George Lucas on Star Wars: The Cave Scene

***Think what you will about George Lucas, but in terms of Star Wars, it can all be traced back to him. That’s why I always find it so interesting to listen to him talk about it. His creative process, the reason certain decisions were made, and how these movies became pop cultural staples. This space is dedicated to just that. This is “George Lucas on Star Wars.”***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The Scene: At Yoda’s behest, Luke walks into a cave. Inside, he’s confronted by Darth Vader. A fight ensues in which Luke beheads his opponent, only to discover his own face under Vader’s mask. It has all been an illusion.

George Lucas Says (via The Empire Strikes Back commentary track): “Part of the [cave scene] is learning about the Force, learning the fact that the Force is within you and at the same time you create your own bad vibes. So if you think badly about things, or you act badly, or you bring fear into a situation, you’re going to have to defend yourself, or you’re going to have to suffer the consequences of that. In this particular case, he takes his sword in with him, which means he’s going to have combat. … He is creating this situation in his mind, because on a larger level, what caused Darth Vader to become Darth Vader is the same thing that makes Luke bring that sword in with him. … [Luke] has the capacity to become Darth Vader, simply by using the hate, and fear, and using weapons, as opposed to using compassion, caring, and kindness.”

I Say: This is probably blasphemous to many, but those words from Lucas being to mind a line from The Phantom Menace: “Your focus determines your reality.” Lucas may suck at writing dialogue, but at least he’s consistent.

Something I’ve always been a little unsure of is Yoda’s relationship to the cave. On this same commentary track, Empire director Irvin Keshner says that Yoda is “setting it all up, what’s going to happen in the cave.” That always seemed to be the indication based on the cinematic language of this sequence. But if you listen to Lucas tell it, the cave seems to have mystical elements on its own, and Luke taps into them via his connection to the Force.

That idea is supported by other Star Wars creators as well, including Timothy Zahn in his Thrawn trilogy of books, and a recent Supreme Leader Snoke comic written by Tom Taylor.

I’m inclined to think this is a situation where everybody is right, and we just don’t know how all the dots are connected yet.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Review of The Making of The Empire Strikes Back – The Incredible Journey

The Making of The Empire Strikes BackTITLE: The Making of The Empire Strikes Back
AUTHOR: J.W. Rinzler
PUBLISHER: Lucas Books
PRICE: $85
RELEASED: October 12, 2010

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Though he has his critics, me being one at times, I could listen to George Lucas talk Star Wars for hours, specifically the in terms of plot evolution. So that was probably the aspect of The Making of The Empire Strikes Back I found most appealing.

Released for the 30th anniversary of the film, this coffee table book chronicles the movie’s creation and release, starting in May 1977 (when the first film was released) and ending in December 1980. It features old and rare interview content from the film’s cast and crew, a variety of photographs, unseen concept art by Ralph McQuarrie, and more.

The really cool thing about this book is that Rinzler more or less presents the content in chronological order. It almost feels like you’re reading a production journal that includes interviews with the cast and crew. That’s likely in part because the book borrows a great deal from Once Upon A Galaxy: A Journal of the Making of The Empire Strikes Back by Alan Arnold, which was published in 1980.

Irvin Kershner, The Empire StrikesThe book will likely tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the making of Empire, mostly looking at it from a director’s perspective, an actor’s perspective, and a special effects perspective. This is a bit of a double-edged sword, because if you’re reading this book from cover to cover, chances are you’re going to get bored at times. As I said, I love hearing George Lucas, and in this case Irvin Kershner, talk Star Wars. But as amazing as the special effects in the film are, their formative process doesn’t interest me as much.

But you can certainly argue that this book doesn’t need to be read to be enjoyed. For Star Wars buffs, the photos alone might just be worthy the hefty $85 price. We see some fantastic candid behind-the-scenes shots. For instance: Kersnher showing Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) how he might hold C-3PO’s severed head, Carrie Fisher sitting in the carbon freezing chamber alongside numerous stormtroopers and Ugnaughts (pig men) during a break, Mark Hamill in the swamps of Dagobah with Yoda…along with Kermit and Miss Piggy. Plus, there are lots of shots from the set that just show the actors being themselves. Those are fun to look at.

The detail on some of these photos is amazing. There’s a tight black and white shot of Yoda on Mark Hamill’s shoulder, and you can see not only the sweat on Hamill’s face, but a lot of the little details on the puppet. The creases in its face, the detail in its hands, how life-like the eyes look. It’s almost breath-taking.

Yoda, Luke SKywalker, The Empire Strikes BackThe book provides some insight into the behind-the-scenes tension that went on during the film. Apparently, Hamill was worried that Luke Skywalker was bring written out when he read Yoda’s “There is another” line. Also, Empire was way over budget, and we read about Lucas’ fear of having to turn the film over to 20th Century Fox in order to finish it, as opposed to owning it himself.

The only real drawback to the book is its price. For casual fans, $85 is a lot to ask for a book, and I consider myself more than just a casual fan. You get your money’s worth, but you might have to save up for it. Or you could always try the library.

Though the book in its entirety didn’t interest me, I can’t deny The Making of The Empire Strikes Back is a gem for both die-hard collectors and casual fans of the movie, by virtue of the sheer volume of content it contains. It’s a fitting tribute to one of the greatest films ever made. In a recent interview with StarWars.com, Rinzler said he’d do a book like this for Return of the Jedi if sales justified it, which I’m sure they will. Star Wars is recession-proof that way.

RATING: 9.5/10

Image 1 from grantgould7.tripod.com. Image 2 from curiousintentions.com.

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