George Lucas’ Lord of the Rings….

I find fun to think of “what-if” situations — the alternate history that could have happened if only something played out just slightly different. Similar to my alternate 80s/90s take on a Batman and Superman movie, there could have been another movie produced in the 80s if only the right creative minds had come together.

With the popularity of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books, the Tolkien estate wanted to produce Lord of the Rings. There was hope that the animated feature of the 70s would have been their overwhelming achievement. Yet, the two projects just didn’t capture the hearts of minds of fans. So, the Producers decided the story had to be told as a life action movie. Tolkien family wanted something in the likes of Star Wars.

Star Wars was the biggest movie of all time in the 1980s. The three movies of the Star Wars franchise wasn’t just movies it was a licensee jugganaut. From books to toys, the intellectual property would eventually make billions. So, why not Lord of the Rings. After, George Lucas finished with Return of the Jedi and had no future plans of any other Star Wars films, he was the perfect choice for a massive Lord of the Rings project. The project is pitched to Lucasfilm. And in 1984, George Lucas confirms his next film project is Lord of the Rings.

Lucasfilm’s Production of Frodo in Hobbiton.

Being inspired by the books when he was in college, George is excited to tackle the story. One feature that George is most excited about is the story from the perspective of the hobbits — the halflings of Middle Earth. During the writing of Star Wars, George had considered filming it entirely with midgets — or small people. George was fascinated by the courageous “little people” living with the disability. He had worked with them to create iconic characters like Jawas and Ewoks. So, he knew he had to find the right ones to play Merry, Pippin, Samwise, Frodo and Bilbo Baggins.

Lucasfilm’s production of Gandalf warning the hobbits of the quest.

George quickly sums it up that if there was 3 books in the Lord of the Rings cycle, then it could only be done with 3 movies – focusing on 1 book per film. With all the pre-production concluded, filming starts in 1985. The first movie is released in 1986 to huge reviews and massive box office returns. The second film arrives 3 years later — in 1989 and the last film — in 1992. Toy stores were flooded with Lord of the Rings action figures, board games and puzzles. Kids would hit the first day of school with Frodo and the all seeing Eye of Sauron t-shirts. Lucasfilm stuns the world with 3 massive trilogies — Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Lord of the rings.

Lucasfilm’s production of Aragon and Frodo.

This would have blown our geek and nerdy minds…. And possibly put a new level to those that enjoyed D&D and modern fantasy!

[note: this is not real but a possible history in film. Images are from Willow.]

Losing Faith… or never lost.

It was 16 years between Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menance – 25 years had past since George scribbled his idea for Star Wars and executed the next major phase of his story. That’s a lot of time. Also, that’s a lot of life to live between the two.

I believe George’s film making philosophy in the 1970s and early 1980s changed and is very different than his 1990s version. Or more specifically: his philosophy and attitude toward Star Wars. With all the examples I’ve provided and what he spoke about during the documentary From Star Wars to Jedi, he has definitely bent his filmmaking rules.

George, during another interview, admitted to this happening. His reason was children. He adopted 3 children from 1983 and the release of Episode I in 1999. He was making these movies for them. Or more generally – for children. Although by the time Revenge of th Sith came out I’m not sure I would say that was a kids movie (uh, man burning alive, duh). Yet, he definitely looked at this world through altered eyes.

I believe I was victim of something similar. When I was younger, my stories were so vast, incredible and fun. As I got older, I somehow stumped and blocked my efforts as my mind would question the rationale of the details. It was a difficult time. I subconsciously shutdown my own imagination. I think this happened to George. George wrote the Original Trilogy as an adult but with the spirit of his youth. As he got older, he wrote as from his youth but with a spirit of an adult.

I was disappointed. I had hoped he would have kept his original spirit. I also wish he had told himself, “if I was filming this movie in 1984 how would I have done it?” Allow the new technology to make it easier and sharper, but not lose the feel of the universe that had been shaped by real world limitations. Now, there will be no resolution as the torch has been passed. I’m not sure I have faith with the new direction. Yet, I think in the long run George lost faith in his youthful imagination. I struggled and sometimes still battle with my logical brain to keep my youthful imagination alive. As a writer, it’s imperative that the youthful imagination never is lost. I will vow to do my best….

Losing Faith…. pt. four.

The new Star Wars Prequels are not terrible. The movies don’t deserve hatred or fan outrage. Yet, I do wish they had been slightly different. Being a child in the late 70s and early 80s, I was the perfect age to enjoy the Original Trilogy. I also had 15 years of adult years, college study and personal imagination to overthink the next chapter.

The Force in the Prequels was simply forgotten. When it came time to explain important things, expand on the mythology, we simply didn’t get them. Almost like George couldn’t answer them himself (odd since this was his world – his creation). Or maybe he just didn’t want to revel his hand. Now, I’m not stating I needed more such as how or why it worked (so I definitely don’t want Midichlorians). Actually keeping it vague actually works for the story. But, why does Obi-Wan and Yoda disappear to the Force in the Original Trilogy but no one in the Prequel Trilogy does? This was a critical misfire for the saga. Yes, at the end of Revenge of the Sith, we get one line of dialog to “wrap” that mystery. But why wasn’t this slowly developed through the entire Prequel Trilogy. Why wasn’t the audience shown the Jedi more in tune with the Force? (not just using its magical powers) With Anakin, Qui-Gon should have just felt the Force stronger than he’d ever felt it before within Anakin. Instead of testing his blood, he should have told Obi-wan “There’s something about this boy! I’ve never felt a vergence of the Force like I have with him.” “Even around Master Yoda?” “Not even Master Yoda!” Their surprise is the cinematic story telling. Concluding in a test similar to the one Anakin got in front of the council, we, as an audience, know that Anakin is Force sensitive. He would and did perform tasks that are beyond that of an average Padawan. But still raw! (not the Rey syndrome!) Qui-gon’s original Force insight of Anakin would make sense with what we know from the OT: “I feel a presence I’ve not felt in a long time.” “It was a 1000 voices all screamed out in terror at once.” “Search your feelings.” “Leia is my sister.” – “Your insight serves you well!”.

Queen Amidala of the Naboo should have been a true royal monarch. There’s nothing wrong for a royal Queen ruling a world or people in a fantasy story. Actually, it would have made more sense. It would have been a positive look at a monarchy style government. Besides, the government of the galaxy is a democratic Galactic Republic with representatives of each member planet working together for a greater good. Well until, it became corrupt and open for an evil Emperor to take over. More important it would have stay true to George’s original story element of Anakin marrying a young queen. With some slight tweaking, Amidala would still get mixed up in the action as a Padme decoy. I always thought it would have been more powerful to see how Naboo suffered once the Empire formed and Amidala had to go into hiding. (maybe I’ll go into more details at some point). Secondly, Amidala wouldn’t die at the end of Revenge of the Sith. Naboo would fall to Imperial control. The Royal family would be imprisoned or forced into hiding. That scene in ROTS, where Yoda and Obi-wan decide to go into hiding, it should have included Amidala. Yoda asks, “what should we do with children. They are a threat to Anakin?” Bail Organa volunteers, “We will adopt the girl (smiles at Amidala), we’ve always wanted to adopt a girl. Your majesty, you will serve as her Nanny on Alderaan and you’ll be safe there.” Yoda questions, “what about the boy?” Obi-wan offers, “to his family on Tatooine. I will go and watch over him.” This also doesn’t deviate the facts we already know. Leia would have memories of her real mother because she was her nanny. Young Padme would still die young but thats a story for another time.

Easy fixes and the story wasn’t drastically changed. It doesn’t impact the sadness at the end of ROTS nor does it cause issues in wrapping up the Prequel Trilogy….

to be concluded….