As The Empire Strikes Back hits 30, we can only ponder what might have been…
Gary Kurtz, George Lucas’ partner in making the first two Star Wars films, explains how Return Of The Jedi would have ended originally, in the outline that Lucas and he had come up with before Lucas decided to change everything to make it more of an upbeat toy-selling vehicle.
Luke and Leia would have rescued Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt, but then Han would have died halfway through the film, during a raid on an Imperial base. (This is something that Harrison Ford has mentioned before as well.) The film would have ended with the rebel forces in tatters, Leia struggling with her new duties as queen, and Luke walking off into the sunset alone, like Clint Eastwood at the end of a spaghetti Western. It would have been a more nuanced, muted ending to the saga, instead of the Ewoks dancing in the forest like a “teddy-bear luau.” (Not sure if that phrase is from the Times’ Geoff Boucher or Kurtz, but it’s hilarious.)
The Ewoks and the fast-food, drive-thru merchandising did kinda bug me.