Episode VII THE FORCE AWAKENS

The opening crawl is an iconic event in every Star Wars Episode. Through Episode I THE PHANTOM MENACE, Episode II ATTACK OF THE CLONES, Episode III REVENGE OF THE SITH, STAR WARS, Episode V THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and Episode VI RETURN OF THE JEDI, every live-action Star Wars film has included an expository crawl of text before the story commences to bring the audience up-to-date on galactic events. Each opening crawl reveals the Episode number – e.g. “Episode V” – and the subtitle in capitals – e.g. “THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK”. The opening crawl text is divided into three paragraphs, describing what instigated the events of the film, how it developed, and how its resolution triggered the first act. None of the odd-numbered Episodes (Episode I THE PHANTOM MENACE, Episode III REVENGE OF THE SITH and Episode VI RETURN OF THE JEDI) featured capitalised pronouns, but all opening crawls were yellow. Until Episode V THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, every opening crawl ended with a three-dot ellipses (“…”). Whether Star Wars: the Force Awakens (J. J. AbramsLawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt) – the Saga’s intended Episode VII – will continue with a three dot ellipses is unknown, but the three-dot version is considered correct among scholars, unlike the “informal” four-dot ellipses (“….”), so that’s the version I’ll be sticking with. STAR WARS Episode IV A NEW HOPE From the Journal of the Whills screenwriter George Lucas describes the creation of the opening crawl as such:

“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. I showed the very first crawl to a bunch of friends of mine in the 1970s. It went on for six paragraphs with four sentences each. Brian De Palma was there, and he threw his hands up in the air and said, ‘George, you’re out of your mind! Let me sit down and write this for you.’ He helped me chop it down into the form that exists today.”

In the original screenplays, the opening crawls were presented as such:

Episode I THE PHANTOM MENACE(2)Episode II ATTACK OF THE CLONES(2)Episode III REVENGE OF THE SITH(2)Star Wars(2)RETURN OF THE JEDI

(THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK didn’t feature the opening crawl in its screenplay.)

Star Wars: the Force Awakens will probably include an opening crawl. We don’t know it will, but it most likely will. But we still don’t know what it could be. Some fans have already made their predictions, and now I will be making mine. Just what will Star Wars: the Force Awakens‘ opening crawl be? ….

A long time ago in a galaxy far,

far away….

STAR
WARS

Episode VII
THE FORCE AWAKENS
It is a period of uprising.
Resistant spaceships, striking
from a hidden base, have won
their first victory against
the evil First Order.

During the battle, Resistant
spies managed to steal secret
plans to the Order’s
ultimate weapon, STAR KILLER
BASE, a weaponised planet
with enough power
to destroy an entire system.

Pursued by the Order’s
sinister agents, stormtrooper
Finn escorts a pilot to
Kylo Ren’s landing craft,
possessor of the
ancient weapon that can free
their people and restore
freedom to the galaxy….

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 KNIGHTS OF SITH.

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 
the NEW GALACTIC KINGDOM by a 
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:

The REPUBLIC GALACTICA is dead. 
Ruthless trader barons, 
driven by greed and the 
lust for power, have replaced 
enlightenment with oppression, 
and "rule by the people" 
with the FIRST GALACTIC EMPIRE.

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: 
THE BLACK KNIGHTS OF THE SITH.

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 PRINCESS OF ONDOS."

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

Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith by George Lucas

It’s five 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 3: Revenge of the Sith.

Also worth checking out is Rod’s Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (The Abridged Script), which is clever enough to be the unofficial Family Guy parody version.

Lucas began developing Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith before the release of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. Rather than following-through the Clone Wars sub-plot, he instead decided to focus on Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the Dark Side of the Force, which needed to be convincing for the story to work. Act I ends with Anakin killing Dooku to fully signal his new-found darkness. Working titles included Rise of the EmpireBirth of the Empire and The Creeping Fear, the title posted on the film’s website on April Fool’s Day. Revenge of the Sith was a title speculated by the fan base, which ultimately turned-out to be Lucas’ choice. Initially, Return of the Jedi was titled Revenge of the Jedi, but Lucas changed the title as Jedis, he believed, did not avenge. Revenge of the Sith is an homage to that, as Anakin takes his revenge, making him no longer a Jedi. Anakin’s plot being the centre of the film meant certain other subplots were abandoned to economically tell a focused story. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones established that the planet Kamino had been removed from the Jedi Archives, and Lucas initially stated his intention to explain this. This was later cut to spend more time with Anakin. Other references to the Original Trilogy included a meeting with the ten-year-old Han Solo on Kashyyyk, and the revelation that Palpatine is Anakin’s father by creating him from the Midi-Chlorians, explaining his virgin birth in Star Wars: Episode 1:The Phantom Menace. This was intended to mirror Anakin revealing himself as Anakin’s father. After principal photography wrapped, Lucas rewrote Anakin’s character development, which was realised through editing and reshoots. Before, Anakin believed the Jedi were plotting to take over the galaxy, but the rewrite made it appear that he simply desired to save Padme Amidala.

Script supervisor: Victoria Pike

Nominee: Saturn Award for Best Writing (2005)

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones by George Lucas and Jonathan Hales

It’s six 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 and Jonathan Hales‘ screenplay to Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.

Lucas had been sceptical to write the second episode of the saga after the negative response to the first episode, Star Wars: Episode 1:The Phantom Menace, but completed a rough draft in March 2000, three months before production commenced. By this time, Lucas had produced a second draft. The third draft received an uncredited co-write from Hales, whose only feature-writing experience at this point was The Mirror Crack’d, which he’d also co-written. Their working title was Jar Jar’s Big Adventure, referencing an unpopular character from Star Wars: Episode 1:The Phantom Menace.

Script supervisor: Jayne-Ann Tenggren and Victoria Chambers-Pike.

Screenplay by GEORGE LUCAS and JONATHAN HALES

Star Wars: Episode 1:The Phantom Menace by George Lucas

It’s seven 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 1:The Phantom Menace

Nominee: Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screenplay (1999)

Script supervisor: Lisa Vick

Scripts supplied by Sapex Scripts

Star Wars Episode 1The Phantom Menace

This is becoming a distraction

I’ve been thinking about this for a while. Recently, the main topic of  my mind has been exactly what I want out of life. And after considering it, I’ve decided that in order to commit to my art, I need to cut out distractions. I’ve cancelled my subscriptions to most YouTube channels I follow. And I’ll probably do the same with these WordPress blogs. Essentially, if it wasn’t directly contributing to my life as a writer, I’ve cut it out.

But I’ll still be here. I’m just not going to be posting as often or as substantially. Anything I do post will be more of a redirection toward other things I think you’ll enjoy or could find useful. But the truth is, if I’m going to be legitimate, I’ve got to cut down my means of procrastination. And this is the biggest one. Not to mention that working in an industry can be helped by not criticising the other people working in that same industry. I don’t want someone to come across a review I’ve posted of their film and use that to justify not working with me. Instead, I’m going to keep my thoughts to myself. Think of me now as a resource guide, providing others like myself with what I think they’ll find useful to their craft.

My first “new” post will be on Friday. But don’t expect anything long.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2
Written by Danny Strong and Peter Craig

The “finale” of the The Hunger Games trilogy-in-four-parts is upon us soon, and my local cinema screened a marathon of them all. So I figured that as enough justification for reviewing them. The threequel/fourquel/finale instalment is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, based on the novel Mockingjay. As previously explained in these reviews, and the series, the Mockingjay symbol’s significance is a long story.

A story that now concludes with the second half of a film. That’s how you know it’s the last one. At least, until the “…a Hunger Games Story” anthology spin-off films. But as the finale to a series involving much world building, many characters and an epic storyline, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (a tragic, terrible title) does achieve what it set-out to do – finish the series and provide a satisfying sense of closure for the audience and the characters.

This is executed through the Peter Jackson-esque method, later refitted-for-purpose by Christopher Nolan, of giving each character their own end scene that allows us to see what happened to them after the foundation of a new state in place of the nation ruled by Coriolanus Snow until his assumed death in the final act. Which is ironic, given Coriolanus never really gets his own ending. All we know is that the spectators of his execution later rushed at him, but whatever end he was probably given in the source material isn’t shown. Instead, we just assume he was beaten to death by the crowd.

Katniss had executed the arranged Interim President Alma Coin, who were using both sides of the Second Rebellion against each other. Her plan was to organise something of a memorial games once inaugurated, and that was enough Katniss to realise that Coriolanus had become a pawn unto his own campaign. In that sense, both armies are the same, but being wiped-out by contradictory orders coming from the same source without anyone’s knowledge but the true perpetrator being until Katniss reveals it by shooting an arrow through Alma’s heart. This was the final statement of both The Hunger Games as a series, and Katniss as the face of the rebellion.

Katniss was the one chosen to execute Coriolanus when the time came, and the crowd’s assumption that Alma must have been the true enemy simply because of Katniss’ one, unexpected action also says something about Human nature, though I fear this one was unintentional. Mindlessly following one person without questioning them is what got them into this mess in the first place. But, at least Katniss wasn’t the one chosen to be Interim President, which seems illogical given her public following during the Second Rebellion. You know, I’m not going to pretend I understand the world of Panem completely.

I’ve had to consult its wiki just for the correct pronouns, but I understand the general story. Which isn’t to say I understand how the plot moves from one point to the next, just what those points are. It seems they missed a lot of important information to make the final push to the end really make sense, but The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is still held together by its actors (who deserve at least Oscar consideration) and the film’s own ability to be genuinely scary in some places. There’s a stigma against jump scares in modern films, but the real problem should be with ineffective jump scares.

There are jump scares here, and they are obvious, but they’re still scary. The sewer sequence has to be one of the most horrifying scenes of the genre. The creatures they are find are like the love children of Tom Riddle after his rebirth, and the Pale Man. And it’s for these standout moments that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is worth watching, on the whole – just less so than would be desired.

Next review: something completely different.

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 [2015 (rerelease)]

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
Written by Danny Strong and Peter Craig

The “finale” of the The Hunger Games trilogy-in-four-parts is coming-up soon, and my local cinema screened a marathon of them all. So I figured that as enough justification for reviewing them. The threequel/finale/penultimate instalment is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, based on Mockingjay. The Mockingjay is a symbol in Panem for the rebellion, ever since Katniss was appointed as its face at the conclusion of the previous film.

Why a Mockingjay? It’s a long story, and the Mockingjay finale is divided into two, a popular trend among many film series as a way of announcing their conclusion. If a studio ever announces the next film in a series will be in two parts, it means they’ve decided in advance it’s the ending (as opposed to cancelling it after its been released). That’s all very well, but could Lionsgate at least have gone for more imaginative subtitles than Mockingjay – Part 1 and Mockingjay – Part 2?

A title is the most important element of marketing, and putting “Part 2” in a title is the best way for it to under-perform at its opening weekend. That said, there’s honestly not much I can say about The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 that can’t also be said for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, and it’s there that the majority of my review will be formed. Mainly because I don’t want to repeat myself unnecessarily. But what I will say is that the ending was at the wrong moment.

There was one scene too many. The final scene, which mirrors the ending of the previous film was poetic, but came after a teased ending when Peeta tries choking Katniss, followed by a cut to black before the actual final scene. Had the end credits started when they were teased to start, and not after a weirdly tacked-on “epilogue”, it would have been much more effective. Were Lionsgate scared of making the final shot too violent?

Did they not want the last moment we remember for a year to be the protagonist being choked? Ultimately, it was still the better moment to cut it off. A film should never peak until the end. Speaking of which…

Mockingjay-Part-2-final-Poster.jpg

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