Reverberations are still being felt in the geekosphere from an auspicious meeting of the minds that took place at George Lucas' Park Way house in San Anselmo, California in July of 1981, when he, director Richard Marquand, screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and producer Howard Kazanjian held court for a "Return of the Jedi" story conference.
With J.W. Rinzler's exhaustive "The Making of Return of the Jedi" hitting bookshelves in October, Huffington Post got ahold of a tantalizing transcript of said 1981 meeting included in the book, which fans will surely line up for once they hear how closely Lucas stuck to his guns on the Skywalker backstory… as well as the nutty ideas that changed before cameras rolled on the prequels.
"Anakin gets worse and worse," Lucas explained to his team, according to the transcript, "and finally Ben has to fight him and he throws him down into a volcano and Vader is all beat up. Now, when he falls into the pit, his other arm goes and his leg and there is hardly anything left of him by the time the Emperor’s troops fish him out of the drink."
Sounds pretty familiar, eh "Revenge of the Sith" fans? (All 15 of you.) Lucas also compares the Emperor to Richard Nixon, and using The Force to yoga, all of which is cool with us, except when he gets to the part about Yoda only being some kind of Jedi substitute teacher and not a badass warrior. Whaa?
Kasdan: You mean he wouldn’t be any good in a fight?
Lucas: Not with Darth Vader he wouldn’t.
Kasdan: I accept it, but I don’t like it.
Yeah, good call, Kasdan. Crouching Tiger Yoda was the best part of the prequels, fo sho.
Also illuminating: Originally Padme (Natalie Portman in the prequel trilogy) was supposed to live to see her daughter turn 2, which is why in "Return of the Jedi" Leia remembers her sad momma, but somewhere along the way Lucas must have figured out that Padme's death in "Episode III" would have been the final kick to the crotch Darth Vader needed to turn permanently to the Dark Side. So why does Leia still recall her mother in "ROTJ"? Lucas should have just redone the scene in the Special Editions to have Luke ask, "What do you remember of your mother?" "Nada," Leia replies. "Samesies!" Luke exclaims. See, simple editing saves the day.