There are times when the worlds of literature and cinema collide, and even intersect. For me at this moment, my interest is in the intersection. This intersection can come about in several ways. Most commonly it comes from a preexisting book that becomes the basis for the making of a movie. It can be that a work of fiction, or sometimes a nonfictional book can become the start of a new movie.
Then sometimes the movie is made first, and an extra spat of commercialization rears its head. With that the producers may decide to commission the writing of a book to further cash in on the success of the movie.
Then there is another type of Intersection where a book and movie can be developed concurrently. This indicates a supreme confidence of the producer that he is on a “winner”. And further that the momentum be continued across both the worlds of Cinema, and Literature. Indeed, sometimes the intersection becomes an a whole cottage industry that cascades. Not only across Cinema and Literature, but also moves into the largest jackpot of them all, Merch…!
It is this case that becomes something more like a collision. It reminds me of of the target chamber in the Large Hadron Collider. The ideas behind the movie and the book are accelerated around the collider, and then intersect on the target, and there is formed a cascade. A myriad of merchandising opportunity! A multiplicity of product lines, from clothing to licensed school supplies to Comics, Tween and Teen Magazines, and even more books and movies.
A prime example of this “collider cascade phenomenon” is the Star Wars franchise. A franchise now operated by the Disney Corp. It all began with one movie, Star Wars, released in 1977, and destined to become one of the biggest Cinematic franchises of them all. When this happens, it is interesting for the literary minded of us to examine closely the books that result from this phenomenon.
Star Wars Trilogy Book 2, Random House Books 1995
This trilogy consists of three books that cover the original three movies. These books are:
- “Star Wars: A New Hope” by George Lucas and Alan Dean Foster from the original screenplay. copyright 1976 by Ballantine Books.
- “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” by Donald F. Glut, based on a story by George Lucas. copyright 1980 by Ballantine Books.
- “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” by James Kahn from Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas, based on a story by George Lucas. copyright 1983 by Ballantine Books.
The notes that I made from reading the books are indicated by being put into an Italic font and indented from the rest of the text. The observations made from, and of these notes are my own. There are clear departures in these books from the original movies familiar to the Star Wars fans.
Some of these departures seem to be from using early versions of screenplays available to the authors. With revised versions of the screenplays used in the actual filming.
There are other cases where the evidence suggests that there were ‘on the spot’ changes made in the course of the filming. And that these particular changes never made it into screenplay rewrites.
Then there are a couple of scenes that were in the original screenplay. But they seem to have wound up being cut during the editing of the films. No doubt due to time constraints. But it is unfortunate as these scenes were very interesting, or sometimes very funny, and would have made worthy additions to the enjoyment of the films. But the inclusion or not of these scenes is clearly an artistic license, with myself meaning no criticism of the judgments that had been made! With all of that being said: let’s continue with the commentary.
Star Wars IV, A New Hope
Having exterminated through treachery and deception the Jedi Knights, guardians of Justice in the Galaxy, the Imperial Governors and bureaucrats prepared to Institute A Reign of Terror among the disheartened worlds of the Galaxy. Many used the Imperial forces in the name of the increasingly isolated Emperor to further their own personal ambitions. Prologue location 80
This expression indicates to me that George Lucas used an early edition of the screenplay to write this. This quote from the book implies that Senator Palpatine had become emperor by a not explained route, and then was being manipulated by rogue governors and bureaucrats. In other words the emperor became a figurehead in the hands of others.
This is a direct conflict with later Canon! Where it would be clear that the then Senator Palpatine representing the planet Naboo, was an able politician who would maneuver his way into becoming the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic. All the while, he was also the Sith Lord Darth Sidious playing puppet master to the separatists of the Republic. Using them to destabilize the Republic and to force the Senate to give him more and more power. Ultimately making himself the emperor of a new Empire supplanting the Republic. According to the later canon he was most certainly not the “increasingly isolated Emperor” depicted in this original novelization
Odd Naming Convention of droids: See-threepio instead of C-3PO, and Artoo-detoo instead of R2-D2. Chapter 1 location 105
I don’t quite know what to make of this convention. These literal translation of the droid’s designations is throughout the both books. The Prequel Volume as well. At first glance, I might assume that a voice recognition program was used to transcribe these novels. BUT, that seems not possible since the original novel and original screenplay was back in 1977!
All future readers of the series would accept the now common practice of referring to See-threepio as C-3PO, and just accept the fact that capitalization is need for 3 of the four characters! And of course Artoo-detoo is actually R2-D2!
Those robots knew that no machine could match the fluidity with which those shapes moved and instantly assumed fighting postures. The new arrivals were humans and harbor, not Mechanicals. Chapter 1, location 142
What I find odd in this quote from the book, is the word Mechanicals. Throughout the movies the term used in “Droids”, short for Androids of course. This suggests that an early version of screenplay was used for the writing of this novel.
Darth Vader is referred to as being “the Sith Lord”. Not a Sith Lord, there is no indication that Chancellor Palpatine was also a Sith Lord, in fact the Sith Lord Sidious. Chapter 1 location 167
The above note is a serious deviation from the Star Wars canon! As true Star Wars fan know, while Darth Vader was indeed a Sith Lord (as well as being an Ex-Jedi Knight), but he was most certainly not “the Sith Lord”. Darth Vader was the apprentice to Darth Sidious. While this is not evidence of an early version of screenplay. This reveals that once the canon was expanded in the writing of the screenplays for the prequel movies, there was no attempt to make changes in this the original novel.
And Yet, the true Star Wars fan would really want to see this novel rewritten to properly acknowledge the Sith Lord lineages. The history of the past Sith empires is now too integral to the Star Wars Canon. And for the ‘villainous’ amongst us, it is a slander upon the memory of the Emperor, Darth Sidious to be portrayed as a puppet of the Senate and the Bureaucrats. The First Novel should have a big ASTERISKS on its cover, and there ought to be a replacement novel to fit the canon properly.
“Force will not keep the empire together. Force Has never kept anything together for very long. the more you tighten your grip, the more systems will slip through your fingers. You’re a foolish man, governor. Foolish men often choked to death on their own delusions.” Chapter 7 location 1844
This quote from the novel was cut in the final screenplay to just: “the more you tighten your grip, the more systems will slip through your fingers.” Which is shame. The entire quote would have been much more effective, and would have shown off the character of Princess Leia much better, than just the saving 16 seconds of dialogue!
Star Wars VI: The Return of the Jedi
A Scene Not Included in Filmography: Outside the small Adobe Hut, the sandstorm wailed like a beast in agony, refusing to die. Inside, the sounds were muted. It was cooler in the shelter, more hushed, and darker. While the beast without howled, in this place of nuance and shadow a shrouded figure worked. Tanned hands, holding Arcane tools, extended from the sleeves of a kaftan like robe. the figure crouched on the ground, working. Before him lay a discoid device of strange design, wires trailing from it at one end, symbols etched into its flat surface. He connected to wired into a tubular smooth handle pulled through inorganic looking connector, locked it in place with another tool. He motioned to a shadow in the corner; the shadow moved towards him. tentatively, the obscure form rolled closer to the robed figure. “Vrrrr-dit dweet?” the little R2 Unit questioned timidly as it approached, pausing when it was just a foot from the shrouded man with the strange device. The shrouded man motioned the Droid nearer still. Artoo-Detoo scooted the last distance, blinking; and the hands rose towards his domed little head. Chapter 1 location 6309
It is a shame that this scene was not included in the opening of the movie “The Return of the Jedi. It would show a clear maturation of Luke after his disastrous, nearly fatal encounter with Darth Vader. Luke was not ready and was wounded terribly, but managed to escape from Vader with a daring and high risk escape attempt performed by Leia, Chewbacca, and Lando at the end of “The Empire Strikes Back”. But with this scene it would have been clear that the force was indeed quite strong with Luke.
How else could he have the knowledge and technical capability to construct his own lightsaber after losing Darth Vader’s old lightsaber in the fight on Bespin’s Cloud City? This scene also foreshadows his coming duel with Jabba the Hutt by showing him hiding this new lightsaber inside of R2-D2’s domed head. This scene would have been perhaps 5 minutes long, but would have been a fantastic setup, a mysterious shrouded man working in a shop, and then revealed to be Luke with a prescient peek inside the shrouded hood.
Contradiction?: “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.” Chapter 3 location 7223
It is curious that this entry has survived all these years in this novelization. Owen was the only son of Cliegg Lars who had married Shmi Skywalker. Thus his son Owen became step brother to Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader). So Obi-Wan Kenobi telling Luke: “So I took you to live with my brother Owen, would have meant that Obi-Wan (“old Ben”) was also Luke’s Uncle. There is absolutely nothing along this line in the movies to suggest that Obi-Wan and Owen Lars were brothers! Indeed it would have meant that Obi-Wan Kenobi would have been Anakin’s Step Brother as well!
As for the second part of Obi-Wan’s quote. Luke’s mother Padme had died in childbirth so Padme could NOT have taken Luke’s twin sister Leia to live as the daughter of Senator Organa, it was Obi-Wan himself who took Leia to Alderaan himself to the Senator. What reason would he have had to lie to Luke about this point? This is just a contradiction that was never caught by the proofreaders.
Scene Not included in Filmography; “You may not enter,” the officer said evenly. Vader did not waste words. He raised his hand, fingers outstretched, toward the officer’s throat. Ineffably, the officer began to choke. His knees started buckling, his face turned ashen. Gasping for air, he spoke again. “It is the … Emperor’s … command.” Like a spring, Vader released the man from his remote grip. The officer, breathing again, sank to the floor, trembling. He rubbed his neck gently. “I will await his convenience,” Vader said. He turned and looked out the view window. Leaf-green Endor glowed there, floating in black space, almost as if it were radiant from some internal source of energy. He felt its pull like a magnet, like a vacuum, like a torch in the dead night. Chapter 5 location 7706
This is another scene that would have been powerful in displaying the power of Lord Vader, as well as the deep devotion that he had formed for his master, the Emperor. With the planet Endor floating in the view window, it would have really set the mood for Vader’s mission to capture his son Luke and bring him to the Emperor so as to turn Luke to the Dark Side, and join at the side of Vader and the Emperor. It would have been a scene that fans would talk about for years. It is a pity that it was cut to save perhaps 4 to 5 minutes!
Another Scene not include in Filmography; “Honorable Elders, we must aid this noble party not less for the trees, but more for the sake of the leaves on the trees. These Rebels are like the Ewoks, who are like the leaves. Battered by the wind, eaten without thought by the tumult of locust that inhabit the world – yet do we throw ourselves on smoldering fires, that another may know the warmth of light; yet do we make a soft bed of ourselves, that another may know rest; yet do we swirl in the wind that assails, to send the fear of chaos into the hearts of our enemies; yet do we change color, even as the season calls up us to change. So must we help our Leafbrothers, these Rebels – for so has come a season of change upon us. Chapter 6 location 7962
This was the climax of Wicket’s speech to the Ewok Council explaining why they had to come to aid of the Rebels. This would have been a scene where C-3PO would have had to translate sentence by sentence, but it would have been powerful to hear the reasoning of the Ewoks. It also would have been quoted by many fans, and would have led to an even greater love and affection for the Ewoks in Star Wars Canon.
Contradiction?: Vader shook his head. “Ben once thought as you do –” Chapter 7 location 8130
This is the scene on the landing platform where Luke has been led in irons to Darth Vader. Luke tries to reason with his father when Darth Vader refers (this one time) to “BEN”. I call contradiction! As a ten year old Anakin Skywalker knew the future General as “Obi-wan”, and this was true all through his years as a Padawan to Obi-wan. Even once Anakin had become a Jedi Knight on his own worth, he still knew and referred to his former master as “Obi-wan”.
It was not until after Anakin’s defeat, that Obi-wan Kenobi took both Luke and Leia and fled into exile that he then took up the name “Ben” Kenobi. He had left Anakin Skywalker seemingly for dead on the planet Mustafa after their duel, and that began Obi-wan’s exile. It is not reasonable to think that on leaving Anakin on the burning lava that he would have said; “Oh, by the way, I’m changing my name to Ben, just so you will know if by some chance you survive!” Come now, there is no way Darth Vader ought to have said the name “Ben”.