The Force is Freakin' Heavy
Read The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film, and it was a chore, because when the book is open, it's 2 feet wide and a foot tall and weighs 6 pounds.
It's truly a fans-only kinda book. The minutia even started to get dull to me, and I usually eat this stuff up. I skipped several of the chapters that deal with the development of the story.
However, here's some interesting stuff I learned:
De Palma was responsible for the opening scroll. It was always planned, but Lucas' original version was a big swath of back-history and De Palma said it's gotta be directly related to the story and drop you right into it. So, he rewrote it, and Lucas tweaked it a bit, but it's primarily De Palma's.
Carroll Ballard was a second-unit director for the filming that occurred after the principal filming. Interesting that such a gifted director was used like that. It'd be fun to know which shots are his. For the record, like nearly everyone except Spielberg, he thought the movie was a goof and would bomb badly.
Francis Ford Coppola suggested some structural changes - like moving most of the evil empire stuff to later in the film, after the main characters were established. So, major parts of the narrative flow are Coppola's.
Those three factoids kind of explain a lot about the recent trilogy don't they?
Obi-wan wasn't slated to die until after they began filming. When they were filming, it dawned on Lucas that as originally written, Obi-wan kinds stands around doing nothing after the escape from the Death Star, so Lucas decided his death would be better dramatically. Alec Guinness was not happy when he was told this during filming. Worse, his death happened off camera. After some wailing and gnashing of teeth (dignified wailing and gnashing, of course, as it was Alec Guinness after all), he got to have a noble death on-screen.
Mark Hamill 's famous car accident happened during the call-back for pick-up shots (some of those done by Ballard), and they had to use a double in the speeder scenes.
Finally, I wanted to include a scan of one of the photos in the book, but my scanner crapped out. There's a photo of the film librarian that was clearly included because of her spectacular breasts. If you get your hands on THE BOOK (shame on you for thinking I was going elsewhere), it's the third one down, you can't miss it. They included the other two, I'm sure, so it wouldn't look so suspicious when you hap on the third one. I'm sure the words "Dear Lord" will cross your brain.
Here it be: Mary Lind, film control coordinator:
James Lileks has an article on the 30th Anniversary (gad, there it is again) of the film; which is one of his last as a featured writer, and perhaps one of his last for the paper. He finds out his fate this week. [Note: the link is now broken, but Lileks kept his job, and now blogs for the paper here.]