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Believe it or not, "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" (or just "Return of the Jedi," really) turns 30 years old on May 25. That's right — the closer of the original "Star Wars" trilogy has been around for three decades, and no doubt many of you can recite every line, identify every random shadowy creature in Jabba's palace by name and fly into a rage whenever you're reminded that Sebastian Shaw was replaced with Hayden Christensen for that final shot in the Special Edition.
And you know you love the Ewoks. Just accept it — it's easier that way.
But, as Yoda himself would certainly agree, there is still much to be learned about "Return of the Jedi" — and the entire "Star Wars" saga itself. And some interesting new behind-the-scenes facts will make themselves known in J.W. Rinzler's "The Making of 'Star Wars: Return of the Jedi,'" which is set to hit store shelves on October 1.
In celebration of the 30-year anniversary of the release of "Jedi" this weekend, Huffington Post was treated to an excerpt from the upcoming book, one which details a production meeting from July 1981 attended by George Lucas, director Richard Marquand, screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and producer Howard Kazanjian. The transcript reveals that Lucas already had the basic concepts of what would become the "Prequel Trilogy," the first installment of which was 18 years away at the time -- even though he ended up changing his mind about a few things in the interim.
The most amusing tidbit has Lucas claiming that the Force is "like yoga ... everybody can do it. 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." This ended up not being the case, as "Episode I - The Phantom Menace" (1999) revealed that the Force is an ability exclusive to Jedis due to their abundance of midi-chlorians, intelligent microscopic organisms or whatever.
Lucas also describes Grand Master Yoda as "a guru; he doesn't go out and fight anybody." This of course would completely change by the time we got to "Episode II - Attack of the Clones" (2002), in which Yoda engaged in a completely insane lightsaber duel with Count Dooku (Christopher Lee).
[It's amusing to see that Lawrence Kasdan disagrees with both the idea of Yoda not being good in a fight and that anybody can use the Force. Oh, George -- if only you'd listen to your writers more.]
Hey, a lot can change in 18+ years ... and a lot can stay the same, too. What's most notable about the "meeting minutes" is just how much of Lucas' description of Anakin Skywalker's background ended up making it into the prequel trilogy:
"Luke's father gets subverted by the Emperor. He gets a little weird at home and his wife begins to figure out that things are going wrong and she confides in Ben, who is his mentor. On his missions through the galaxies, Anakin has been going off doing his Jedi thing and a lot of Jedi have been getting killed -- and it's because they turn their back on him and he cuts them down. 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.
Now, when he falls into the pit, his other arm goes and his leg and there is hardly anything left of him by the time the Emperor's troops fish him out of the drink. Then when Ben finds out that Vader has been fished out and is in the hands of the Empire, he is worried about it. He goes back to Vader's wife and explains that Anakin is the bad guy, the one killing all the Jedi.
When he goes back his wife, Mrs. Skywalker has had the kids, the twins, so she has these two little babies who are six months old or so. So everybody has to go into hiding. The Skywalker line is very strong with the Force, so Ben says, 'I think we should protect the kids, because they may be able to help us right the wrong that your husband has created in the universe.' And so Ben takes one and gives him to a couple out there on Tatooine and he gets his little hideout in the hills and he watches him grow. Ben can't raise Luke himself, because he's a wanted man. 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."
Really, the only element that ended up being considerably altered from that description is Padme (Natalie Portman) died in childbirth at the end of "Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" (2005), thusly completely contradicting Leia's memory of her mother in "Return of the Jedi." Ah well.
You can read the entire excerpt from "The Making of 'Star Wars: Return of the Jedi'" at Huffington Post.