Reading Leigh Brackett’s Empire script was a holy grail moment for me. I felt like Henry Jones, because I wanted to take this movie past the seal and onto the screen, but I couldn’t! Not without ripping the fabric of our universe apart. I can’t say I loved it. I was more confused by it. It was like finding out your father had a twin brother (or a clone!) and you were learning about this alternate existence.
That’s not to say it is anywhere near the quality of the film we got, it isn’t. But it has a charm to it, I am not quick to dismiss. All of those classic moments from the film we have come to know and love are not there at all. It feels more like a Marvel Comic story than a Lucasfilm production to me.
I hope if J.W. Rinzler and Mike Mayhew are not too busy, in the future, they can make a follow up to The Star Wars, the most anticipated Star Wars comic ever, potentially. I have to imagine Rinzler is going to be a busy guy in the future with so many Star Wars films on their way. He is the best of the best of the “Making of” books series. There are so many films coming, I don’t imagine he can do them all, but I sure hope he tries! But if he has time in the next decade, this Leigh Brackett Empire draft would be something to see on the page!
There is no Echo Base, there is an Ice Castle though. The general feeling of the story is tonally different and it even becomes surreal when Luke fights Darth Vader in the cosmos!
Here is a pretty good example of how different the film would have been had her draft been used instead of Lucas’ first draft. Originally Lando Calrissian was not what you would expect. Princess Leia is offended by his very existence as he speaks these words in Brackett’s draft of the Star Wars Sequel:
I’m a clone. Of the Ahsardi family. My great grandfather wanted many sons and he produced them from the cells of his own body. His sister, a remarkable woman, produced many daughters by the same means. Thus we keep the blood pure. But since the wars, there are not many of us left and we try not to attract attention.
-Leigh Brackett’s February 17, 1978 First Draft
It isn’t immediately clear if this was George Lucas’ thinking for Lando or something Brackett added herself. It is conceptually different than what we saw in Star Wars or anything in Star Wars. But then again, it isn’t altogether different than what Jango Fett did with Boba Fett, cloning himself instead of biologically producing an offspring. Perhaps we’ll see these types of ideas come back after The Clone Wars within Star Wars Rebels in 2014. Because I can see a clear line between Lando’s great grandfather and Jango Fett’s actions in Star Wars Episode II, I surmise it was probably a George Lucas idea Brackett was incorporating into her script.
I love the work J.W. Rinzler and Mike Mayhew are doing with The Star Wars comic coming from Dark Horse in September. I think it might be a good idea to take Leigh Brackett’s draft of The Empire Strikes Back and turn it into a comic because it is so different. George Lucas did a very honorable thing in leaving Brackett’s name on the film, but there is almost nothing from her script in the film. Such a comic would allow George Lucas to receive the credit he deserves for the first drafts of The Empire Strikes Back and it would allow Brackett’s work to be seen as she envisioned it. This was the last work of a legend and it deserves some attention, even if it is the first draft.
I look forward to the next eight issues of The Star Wars and I’m content with that for now. More than content, even. But I really like what I have seen so far and I hope this is just the beginning. George Lucas’ first draft of Return of the Jedi would be appreciated as well! But that’s another story.