I'm guessing most hardcore Star Wars fans have already read the newly posted first draft of Leigh Brackett's screenplay for The Empire Strikes Back -- and committed it to memory so they can better debate the finer points of how it would fit into the overarching mythology of the series -- but if you're a slightly less fanatical fan of all things Jedi, Crave Online's look at how the script would have changed things we all now take for granted makes for fascinating reading.
Author Rick Panna has taken the time to chronicle many of the major differences between Brackett's early draft -- completed in February of 1978 -- and what eventually wound up on the screen. It's an interesting look at not only what might have been, had Brackett not succumbed to cancer a month after finishing her draft, but also how certain ideas were taken and then incorporated into later films in the series.
Perhaps the biggest bombshell was the idea that Luke's twin sister wasn't Princess Leia -- but instead would have been a girl named Nellith -- and that they weren't fathered by Darth Vader. Instead, it seems as though plans were for the real father to have separated them and hid them in different parts of the galaxy. The book Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays mentions that there were meetings to discuss the fact that Luke and Nellith would have both been training to become Jedi Knights and how that element would have come into play in later cinematic installments. I'm not really sure I like that idea.
One idea that got cut that I do like is the part where the Wampa on Hoth invade the Rebel base. This sequence was filmed, but chopped from the final version. Apparently, Brackett's script makes this a bigger part of the story and gave the Wampa more depth by attributing their actions to a desire to rid their homeworld of the Rebel outsiders.
Some of the other things in Brackett's version that are noticeably different include Yoda being named Minch (thank goodness they changed that ... ), Chewbacca fighting a beast that makes him look small and Lando Calrissian admitting to being a clone. Even if some of the ideas seem better than others, it's important to remember this was a first draft and would have been cleaned up and tweaked considerably had Brackett not passed away. Not all of these things would have come to pass, but Star Wars certainly could have looked very different had Lucas and company utilized her script as written or even just the ideas.
And it's also pretty hilarious considering Lucas himself recently sent Lost producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse a letter stating, "Don't tell anyone ... but when Star Wars first came out, I didn't know where it was going either. The trick is to pretend you've planned the whole thing out in advance. Throw in some father issues and references to other stories -- let's call them homages -- and you've got a series." Somehow, I get the impression Lucas was only being slightly facetious ...
Was the Force with Brackett's version? Check out the article at Crave Online and the full script, and let us know what you think about this early draft for the best film in the greatest sci-fi franchise of all time.