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Star Wars Disenchantment


John
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He can. I mean, he wrote the original, and he had a hand in writing The Empire Strikes Back.  But he is a very uneven filmmaker.

 

I wouldn't say its been better since then. The first two films are yet to be beaten.

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10 minutes ago, Stefancos said:

ROTJ is a bad film.

 

Its hardly that.

 

A very nice ending, ultimately, and it did close the book on Star Wars well enough. Its just a shame that what should have been a great operatic conclusion to the series, had been largely reduced to Jabba's palace and Ewok shenanigans; and now of course had its value all but nullified by the sequel trilogy.

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27 minutes ago, Mr. Manfrenjensenden said:

Gary Kurtz’s presence was sorely needed.

 

I don't think that's it. I don't even recall any evidence that Kurtz had a real say in the creative aspects of the series: he was just a producer.

 

Its simply very tricky to do a concluding film, especially from the starting point established by The Empire Strikes Back. As great as that film's cliffhanger ending is, it did leave Return of the Jedi in a bad position for several reasons: one, it had to reconcile Ben's earnestness in saying Vader betrayed Luke's father with the reveal that he is his father - they were never going to be able to reconcile those two accounts in any way that felt authentic and elegant.

 

Second, the concept of "another", which required the introduction of another Skywalker in this film, was simply too much to put into the film. The concept of a sister was put into The Empire Strikes Back when the trilogy was going to be six or even nine films, so there was time to deal with the reveal of the sister.

 

But when Lucas decided to make due with just a trilogy, he had to both introduce this sister (and explain why she was hitherto unknown to the main characters), introduce the emperor, rescue Han, deliver a final battle and a resolution for all the characters, which was simply too much. So they copped-out and made her Leia, to condense that story-thread.

 

Lastly, the way Han was taken away at the end of the film mandated that the opening of Return of the Jedi be dedicated to his rescue. However, because taking down Jabba doesn't really directly inform the struggle against the Empire, it comes off as an "episode" seperate to the bulk of the movie. I do know that in some early drafts, the rescue was concurrent with the Rebels setting up on Endor, which may have worked better but who knows.

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The idea of a sister actually predates the concept of Vader being Luke's father.

 

And yeah, I suppose it never was a very good idea. Its certainly this idea that was the germ of Star Wars morphing into a series centered around familial ties, which is a trick that honestly wore thin really quickly. The unabridged script to Return of the Jedi was also going to reveal that uncle Owen was Ben's brother. Gimmie a break!

 

To be entirely fair, in earlier iterations of the original Star Wars, Luke had quite a big family (as many as two brothers, a father, an uncle and aunt and a cousin), so in a way the seeds for it were always there.

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43 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

 

I don't think that's it. I don't even recall any evidence that Kurtz had a real say in the creative aspects of the series: he was just a producer.

 

 


 

It’s been stated in various interviews and articles that Kurtz was very involved in the productions and that his parting was due to disagreements over the direction of the storyline for Jedi. 

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2 minutes ago, Mr. Manfrenjensenden said:

Kurtz was very involved in the productions and that his parting was due to disagreements over the direction of the storyline for Jedi. 

 

I don't doubt that. But that he was opinionated on the storylines isn't the same as to say that he was involved in crafting them.

 

Ultimately, I don't think you can pin the film not being as good on just the absence of one member of the production crew. I think it has depper reasons that relate more to the storyline, circumstances surrounding the production, and the inherent difficulty of cracking the nut of the concluding chapter.

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2 minutes ago, Modest Expectations said:

Kershner, and Leigh Brackett

 

At the moment, we're talking more about the story, so the identity of the director is largely irrelevant, although it goes without saying that - while it has nice touches - the directing on Return of the Jedi is rather bland compared to The Empire Strikes Back.

 

As for Brackett, she wasn't on the original, and that film worked well as a story, so...

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50 minutes ago, Modest Expectations said:

I'm just pointing out why did ROTJ fail to follow-up the quality of Empire. If Kershner was at helm, Lucas wouldn't be involved enough to Ewok the film the way he did, or overblow the Jabba sequence. Also, Kershner would keep an eye on the bored Ford and other details like that.

 

And I stand by my older statement that to follow-up Star Wars takes more than the writer who wrote Star Wars.

 

I remember George saying that it was Fox's idea to have Ewoks. The original script had Wookiees.

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1 hour ago, Modest Expectations said:

Luke's sister was a completely unnecessary idea. "Another Skywalker" should have been Vader.

But the whole point was that Luke was not the last hope against vader and the emperor.  If the other skywalker were Vader, it reads as "that boy is our last hope against Darth Vader and the Emperor....No, you are forgetting about Darth Vader."  

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2 minutes ago, Modest Expectations said:

It could have been a mysterious statement at first, and then turning into a twist of Vader having the capacity to come back from the dark side now that we know that he used to be good.

 

The way it is now, the line sounds like "Nah, don't worry Ben. If this loser fails, we will send another one".

Yeah, I suppose in defense of this the current version makes little sense.  Yoda already knows Luke's "friends" are likely to die without his help (even though he doesn't end up helping them).  But if the other hope was Leia and she was going to likely die without Luke's help, the "there is another" line is a bit dumb.  

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1 hour ago, Manakin Skywalker said:

The original script had Wookiees.

 

As I remember, the script always had Ewoks. Wookiees were the original intention, but didn't survive the early story meetings.

 

What I find more interesting was that the film's climax was originally intended to take place on Curoscant, which makes perfect sense for the conclusion of the story.

 

But creating Curoscant's outsized urban landscape was going to be very budget and time consuming, if at all possible. So they went: "eh, lets just shoot around the woods out back like an indy movie." Sigh...

 

It just lacks the kind of scale that a final chapter demands. Not that the earlier draft is all that promising: its not like they were going to have a massive war on the surface of Curoscant. Basically, it was just the location of the Emperor's throne room, which at this point in time was envisioned as being underground.

 

That's partially why The Empire Strikes Back works so well: even though its technically telling the smallest story out of the first three films, its a BIG movie, for no real reason other than to give us a chance to revel in the sheer scale of the some of the setpieces and visuals. The prequels also have an often great sense of scale, as do the Disney entries.

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5 hours ago, Chen G. said:

 

I don't doubt that. But that he was opinionated on the storylines isn't the same as to say that he was involved in crafting them.

 

Ultimately, I don't think you can pin the film not being as good on just the absence of one member of the production crew. I think it has depper reasons that relate more to the storyline, circumstances surrounding the production, and the inherent difficulty of cracking the nut of the concluding chapter.

Haven't a clue about the specifics in this case, but I believe one person CAN make that much difference.

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9 hours ago, Chen G. said:

 

At the moment, we're talking more about the story, so the identity of the director is largely irrelevant, although it goes without saying that - while it has nice touches - the directing on Return of the Jedi is rather bland compared to The Empire Strikes Back.

 

As for Brackett, she wasn't on the original, and that film worked well as a story, so...

Kurtz and Kershner were in open conflict with Lucas throughout Empire Strikes Back, Kurtz even remarking that Lucas needed people to challenge his decisions. From many of the resources out there with Kurtz it seems like his producing credit extended beyond just that and he did have a hand in shaping the story. 

From what I recall a lot of problems arose in production because Lucas didn't want to spend too much time doing anything, didn't want to go over budget, didn't want to fuss over shots and scenes - and the bts of Prequels (and arguably the films themselves) are a testament to that. Set up a video village, shot-reverse shot, done. 

 

From my own experience in filmmaking even the story is a collaborative effort, especially when it needs to be shot. My thoughts on Return of the Jedi seem to follow what others have said, and I agree with your assessment of the film concerning what Empire had set up and what Jedi needed to accomplish. It couldn't reach any higher than what Empire had established. Where I disagree with you is in relation to how the sequel trilogy affects the story. I think Rise of Skywalker could potentially give a more satisfying ending to the story, after all, we've followed these characters on screen for what seems like their whole lives, it seems fitting we get to see the end of their journey through these new stories.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Arpy said:

Kurtz and Kershner were in open conflict with Lucas throughout Empire Strikes Back, Kurtz even remarking that Lucas needed people to challenge his decisions.

In my experience, excepting actual life-and-death situations, pretty much all people would benefit from having their decisions challenged.

Unfortunately far from all people genuinely welcome that and I strongly suspect that truly most people don't.

Even if and when they pretend otherwise.

 

Maybe if a challenge is presented in exactly the right way at exactly the right time, people MAY perhaps accept it.

But even then, that's hardly a guarantee.

 

And as soon as there's even the slightest hint of conflict, the most common response from people is to go into defense mode and the second that happens, the message is already lost.

That means the only method seems to be tremendous subtlety combined with even more random chance.

 

What I just described is extremely common.

So I suspect that, while unfortunate, Lucas isn't exactly an exception.

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4 minutes ago, Arpy said:

I think Kurtz was speaking as in challenging him creatively, saying no when it was needed

 

Was Kurtz ever in a position that allowed him to say "no" to Lucas? George Lucas was after all the executive producer and writer from the very beginning.

 

Sounds like a Hollywood fable to me.

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8 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

Was Kurtz ever in a position that allowed him to say "no" to Lucas? George Lucas was after all the executive producer and writer from the very beginning.

Everyone can say 'no' for everything.

Being in a position to force a 'no' is a different story.

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I'll happily go on record, and say that I like this film. I've seen it a total of nine times, at the cinema, and countless times on video/DVD/Blu.

It is only one of two films that had a truly breathtaking effect on the entire audience (coming out of the tunnel, and into the reactor generator).

It's no secret - and I think it's no shame - to say that it's the weakest of the OT.

That being said, it's a competently made, and entertaining film, with many good scenes.

I've no wish to put the blame on Mr. Marquand, but he was a rather naïve director, at that time. He freely admitted that "Making ROTJ, with George, was like directing KING LEAR, with Shakespeare looking over your shoulder". Perhaps he never had the courage to "stand up" to Lucas, as it's evidenced that Kirshner had done, after all, it's his name on the "Directed By" credit.

Replacing Kurtz with Kazanjian, was akin to replacing a solid producer (who will fight the director, if need be, for the betterment of the film), with a "yes" man. All this made for a film that gets the job done...but only just.

On the plus side, the sound design, the cinematography, the effects, and the score, are all (mostly) fine.

Maybe the restoration of some deleted scenes (Vader contacting Luke; Jerrejod's struggle) might add weight to the film, but I doubt it.

In the end, it's the only ROTJ we've got.

It could be a lot, lot worse.

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1 hour ago, Richard said:

Maybe the restoration of some deleted scenes (Vader contacting Luke; Jerrejod's struggle) might add weight to the film, but I doubt it.

In the end, it's the only ROTJ we've got.

 

I don't think so. I've seen the deleted footage: with three concurrent story threads going on during the climax (of which there's only one that the audience truly cares about), adding a fourth would have been overkill.

 

I do agree with the sentiment that its "the only Return of the Jedi we've got", which is why - as it is - the sequel trilogy should never have been made.

 

The whole notion of someone standing up to Lucas still reads to me like a Hollywood yarn, rather then a real explanation of why its a lesser film.

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6 hours ago, Arpy said:

I think Rise of Skywalker could potentially give a more satisfying ending to the story, after all, we've followed these characters on screen for what seems like their whole lives, it seems fitting we get to see the end of their journey through these new stories.

 

We need a grander barbecue party!

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Its not necessarily that: its as much to do with "well, the fans want more Star Wars. So lets give them more!"

 

But its the filmmakers job to give the fans what they need, rather than what they want. Just because you can make more movies in a series, doesn't mean you should.

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