April 17 – Anniversary of George Lucas Writing a Movie Treatment

Posted on April 17, 2016

On this date in 1973, an “epic space opera” was born.

An epic space opera that made fortunes and molded careers. An epic space opera that became a cultural phenomenon!

The Star Wars epic is being told in a series of films and a television show – and it has led to countless toys, games, costumes, books, and other merchandise, plus theme park rides and lands.

When I saw Wikipedia's description of Star Wars as a space opera,  I wondered why it's called an opera. There's music, sure – very distinctive music written by John Williams, with a theme that most of us recognize instantly – but there is no singing, and the story isn't told through music. Opera is generally defined as a dramatic work set to music for singers; I had to look up space opera to learn its meaning: a dramatic work that (1) is set in outer space and (2) has a simplistic, melodramatic vibe.

And I guess that Star Wars has a good-vs.-evil, high-fantasy, the-entire-galaxy-is-at-stake sort of vibe.

But it is also a pretty complex epic, with lots of settings and characters.

George Lucas, years ago...
What George Lucas actually did all those 43 years ago was to write 13 pages on “The Star Wars.” At that point there was no Sith, no Death Star, and no Luke Skywalker.

As a matter of fact, the hero of the story was originally going to be Annikin, not Luke – and the last name was Starkiller, not Starwalker. But in draft after draft, Lucas cut out complications, streamlined the story, introduced the young hero, and honed in on the screenplay that became Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope.

(By the way, for a long time most people thought of the first Star Wars movie as JUST Star Wars. To this day, some people don't really know the episode title, A New Hope, although they tend to know episode titles of the other movies, such as The Empire Strikes Back....I found it interesting to realize that, even after production of the first movie began, Lucas was still tinkering with the title. In 1976, the title was Adventures of Luke Starkiller, as taken from the Journal of the Whills, Saga I: The Star Wars.

Which is even longer than Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope.

Artist Ralph McQuarrie came up with some early
concept art for Star Wars.

Some of it, like the picture above, looks a LOT like the
actual movie. Other times, of course, there
are some bits that are not as familiar
(for example, in the picture below).

McQuarrie said that his early pieces were
extremely imaginative because
he wasn't trying to be at all practical.
He honestly thought that the movie would
be too expensive to be made (let alone
BUNCHES of movies being made!!).

To see more of McQuarrie's Star Wars
concept art, check out BuzzFeed

Of course, what with Star Wars being a cultural phenomenon and all, I've written about it before, including here, here, and here.

Also on this date:

Anniversary of the arrival of horses in the New World

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