A transcript of an early ’80s conference with George Lucas, wherein he discusses his prequel ideas with Jedi director Richard Marquand, Empire and Jedi writer Lawrence Kasdan, and Empire and Jedi producer Howard Kazanjian, has made its way into the wild as part of the upcoming book The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
Some of it’s pretty similar to what we ended up seeing. Some of it isn’t. And some of it involves yoga. No, not Yoda. Yoga.
The general plot’s pretty similar, with Anakin Skywalker, protégé to Obi-Wan, buddying up with the Emperor-to-be, whom no one knew was bad because he seemed like a normal politician. Instead of killing Tusken Raiders and Younglings Anakin kills random Jedi on his missions across the galaxy.
“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.”
Remember that Revenge of the Sith plothole where Amidala dies in childbirth even though Leia clearly states in Jedi that she remembers her mother? This might be of interest:
Lucas: 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.”
But what about the yoga?! This is my favorite exchange of the whole bit:
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. Also like karate. Also another misconception is that Yoda teaches Jedi, but he is like a guru; he doesn’t go out and fight anybody.
Kasdan: A Jedi Master is a Jedi isn’t he?
Lucas: Well, he is a teacher, not a real Jedi. Understand that?
Kasdan: I understand what you’re saying, but I can’t believe it; I am in shock.
Lucas: It’s true, absolutely true, not that it makes any difference to the story.
Kasdan: You mean he wouldn’t be any good in a fight?
Lucas: Not with Darth Vader he wouldn’t.
Kasdan: I accept it, but I don’t like it.
“I accept it, but I don’t like it.” Way to keep him in line, Kasdan. Anybody can use the Force, and Jedi Masters aren’t actual Jedi but Jedi professors? I never thought I’d say this, but I think we dodged a bullet with the whole Midichlorians/Force-can-be-measured-via-a-blood-test thing.