Monday, May 13, 2013

The prequels as they were described in the original Star Wars trilogy

It is worth remembering that the Star Wars movies never had a strong connection to the past and a result of that is that you can see the original trilogy already contradicting itself when it was produced, no need to look to the prequels to find a new Star Wars movie that ignores what was established in the old Star Wars movie(s).

That said, the purpose of this post is not to point out contradictions within the original trilogy.  It is instead to say what the original trilogy said about what came before it.  We have the prequels which flat out ignored what the original trilogy said, but what does the original trilogy actually say?  This post is to give an answer to that.

I'm using the theatrical versions of the original films here, as released on the no longer in print DVDs that had the theatrical cuts as bonus disks.  (Though out of print you can still get them, either as a set or individually: first, Empire, Jedi.)


Yoda trained Obi-Wan.

Anakin, Beru, and Owen all knew each other.  Their relationship is never stated but if Beru and Owen are really Luke's aunt and uncle my best guess is that one of them is Anakin's sibling since they talk about Anakin but not [nameless mother].  They know Anakin well enough that they can talk to each other about his personality without ever describing it and have the conversation be perfectly sensible because each knows what the other means.

It is implied that they grew up on Tatooine (Obi-Wan says that Owen thought Anakin should have stayed here, "here" being Tatooine, and not gotten involved.  On the other hand: Jedi Truth.)

Regardless, the Clone Wars happened and that broke up the Anakin-Beru-Owen trifecta because Obi-Wan came by and Anakin followed Obi-Wan off to get involved.

At this point in time Anakin was already a great pilot and Obi-Wan was amazed at how strongly he was connected to the force.  Obi-Wan took it upon himself to train Anakin, thinking he could train Anakin as well as Yoda would have.  (This will mater later.)

Anyway, the "damned fool idealistic crusade" (Obi-Wan describing Owen's point of view) Anakin followed Obi Wan on was probably the Clone Wars since they both fought in them.  (Obi-Wan was a general who served under Leia's non-Vader father, Anakin's role isn't elaborated on much.)  Given that the dark times started with the Empire, and before the dark times peace and justice had to be guarded rather than perpetually restored, it's a fair bet that the almost undescribed Clone Wars represent the Empire's rise to power.

One thing we can say about them is that they were multiple.  It's not, "the Clone War," but instead, "the Clone Wars."

Another thing we can say is that at some point Anakin went from being a great pilot to the single greatest pilot.

Fighting against the growing power of the Empire, which is, again, probably synonymous with fighting during the Clone Wars, Obi-Wan knew that if Anakin had any children they would be a threat to the Emperor.  So when [nameless mother] gets pregnant she goes into hiding, Anakin doesn't know where.  This happens early enough in the pregnancy that neither Obi-Wan nor Anakin realize there are twins involved.

Anakin leaves his lightsaber to be given to his yet to be born kid(s).  (Presumably he makes a new lightsaber to replace the one he left.)  The fact that Leia ended up with someone Obi-Wan served under as her adopted father implies that [nameless mother] went into hiding on Alderaan with the help of Obi-Wan's friend and ally.

Anakin falls to the dark side and helps the Emperor to hunt down and exterminate the Jedi. (This is implied to be a process, not as simple as going into the temple and killing a bunch of kids.)

Obi blames himself for this. Specifically he blames thinking he could train Anakin as well as Yoda, with the strong implication that he'd never taken on a student before.  In his mind, if he'd had Yoda do the training of Anakin things would have turned out better.  This is presumably also when Luke's father starts to become two people in Obi-Wan's mind.  The good man is Anakin Skywalker, the bad one is Darth Vader.  (His "certain point of view" had to start somewhere.)

The good side loses. Obi-Wan and Yoda go into hiding as the last of the Jedi.  I place this event here because Obi-Wan says he hasn't used the name "Obi-Wan" since before Luke was born.  I figure giving up his first name was a part of going into hiding.

There is, it should be noted, no evidence that either Obi-Wan or Yoda knew the other had survived.  Obi-Wan doesn't demonstrate knowledge of Yoda's continued existence until after he is dead which, I gather, gives a Jedi a better understanding of things.  Yoda and the dead Obi-Wan are already in contact before Yoda appears on screen.

The twins are born to [nameless mother] they're separated for further safety.  Luke is brought to Owen and Beru, who knew his father.  Leia stays with her mother.  This is done without Obi-Wan realizing there were twins (Yoda has to explain it to him, which then leaves him to explain it to Luke.)

Regardless of whether or not Owen and Beru have blood ties to Luke, they definitely knew his father, rather well no less, so this divide seems to be giving the male baby to those who knew the father, keeping the female baby with the mother.

I definitely think bringing Luke to stay with people who were, at best, childhood friends of Anakin, and at worst a sibling of Anakin and sibling's spouse, would have worked better if two things were true:
1 Tatooine was not their original home

2 Anakin didn't know they were on Tatooine

The reason is that if Vader obviously knew who they were given how they're able to speak casually and knowledgeably about him pre-name change.  If he knew where they were it makes a certain amount of sense for him to check in on them at some point, especially if one of them is really his sibling.  The result of that looking in would be, "Hey, I have a son!  Totally taking custody."

Bonus points if Owen is so bitter about Anakin's decision to get involved because Beru and Owen were forced to relocate in hiding to Tatooine as a result of being sibling and inlaw of Anakin.

Unfortunately, that's not the story the original trilogy tells.  The only indication of where they're originally from is when Obi-Wan says "here" is the place Owen thought Anakin should have stayed.  He says it on Tatooine, thus the implication is Tatooine is where the three originated.

Anyway, Obi-Wan relocates with Luke to Tatooine, bringing Anakin's lightsaber with him.  He does this without realizing that there were two children.  Yoda, on the other hand, does know.  Minor speculation would be that Obi-Wan brought [nameless mother] to his colleague on Alderaan for hiding and also called in Yoda for extra help.  Yoda was there when it was realized the pregnancy was twins and advised that the twins be separated for further safety. Thus Obi-Wan was given Luke to bring to Beru and Owen without ever being told there was another child.

Putting things in order for the story of Leia is difficult, if not impossible.  Here's what we know:
1 [nameless mother] lived long enough for Leia to gain some memories of her but not many.

2 At some point Leia becomes a part of the royal family.
3 At some point Leia has another mother (Luke has to explain which mother he's talking about when he asks Leia about her mother.)

There are six orders you can put those three events in (and that assumes none happen concurrently) and none of them would contradict what is shown on screen.

So, for example:
  1. [nameless mother] dies after living long enough to have memories of her stay with Leia, Leia is then adopted by Obi-Wan's colleague from the Clone Wars, who becomes her not-Vader father and imparts on her the title of princess.  If not-Vader father already has a wife this is when she gets the not-biological mother.  If not then at some point down the road he marries a woman.
  2. [nameless mother] dies after living long enough to have memories of her stay with Leia, Leia is then adopted by not-biological mother.  Not-biological mother marries not-Vader father adopting Leia into the royal family as a result.
  3. [nameless mother] either thinking Anakin dead, knowing he turned to the dark side, or just not being big on monogamy, starts dating the non-Vader father of Leia.  They marry, thus adopting Leia in the process.  [nameless  mother] dies.  Not-Vader father remarries, thus giving Leia not-biological mother.
  4. [nameless mother] either thinking Anakin dead, knowing he turned to the dark side, or just not being big on monogamy, starts dating the non-Vader father of Leia.  They marry, thus adopting Leia in the process.  Either the king/prince already has another wife, or marries one while still married to [nameless mother] (why should Alderaan care about monogamy?)  Thus Leia gains not-biological mother.  Then [nameless mother dies.]
  5. [nameless mother] for reasons mentioned above (was getting too wordy), starts dating again.  Specifically not-biological mother.  Thus Leia has to mommies.  Then Leia's mother dies.  Not-biological mother remarries into the royal family, thus adopting Leia into it in the process.
  6. [nameless mother] for reasons mentioned above, starts dating and ends up with not-biological mother.  The two of them marry into a polyamorous relationship with Leia's not-Vader father.  [nameless mother] dies at some point after that.
  7. There are also possibilities that involve [nameless mother] giving Leia up for adoption which would have the result that Leia no longer being in her custody, above assumed to be connected to her death, was something that happened before [nameless mother died].  It's even conceivable that [nameless mother] didn't die, but then there's a major question of where she ended up that she never contacted either of her children
I like the idea put forward in the other thread that [nameless mother] was a Jedi too.  Anakin's lightsaber was put in safekeeping so it could be given to Luke, [nameless mother's] was put in safe keeping so it could be given to Leia.  But by the time Leia was old enough the Jedi were basically exterminated and those who had kept the lightsaber didn't think it wise to give it to Leia for the same reason Corran Horn of the Expanded Universe was never told he could be a Jedi: If Leia had been told she would have been so proud she'd have difficulty keeping it a secret and a single wrong move could mean death.

There's absolutely nothing in the original Star Wars to contradict this, but there's also nothing to support it.  Absolutely nothing.

So, tangent over, one of the seven things listed above, or something like it, happened for Leia.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Obi-Wan clashes with Owen over how to deal with Luke.  Owen is afraid Luke will end up like his father (which whether you've heard the truth or the "certain point of view" is not a good way to end up) and tries to protect Luke from that.  Part of that involves telling Luke lies about his father, part of that involves keeping Obi-Wan away.  Part of it involves always finding one more thing for Luke to do around the farm before he can go away to make his own life.

At some point Obi-Wan, now Ben, determines that Luke is old enough to get his father's lightsaber.  Owen won't allow it.

Leia becomes a member of the Imperial Senate.

Rebel spaceships win their very first victory against the Galactic Empire during which rebel spies steal the death star plans.

Star Wars (the first movie) starts.


And that's the story told in the original trilogy.


  1. Yeah, the transition from "betrayed and murdered your father, then spent his time hunting and exterminating Jedi" to "secretly is your father, only he went over to the Dark Side" bothered me even back when I was a kid watching the original trilogy.

    1. On the one hand, it's an obvious patch to fix the fact that the story works better if Vader is Luke's father (redemption is a better story than revenge) but the first movie had Vader be an entirely different person.

      On the other hand, as I said in the other thread, I don't think that's the only way. I'll add here that I don't think it's the best way either.

      A better way would be any of the ways that allow Obi-Wan to be telling the truth as he knows it when he said, "betrayed and murdered," and then, post death, learns that that's not accurate. Two possible ways for that to work are listed in the other thread.

  2. Good post, yes. I am all for Leia having two mommies. It reminds me of June in The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson.

  3. Not sure if it's good or bad, but my favorite part of this is the speculation on Leia's childhood/what happened to her and Luke's "nameless mother." I'm all down with the two mommies theory, or the polyamorous parenthood one. It'd be a more interesting backstory than we usually get (in this case, than the next-to-nothing that we get about her.)

  4. Vader didn't know he has children until some time after the original film.
    Maybe the scene in Empire where the Emperor talks to him is even the first time
    he hears of it.
    Presumably the Emperor also only found/figured out some time before, thus no looking into where they've hidden the child(ren).
    I doubt the great Lord Vader has time to visit his lowlife sister/brother from a former life.

  5. Just realizing that they were looking for Skywalker
    at the beginning of ESB...

  6. There are some more things about the prequels that aren't outright stated but seem to be implied to me. So I thought I'd share them. Some parts of it are my speculation, though.

    Anakin underestimated the Emperor

    “Luke, do not underestimate
    the powers of the Emperor, or suffer your
    father's fate, you will.” - Yoda

    It could be that this is just Yoda's clairvoyance, but it sounds more like Anakin tried to resist the Emperor but failed. This contradicts “seduced by the dark side” a little, but maybe Anakin thought he could defeat the Emperor with the dark side, but failed and became his servant.
    (Maybe this was also the point when he was so gravely injured that he needed his suit.)

    Obi-Wan tried to bring Anakin back to the light side

    Luke: Come with me.
    Vader: Obi-Wan once thought as you do.

    There probably was a point at which Obi-Wan saw how Anakin had gone over to the dark side and tried to bring him back. It didn't work and Obi-Wan began to think of Vader as irredeemable.
    It is likely that during this confrontation Vader was very different from how Obi-Wan remembered Anakin, because he describes him as “more machine now than man; twisted and evil”.

    It is possible that this happened before Anakin had gone over to the dark side completely and taken his new identity. There is even something that suggest this:

    “When I left you, I was but the learner; now I am the master.” - Vader

    the Force was known primarily as a religious concept

    “You, my friend, are all that's left of their religion.” - Tarkin

    Tarkin lived in the time of the old republic and Motti, who doubts the Force's existance, did too. This means Jedi throwing things around with the Force can't have been very common, to the public they probably looked like a religious order sworn to protect the republic.

    “May the Force be with you/us!” is used as a normal phrase, though. I suspect that believe in the Force was widespread, but only the Jedi made use of it. (And most of them used it in a more subtle way, I think, like minor precognition and enhancing their senses.)

    The Empire was once the Republic or at least retained some of its institutions

    “I've just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the council
    permanently. The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept
    away.” - Tarkin

    This is something that I think the prequels did reasonably well with Palpatine taking over from within. (The change at the end was too abrupt, though.)
    So the question is, what were the sides in the Clone Wars and which side used clones. There seem to be the following options:
    1. The Republic fought against another power, the other power used clones.
    2. The Republic fought against another power, the Republic used clones.
    3. The Republic fought against another power, both sides used clones.
    4. The Clone Wars were a series of civil wars within the Republic.
    (5. The Republic fought against the Empire, one side or both using clones. The Empire won, but kept the Senate.)

  7. interesting cut dialogue

    When I searched for these quotes in the script (I remember the movies in German, so I don't know the exact wording), I found something very, very interesting. Obi-Wan tells Luke how he did the hiding:

    Ben: When your father left, he didn't know your
    mother was pregnant. Your mother and I knew
    he would find out eventually, but we wanted
    to keep you both as safe as possible, for as
    long as possible. So I took you to live with
    my [sic!] brother Owen on Tatooine... and your mother
    took Leia to live as the daughter of Senator
    Organa, on Alderaan.
    The Organa household was high-born and
    politically quite powerful in that system.
    Leia became a princess by virtue of
    lineage... no one knew she'd been adopted, of
    course. But it was a title without real
    power, since Alderaan had long been a
    democracy. Even so, the family continued to
    be politically powerful, and Leia, following
    in her foster father's path, became a senator
    as well. That's not all she became, of
    course... she became the leader of her cell
    in the Alliance against the corrupt Empire.
    And because she had diplomatic immunity, she
    was a vital link for getting information to
    the Rebel cause. That's what she was doing
    when her path crossed yours... for her foster
    parents had always told her to contact me on
    Tatooine, if her troubles became desperate.

    Luke: But you can't let her get involved now, Ben.
    Vader will destroy her

    Ben: She hasn't been trained in the ways of the
    Jedi the way you have, Luke ... but the Force
    is strong with her, as it is with all of your
    family. There is no avoiding the battle. You
    must face and destroy Vader!

    Of course this dialogue didn't happen in universe because it didn't make it into the movie. But it gives an interesting view of what the writers had planned.

  8. Too bad you didn't write the prequels, it would have made so much sense. It seems Lucas took one line "No, he is too old to begin training" and spun it into the stupidest and most damning to continuity theme: Jedi are trained from infant/toddler age. If Episode 1 Anakin was a teen, no Qui-Gon, and followed your outline above, it would have made more sense. Also, Vader wouldn't have had to kill hundreds of younglings, and then be what should have been unforgivable.

    However I, as a child, always thought Anakin and his wife were somehow separated, maybe by war, with him never knowing she was pregnant. He was corrupted by the dark side, and Obiwan confronted him in a battle on a volcanic planet, causing him to be burned and having to be put in the suit. Around the same time, she had the children, but found out he turned to the dark side, and hid them from him.
    Later, suited Vader, while purging the galaxy of the Jedi, and in order to wipe his past away, finds his wife and kills her.

    The clone wars and the battles don't bother me so much, it's the errors he writes into the prequels and then The Clone Wars creates.

  9. I have been reading a lot about Star Wars lately with VII coming out in the near future. Though I agree with most of the the common problems people cite with the prequels (Bad acting, poor love story, Jar Jar, etc.), I think this article points out what is most fundamentally wrong with them. I wanted a prequel that was outlined in the original trilogy, and what we got was not even close.

    Dear George Lucas,
    This is why you fail.

  10. I am so with you, Anon!

    And I was talking to my kids about wanting to show them, and my daughters cried bitterly when I suggested watching them in the order they were made. "But mom! I don't want to have to start in the MIDDLE!" But it's not the middle of the story we thought we would get! (Bah! Off my lawn!)

  11. This article is a bit old but hopefully you respond. I skimmed through this so I dunno if anyone mentioned this but Obi-Wan implied that he trained under Yoda around the same age Luke trained with Yoda in Episode 5. Yoda says that Luke is too old to be trained, and then Obi-wan responds if he was any different when he was Luke's age. This shows that while Jedi prefer younger students to be trained they are willing to train older people, presumabely if they're particularly strong in the force.

    1. Three things:
      1 Good point
      2 Thanks for your comment
      3 A post is never too old for me to read a new comment on it.

      Let's see, Obi-Wan does imply that Luke is more or less like he was. Strong implication, but only explicitly connected on two points. Obi-Wan calls out "much anger in him" and "you are reckless" as "So was I" things.

      That conversation may be the absolute most we ever learn about Obi-Wan pre-Yoda.

      Good catch.

    2. Have you ever looked at this article?:

      Other good ideas regarding how the Prequels were outlined in the OT plus some ideas to flesh it out a bit more. I should rewatch the OT in my spare time and catch any more details that gives hints to the past. I was wondering if you ever thought of doing a video that states these points and what-not? Possibly even make stories for 1 2 and 3.

    3. I recently rewatched this movie, and honestly it seemed to me like Yoda was just making up excuses because he didn't want to train Luke. Maybe that was the initial idea behind that dialogue?

  12. Hey - I see from your most recent post that you're going through a very rough patch. I just wanted to say, I was looking for a good discussion of what the Star Wars mythology should have looked like based solely on the original trilogy, and yours was the best analysis I've found so far. Thank you for putting this together. Best wishes for all of the stuff you're going through.

    1. Thank you so much for . . . everything you just said.