Saturday, February 4, 2012

Alternate Star Wars Prequels: First Draft

Alternate Star Wars Prequels: First Draft

I've recently noticed a lot of bloggers are saying f- it and putting out their own alternate visions of the Star Wars prequels. Even after 13 years it seems us Star Wars fans still can't get past our disappointment. So I want in.

Let me say first though, that this is not an attack on George Lucas. It was inevitable that after such a build-up of expectation a lot of fans would have been let down by anything, as we all had a unique idea of what we were about to see. I applaud Lucas for blessing his fans' adoptions of his ideas for formation of their own offshoots, so I would hope that he would at least permit these fans their thought experiments with good humor. In fact, one might argue that since Lucas has taken such liberties with his films with each new release, that he would consider them to be "living documents," free to be amended.

That said, here's my perspective. I'm not going to dwell too much on the many problems that the prequels suffered from, as others like Red Letter Media have already done a much better job of it than I ever could. Like Plinkett, though, my primary point of concern for judging the prequels is how faithful they are to the Original Trilogy (OT), both in style and continuity. Things like having Anakin building C-3PO strain this. I also don't care about being faithful to the "Expanded Universe" canon of books, comics, games and television. All I care about are the films. For example, the Sith are never explicitly mentioned in the OT, though they have overwhelmingly been established as canon by Episode I, so in my interpretation I could choose to either abandon or accept them for the sake of convenience. All I care about is setting up and not conflicting with the stuff we know from the OT, OK?!

So what the f- do we know about the back story to Star Wars
from the OT? Well, not much in terms of detail, it turns out. Here's whatta we know:

-The Jedi were guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic.
-The Republic was replaced during the "dark times" by the Empire.

-Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi were good friends.
-Anakin Skywalker was a great pilot
and strong with the force.
Obi-Wan tried to train Vader but failed because Vader was seduced by the dark side of the force.

-Vader "killed" Anakin Skywalker (though we know they are both one and the same).
Obi-Wan was trained by Yoda, a Jedi Master, and was a General under Leia's father in the Clone Wars.

-At one point Obi-Wan calls himself reckless in his youth.

-Vader helped the Emperor by hunting down the Jedi.

-Luke and Leia, Vader/Anakin's children, were put into hiding by Obi-Wan.

-Leia has some memory of her real mother, but Luke does not.

-Luke is raised by an aunt and uncle who have some knowledge of his father (and are therefore concerned that he turn out like him).

So that's what we have to work with. Acknowledging these facts and being faithful to them is one of my goals. The other is to have my series of three films prefigure and follow the structure of the OT, which is essentially this:

Episode IV: Luke learns about the force, leaves home, goes on an adventure and saves the day.
Episode V: Luke leaves his friends to train as a Jedi. He has to choose between continuing his training or saving his friends, and in doing so tests his resolve. After discovering Vader is his father and after crippling attacks by the Empire, he and the Rebel cause, respectively, are at their lowest.
Episode VI: Luke faces his father and nearly succumbs to the Dark Side, but chooses the right path. The Emperor is killed and the empire falls, allowing the restoration of the Republic.

Therefore I've broken down the prequel trilogy to fit the following structure:

Episode I:
Obi-Wan meets Anakin and teaches him about the Force. They go on an adventure that simultaneously sets the stage for the Empire. Anakin saves the day and commits to being trained by Obi-Wan.
Episode II: Anakin leaves his old life to train with
Obi-Wan. Much of the film is about this training. However his attachments cause him to break from Obi-Wan which leads to a confrontation. Obi-Wan fails in training him and Anakin begins an existential descent. The Empire is formed.
Episode III: Anakin sides with the Emperor to combat the newly formed Rebellion. In his fight he fully embraces the Dark Side and begins to purge the Jedi.
Obi-Wan faces Anakin but fails to redeem him. However, the Rebels survive, giving hope to the future.

The set-up is crucial. Siding with almost unanimous consensus, we start with Anakin much older than in The Phantom Menace
(TPM), focusing much more on his character development. The OT was all about the characters’ exploits against the backdrop of the larger conflict. The prequels should be as well.

So, here we go again...

Episode I: The Clone Wars

The second you heard Luke say "The Clone Wars" in A New Hope
(ANH) your ears perked up and you were like, what's that? So we have to cover that in this first film. Also, the clones as they were interpreted in Attack of the Clones (AOTC) were sort of disappointing, and as David Christopher Bell points out, implied that the Jedi condoned human slavery so long as it helped them kill robots. So let's turn that on it's head, shall we?

Ep. 1 (25 years before ANH) can start exactly as ANH did: a blockade runner is pursued by a military battleship. Only this battleship belongs to the Republic and is rather small, and instead of being aggressive it is firing warning shots across the bow of the runner in search of illegal contraband as they orbit the planet Kessel.

Upon boarding the ship, they discover that it is transporting an illegal cargo of slave clones
in direct violation of the law. Before he can be arrested, the owner of this ship, Maul, seems to use the Dark Side of the Force to kill the boarding party and then turns on the starship with his ship's guns. Before the ship is destroyed, the co-pilot, Amidala, escapes in a pod to the planet below and sends out a distress signal. Maul pursues the pod to capture the occupants. This sets us up for a classic "damsel in distress" plot point.

On Coruscant, the widening rift within the Republic is made clear. This necessitates a bit of the political mumbo-jumbo that made TPM so dull, but the issue will be a bit more important, so that will help (besides, ANH had some political dialogue on the dissolution of the Senate, so there’s a precedent).

The rift is between the industrial Inner Core planets and poorer Outer Rim systems. The industrial planets are served by droids, but the Outer Rim systems depend on humanoid slaves cloned to be servile.

The Chancellor, Qui-Gon Jinn
, is an avid abolitionist but needs the support of a divided Senate to enact change. Outer Rim senators defend the issue by insisting that the clones are as soulless and mindless as their droid counterparts. To champion his cause, Qui-Gon introduces to the discussion an ex-slave and impressive orator, Palpatine, who is disfigured and hunched by mutation but clearly demonstrates his humanity. He's the Frederick Douglass of Star Wars, and his eloquence is without question. In a surprise move, Qui-Gon appoints him Vice Chancellor to further serve his agenda. This act infuriates the Outer Rim planets, who see the writing on the wall and secede from the Republic. Now we have a cause for war that as an audience we can root for, and an allusion to the American Civil War to give us context.

Now we meet
Obi-Wan (40 y.o.). As a Jedi Knight, he's sort of a wandering monk, sought after for his insight and advise, but beholden to no man. There are no massive Jedi academies in any form.

Qui-Gon and Palpatine’s Jedi counselor, Yoda
, refers them to
Obi-Wan. They ask him to lead a special mission. They have received the distress call and believe that capturing Maul could strike a blow to the slave trade and lead them to the Secessionist leaders. Palpatine in particular impresses on Obi-Wan the importance of this task. Obi-Wan accepts but requires a pilot and a contingent of commandos (they are in the white uniforms of Stormtroopers but are made up of humans and many species of aliens).

Obi-Wan first consults Yoda, his mentor. He then goes to the flight academy to choose a pilot. In Anakin (20 y.o.) he finds someone cocky and unconventional, but intelligent and with good marks. Obvious comparisons to Han Solo. He's hired for the mission.

En route, Obi-Wan and Anakin get to a-talkin'. Anakin is loyal to the Republic but sees some hypocrisy inherent in it vis-à-vis droids. So there're hints of moral ambiguity but loyalty is his top priority. In contrast, Obi-Wan has very conservative viewpoints but is somewhat anti-establishment. It's sort of a healthy disagreement of opinions, and they each kinda respect the other for it. Obi-Wan also senses the Force flowing through him and tells him a little about the Force.

They review the distress call in an homage to ANH and Anakin is clearly struck by the beautiful Amidala and her visage of strength in peril.

Upon exiting hyperspace, they unexpectedly find themselves surrounded by the Secessionist Fleet, which has gathered around Kessel. Clearly Maul is bigger game than they took him for. Taking evasive action, Anakin pilots them through a hail of fire. His actions seem almost impossible (perhaps his sensors or even he himself is temporarily blinded by something). Obi-Wan realizes that the Force had guided Anakin through the danger (this would nicely warrant Obi-Wan's training exercise with Luke years later).

On the planet, Maul's men have finally tracked down Amidala. They plan on killing her to keep her silent. In a bold raid,
Obi-Wan and Anakin lead their troops to confront Maul. However, in a rare disregard of orders, Anakin insists that he rescue Amidala no matter what. Reluctantly, Obi-Wan allows this and takes it on himself to find Maul.

Obi-Wan encounters Maul and discovers he has dark powers. As Anakin saves Amidala and prepares the ship for escape, Obi-Wan and Maul duel. Obi-Wan is outmatched and wounded, but Anakin shows up in the ship. Maul tries to crash the ship with the force, but Anakin somehow counters this. As Maul runs, Obi-Wan insists that Anakin go after Maul, but Anakin remains to save Obi-Wan. However, Anakin somehow plants a tracking device on Maul's ship.

As they leave the planet, they are attacked by Secessionist fighters. Manning the guns, Amidala takes them out and proves her mettle. They escape into hyperspace, and the Secessionist fleet flees to a new hiding spot.

Back on Coruscant, they track the fleet to its location in a new star system. Qui-Gon assembles a fleet to combat it and capture Maul and the Secessionist leaders. The pilots refit for the attack, but by now Obi-Wan has seen Anakin’s potential as a Jedi. He pulls some strings to have Anakin released from service in order to train him. Anakin accepts, but insists that he complete this one last mission.

Before the fleet leaves, Anakin confronts Amidala, who is still recuperating, and admits that he had remembered her from training from years ago and hadn't forgotten her. Their romance starts to bloom.

As the fleet comes out of hyperspace, the large ships use tractor beams and ion cannons to hold the Secessionists from further escape. It becomes a battle of fighters versus fighters.

At one point, Anakin is almost killed, but Amidala, who has joined the pilots after all, saves him. They knock out the ships and take them prisoner, ending the Secessionist momentum.

With news of the victory, Qui-Gon prepares for an address to mark the end of the conflict. He first tells Palpatine of his intentions to make peace with the captured leaders and to restore unity, combating slavery only through legislation. Palpatine, unsatisfied, uses the Force to have Qui-Gon declare himself unfit for service in front of the Senate, then throw himself to his death (this can be done in sort of a clumsy way, as if Palpatine is just learning how to wield his power). With Palpatine now Chancellor, he commits to unceasing war with all disloyal systems
(not just slave systems).

Palpatine then orders the captured leaders detained indefinitely on Mustafar
to extract information, and he faces Maul in isolation. It is revealed that Maul, obsessed with the Dark Side of the Force, was a former Jedi who had cloned Palpatine to experiment with its power. Palpatine decides to leach knowledge of the Force from him.

The mood is lightened a bit with a triumphal parade, in which Anakin, Amidala and
Obi-Wan take part. Anakin recommits himself to training, and Obi-Wan, leery of Anakin's fondness for Amidala, cautions him on all attachments. They receive their medals and everyone's happy.

This establishes our characters as important players in the larger story, though by no means does anything center on any of them. No prophesy, no dire warning about Anakin’s inner darkness, and no convoluted machinations involving a Sith plot. Just characters reacting to events beyond their control.

Episode II: Rise of the Empire

22 years before ANH. Under the banner of abolition, Chancellor Palpatine continues to prosecute the many wars against the remnants of the Secessionists. However, his zealotry starts to ride the line between fighting slavery and fighting for fighting's sake. For a former slave, the power is just too tempting.

While Anakin had been allowed to leave service to train with
Obi-Wan years ago, he nonetheless has continued to volunteer on the side of the Republic periodically as the wars expanded, and has built a name for himself in doing so. He values his Jedi training and fighting alongside Amidala almost equally. Their mutual attraction has become hard to ignore. While they're stationed at a forward base planet, Obi-Wan arrives by transport and gives Anakin an ultimatum: choose his former life or the way of the Jedi. After a difficult decision, Anakin chooses to follow Obi-Wan. They leave Amidala behind as the Republic prepares for a new offensive. To them, it seems unlikely they'll ever see each other again.

Obi-Wan brings Anakin to the alpine heights of Alderaan, a fitting locale for his intensive training. Obi-Wan, becoming the guidance figure, tries his best to impart on Anakin the wisdom that Yoda bestowed on him. The frigid environment gives him opportunity to test Anakin's stamina and self-control. His envelopment by nature brings him closer to the flow of the Force. Specific attention is given to the dangers of attachment.

Anakin is disciplined and introspective, and challenges Obi-Wan on some issues. While Obi-Wan tries his best, at times he struggles to address every point adequately. He finds he may have bitten off more than he can chew, and starts to question his own abilities.

Meanwhile, the Republic offensive begins. It targets a Secessionist stronghold, Geonosis
. Amidala serves admirably, and the invasion of the planet is a success. With the successful operation, millions of clone slaves are liberated. Their sheer numbers inundate the ill-prepared army, and they wonder what can be done about them.

Back on Alderaan, Obi-Wan tests Anakin in a similar way as Yoda's test of Luke in The Empire Strikes Back (TESB). Anakin is confronted with the fact that the Force can be wielded for good or for evil, and that such extremes do exist in the universe. He is forced to confront the possibility that he could be led down the wrong path. It is a breakthrough in his training, and he begins to accept Obi-Wan's teachings without question.

On Geonosis, as the Republic prepares to evacuate the freed slaves, a massive Secessionist counterattack comes out of nowhere and annihilates the Republic fleet. It leaves Amidala, her small contingent of troops, and the slaves completely cut off on the barren planet. They immediately become a target for this massive army, hell-bent on recovering their lost property.

Just as Anakin's training nears him towards enlightenment, he suddenly senses a great disturbance. He is unable to pinpoint the threat, but he fears it centers on Amidala.
Obi-Wan cannot sense it, and cautions Anakin to control his feelings. Anakin begins to lose track of his training.

On Coruscant, Palpatine learns of the plight of Geonosis. He is furious at the setback, and orders the planet retaken before the slaves can be recaptured. He also rails against the weakness of the Republic fleet. His advisers caution him that their military is stretched dangerously thin. He therefore orders the conscription of soldiers from every star system and the building of an Imperial Navy (this is the first use of the word Imperial and its use is noted apprehensively). Yoda, as his Jedi adviser, urges him to control his emotions and gives him advice that he does not like. Palpatine begins to discount Yoda’s opinions, judging the Jedi in the same light he judges Maul. The order is sent out across the galaxy and the recapture of Geonosis is stepped up.

On Alderaan, Senator Organa requests the presence of his old friend
Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan orders Anakin to remain behind and continue his training while he goes to the planet capital. There he learns of the Conscription Order. Senator Organa is opposed to sending his peaceful citizens to fight in an ever more nebulous war, and calls for a plebiscite to refuse the order. He asks for Obi-Wan's guidance, and asks if he would defend their cause. Obi-Wan realizes the threat but believes it is the right thing to do, and valiantly offers his sword.

An emergency vote is had, and the planet decides to defy the order. Anticipating trouble,
Obi-Wan is assigned as a general in defense of Alderaan. Word quickly reaches Palpatine, and the infuriated chancellor orders a detachment of his forces re-routed to occupy the rogue planet. This divides his advisers into hard-liners like Admiral Tarkin and those opposed to the attack of a peaceful planet, like Yoda and Mon Mothma. Yoda and Mon Mothma resign their posts, further cementing Palpatine's ire of the Jedi. Tarkin volunteers to rein in Alderaan.

Anakin, being suspicious of Obi-Wan's departure, uses his powers to infiltrate the capital and learns of the Conscription Order and of the Battle of Geonosis. When he encounters Obi-Wan, he asks him for his permission to let him go to help save Amidala. Obi-Wan refuses on the grounds that Anakin is too emotionally invested in Amidala and that they must defend a helpless people. Obi-Wan reminds Anakin that he has pledged to give up his old life. Anakin is torn between two noble yet completely conflicting causes, but his old soldierly loyalty wins out and he decides he must side with the Republic. Having reached an impasse, Obi-Wan rolls the dice and gives Anakin one last test: if he can be defeated in a lightsaber duel, he'll give Anakin his leave. Fully resolved, Anakin submits to the test. In the hallowed halls of Alderaan, the two have at it.

The fight is less emotional than it is a proving of each other's wills; it's more technical than anything, like a fencing match. Anakin continues to seek a compromised solution and promises to return to his training after saving Amidala.
Obi-Wan's hardened stance is that it must be one or the other, the path of light or the path to darkness. This confuses Anakin, who still sees the righteousness in his mindset. Obi-Wan continues to challenge Anakin on letting his affection for Amidala influence his judgment. To him, defending Alderaan is the moral path. Pressing his master on his intransigence further, Anakin demands an explanation. Reaching the edge of a precipice, Obi-Wan relents. He explains that he knows the risk from experience: he had once yielded to temptation and fallen off the path for a lover. In doing so he had committed a crime against the Force: he had fathered a child, creating a presence in the Force that was not his to create. The Force chooses who it does, and it is not to be meddled with by mortals.

Anakin cannot believe that his stodgy old master could be capable of this, but
Obi-Wan continues with his revelation: it's true because Obi-Wan is Anakin's father! Anakin becomes flooded with emotion. It can't be! Obi-Wan insists it’s true. After he was born, Anakin was placed where Obi-Wan could watch him from afar. He was pushed into the academy to be watched over by trusted friends, and was never destined to become a Jedi. However, when Obi-Wan saw his potential, he took the risk of training him. Anakin becomes enraged. How could Obi-Wan have fathered and abandoned him? How could he lie to him all this time? Anakin sees the hypocrisy that even his steadfast master is guilty of.

The fight becomes more heated. Obi-Wan genuinely cannot understand where this anger is coming from. He is backed to the edge of the precipice and Anakin uses the Force to disarm him of his lightsaber. Poised to finish him off with both sabers, Anakin, shaking, backs off. Around them the Republic invasion force begins their landing. Anakin tells Obi-Wan that next time he will kill him. He drops Obi-Wan's saber and runs off to leave the planet. Obi-Wan watches him go, then runs off to Senator Organa, lightsaber in hand.

As the people flee the coming army, Anakin faces a group of approaching Imperial Walkers
led by Tarkin. When a squad of Stormtroopers tries to arrest him (despite his insistence that he is on their side), he turns on them. Even after his exhausting duel, he has no problem mowing down these inferior soldiers. Tarkin, recognizing him, halts the fighting and allows Anakin a ship if he submits then and there to serving his forces. Anakin does, and in doing so Tarkin becomes his new master. He takes a Republic fighter and joins the fleet heading for Geonosis.

In the capital, Obi-Wan valiantly defends the huddled people of Alderaan, fighting off Stormtroopers with his lightsaber and their small volunteer home guard. In the end, though, they are no match for the Republic's waves of walkers. Organa and Obi-Wan retreat to a mountain stronghold.

On Geonosis, Amidala and her troops struggle to hold off the advancing army on the surface. They arm some of the clones themselves, who prove capable defenders. Anakin arrives as the Republic reinforcements battle pell-mell with the Secessionist fleet. The battle is intense but Anakin fights his way through to get to the surface. As the battle in space tilts in favor of the Republic, Amidala is overrun in the battle on the ground and is captured by one of the Secessionist leaders, Jango Fett
. Sensing the war is lost, though, he takes Amidala hostage as a bargaining tool. He steals her away in his last group of ships and takes off.

As Anakin descends he spots the departing ships. Concentrating intensely, he's able to tap into Amidala's mind and pinpoints which ship she's on. One by one, he takes out the other ships, until it's just Jango’s ship. However, he can't do any more without risking her life, and, facing his limitations, backs off. Amidala communicates to him that she will hold on strong until they meet again. Helplessly, he watches as Jango’s ship escapes the planet and goes into hyperspace. The rest of the troops break through and retake the planet. Despite the victory, Anakin is at a low point.

In the mountains of Alderaan, Organa is prepared to give up.
Obi-Wan knows what he risks, and implores him to save himself by blaming the planet's defiance as being the work of Obi-Wan using Force influence. Reluctantly, he agrees, and Obi-Wan escapes on a ship into space and into hiding.

Palpatine personally oversees Organa's surrender in the capital of Alderaan, with Tarkin and Anakin in the ranks. Palpatine generously spares Organa's life but forces him to resign from the Senate. Instead, he appoints him King of Alderaan to act as his puppet, with his wife, Lady Organa
, serving in obedience to her husband as Senator. Strike one for Alderaan.

When the discussion among him and his advisers turns to the status of the freed clones, Tarkin remarks that they proved to be capable defenders when faced by foes. Palpatine therefore orders that they be "offered" recruitment into the military, paving the way for a massive, all-humanoid force of Stormtroopers.

Anakin recommits himself to the two crusades at hand: rescuing Amidala while finishing off the Secessionists, and tracking down Obi-Wan.

This naturally sets up both the rise of the Empire and Anakin's seduction to the Dark Side for morally ambiguous reasons. With real people and not battle droids as the enemy, we are truly emotionally invested in who will win. Also, a revelation on the scale of the one in TESB catches us by surprise, yet is entirely compatible with the OT and in fact allows us to see it in a new light. The fact that
Obi-Wan doesn’t reveal this later to Luke is plausible since there were other things he kept secret from him.

Episode III: The Fall of the Jedi

20 years before ANH. As the last remnants of the true slave-owning Secessionists are wiped out and their clones liberated, the continuing wars have blurred completely into a war against all disloyal systems. Frightened systems kowtow in fealty to the new Emperor, while dissenting systems are increasingly harassed. A bold few have secretly begun to form in secret a Rebel Alliance, focused not on secession but on saving the galaxy from tyranny.

On the remote planet of Utapau, Amidala is still being held captive by Jango, but hasn't given up hope. This is the last haven for the retched Secessionists. Having discovered their location, Anakin infiltrates the base disguised as a sympathizer. Upon locating her, he wipes out the Secessionists and frees her, leaving only young Boba Fett alive (even he wouldn’t kill a child!). Anakin and Amidala finally embrace.

Back on Coruscant, Palpatine reveals to his council the growing threat of the Rebel Alliance. The end of the Clone Wars makes little difference to his warmongering. It is agreed that the Jedi are in collusion with the rebels. Palpatine, sensing Anakin's betrayal by Obi-Wan, draws him close. They both want him found; Anakin so he can confront him, and Palpatine to locate the Rebels. While Anakin is loyal to Palpatine, he still has conflicting feelings on Obi-Wan. After all, he is his father.

Around the planet Dantooine
, the Rebel Alliance assembles in preparation for the coming war to decide where to move the fleet. OWK, Yoda, Lady Organa (still defiant), and Mon Mothma are present. They agree to rendevous with Admiral Ackbar's hefty fleet at Mon Calamari (essentially Kamino from AOTC). Despite the coming storm,
Obi-Wan still feels he must seek out Anakin, who he still feels is good at heart and can be turned. Yoda cautions against this.

After her lengthy ordeal, Amidala has become very fragile. She reveals to Anakin that she is pregnant. Anakin is overjoyed, but given what he learned from Obi-Wan, is concerned over the implications of the birth. His drive to find Obi-Wan intensifies. Acting as now Grand Moff Tarkin’s agent, he pursues known Jedi and has them sent to Tarkin's special forces to be pressed for information.

Palpatine senses Anakin's frustrations with his own limitations. If he had been stronger with the Force he might have prevented Amidala's kidnapping. The two can relate: both are unholy products of meddling of the Force. Palpatine tempts him with access to the knowledge he's gained from Maul. Anakin pledges his loyalty, and Palpatine reassigns him temporarily from Tarkin to himself. Palpatine informs him that he need not look too far, for Obi-Wan will seek him out.

Confronting Maul on Mustafar, Anakin learns how powerful his offspring will be. Despite his years of solitude, Maul's twisted obsession with manipulating the Force is invigorated by Anakin’s situation, and he toys with Anakin's emotions. Foreseeing Anakin’s child will be his own downfall, he refuses to teach him anything. With rising hatred, Anakin uses Force choke to kill him. Nearby, Palpatine reveals his secret: this, the power of hatred, can unleash such strength.

Anakin is paranoid that if Obi-Wan discovers the pregnancy he will spirit the child away to a secret location, as he did to Anakin. He orders that Amidala be brought to him at the secure base on Mustafar to be protected.

Obi-Wan is smuggled into Coruscant by Lady Organa and seeks out Amidala. As she leaves for Mustafar, he stows aboard her ship. However, Lady Organa's involvement has been discovered through Admiral Tarkin’s torture of the Jedi. This is strike two for Alderaan. Lady Organa faces a choice: give the location of the Rebels or be killed along with King Organa. In a moment of weakness, she reveals their location. A massive navy of Imperial Star Destroyers under Admiral Ozzel is assembled to wipe out the Rebel Alliance in its infancy.

Arriving in Mustafar,
Amidala and Anakin meet and he urges her to remain there to have the baby. Obi-Wan appears from the depths of the ship. Nervous to see him, Anakin nevertheless seems willing to settle their differences if Obi-Wan stays away from the child. Learning of the pregnancy, Obi-Wan's heart sinks. He had yet to reveal the full truth to Anakin. As a result of his birth, his mother had been drained of life force, and this fate undoubtedly awaited Amidala. Anakin breaks down. His hatred swells. If Obi-Wan had revealed this truth sooner, Amidala's life could have been saved. Obi-Wan argues that the important thing now is to keep the child safe. But Anakin has entered a fugue state, advocating for a scorched earth and proclaiming that if Amidala should die then the child deserves to as well. Amidala, overhearing this, is distraught, and maternal instinct tells her to leave. Obi-Wan intervenes to protect her escape, and the two of them fall into battle.

Meanwhile, the Rebel Fleet, led by Mon Mothma and Yoda, enters the Mon Calamari system and links with Admiral Ackbar. No sooner had they arrived, then they encounter the Imperial Navy, which had been waiting to finish them in one blow. It's a trap! An epic battle ensues for the future of the galaxy. Entire starships are blown to pieces and plummet to crash into the ocean surface below.

Back on Mustafar, Obi-Wan continues to try and turn Anakin. However, he senses both hatred and his inability to see past his emotions to the big picture anymore. Amidala makes her way back to her shuttle with her guards, but is stopped by Stormtroopers. They fight their way to the ship to attempt to escape this domain of evil. From his bunker nearby, Palpatine becomes aware of the happening and draws up reinforcements to assist Anakin. He orders the Secessionist and Jedi prisoners eliminated just in case.

Above Mon Calamari, the fate of the Rebels looks grim. They are no match for the Star Destroyers and TIE Fighters. In desperation, Yoda draws up all his strength and uses the Force to cause two destroyers to collide. The engulfing fire forces the Star Destroyers to back off, and the Rebels disappear into hyperspace, narrowly escaping annihilation. The Rebels live to fight another day.

Obi-Wan finally gives up on Anakin. Summoning all his strength, Obi-Wan severs Anakin's arm and disarms him, taking his lightsaber. Disowning Anakin, he leaves to help Amidala. Awakening from his rage, Anakin realizes what has just happened. As the Emperor's reinforcements arrive, he refuses help. Instead, with nothing to live for, he walks to the mouth of a volcano and self-immolates. Bathed in flame, he destroys himself. In horror, Palpatine calls off the pursuit and has his troops recover Anakin and rush him to the bunker.

Obi-Wan catches up with Amidala and with his help they fight their way through to the shuttle. Escaping the planet, Obi-Wan attempts to save her by inducing the labor; perhaps no one need die after all.

Back at the bunker Palpatine utilizes technology and the Dark Side to revive Anakin. It works, but he is mutilated and no longer himself.

In transit, they try to save Amidala by inducing labor. However, they discover she is carrying twins, and the drain on her life is much stronger than they realized. Upon delivery, they keep the newborns nearby to keep her strength up. She asks who Anakin's mother was.
Obi-Wan answers Leia Lars. Amidala names the girl Leia and names the boy for her father, Luke. She slips into unconsciousness.

Protected in his hermetically-sealed suit, Anakin renounces his past and declares himself Darth Vader. He’s accepted Amidala’s death, but vowed to win back his offspring. Palpatine has salvaged his strongest partner in the war against the Rebels and the Jedi.

Yoda leaves the Rebels at Dagobah
. Though his power is an asset, his presence is too risky to the fleet, but he'll be needed again someday.

Amidala's ship slips into Alderaan where they leave Amidala and Leia under the care of the Organas, believing hiding the girl in plain sight is the best. Despite Lady Organa's betrayal of the Rebel cause, they vow to bring up the girl when her mother passes, as she is sure to.

For Luke the risk is too great to take any chances.
Obi-Wan takes him to a place so remote he can never be found. On Tatooine, Obi-Wan arrives at the Lars homestead with Luke. There he meets Owen Lars, the son of Leia Lars from another father. Owen despises Obi-Wan for being responsible for his mother's death and then abandoning him there. However, his wife, Beru, takes pity on the child, and they agree to raise him. Obi-Wan retreats into the desert, once more the wanderer, to watch over his grandson from afar.

This gives us a chance to see the beginning of the Rebel Alliance, another point of interest to fans. And the continued attention to Alderaan, an important Planet in Star Wars, adds poignancy to its ultimate destruction in ANH, while further illuminating Tarkin's decision to destroy it as punishment towards three disloyal Organas.

Although Anakin has fallen, we understand why, and we can still accept his eventual redemption. Obi-Wan’s actions make sense, but he is tragically flawed as well. Thus we have been faithful to the style and structure of the OT while illuminating things the OT referenced and adding new and interesting elements.

Again, this is not a perfect version, and it may ignore certain requirements to the story or contradict something. The characters motivations might be tweaked. This is of course what new drafts are for. But it’s a strong start, and maybe as valid a version as any out there. What we got instead was an imperfect version as well, and though it doesn’t amount to much when we re-imagine what it could have been, what the f-! It’s still fun to do.


  1. GLisabigf-ingselloutMarch 31, 2012 at 5:07 AM

    Senor Spielbergo, nicely done!

    I have always been a huge Star Wars Fan, but since I watched Episode I, something was wrong with it.
    After watching the Plinkett Reviews, i knew, what it was -
    Everything! (about the Prequels)

    Allthough I know that Episode I-III are the official Star Wars back story, to me, in my "Star Wars World Mindset", they absolutely don´t exist.
    I´d rather like to imagine three movies based on your draft.

    I really really liked it, very well done, and true to the original overall feeling of the Star Wars movies as well.

    Thank You!

  2. A very good treatment, I like the obiwan/anakin relationship. Hat's off to you

  3. Brave, and pretty darn successful. The big win for you here is your conception of what the Clone Wars really were: a galactic conflict over a moral issue, calling on everyone to take sides.

    You start right with the premise that Jedi are not a dominant force in the galaxy (since in ANH people have barely heard of, or roll their eyes at, the Force).

    Your concept of the Clone Wars is pretty inspired: not just a Civil War analogue, but also with Palpatine's story integral to it. He is motivated, and others are motivated to follow him. Lucas tied himself in knots with all these secret manipulations, when real dictators rise to power all the time without staging entire wars.

    And the "I am your father" bit is certainly shocking, but potentially makes the saga more compelling rather than more annoying.

  4. Here's what I'd love to see you keep honing.

    You may be overthinking Anakin's motives. You retain the "no attachments" thing from Lucas, which I've never felt was particularly convincing. Why would a sect that worships the connection of all living things frown on human relationships? What in the OT suggests that Jedi lived like monks--the childlessness of the only two Jedi we know? Yoda's discouragement of Luke from helping his friends? Seems like a big leap.

    To me, the OT gives plenty of evidence that the dark side of the Force, like the Ring of Power, is its own explanation for Skywalker's downfall. I think the Jedi have succeeded for 1,000 generations because no one has applied the dark side. Like nuclear power, once it is understood, someone will try to use it for their own benefit.

    Anakin and his influencers discover that using the Force for attack and power, against millennnia of tradition, works. The rewards are great. As Yoda tells us, it turns out to be quicker, easier, more seductive. Kenobi is unable to convince him to stop. Acting evil, Anakin becomes evil. No need for convoluted rules or arguments over ethical split hairs. The argument is bigger: MLK vs. Malcolm X; virtue vs. violence.

  5. That brings me to the next area for refinement: the role Jedis played, and Obi Wan's youthful character. The prequels, of course, require you to reconcile several contradictions between the first two films. One i domt see discussed very often is the one between Yoda's instructions in TESB, "A Jedi uses the force for knowledge and defense," and the references in ANH to "General Kenobi" and his "elegant weapon." Yoda calls him "reckless," but he registers as a very cool-headed tactician in ANH--he notes blast patterns and knows the range of TIE fighters, but remains unflappable in the face of shocking tragedies and high-stakes confrontations.

    That's why I think what made Kenobi reckless in Yoda's (and Owen's) eyes was his willingness to do battle alongside the Republic. Maybe the Jedi had always remained neutral, protecting justice on a small scale. Obi Wan was determined to bring the Jedi in to the fight over cloning, when Yoda believed that their role was incompatible with war. Obi Wan recruits Anakin to the order in this context--and naturally, when he begins actually using the Force as a weapon of war, it tears the Jedi apart.

  6. Finally, Owen's role is not quite right in your treatment. We are told he didn't approve of Anakin's "ideals" in the context of an "idealistic crusade." For these lines, and the grudge he obviously bears Kenobi in ANH, to make sense, Owen should appear in your first movie, confronting Obi Wan and Anakin as they prepare to fight voluntarily in the Clone Wars. I have no idea how to make him into a blood relative of either Obi Wan or Anakin--and neither did Lucas--but the in-law-by-baby-mama approach you've proposed strikes me as too much of a stretch for this important character.

    I would be thrilled to see you continue to work on this. The approach is spot on. If you can apply your gutsiness to a backstory for Owen, a simpler arc for Anakin, and a clean moral decision for the Jedi, I will sleep easier in my happy alternate universe. 

    Feel free to connect--the name's Colin Stokes.

  7. Well done, great cinematic moments and a fairly coherent plotline. Almost anything is better than what we actually got, but this is definitely a well thought out alternative that captures many of the important elements, characters and settings that made the OT (also known as the Holy Trilogy among my friends) so great.

    On another website I noticed that the phrase 'Dark Lord of the Sith' does appear as a description of Darth Vader in the original Ep IV script, even if no-one actually says it. I personally like the explanation that 'Darth' is just a contraction of 'Dark Lord of the Sith'.

    I don't like the idea of Obi-Wan being Anakin's father - it's just too cliche, and pushes things a little too far. Why wouldn't Darth Vader mention it when he fought Obi-Wan at the end of Ep IV? It wouldn't make sense for him to refer to Obi-Wan as his former master, and fail to mention that he was also his father. This also muddles the mentor-apprentice relationship that is an important part of the Star Wars mythos. Obi-Wan's mentorship of Luke becomes a much more selfish action if they are related, and I feel this is at odds with everything else we learn about his character. He's almost like an adoptive parent - he takes Luke on as a student despite the fact they aren't related, not because of it. Also, Obi-Wan tells Luke that his "insides serve him well" when he intuits that Leia is his sister - wouldn't he also be able to intuit Obi-Wan's relationship to him? Furthermore, the one big secret that Obi-Wan has kept from Luke is enough; if he has kept back other secrets after their conversations in Empire and Jedi, his character just becomes an untrustworthy a-hole.

    It would be hard to believe that the Clone Wars were fought over slavery. How is it possible that the noble Old Republic, protected and monitored by the Jedi for a thousand generations, would allow a subset of its planets to practice any form of slavery, especially in the sci-fi setting of Star Wars, where droids are ubiquitous? Sure, the Outer Rim might be getting the old cast-off droids of the Core Planets, but they still work. In the Expanded Universe, slavery has basically always been highly illegal, during the reign of both the Old Republic and the Empire. Although clones could be near-slaves, they would still have to be technically free, otherwise the authorities would step in. Coming up with the reason for the Clone Wars is the most difficult part of this process, I think, because the whole story hinges on it. One explanation I like is that the Clone Wars were between the corporations and planetary or sector governments. The corps became powerful because corrupt Senators passed bills that allowed them to exploit certain regions and to build large militaries. If you look at the causes of wars in our own history, many of them seem strange and ridiculous. The War of Independence, the Civil War and World War II are probably the easiest to comprehend. The Napoleonic Wars seem to stem from the monarchs of Europe fearing revolution and wanting to maintain their privileged positions. The Vietnam War was a proxy war fought over ideological differences. World War I seems largely accidental - alliances forced the nations to fight. The War of 1812 was fought because the British were still bitter about losing the War of Independence, and tried to blockade American merchant ships from helping the French fight the Napoleonic Wars. The majority of wars have probably been fought simply for conquest, but this doesn't make sense in the Star Wars setting, where the bulk of the galaxy is already united into a single Republic.

    Looking forward to draft 2...

  8. Obi wan shouldn't be Anakin's father. That sounds so redundant. Vader is Luke's father, obi wan is vader's father. It sounds very cheesy.

    Also, I don't like how anakin just jumped into the lava and got burned. In Episode 3, obi wan used his lightsaber and pushed anakin into lava. It makes more sense. Obi wan is the reason vader has a suit. They dueled when when they were younger, and vader got disfigured, burned, bald, crippled, and in a robot suit. Vader injuring himself sounds lame.

    I also liked how Episode 3 made us know that the name Vader had nothing to do with the robot suit or samurai helmet/mask or deep James earl jones voice he had. It was a cermonial sith title. Even when anakin is young, long-haired, humanlike, normal looking and without a suit and handsome, he's still Vader. That was a nice prequel plot twist.

    I dislike how your alternate version changed that.

  9. I liked anakin/vader's immaculate conception in the prequels too. Having obi wan be his father ruins that concept.

  10. It's a fair treatment. Reasonably well thought out, although a little too deja vu for my tastes. Many changes are needless.

    I do like the idea of an ideological war, rather than one based soley in commerce and the civil war analogy would have been successful, but not as current as the existing analogy in the prequels, that showed us collusion and double dealings between governments, with wars and acts of war engineered solely for the purpose of a government controlling it's own people through subterfuge. Given the time of release of the prequels they were actually right on the money with current world affairs. Few people wish to acknowledge that.

    Obi-wan as a "wandering monk" has a romantic appeal, but even monks belong to an organised religion and attended a school, lived in a monastery etc.

    "For over a thousand generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times. Before the Empire."

    They were "Knights" of an ancient order. They commanded respect and were upholders of law and justice. People obviously knew who they were, but on a galactic scale they weren't great in number. They served as ambassadors and consultants of the republic. They were few enough in number to retain a certain mystique across the broader galaxy. In the prequels, they were ultimately portrayed as treasonous self serving traitors and wiped out. Not by "the Sith", but by the republic itself. Remember the "sith" are only two and have been existing in secret for millenia. That doesn't change once the jedi are demonised and ousted. Not as far as public knowledge is concerned.

    The Obi-wan being Anakin's father business makes threepio being built by young Anakin seem entirely natural. That is where your treatment falls down. Like I said.. over did it on the deja vu and this is not original to a point of laughability.

    Give me the Prequels, they are absolutely fine.

    1. That the PT used contemporary world issues was clever, but I don't think they did it all that well. Palpatine's plans could have been easily foiled if the character's weren't major dolts. Honestly, the PT felt like a huge rough draft in need of major tightening and cleaning up.


  11. I like the feel of your script straight away and it's very well thought out. My only problem with it is that it has too many similarities to the OT story arcs. I must admit, when I read that Anakin is Obi-wans son, I switched off. Vader being Lukes son is a genuine shock because they are polar opposities and stand for everything the other doesn't. Repeating that trick seems contrived.

    I'd like to see more of the Republic, see how rich and varied it is - like we did in the PT. That way, we have context when comparing the Galactic Civil War to the peaceful times.

    This story also has a more heavy military feel to it (like the rebel fleet in the OT) - I like that. In retrospect, having a small army of Jedi (Jedi council) can be a bit overkill, so I liked your idea of having Jedi few and far between, acting as monks. Though, to have Jedi 'Knights' I would think there would have to be some official structure.

    I've recently rewatched all 6 movies as they've been on TV and it made me realise how poor the PT was in comparison to the OT. I hate a lot of the characters and the treatment of 'The Clone Wars'. It doesn't even make sense why you'd call them the Clone Wars. We didn't call the second world war the Nazi Stormtrooper war!

    Overall, good job - I'm going to pen my own version of the PT and I think I'll be using some of your ideas as a starting point.

  12. I think you shot the story into flames with Obi-Wan being Anakin's father. It creates plotholes and the continuity immediately becomes broken. If you could rewrite that then you would have a pretty decent story.

  13. It's good, but it's just rough draft and needs lots of cleaning up. Overall, I think it could have been better than the PT we have now. Not that that is saying much.

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Can't wait for The Force Awakens, but this will hold me until then:

  17. Can't wait for The Force Awakens, but this will hold me until then:

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. I just love you Episode I and all the clone wars motivation but man... "it's true because Obi-Wan is Anakin's father!" was super lame. :/