karrde

    Talon Karrde Rebel Official

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    I'm curious, with the multiple portrayals of Anakin Skywalker and watching it in order did it effect your view of the character. I still see them as 'versions' and TCWs portrayal (which I often refer to as the "Anakin Mk.III") is the one I see as the 'correct' Anakin.
     
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  18. DaceDiath

    DaceDiath Clone Trooper

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    The overall character continuity was astonishing and you really have to watch the entire "Lucas Saga" in sequence to experience that. I definitely felt that Anakin's character is greatly balanced by watching the Saga this way. It's all there. Anakin gets to be an innocent kid, troubled teen, a war hero and finally a tragic character before becoming Vader.
     
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  19. Darth Sidious

    Darth Sidious Rebel Official

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    I believe the intention in 1977 was for the views expressed by Motti and Tarkin to reflect the views of the Emperor: non-belief in The Force, obsessed with technology, convinced that the Death Star is the ultimate power in the universe, etc. The implication is that the Empire and Emperor hate belief in The Force and reluctantly formed an alliance with Vader because of a mutual hatred of Jedi. The novelization that was released in 1976 says that the Emperor was Senator Palpatine before he got himself elected President of the Senate and then declared himself Emperor. However, this same novelization says that after becoming Emperor, Palpatine became a figurehead who parties in his palace while people like Tarkin and Vader make the decisions.

    I wonder how Vader's days as a Jedi were envisioned at the time. Was he also a good friend of Obi-Wan? How did Obi-Wan discover him? Did he go on "damn fool idealistic crusades" with Obi-Wan and Luke's father?

    I also wonder if Luke's training was intended to be complete upon the destruction of the Death Star.

    Star Wars (1977) as a standalone film and what Lucas intended in 1977 has long been something that has interested me.
     
    #19 Darth Sidious, Oct 5, 2015
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  20. Get In Gear

    Get In Gear Force Sensitive

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    In summer 1976, Lucas took part in a series of interviews with Carol Titelman, with the intention of providing some background on his universe for the benefit of the potential spin-offs and merchandising deals in the pipeline and keeping them all singing from the same hymn sheet.
    As you say, there is no indication that The Emperor had been considered as anything more than a political figure at that point:

    "[...] One of the Chancellors began subverting the Senate and buying off Senators with the help of some of the large intergalactic trade companies and mining companies and intergalactic power companies. Through their power and money, he bought off enough of the Senate to get himself elected to a second term, because of a crisis. By the time the third term came along, he had corrupted so much of the Senate that they made him Emperor for the rest of his life.
    "Giving the Emperor that title for life and doing away with the elective process was all done with a lot of rationalizing. Many in the Senate felt that having elections and changing leaders in the time of an emergency disrupted the bureaucratic system. And the bureaucracy was getting to be so big that changing leaders made it impossible to have any effect on the system and make it work - moreover the bureaucracy was running amok and not paying attention to the rulers. So they reasoned that the Emperor could bring the bureaucracy back in line. So the Emperor took control of the bureaucracy. The Galactic Senate would meet for a period that was similar to a year, but after it became the Imperial Senate, the meetings were less and less frequent until finally the meetings were only once a year, and they were very short.
    "With the bureaucracy behind the Emperor, it was impossible and too late for the Senate to do anything. He had slowly manipulated things; in fact, it was he who had let the bureaucracy run amok and therefore had blackmailed the Senate into doing things because he was the only one who really had any power over the bureaucracy. It was so large there was no way to get things done, but he knew the right people; the key people in the bureaucracy were working for him and were paid by the companies."


    The fact is, the Force and the deeper spiritual apects of the saga were not so clearly defined until relatively late on in the original movie's development.
    The first story outline Lucas wrote was titled "The Journal of The Whills, Part 1". Lucas has said since that the name came from the fact that "you will things to happen", a concept which eventually evolved into "the force of others" as the story developed.
    However, this idea was never explained in (or made relevant to) the actual story in the rough draft and early versions of the script, beyond a character merely uttering the line "may the force of others be with you". The protagonists were never anything more than warriors and generals right through to the third draft - laser-swords, for example, are merely another weapon at everyone and anyone's disposal - from the Empire's troops, right through to the bug-eyed, green-skinned incarnation of Han Solo.
    By the third draft, the nature of the force of others is finally expanded upon and the Jedi and Sith are described as being devotees of the two aspects of this mystical energy field. In this script, the Tusken Raider who attacks Luke is wielding a laser sword - probably a hangover from an earlier version of the script where the Tuskens were agents deployed by the Sith.
    By the revision of the third draft, the Tusken instead brandishes a "Gaderffi" stick, and the lightsaber is finally established "the weapon of a Jedi Knight".

    Getting back to Emperor, just a matter of months after the Titelman interviews, the story conference meetings for Empire were taking place, in November/December 1977. Much of Lucas's thinking here suggests he now thought of The Emperor to be connected to the Force - he does however still consider making Palpatine nothing more than a bureaucrat, as the transcript of the meetings reveals:

    Lucas: "The introduction of the Emperor is a major plot development. He may be the one who is saved for the end. When you get rid of the Emperor, the whole thing is over. The final episode is the restoration of the Republic. We ignored him in the first film; we vaguely mentioned him a few times. We have to begin to deal with him on a more concrete level this time.

    The question is how quickly do we dole out things about the Emperor? He's not as dramatic as Vader, but is more sinister. Vader is just one of his lap dogs. Do we show the Emperor this time of wait until the next one where we finally confront him? How about we don't see his face? He's just a hooded figure, reminiscent of Ben. In the end, the Emperor does exactly what Ben did; he can also transform himself. As Ben becomes the personification of the good side of the Force, the Emperor is the bad. Another way to treat the Emperor would be as a bureaucrat, Nixon-ian in his outlook, a Wizard of Oz type."

    Again, luckily we've actually got quite a good handle on exactly what Lucas was thinking at the time.
    More from the summer 1977 Titelman interviews:

    "Darth Vader is really attached to the Emperor himself, and he was not really part of the Death Star personnel or any of that system. Lord Vader worked directly for the Emperor and was the Emperor's emissary.
    [...]
    When the Jedi tried to restore order, Darth Vader was still one of the Jedi. What he would do is catch the Jedi off guard and, using his knowledge of the Force, he would kill the Jedi without them realizing what was happening. They trusted him and they didn't realize he was the murderer who was decimating their ranks. At the height of the Jedi, there were sever hundred thousand. At the time of the Rebellion, most of them were killed. The Emperor had some strong forces rally behind him, as well, in terms of the army the Imperial forces that he'd been building up secretly. The Jedi were so outnumbered that they fled and were tracked down. They tried to regroup, but they were eventually massacred by one of the special elite forces led by Darth Vader. Eventually only a few, including Ben and Luke's father, were left. Luke's father is named Annikin."


    This still pretty much stacked up with Lucas's ideas about the backstory while working on Return of the Jedi. From the story conference, July 1981:

    Lucas: "Anakin Skywalker starting hanging out with the Emperor, who at this point nobody knew was that bad, because he was an elected official."
    Kasdan: "Was he a Jedi?"
    Lucas: "No, he was a politician. Richard M. Nixon was his name. He subverted the senate and finally took over and became an imperial guy and he was really evil. But he pretended to be a really nice guy. He sucked Luke's father into the dark side."
    Kasdan: "The Force was available to anyone who could hook into it?"
    Lucas: "Yes, everybody can do it."
    Kasdan: "Not just the Jedi?"
    Lucas: "It's just the Jedi who take the time to do it."
    Marquand: "They use it as a technique."
    Lucas: "Like yoga. If you want to take the time to do it, you can do it; but the ones that really want to do it are the ones who are into that kind of thing."
    [...]
    Lucas: "Well, anyway, Luke's father gets subverted by the Emperor. He gets a little weird at home and his wife begins to figure out that things are going wrong and she confides in Ben, who is his mentor. On his missions through the galaxies, Anakin has been going off doing his Jedi thing and a lot of Jedi have been getting killed — and it's because they turn their back on him and he cuts them down. The president is turning into an Emperor and Luke's mother suspects that something has happened to her husband. She is pregnant. Anakin gets worse and worse, and finally Ben has to fight him and he throws him down into a volcano and Vader is all beat up. Now, when he falls into the pit, his other arm goes and his leg and there is hardly anything left of him by the time the Emperor's troops fish him out of the drink. Then when Ben finds out that Vader has been fished out and is in the hands of the Empire, he is worried about it. He goes back to Vader's wife and explains that Anakin is the bad guy, the one killing all the Jedi. When he goes back his wife, Mrs. Skywalker has had the kids, the twins, so she has these two little babies who are six months old or so. So everybody has to go into hiding. The Skywalker line is very strong with the Force, so Ben says, 'I think we should protect the kids, because they may be able to help us right the wrong that your husband has created in the universe'. And so Ben takes one and gives him to a couple out there on Tatooine and he gets his little hideout in the hills and he watches him grow. Ben can't raise Luke himself, because he's a wanted man. Leia and Luke's mother go to Alderaan and are taken in by the king there, who is a friend of Ben's. She dies shortly thereafter and Leia is brought up by her foster parents. She knows that her real mother died."
    Kasdan: "She does know that?"
    Lucas: "Yes, so we can bring that out when Luke is talking to her, she can say that her mother died when 'I was two years old'."


    That's a good question.
    I suppose you could argue - if you are truly looking at Star Wars as a standalone film - that it is actually irrelevant whether it is complete or not. It is only because we know what comes next that we would even consider that there is more training, and more issues that need addressing that require more training.
    So far as a purely standalone Star Wars goes - Luke expresses a desire to "learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like his father". But his teacher dies, and the Empire is destroyed. So it becomes kind of moot.

    I still think the fact that Vader survived, and shots were intentionally added of him spinning off into space and regaining control of his TIE, do at least point to the fact that Lucas was *hoping* he may be able to create a sequel.
    I think what has been blown out of proportion is the extent to which Lucas gives the impression "had things figured out" - it's clear he just had notes on vague ideas and themes rather than a clear narrative direction he was heading in.
     
    #20 Get In Gear, Oct 5, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2015
    • Great Post Great Post x 2
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