STAR WARS EPISODE VII is coming - but did George Lucas leave us some huge hints a long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away?
We know 2015 will find us hurtling home into hyperspace – but what can we expect from the next big screen chapter of the Star Wars saga? Naturally everyone in the know is remaining tighter-lipped than a Bothan spy succumbing to Imperial torture, but if we sift a lifetime of George Lucas interviews it’s possible to locate some telling clues that may just hint at the future of the Skywalker clan.
In 1979, a year before the release of The Empire Strikes Back , Lucas declared that there would be no less than nine films in a series of three trilogies. “The entire saga spans about 55 years,” he revealed, declaring that there would be a generational gap of around 20 years between each trilogy. “Originally when I wrote Star Wars I had material for six movies. After the success of Star Wars I added another trilogy.”
A 1980 interview with Rolling Stone found Lucas claiming that he had 12 page outlines for all the remaining chapters in the saga, doubtlessly etched in longhand on the legendary yellow legal pads he always used to map out his universe.
In 1980 he told Time Magazine that Episodes VII, VIII and IX would concern “the rebuilding of the Republic” and “the necessity for moral choices and the wisdom needed to distinguish right from wrong.” Thematically this seems to be the central struggle of the sequel trilogy: “The third [trilogy] will deal with moral and philosophical problems. In Star Wars there is a very clear line drawn between good and evil. Eventually you have to face the fact that good and evil aren’t that clear cut, and the real issue is trying to understand the difference.”
As well as an intriguing ethical tussle at the heart of the new trilogy, Lucas also revealed that “the sequel is about Jedi knighthood, justice, confrontation and passing on what you have learned.”
The big question, of course, is whether the post- Jedi timeframe will allow for the reappearance of some iconic faces...
Mark Hamill remembers Lucas promising him a role in the sequel trilogy as far back as 1976. Inbetween takes in the Tunisian desert he recalls Lucas saying “You’ll just be like a cameo. You’ll be like Obi-Wan handing the lightsaber down to the next new hope.”
In 1983 George Lucas expanded on this for a Time Magazine profile, saying that Luke would now be a sixtysomething mentor figure like Kenobi – and yes, there would be a place for fellow stars Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. “Hamill and the others will get first crack at the roles – if they look old enough.”
Of course the idea of a sixtysomething Luke means Lucas must have revised his initial estimate of the gaps between the trilogies, meaning we may be looking at a passage of 40 years between Episodes VI and VII.
Would Han and Leia be together? “They might be married, or not,” said Lucas. “We have never actually discussed marriage in this galaxy. I don’t even know if it exists yet. Who knows what relationship they will have? I mean, they’re together, let’s put it this way.”
Young Skywalker may finally get some action in the sequel trilogy too. Asked in 1988 why his Jedi hero never got the girl, Lucas replied “You haven’t seen the last three yet.”
As recently as 1999 and the release of The Phantom Menace Lucas was still alluding to the idea of getting the old gang back together: “The only notion on that [trilogy] was wouldn’t it be fun to get all the actors to come back when they’re 60 or 70 years old and make three more about them as old people.”
And here we are…
Of course, a lot can change in the four decades since a young director dreamt about the distant future with his unknown star in a North African desert. But we know that Lucas never entirely abandons an idea, recycling plot elements he may have scrawled in his notebooks untold years ago. Given that he’s sold Disney story outlines for the new trilogy as part of the keys to the kingdom it’s not unimaginable that when the lights fade in cinemas in 2015 we’ll see some or all of these ideas up on the screen…
With thanks to Michael Kaminski's The Secret History Of Star Wars