Here is a post I drafted for another forum last fall when Rinzler's book on Jedi came out.
There has always been a huge gulf to me in just who the first two films were aimed at compared to the final film of the OT. It's always been as obvious to me as the nose on Jimmy Durrantes face. ROTJ is when this property started becoming infantile.
and here is just part of the reason for why I have always said that
Character Continuity from Empire to Jedi
Even Brad Bird in his forward, after making sure to be as complimentary and positive as possible (he is after all a peer and counts Lucas now as a personal friend and mentor) admits that as excited as he was as a teen for the film's release, he walked out of the theater in May '83 with many of the same 'beefs' I'd had.
Brad Bird writes
The disconnect between Jedi
's Luke Skywalker and Empire's Luke who had cut short his training against the advice of his Jedi
Mentors to save his friends, then (a) failed to save his friends; (b) got his ass kicked, losing a hand in the process; and ©, found out the most dastardly villain in the galaxy is also his dad
Luke is one humbled Jedi
at the conclusion of Empire, so I had trouble connecting that guy with the cocky dude who shows up at Jabba's palace in the beginning of Jedi
. I also wished the film had followed up on Vader's plan (as Vader himself stated in Empire) for Luke to join him in his overthrow of the Emperor...
For ayone who was here 10 years ago leading up to the release of the DVDs, these ciriticims are almost word for word what I'd written (and re-wrote ad nauseum) in those months.
Interesting then that in one GL's very first pass at a story treatment he has in the first act
- Vader first face to face with the Emperor has them talking then arguing
- the Emperor and Moff Jerjerrod then are shown plotting against Vader
- Leia does not abandon her duties to Alliance to run off and help save her boyfriend. In the first act she is already involved in a separate mission (on the moon similar to mission in the final film).
- In the first act Luke is also shown trying to resolve things with Yoda and Ben before going to Tattoine.
- The rescue of Han takes place in the second act.
A subsequent variation has Lucas toying with the idea of having the Emperor capture Luke (on or near Tatooine) with the purpose of keeping him away from Vader.
While all this unfortunately still operates within a basic lazy plot of "there's a new Death Star we have to destroy", at least we now know the characters were being considered with an eye toward stronger emotional and expressed continuity.
Key here for me is a first scene between Vader and the Emperor that would have been VASTLY SUPERIOR to what ended up on film- not only because it flows organically from the stated convictions and mindsets of these two characters from the last film, but because it also points the way to more interesting and mature conflicts that would have had to play out and get resolved over the course of the film.
This would have been the first scene from the film, as Vader is summoned to appear before the Emperor
Lord Vader, you have been away from us far too long. You seem...much weaker. I'm afraid that prolonged stay in the outer systems did not agree with you.
Yes, my master.
But we ask impossible things of you, don't we? Perhaps it is time for a task less demanding?
No, My Master, I beg you. I have all but turned him to the dark side.
Have you? We don't think so. Young Skywalker is more powerful now, than before your feeble attempts to convert him. He must be destroyed...DESTROYED do you hear?
Master you must give me...
The Emperor raises his hand and Vader's breathing suddenly stops
You are weak. More machine than man. You should be thankful we don't destroy you along with your troublesome offspring.
Vader collapses on the floor and the Emperor lowers his hand
Your son has become stronger with the force than you. It is as we have foreseen. Only WE can destroy him now.
Moff Jerjerrod looks on nervous. Vader clutching his throat, starts to breath again and rises to a kneeling position.
The Emperor (continued)
We want him here. We will tolerate no more discussion on the subject. The boy is ours.
Yes. Forgive me, Master.
Leave us... we have other matters to attend to.
Vader exits the throne room and the elevator door closes silently behind him.
As he passes the guards they snap to attention. Vader doesn't notice.
Moff Jerjerrod is beckoned closer to the Emperor. He on a step of the throne.
Watch him closely. Lord Vader is still strong enough to cloud his thoughts. We suspect his motives in trying to convert the boy, but, in time, young Skywalker will embrace the dark side of the force.
At this point Vader tries to establish a mental contact with Luke, warning him of the Emperors plan and reemphasizing their need to join forces and defeat him.
At this point Yoda enters his dream state and warns Luke not to be confused by Vader. Luke questions both Yoda and Ben on why they didn't tell him sooner...
There are several things here I just love.
1) continuity from ESB.
- Vader was given an assignment and failed and there is consequence from the Emperor for it.
- Vaders petitioning to luke to join him was a concrete idea that is followed up on ...and the all powerful Emperor is shown to be suspicious immediately.
This is a FAR more powerful and commanding conception of the character rather than the passive wizend crone that changes his all important goals for no real reason.
(" eh, forget what I said in the last film. There's no urgency in getting luke. Eventually he will come to us.")
- Luke is early on shown as wracked with doubt and confusion over what he has learned in the last film. He is NOT a swaggering bad ass. He has clearly been impacted by the last films events and that is carried right over here.
2) New and interesting conflict is established right off the bat
- Vader is now in clear conflict with the Emperor
- Jerjerrod is also positioned as a point of conflict for Vader to navigate around
- the very first scene with Lukes is where we see the conflict raging in his psyche. This isn't put on pause for the first act so we can have a feel good set piece and then we hit play again. We are going to see the character have to function throughout the film with this underpinning all his actions and motivations.