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How Leigh Bracket wrote the first The Empire Strikes Back script

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How a lot of The Empire Strikes Again script did Leigh Brackett write?

Leigh Brackett‘s title famously will get a nod within the credit of The Empire Strikes Again as having been a part of the writing group with George Lucas and Larry Kasdan.

Who’s she and the way a lot of the film did she draft?

Who’s she?

On this trendy period of put up Jedi, Thrawn and Clone Wars, I might wager three of our Earth that almost all of this era hasn’t learn a single Leigh Brackett science fiction novel or most likely even watched among the different movies she wrote script for.

That is to not blame them for something, neither has this creator!

However again within the day, Leigh Brackett was a preferred author of science fiction novels corresponding to, The Starmen and Alpha Centauri or Die! and had written a few movie scripts, notably Rio Bravo and The Long Goodbye.

Rio Bravo is taken into account an all-time nice film in case you have been questioning.

Ultimately, George Lucas determined he wanted some assist together with his second Star Wars movie as his world had turn out to be so huge after his ANH success and he requested Leigh for a draft of the movie primarily based on among the concepts he had provide you with.

Lucas relayed this story as their first dialog:

Lucas: Have you ever ever written for the films?
Brackett: Sure, I’ve. Rio Bravo, El Dorado, The Huge Sleep, The Lengthy Goodbye…

Lucas then paused briefly

Lucas: Are you that Leigh Brackett?
Brackett: Sure. Is not that why you known as me in?
Lucas: No, I known as you in since you have been a pulp science fiction author!


The unhappy accident is that shortly after finishing her first draft, she died. Bracket and Lucas by no means even had an opportunity to speak concerning the phrases she wrote for him.

Most cancers is a bitch.

George Lucas has been quoted from ‘Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays’ as saying:

“Writing has by no means been one thing I’ve loved, and so, in the end, on the second movie I employed Leigh Brackett. Sadly, it didn’t work out; she turned within the first draft, after which she handed away. I didn’t like the primary script, however I gave Leigh credit score as a result of I preferred her loads.

She was sick on the time she wrote the script, and she or he actually tried her greatest. Through the story conferences I had with Leigh, my ideas weren’t totally shaped and I felt that her script went in a totally totally different route.”

The person who took over from Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan later stated of Leigh’s draft “I solely skimmed it. It was form of quaint and didn’t relate to Star Wars. The characters all had the fitting names, however her story’s spirit was totally different. I’m positive that had Leigh lived, she might have made the modifications that George wished in a superb approach.”

Is that the tip of it?

Not likely. Lawrence Kasdan can also be quoted in Cinefantastique Vol. 28:

“What I labored on was a draft of the script George had written, primarily based on the story George had given to Leigh. I don’t know what of Leigh’s draft survived into the draft George wrote.

What George handed me was a really tough first draft, actually someplace between a top level view and a primary draft. The construction of the story was all there – it was the skeleton for a film. What was wanted was the flesh and the muscle.”

However Larry then completely sharpens his ideas:


“Look, there is no query that Leigh Brackett was one of many nice screenwriters of all time. Nevertheless it was an odd job for her, and there is nothing of that draft left in “Empire.”

Now, we should always take a few of that with a pinch of salt and perceive that Kasdan was talking in broad phrases and quite a lot of what Bracket wrote within the first draft would have been modified, restructured and dropped and added by Lucas who did the second draft.

Successfully Kasdan is available in as the author of the third draft and adjusted all of it up once more, together with Han going into carbonite and the road “I’ll be again” changing into the “I know”.

However whereas that final Kasdan quote might ring round one’s ears a wee bit, we will completely learn Bracket’s draft and resolve for ourselves what carried over from her draft into the ultimate transfer, and what did not.

So what are some variations between Brackett’s draft and what was the ultimate script storyline?

  • Han Solo was not frozen in carbonite. 
  • There have been no bounty hunters like Boba Fett or IG 88
  • Lando Calrissian’s final title was Kadar and he was a clone of his grandfather… 
  • Planet names are totally different or modified round. Hoth isn’t an ice planet. 
  • Yoda is called “Minch”. He was fairly a severe character in tone from the get go, reasonably than the joker we first met in Empire 
  • There is a plot the place Han Solo wants to talk together with his stepfather which was to steer into the occasions of the subsequent movie. 
  • Luke doesn’t have his arm severed by Vader – however continues to be rescued by Lando and … Han Solo. 

This isn’t to say the concepts that Bracket and Lucas got here up inside their first run on the story thought aren’t there thematically or did not make it into manufacturing:

  • The opening of Bracket’s work passed off on an ice planet with Luke Skywalker getting misplaced while using a white lizard (hey, keep in mind that lizard Obi-Wan Kenobi rode in Revenge of the Sith…) the lizards turned the Taun Taun and Luke was nonetheless attacked by some type of snow man. 
  • Vader nonetheless used Han Solo as bait on the Cloud City to attempt to lure Luke. 
  • C-3PO nonetheless results in items on Bespin. 
  • Lando nonetheless is pressured to chop a cope with Vader.

A much bigger concept that was minimize from Empire however launched in Return of the Jedi was the connection between Luke and Leia. The idea of Luke having a twin sister was launched in Bracket’s first draft. Bracket named the sister ‘Nellis’.

This concept was clearly transferred to Leia’s character.

You’ll be able to learn the Bracket’s draft here and make up your personal thoughts!


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