STAR WARS Episode IV A NEW HOPE From the JOURNAL OF THE WHILLS by George Lucas [film]

It’s four days until the United Kingdom foreign preview release of Star Wars: the Force Awakens – Episode VII in the saga. At least, officially. There are some midnight screenings, but the official release date is still the 17th. Which is the date I’m sticking with regardless – it makes the counting-down easier. So, rather than going in release order like everyone else, I’m doing it in Episode order. Nyer. Here’s George Lucas‘ screenplay to STAR WARS Episode IV  A NEW HOPE From the JOURNAL OF THE WHILLS. A rough draft for Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller can be found through the Jedi Bendu Script Site, as can ADVENTURES OF THE STARKILLER (episode one) “The Star Wars”The Star WarsStar Wars: the Adventures of Luke Starkiller, The Adventures of Luke Starkiller as taken from “The Journal of the Whills”“THE STAR WARS” From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller.

“The way I work is that I cut the movie together, I look at it and figure out what I’m missing. At that point, it’s more about how the movie flows together rather than how the script flows together. I’m acknowledging more and more that a script and a movie are two different things.”

In May 1974, the outline was finalised, and Lucas wrote the first screenplay draft, which now included elements such as the Sith, the Death Star, and General Annikin Starkiller. Starkiller became an adolescent, and the General’s role was changed to a supporting Dwarf character. Han Solo at this point was a large, green-skinned creature with gills. Solo’s co-pilot Chewbacca was inspired by Lucas’ Alaskan Malamute, Indiana, who’d sit in Lucas’ passenger seat. The original story was of a son who’s trained in the ways of the Jedi by his father – a hero, who remains alive by the end. The opening crawl was as such:

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.

Now these legendary warriors are 
all but extinct. 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 full synopsis has been published by Wookipedia. In January 1975, draft two, titled The Star Wars, was complete. It was much simplified and now introduced the young hero as Luke Starkiller, who grows-up on a farm. Annikin was Luke’s father and Jedi Knight, who’s learned in the ways of the Force, a mystical energy field. This second draft included Luke’s brothers, working more as a fairy tale than the sci-fi action adventure of the first draft. The text crawl initially was placed at the end, setting-up the events of a sequel:

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.

Now these legendary warriors 
are all but extinct. One by one, 
they have been hunted down 
and destroyed as enemies of 
ferocious and sinister rival 
warrior sect, THE LEGIONS OF LETTOW.

Lucas realised the Force could be used for evil, and dropped-in a reference to the first Jedi to use the Dark Side, training the Sith in its ways. This second draft was delivered with concept art inspired by its scenes. The third was completed 1st August 1975, now titled The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker. It was here that Annikin was dead, leaving Luke as an only child brought-up by Ben Kenobi:

Ruthless trader barons, 
driven by greed and the 
lust for power, have replaced 
enlightenment with oppression, 
and "rule by the people" 

Until the tragic Holy Rebellion of "06", 
the respected JEDI BENDU OF ASHLA 
were the most powerful warriors 
in the Universe. 
For a hundred thousand years, 
generations of Jedi Bendu knights 
learned the ways of the mysterious 
FORCE OF OTHERS, and acted as the 
guardians of peace and justice 
in the REPUBLIC. Now these legendary 
warriors are all but extinct. 
One by one they have been hunted down 
and destroyed by a ferocious 
rival sect of mercenary warriors: 

It is a period of civil wars. 
The EMPIRE is crumbling into 
lawless barbarism throughout 
the million worlds of the galaxy. 
From the celestial equator to 
the farthest reaches of the GREAT RIFT, 
seventy small solar systems have 
united in a common war against 
the tyranny of the Empire. 
Under the command of a mighty 
Jedi warrior known as THE STARKILLER, 
the REBEL ALLIANCE has won a crushing 
victory over the deadly Imperial Star Fleet. 
The Empire knows that one more such defeat 
will bring a thousand more solar systems 
into the rebellion, and Imperial control 
of the Outlands could be lost forever...

This was then rewritten again, with draft four submitted on 1st January 1976, titled The Adventures of Luke Starkiller as taken from the Journal of the Whills, Saga I: The Star Wars. The pre-production script became draft five, with co-writing assistance from Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck.

“Dialogue has never been my strong point, and so I talked to Willard and Gloria and asked them to do a quick dialogue polish. I gave them the fourth draft of the script, and they just improved the dialogue where they felt they could make a contribution. Then I took their changes, and sometimes I rewrote some of their lines. Some of their dialogue of course changed again when we started shooting. Some of it survived; some of it didn’t. They did about thirty percent of the dialogue.”

This was the version bought by the studio, with unwritten ideas protected by Lucas negotiating sequel rights. This also has a published synopsis on Wookipedia, which ended with a closing crawl:

...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 familiar “A long time ago,

in a galaxy far, far away…” was first written as  “‘…And in the time of greatest despair there shall come a savior, and he shall be known as: THE SON OF THE SUNS.’Journal of the Whills, 3:127″. Rd2-D2 and C-3PO first appeared in this draft. The Death Star plans were instead the Kiber crystal, which contributed little to the plot other than being a MacGuffin. Lucas considered making Luke female due to the lack of female characters, but instead decided to introduce Leia Organa. The final script was finished in March 1976.

“What finally emerged through the many drafts of the script has obviously been influenced by science-fiction and action-adventure I’ve read and seen. And I’ve seen a lot of it. I’m trying to make a classic sort of genre picture, a classic space fantasy in which all the influences are working together. There are certain traditional aspects of the genre I wanted to keep and help perpetuate in Star Wars.”

It wasn’t until during production that Luke Starkiller became Luke Skywalker. The title was shortened to The Star Wars and then simply Star Wars. The script was further rewritten during production to kill Obi-Wan Kenobi when Lucas realised he contributed nothing from that point onwards.

“In the original script Ben Kenobi doesn’t get killed in the fight with Vader. About halfway through production I took Alec aside and said I was going to kill him off halfway through the picture. I was struggling with the problem that I had this sort of climactic scene that had no climax about two-thirds of the way through the film. I had another problem in the fact that there was no real threat in the Death Star. The villains were like tenpins; you get into a gunfight with them and they just get knocked over. As I originally wrote it, Ben Kenobi and Vader had a sword fight and Ben hits a door and the door slams closed and they all run away and Vader is left standing there with egg on his face. This was dumb; they run into the Death Star and they sort of take over everything and they run back. It diminished any impact the Death Star had.”

The famous opening crawl featured six paragraphs with four sentences each:

“The crawl is such a hard thing because you have to be careful that you’re not using too many words that people don’t understand. It’s like a poem.”

The final opening crawl was written by Lucas’ friend, Brian De Palma, who considered Lucas’ opening crawl too complicated. Lucas received an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay nomination.

Han shot first

Published by Alexander Sigsworth

Writing about Herobrine in The Characters That Define Us at Normal Happenings. Profile photo chosen for Gamers Blog Party: Summer 2019 at Later Levels. Known as the Purple Prose Mage at the Well-Red Mage.

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