The Empire Strikes Back – First Draft by Leigh Brackett | T-bone's Star Wars Universe
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Download: Star Wars Sequel by Leigh Brackett

The Empire Strikes Back came out in 1980 and even as a 10-year-old, I remember reading about an early version of the script written by a Sci-Fi author and screenwriter named Leigh Brackett. She turned in a first draft and passed away from Cancer in 1978. This draft was based on a story outline from George Lucas.

From there, as the story goes, Lucas tried his hand at a draft or two but then turned those drafts over to Lawrence Kasdan who ultimately penned the script, although Brackett was still credited. It’s unclear as to the reason why, but it’s assumed that this was a professional courtesy since not many people really knew if any of her work ended up in the final version.  Many interviews with Lucas and others who had seen the draft implied that it beared very little resemblance.

For years, this elusive draft seemed like a “holy grail” of sorts to Star Wars aficionados. In 2010, however, I was shown a scanned version of what appeared to be this draft by Brackett. It came complete with handwritten notes, crossed out words, and matched up with just about every description of the actual thing you could think of. If it was a forgery, it was an elaborate one.

At Starwarz.com, I also host a site called Starkiller. This small group of people specialize in Star Wars scripts. Being that I’m a member, we posted the script online and it’s the most popular download on the site.

At first read, you do get the distinct impression that it’s very different, but it’s mostly the dialogue. Many of the concepts and scenes are still intact.

SOME noticeable differences include:

  • Han is never frozen and there are no bounty hunters like Boba Fett
  • Lando has a different last name (Kadar) and a lady friend
  • Planet names are different or changed around
  • Yoda is called “Minch”
  • Han is sent on a “mission” to speak to his powerful Step-father (which is supposed to be part of the next film)

and the biggest one of all…

  • Darth Vader and Luke’s Father are TWO DIFFERENT characters

Luke’s father, simply referred to as SKYWALKER in the script, shows up in ghost form along with Ben while Luke is being trained. What’s more is he also tells Luke about his sister – who is not Leia. Her name is Nellith. Luke takes the oath of the Jedi along with his Father, Ben and Minch (Yoda).

It’s clear that Lucas wasn’t sure on the direction he was going with the whole Anakin/Vader story yet. It makes you think about Lucas’ explanation of how the whole saga was always supposed to be about Anakin Skywalker. When Empire was being made, it seems he had no idea about this. Nor did he know that Leia would be Luke’s sister, which explains his non-reluctance to having them romantically linked in the film. Was he shooting from the hip then, and is he now rewriting history?

Other than that, you’ll see that the general framework and outline from Lucas is pretty much there. Not much of Brackett’s dialogue remained but some of her spirit did.

For fans, this is a great find and a great read so I’m happy to be able to share it here as well as over at the Starkiller site.

Enjoy reading it and please leave some comments.

Download: Star Wars Sequel by Leigh Brackett

 

4 thoughts on “The Empire Strikes Back – First Draft by Leigh Brackett

  1. kris says:

    this script was a good start, but I’m glad they made the changes they did.

  2. [...] fully formed and I felt that her script went in a completely different direction.” (You can read the entire script draft here, and a list of differences from the final film [...]

  3. [...] about the story and characters, and that she wrote a first draft of the script (which you can see here). It’s pretty different from the final version that Lucas wrote, but you can’t really [...]

  4. [...] fully formed and I felt that her script went in a completely different direction.” (You can read the entire script draft here, and a list of differences from the final film [...]

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