EMPIRE TO BUILD JUST ‘ONE MORE DEATH STAR’

HOLLYWOOD – The Galactic Empire – AKA the First Order – has revealed plans to build ‘just one more Death Star’ in the hope that this time it will survive more than a week.

A planet destroying battle station is a powerful weapon indeed, and the Galactic Empire have spent trillions of dollars building three versions. The first one was destroyed almost forty years ago by the Rebel Alliance when a previously unsuspected Exhaust Port proved a complete liability. Death Star expert Xavier Poulis told the Studio Exec:

There was a lot of finger pointing when the first Death Star was blown up but really no one could see that coming and a battle station which is the size of a small moon needs somewhere to vent. You can’t just seal it hermetically and hope for the best. Yes, in retrospect a kind of shell or net would have been a good idea, but seriously we thought people would be so scared they’d be too busy flying in the other direction.

The second Death Star wasn’t even constructed when it too was destroyed. Poulis again:

Here I don’t think anyone per se was to blame. The Emperor had pushed ahead on the weapons front so that it was fully operational, meaning it could fire its weapons. But it wasn’t yet completely built. Ironically the exhaust port was covered in armor this time and guarded with massive cannons. But as the shell of the station hadn’t been completed the Rebel ships could just fly right in and blow up the power core with not much ado.

The third battle station was the giant Star Killer. General Hux spoke to the Studio Exec about this station:

We’re still pretty gutted about the Star Killer. Honestly I thought we’d covered our bases. First of all we established it on a planet so we cut down significantly on construction and labor costs. And because now we are an environmentally conscious Galactic Empire we used solar energy as our power source. No more dirty nuclear waste. When we blow up planets now, we do so cleanly and responsibly. So when the rebels once more managed to find a way to destroy we were all very, very upset. Many people think the First Order don’t have feelings, but I can tell you that ruined a lot of people’s Christmases. Lord Snoke tried to get everyone to cheer up doing Wookie impersonations but it was more sad than it was funny.

 And yet you plan to build another one.

We’re going to try one last time. The thing is when we do get it right the results are amazing. Just ask anyone who was on Alderaan. Or don’t! Ha ha ha. So is it a risk? Yes, but the Galactic Empire is all about living on the risk. Thinking outside of the box. What do they expect us to do having destroyed three of our battle stations already? Not build another obviously. But then we don’t do that. I read the Steve Jobs biography over the new Year to cheer me up and I think his do the unexpected philosophy ‘Think different’ is very much aligned with what we’re trying to do. Look, we call ourselves the First Order, even though it’s obvious we’re the second. That’s all you need to know.

The Death Star 4 will be open for business sometime in 2018.

THE MAKING OF THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

HOLLYWOOD  – In the latest of our ‘Making of…’ series, we look at Irvin Kershner’s Science Fiction epic The Empire Strikes Back.

The Idea

In 1970 George Lucas wrote a short science fiction novella entitled ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. He gave it to his old film teacher Irvin Kershner to read. The older man was very impressed. He wrote this note to the film school graduate:

Hi George,

Just read your short novel and I have to say it bowled me over. I love the characters and the universe you have created. Princess Leia and Han Solo are particular favorites. And the two robots R2P0 and C3D2, hilarious! I tihnk it works well both as a work of fiction and as a possible treatment for a motion picture. My only worry is that these characters are thrown together in a very random way. I didn’t feel there was much of a build up to the revelation that Luke Skywalker is Darth Vader’s son, and why are such unlikely people like Han and Leia in each other’s company in the first place? I figure you need some more backstory on screen.

Lucas took the admonition so much to heart that he wrote the screenplay of Star Wars as a prequel to his original novel. He found out to his dismay that the studios preferred the prequel to his original darker vision. He wrote to fellow film maker John Milius:

I wanted to make a real adult piece of Science Fiction with real characters who we can understand and feel for but they want the more simplistic gee-whizz stuff so I guess that is the price I’ll have to pay. They even want me to change the names of the robots. Isn’t that stupid?

Milius advised him to shelve his novel and make the film that the studios wanted, but once it was made and was a spectacular success, Lucas returned to his original plan and his original reader as director.

Production

Filming took place in 1979 and included location shooting in Norway and studio work in England, UK. Norway proved as problematic as Tunisia had for the first film and there was a terrible snow storm that made filming almost impossible. Kershner wrote in his autobiography, Kershner Writes Backs:

We were trying to grab shots here and there. We filmed a scene of Harrison Ford from the safety of the hotel with poor Harrison stumbling about in the snow outside. He froze solid and we were worried he might be dead, but eventually he thawed out. However, once George heard about this he started scribbling and changed the script to include the carbonite freezing scene.

The Dagobah set was particularly unpleasant with Mark Hamill complaining that the British crew would often take shits in the swamp ‘as a joke. It was disgusting. The British sense of humor left a lot to be desired, but once I came back from lunch and there was Carrie Fisher dropping heat herself.’

Hamill also found the actor playing Yoda difficult to work with.

‘He was very resentful and would take offence at even the slightest reference to size, or ears, or the color green. People think of him as this wizened old guru, but in reality he was a twisted alcoholic asshole who would reduce the script girl to tears just for kicks.

Reception

Upon its release, The Empire Strikes Back was hailed as a masterpiece. It won a bucket of Oscars as well as critical recognition from all the international film festivals including Locarno, Berlin, Venice and Cannes. Spurred by the success, Lucas went on to write Return of the Jedi. However, his creative powers were in sad declined due to his addiction to bubbly gum which he had succumbed to while filming in England. ‘He was getting through twenty packets a day,’ says Carrie Fisher. ‘At one point he couldn’t talk because he would just keep blowing bubbles. It was around this time he told me that he had actually written some other prequels for Star Wars, but he said they were horrendous and he would only ever contemplate doing them if he became a venal hack with no sense of artistic quality.’

The Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980.

For more of The Making of CLICK HERE.