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We wouldn't see Luke constructing his Lightsaber, we'd just see his facial reactions.
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spence said:I think we had this come up in the In The Works thread, but not really. The Rebels succeed on their own at blowing up the Death Star. If they blow up the Death Star before Luke succeeds, what he's doing doesn't matter because Vader and Palps are dead. If Luke never showed up on the Death Star, they'd still blow it up with Vader and Palps onboard and it still doesn't matter. And sure, they could've escaped, or dozens of other things that can be implied by watching it, but what the film actually gives you is pointless situation.
It's basically "I'm going to try and kill this guy before his house blows up and kills him." A fools errand.
L8wrtr said:It has been a looooong time since L8wrtr has had a nice long academic post. It's good to be back. Strap yourselves in, or move along
Spence and I talked about this issue a great deal while he was in the early stages of the edit. No matter how you slice it Return of the Jedi suffers from massive structural problems, particularly centered around the climax. This edit simply explores an alternative way to reach the same end-point while trying to mitigate some of the more glaring flaws of the story. It's not a perfect or ideal solution, and I wouldn't even say superior, but it is a fun 'what if' kind of edit.
Lucas is (or was) a student of classical mythic story structure as outlined by Joseph Campbell, and in most classical stories the climax of the story revolves around a single moment/action where the protagonist's victory IS the victory of the story. In the most well-written stories the protagonist has an outward goal which aligns with a more personal inner-goal so that the protagonist isn't just fighting for something big, but has a deep personal stake in the victory, something that will drive the protagonist to do things they might not do in order to achieve victory, or to keep them going when they might otherwise accept defeat or failure.
In such a well-written story the outward motivation and the inner motivation are intertwined and inseparable - the hero wins, everyone wins. The hero loses, everyone loses. Of course a great example of this is... Die Hard. (thought I was going to say Star Wars didn't you?) John McClane isn't just fighting to save everyone in the Nakatomi Tower, he's trying to save his wife. The movie literally ends with him flying to California trying to save his marriage. It's personal and he will stop at nothing to defeat the bad guys, saves his wife, and literally saves his marriage.
The problem that Lucas created for himself was that he loves simultaneous storylines, and this obsession reached critical mass in RotJ (and then reached ridiculous levels in TPM). American Graffiti is the definitive multi-storyline movie, and it works because none of the stories overpower the other, they all resolve nicely, but the focus is Richard Dreyfus' character, his resolution is the one that brings all the others into focus.
ANH has a more straight through narrative, but secondary storylines ebb and flow as needed, but ultimately the climax is a single storyline, one man, alone in a fighter against terrible odds.
Now in ESB the multiple storylines worked fantastically for three reasons; first, the primary storyline is that of Luke's Journey with the secondary storyline serving the first storyline, providing additional motivation and kickstarting the hero, almost a latent call to adventure. These two stories are perfectly interwoven. Second, in spite of the fact that the secondary storyline is not the point of the story, it is so well told, the characters so dear to us that we care about it every bit as much as the first, and in some cases possibly even more at times. While Luke is stationary and training (visually uninteresting) Han and Leia are running for their lives, providing the much needed action beats. Then finally the two stories reconnect in the 3rd act and everything hinges on Luke's actions. Lastly, it is the 2nd act of a 3-act story, so it doesn't have to end in victory. ESB's famous down ending is bold and emotional, and only possible because ESB was the middle chapter.
Lucas could have easily used the same structure to end the film on a heroic high note and still left room for the 3rd and final movie:
I'm not saying this would have been better, I think ESB's downer ending is brilliant, but the point here is that the structure is what matters, the ending hinges on the hero's actions, and the secondary story does not overshadow it.Luke arrives at Bespin and helps his friends escape, he confronts Vader and is in fact victorious, he has Vader at his mercy and is ready to deliver the fatal blow when Vader reveals their family history. Stunned by this revelation, Luke's guard is down and Vader gets his opening to escape. Luke joins his friends and the movie still ends with the Rebellion on the run and Luke needing to resolve his absentee father issues. ROTJ still can happen, just minus the 40 minutes of rescuing Han.
With RotJ, Lucas boxed himself into a hole on a few points. His first error was in returning to his original draft of The Star Wars where the conclusion is a high-stakes winner-take-all battle centered around a battle station, and a primitive race is the key to victory. This climax (minus the primitive race) works perfectly for Episode IV because in the original drafts, Vader was never Luke's father, Luke's journey is more simple, one of coming of age, saving the princess, saving the realm, and defeating the enemies which had killed his family. With ESB and making Vader Luke's father, Lucas altered and added complexity to the story that simply wasn't in his original drafts. ANH works because it lacks that complexity, the finale is straight forward. Now Luke's journey does have to be about confronting the man who corrupted his father, trying to defeat him and simultaneously saving his father's soul. But also, because of Episode IV & V, the movie also has to address the struggle between the Empire and the Rebellion.
If Lucas had come to Jedi without the crutch of his original climax, this is a BRILLIANT situation - Outward motivation, defeat the Empire. Inner-motivation, complete his journey to become a Jedi by defeating the Emperor and saving his father. These two goals align so perfectly it can only be described as either pure genius or the best dumb-luck ever. The only problem is that they don't really align with a massive battle centered around a giant space station and a primitive race where the key to victory is the overlooked primitives thwart the Emperor's vision and allow the Rebels to blow up the battle station along with the Empire's leader.
Luke's journey is now counter to the set-up of the story. Jedi sets up that the key to the Rebellion's victory is the destruction of the Death Star, both because it's a freaking Super Laser, and the Emperor will be on board. Luke and his relationship to Vader have nothing to do with this storyline, and trying to infuse how important it is that he 'distract' them is trying to retcon some sort of purpose where there really was no purpose.
Because each group gets a victory, Luke's is the most meaningless of the three in terms of the Galaxy, even though it has the most personal significance. Even if Luke failed, the Rebellion wins, and while you can try to argue well, his presence there still enabled the victory, that's horrible storytelling.
Even still, the situation could have been salvaged. All Lucas had to do was take a cue from his own movie, ESB where the alternate storylines serve the primary. Unfortunately Lucas inexplicably decided that each character had to be victorious in their own way. Han, Leia and Chewie are victorious in blowing up the generator, and Lando and the Rebel Fleet are victorious in blowing up the Death Star.
In the end the story should have come down to Luke, he wins, the Rebellion wins. He loses, the Rebellion is lost. In Spence's version, even though the Rebels manage to destroy the DS2, true victory still requires that Luke defeat the Emperor in some manner, which he does by redeeming his father who then kills the Emperor.
Moving the Emperor to the Command Ship is not a perfect solution, and I'm certainly not even going to say it's superior to the theatrical, but the problems of RotJ are real and unavoidable, that Luke's victory has no affect on the success of the Rebellion is really a terrible flaw in terms of screenwriting. Spence's edit is a fun and interesting approach to addressing it.
Oh, and to truly: :deadhorse:
Let's return to Die Hard. What if the Special Agents Johnson had in fact defeated/thwarted the bad guys? What if the only thing McClane did in the movie amounted to saving his wife? And not only that, that she would have lived anyway had he never even gotten on the plane to fly from NYC to LA? That movie would have tanked and deservedly so. The hero's victory has to be personal, and it has to be tied to the bigger picture. McClane saves everyone (almost), kills every bad guy (almost), and saves his wife specifically, after he's rescued everyone else along the way.