Not so long ago in a galaxy we call home...George Lucas created Star Wars. He began writing the script for Star Wars in 1972. He wrote several drafts of screenplays until he was happy with the story, when significant events had already shaped the main characters. In a 1979 interview, he declared that the overall story had "developed into an epic on the scale of 'war and peace,' so big I couldn't possibly make it into a movie. So I cut it in half, but it was still too big, so I cut each half into three parts. I then had material for 6 movies." Instead of launching his amazing saga with Episode I, George chose to start with Episode IV: A New Hope. The saga, originally the adventures of Luke Skywalker, finally evolved into the story of Darth Vader.
A New Hope
In George's original script, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) survived his duel with Darth Vader. The project work was already underway when George decided that Obi-Wan would die, whose death dramatically increased the threat of both Vader and the Death Star. Alec helped redevelop his role and worked with George on the idea of having Obi-Wan become "one with the Force." Initially released as Star Wars in 1977, the movie was titled Episode IV: A New Hope for its re-release in 1979.
The Empire Strikes Back
Unlike A New Hope, V ends with several unresolved details, notably the fate of Han Solo and the mystery of Vader's claim to be Luke's father. Director Irvin Kershner likens V to "the second movement of a symphony. The second movie is always a 'largo'; it's a slower movement and it can't come to such a climax that it has complete closure. The grand climax is in the third movement."
The Three Directors
The laborious, all-consuming experience of making the first Star Wars movie compelled George to hire the veteran Irvin Kershner to direct The Empire Strikes Back and Richard Marquand to direct Return Of The Jedi. The three directors were brought together when Irvin visited George and Richard during the making of VI.
Return Of The Jedi
VI was co-scripted by George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan, who also rewrote the V script after the death of screenwriter Leigh Brackett. "VI was a much harder movie to pull off," Kasdan said in a 2000 interview, "because everything had to work out so hunky-dory." Actor Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) recalls, "We really had the sense it was the end, that they were going to tie up all the loose ends."
When the cameras rolled for Star Wars in 1976, actor Declan Mulholland played Jabba the Hutt beside Harrison Ford in a sequence set in a Mos Eisley spaceport. George originally intended to use stop-motion effects for Jabba, but ultimately the sequence was cut, and Jabba never appeared until Return Of The Jedi. The cut footage was later used and combined with a computer-animated Jabba for the Star Wars: Special Edition (1997.)
The Phantom Menace
Working by the back-story he had drafted for the original trilogy, George began writing the screenplay for I on November 1, 1994, and became a director again after 20 years. "I enjoyed directing Episode I," Lucas said in 1999, "but it's not my favorite part of the process. Directing is like a war, as anyone who has done it knows. The real making of it is in the editing process."
Attack Of The Clones
In a 1979 interview, George said, "The day will come when video will be of equal quality to film and when more people will switch over to using video to shoot theatrical motion pictures." George collaborated with Jonathan Hales to write the screenplay for Attack Of The Clones, which was the first full-length movie shot entirely on high-definition videotape instead of film.
Revenge Of The Sith
In a 2005 interview, George said part of his goal with the creation of the prequel trilogy was to change the way the audience sees Darth Vader according to the original trilogy. "In IV, people didn't know whether Vader was a robot or a monster, or if there was anybody in there. This way, when you see him walk into the spaceship in Episode IV, you're going to say, 'Oh my g*d, that's Anakin! The poor guy is still stuck in that suit.' So the tension and drama is completely reversed."
As a film student at the university of Southern California, George Lucas dreamed of one day building his own facility for Lucasfilm's productions of sound and editing, "a big fraternity where filmmakers could work together and create together." Using the profits from both American Graffiti and Star Wars, he transformed a 1,700 acre ranch (later expanded to cover over 6,500 acres) in Marin County, California, into Skywalker Ranch. The Victorian-Styled Main House contains George's offices and Lucasfilm's research library.