I think my current hibernation is drawing to a close; last night I slept so hard that any deeper sleep would be referred to as "a coma," and today, while I'm still a little groggy this morning, I'm feeling a bit more focused on art and writing. Since I finally got the new scanner last night, now is a good time to reconnect. :)
While off in hermitland, I watched all six Star Wars movies with the commentary track turned on. It had some interesting insights (well, interesting to me, anyway), but to protect the non-SW geeks out there from being traumatized, I'll hide them behind a cut.
The death of Boba Fett: On RotJ, George Lucas commented that he considered Boba Fett's death scene to be a "mis-step." The popularity of Boba Fett completely blindsided him, apparently ... his attitude was basically one of "Boba Fett's a minion ... dispose of him quickly so we can get on to the important stuff." If he'd realized that so many people would be so disappointed, he would have given Fett "a cooler death" -- which is presumably why Jango got to do all those "rocket launcher/flamethrower etc" bits in Attack of the Clones. Fett's backstory in the original trilogy boiled down to, "He's a stormtrooper clone who, for whatever reason, is not part of the Empire." Making him the "son" of the original stormtrooper template was something they came up with when making Clones. Lucas addressed the EU concept that Fett climbed up out of the Sarlacc pit -- "Most fans don't really believe that he's dead. I thought about adding a scene to the special edition of him climbing up out of the pit, but decided it really didn't fit the movie. Most fans assume that's what happened anyway."
The death of Jango Fett: A concept that didn't come across clearly is that when he gets trampled by the reek, it damages his jet pack -- which is why he didn't fly away from Mace Windu. For the DVD release they added sparks on the jet pack and a flameout attempt to take off, but it's still real easy to miss. So if we assume that the wrist-mounted flamethrower only has one shot (which he uses earlier in the fight), Jango's death makes a bit more sense.
Jar-Jar Binks: Lucas still loves Jar-Jar, and presumably always will. To hear him cooing over Jar-Jar in Phantom Menace just makes you groan. But it's not that he loves Jar-Jar as a character, he loves Jar-Jar as a technical achievement.
Making the Kessel Run in 12 Parsecs: Apparently, there was a real reason for this line. Lucas's original concept for hyperspace travel (as expressed by Han's line re: bouncing to close to a supernova) was that to get somewhere quickly you had to have super-precise navigation to "miss" all the stuff in between and still go in as close to a straight line as possible. What makes the Millenium Falcon fast isn't the ship's engines, it's the ship's amazing navicomputer, "peculiar dialect" and all. This is one of the instances of Lucas' "just drop you into an unfamiliar setting and go" philosophy going overboard. If you're going to use a unit of distance (parsec) to describe how "fast" a ship is, you need to make it clear why you're doing it, or it just sounds like you don't know what you're talking about!
Midichlorians: Lucas sayeth that midichlorians were in the first draft and got edited out of the original Star Wars for time considerations. They are supposed to represent the "physical mechanism" side of the Force, i.e., the genetic angle of why it runs in families etc.
Ewoks as disposable distraction: Apparently the idea of the Endor battle was not that 'the Ewoks defeated the Empire.' The idea was supposed to be that they basically stood no chance -- but that they were a distraction so the Rebels could get into the bunker. (Think the battle of the Black Gate so Sam and Frodo could destroy the Ring.) To hear Lucas talk, the Ewoks are decimated and suffer all sorts of heavy casualties -- to which my response is, "Two dead Ewoks do not heavy casualties make." I don't know if they softened it down to avoid freaking out the kiddies, or what ... but Ewok-as-pict is a lot more appealing a notion to my mind than "Aww, da fuzzy widdle bears conquered the galaxy!"
The battle of Coruscant is NOT a space battle: The ship battle at the beginning of Revenge of the Sith is supposed to be taking place in the upper reaches of Coruscant's atmosphere, rather than out in space. That's why, for example, the inert buzzdroid is pulled off of Anakin's wing by wind resistance -- because there is actually supposed to be wind. This is another one of those "Oooooh! Well you coulda made that clearer!" moments, at least for me.
Wooden dialog and awkward love scenes: Lucas sayeth that these elements were intentional as part of the throwback to '30s serials. In particular he comments about Han & Leia's love scenes, "In those old serials there wasn't a lot of romance. It was basically 'Oh, you're the heroine? Well, I'm the hero, let's be in love now.'" Having watched some serials, I can see that. But I can also see it being a smokescreen. So who knows?
What interests me the most about it all is that from the POV of a writer/creator, I can totally sympathise with Lucas on some of these points -- "Boba's kinda cool but he's not important" coincides nicely with thought's I've had along the lines of "Dover's a funny gag but not that interesting a character" for instance. At the same time, from the POV of a fan, I want to say to him, "Are you crazy? Of COURSE Boba Fett has to have a cool death -- it totally undermines the heroes if you just sweep an important foe under the rug like that!" We creators have to remember that the story we're trying to tell, is not necessarily the story the audience will connect with, nor necessarily the story they want to hear ... and be prepared to deal with that one way or another.