Revising the Text: There Is Another

This is actually going to be a new “series” of blogs I’m starting, where I’ll take questions (if anyone has them, or if I think of an interesting one) about the “text” of the Star Wars films and provide the answers as best I can. May as well, as blog links seem to save me time in Twitter discussions now.

Context

Tolkien re-wrote The Hobbit to fit into the larger story of The Lord of the Rings. Dickens revised Great Expectations. Star Trek: The Motion Picture has been re-edited several times.

Even some of Shakespeare’s plays have multiple versions.

I’ve talked about that sort of thing before, but I’m using the lead-in because blog troublemaker “Jar Jar Hater” felt the need to “introduce” me to another hater via Twitter. I suspect the whole purpose was to try to get me riled up, which failed spectacularly as I just started feeding blog links to him (I knew I did this for a reason!).

But he did ask a question I’ve not specifically addressed before, so I guess I’ll write about it, if for no other reason than the fact that it’s Friday and I’m tired.

But Things Changed!

George Lucas
Though other artists revise their work, if Lucas does it, it's a crime against humanity! RAWR!

The prequels revised a number of things that had been presumed by fans. But aside from revisiting assumptions, they re-interpreted things that were in the original scripts, though in most cases those things were never committed to the final cuts of the films.

Case in point, in the original version of the scene where Luke meets Red Leader in the hangar before the attack on the Death Star, Red Leader says:

“I met your father once when I was just a boy. He was a great pilot. You’ll do all right. If you’ve got half of your father’s skill, you’ll do better than all right.”

This was entirely cut from the original film. In the special edition, the scene is added back in, but the dialogue is neatly cut by having an “extra” walk across the scene to remove the reference to the father. It gives us more interaction with Biggs (yay! a reason to give a crap!), and honestly, it’s still not a line committed to film.

And if you’re going to get technical, the Empire Strikes Back novelization by Donald F. Glut lists Yoda as blue and the Return of the Jedi novelization by James Kahn says Owen Lars is Ben Kenobi’s brother.

There are tons of other examples, as novelizations are written while scripts are still in development. Look at the differences between the film and novel versions of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which got to the point where they decided the works were actually complementary but not interdependent.

But but let’s return to the specific question at hand and my answer.

There Is Another

Polis Massa
In my mind, Polis Massa exists in the same asteroid field near Hoth. That illusion was shattered by outside source material. But since it was never said on film, then it's open to revision in later filmed work. And hopefully that means it's near Hoth, because that would be cool.

This abrasively angry chap obviously got the memo that I’m still the official Star Wars Ombudsman, and one gem he threw at me was:

@kesseljunkie explain why yoda told Obiwan about leia in empire even though he was at the birth in III

The interpretation of his tweet: Why, when Obi-Wan’s blue ghost says, “That boy is our last hope,” does Yoda reply, “No. There is another”?

He, like many fans, take umbrage at the fact that you can read that Yoda’s suggesting something Obi-Wan doesn’t know. This of course gets destroyed as early as Return of the Jedi, when Ben lets loose with the knowledge that Yoda was speaking of Luke’s twin sister. Of course, it turns out to be Leia.

In the prequels, both Yoda and Obi-Wan are present at the birth of the twins. So what gives, right?

First part of the answer: In story conferences on Empire Lucas debated who the lost sibling was, shelved the reveal until the sequel and kept the exchange so they could keep the audience off-balance. If we know Luke is replaceable, we know Luke can die, which increases the stakes when he fights Vader.

Second part: in the context of the entire series, the exchange is now a sign that Obi-Wan had staked all hope on Luke, and Yoda is telling him that not all is lost. Luke had been watched all his life by Obi-Wan, taken care of by Anakin’s own step-brother (remember, novelizations don’t count) and had been selected to train as a Jedi. Yoda was already approaching 900 years old and it’s not like there were other Jedi Masters waiting around to train Leia should Luke die. And how was Yoda supposed to reach out to Leia? Blue ghost Obi-Wan showed no talent for appearing to anyone other than Luke and Yoda.

And That Is That

There’s your answer. Simple. If you don’t like, honestly, I don’t care. But I think there’s a certain poetry in it, a symmetry in the longer arc of the story and it’s not like I’m ever going to get every hater to stop hating. But at least I’ve given the “text” more thought than “but that’s not what I thought when I was ten!”

Seriously, be open and, if I may: Unlearn what you have learned.

Now go re-read the very beginning of the blog again so I don’t have to try to come up with anything snappier.

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One thought on “Revising the Text: There Is Another

  1. OK, so I held off from replying as long as I could bear it, in an effort to open my mind. It hurt.

    FYI – I introduced you to the other hater because I think he makes me seem more balanced. I don’t hate EVERYTHING about the prequels, just most of the fundamentals. But the other hater, wow, he takes issue with a lot of specifics. Fun times.

    That said, Lucas did introduce a few inconsistencies, and I’m curious what his defense of those would be. I’m sure he’s aware of them. There must be an answer!

    SO – in an effort to be a supportive, balanced friend that hates Jar Jar but not everything about the prequels, I offer these (potential) explanations to the “no, there is another” problem.

    1.Obi-wan is sexist
    2.Obi-wan smoked something in the Cantina and forgot
    3.Yoda is trying to cheer Obi up.
    4.Leia is lacking metachlorieans (or Obi lost his metachloriean reader)

    Sorry. I couldn’t resist. Seriously, you’re right about the first part – if we believe Luke can die, it adds more tension to the story. Still does, IMO.

    My second part – just because we know (and Obi knows) that Luke has a sister now (presuming someone watches the movies 1-6), doesn’t mean that she is the only candidate to be their next hope. The “other” could still be another of the many characters we’ve met to that point. It’s even possible that there is another Jedi that wasn’t killed when order 66 was issued…. “Now the Jedi are all but extinct”

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