How To Establish Movie Title In Chicago Manual Of Style Star Wars – The Real Back Story

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Star Wars – The Real Back Story

When someone writes a hit movie or a best seller, it’s easy to think that it all resulted from a stroke of creative genius and that it happened organically. But in almost all cases nothing could be further from the truth.

Take the Stars Wars movie franchise for example. There are a number of intriguing backstories about how things came to be the way they were in the Star Wars movies. Here I should give a plug to a writer named Chris Taylor who discovered them and wrote a book appropriately titled: How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present and Future of a Multi-million Dollar Franchise.

For example, Taylor tells the story of when Star Wars creator George Lucas showed a summary of the film to his colleagues Steven Spielberg and Brian De Palmer, Spielberg thought it would be a big hit but De Palmer mocked it mercilessly. He tells Lucas that he’s all “Force shit? Where’s all the blood when they shoot people.” But sarcasm aside, De Palmer was a talent. Lucas knew it. And De Palmer wanted to help his friend. So he and Jay Cocks, another screenwriter and Time magazine critic, agreed to rewrite the initial crawler. you remember The big yellow words at the beginning of the movie, which disappear into outer space. The words give the background story of the Empire and the rebel alliance.

And there are many other intriguing and tasty morsels.

How about the Han Solo Wookie origin? That happened after the sound editor of one of George Lucas’ other projects hired a voice actor named Terry McGovern. And McGovern just brought in an old army friend named Bill Wookey.

You may be starting to see where this is going.

At some point, he must have smoked weed because a very stoned McGovern blurted out during a voiceover recording, “I think I just ran over a Wookey back there.” Lucas who may have been equally stoned, who knows, thought what McGovern had said was hilarious and wrote the line down in his notebook but changed the spelling of Wookey to end in the letters ‘I’ and ‘e’. By the way, McGovern was also hired to be a voice actor in Star Wars. Remember the scene where Obi-Wan-Kenobi hypnotizes one of Darth Vader’s Storm Troopers by saying, “These aren’t the droids we’re looking for?” Well that was Terry McGovern’s voice saying it. McGovern received the princely sum of $200 for his screen immortality. Bill Wookey, McGovern’s friend, never met George Lucas and had no idea that his name had inspired film history. That was until Bill Wookey happened to see the film and other people who also saw it said it must have inspired the character Chewbacca. Bill Wookey is a hairy, bearded man who stands 6 feet 3 inches tall.

There’s a backstory that Taylor tells that I particularly like. It refers to the origin of the name of the small droid R2 D2.

George Lucas was also responsible for the film American Graffiti. He and a man named Walter Murch did the sound mixing. But to get the job done right, they needed to match the dialogue with the correct reel of film. So they would write the letters R for reel and D for dialogue on the film cans. Of course each can was numbered so there was no confusion. Apparently one day (this is a true story) Murch yelled, “I need R 2 D 2” and everyone on the set laughed their heads off. Lucas laughed too but also wrote the line down in his notebook.

The Vietnam War played a major role in setting up the Star Wars trilogy. Lucas was rejected for the draft because of his diabetes. But even before making Star Wars, Lucas wanted to create a documentary-style anti-war film about Vietnam. It was to be called Apocalypse Now, a title devised by one of Lucas’ friends. Instead, the project went to Francis Ford Coppola, who gave Lucas his first film job working on the musical Finian’s Rainbow. Taylor says in his book that in 1973, Lucas wrote a note about Star Wars: “A great technological empire chasing a small group of freedom fighters.” In a way, that’s how Lucas saw the Vietnam War. The Empire being the United States and the freedom fighters being the Viet Cong. Apparently, Star Wars had a hard time getting the necessary support from a studio. It was pitched to United Artists but they turned it down. Universal had an option on the production, but never bothered to give Lucas an answer. He took the project to Disney but they also said no. Finally Fox said yes and the rest is history.

In case you’re interested, Fox will permanently own the rights, but Disney will get a piece of the action. They bought LucasFilm for $4 billion two years ago.

But I saved the absolute best anecdote for last. Taylor’s book talks about how Han Solo came to be chosen. Lucas considered Harrison Ford, but initially ruled him out because he thought a potential Star Wars audience might be distracted if a member of the American Graffiti cast (Ford had a small role) suddenly appeared in his next film.

Harrison Ford, was unemployed at the time and had returned to his original job as a carpenter. Would you believe that one of his carpentry jobs just happened to be at the American Zoetrope offices where Lucas was casting for Star Wars? Ford was installing a new door. Lucas saw Ford at work and decided that after all, he would invite him to cast in the role of Han Solo, and Ford got the gig. It just goes to show that everything happens for a reason. Imagine how different it all might have been if Lucas had gone with his other choice, Christopher Walken instead of Harrison Ford? Would Star Wars still be the blockbuster with a very different Han Solo? I doubt it

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