Star Trek vs. Star Wars: The Armistice

startrek-vs-starwars (Mini Media Bites)
Credit: Mini Media Bites

There has been a fan rivalry between the two biggest sci-fi franchises, Star Trek and Star Wars, since their first incarnations. Each has touched the world in their own unique way. Star Trek’s progressive and optimistic outlook of humankind’s future has inspired generations of scientists and Star Warss cutting-edge movie technology innovations have changed the look and feel of cinema forever. The two share a closer history than you might think.

Roddenberry (The Humanist)
Roddenberry Credit: The Humanist

Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek’s creator, was a pilot during World War II. He saw action and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal. Later he was an officer for the Los Angeles Police Department. He had a handful of careers but Roddenberry’s passion always lied in writing. He sold short stories to aircraft magazines before building up enough credentials to become a fulltime screenwriter in Hollywood. He penned for shows such as Highway Patrol, West Point and The Virginian. After creating and producing one season of The Lieutenant in 1963, he turned his attention to a science fiction television idea that had been sitting in the back of his mind since first being inspired by Forbidden Planet (1956).

Star Trek Cast (Quora)
The original Star Trek cast Credit: Quora

The original Star Trek series lasted three seasons from 1966 to 1969. Roddenberry was a futurist who believed humanity’s best traits would out last its worst and this was reflected in the show’s stories. Captain Kirk (William Shatner), with Mr Spock (Leonard Nimoy), led the crew of the USS Enterprise on a mission of peaceful exploration into the deepest unknown corners of our galaxy. The ship embraced diversity and cultural acceptance; things such as racism and sexism had become relics of the past. Though this didn’t mean Kirk would back down from a fight. The Enterprise had notorious confrontations with evil aliens, namely Klingons and Romulans.

Star Trek achieved a lot on a small budget. It had the first interracial kiss—between Kirk and Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols)—on American television. Nichols was planning to quit the series until she met fan and civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. He thanked her for being such an important role model for black people all across the world. She would go on to reprise the character in The Animated Series (1973-1974) and six feature films. The show was ultimately cancelled due to low ratings.

LUCASFILM-01
Lucas and Hamill Credit: Time

George Lucas directed his first film, American Graffiti, in 1973. It performed strong at the box office and reviewed well. His next project was Star Wars. Lucas had been working on the idea for a number of years but was never satisfied. By this time Star Trek had been off the air for a while and was doing well in syndication. It was finally reaching its audience and fans were meeting in small conventions all across America. Among exploring other creative outlets, Lucas attended some Trek conventions hoping to find inspiration for his galaxy far, far away. He said Star Trek made space flight look fun.

Skywalker, Leia and Solo (Digital Spy)
Hamill, Fisher and Ford Credit: Digital Spy

Star Wars (later renamed Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) was released in May 1977 and broke all kinds of records. It was the most successful sci-fi film since 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The film followed the story of a group of rebels, that included our heroes Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), as they fought an evil Empire hell bent on galactic domination. After the success of Star Wars, Hollywood took sci-fi as a serious and profitable genre. Many films were greenlit during the era thanks to Wars.

X-Wings during trench run (The Star Wars Report)
X-Wings during the Death Star trench run in Star Wars (1977) Credit: The Star Wars Report

The movie pioneered many new visual effects (VFX), including some cutting edge model work. Never before had spacecrafts appeared so fast and graceful while engaging in dogfights on screen. It was made possible by a new camera system. The technology was computerised and could reproduce the same angle every time while filming the model, no matter how many takes. This made it easier to blend the many shot layers together to create the final VFXs in post-production.

Falcon Model (Strange Tales)
ILM production crew working on the Millennium Falcon Credit: Strange Tales

Many of Star Wars’s visual effects were made possible by the creative team at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). Lucas formed the company in 1975 as part of Lucasfilm Ltd. ILM has been at the forefront of movie technology advancement ever since. They have worked on films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Back to the Future (1985), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), Jurassic Park (1993), Titanic (1997) and numerous other award-winning movies.

After the first Star Wars, Lucas focussed on producing and has had a long and successful partnership with Steven Spielberg. The two are also very close friends. Lucas didn’t return to the director’s chair until Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace in the late 1990s.

Enterprise Dry Dock (The Geek Twins)
The Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) Credit: iMDB

In the 1970s, Paramount Pictures played around with many ideas to bring Star Trek back. Phase II was to be the Enterprise’s second five-year mission going where no one had gone before. Actors were hired, sets were built and scripts were written for the TV series. After Star Wars took the world by storm, the studio decided to turn Phase II into a feature film. It would become Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). During pre-production, illustrator Ralph McQuarrie was brought onboard. He was responsible for Star Wars’s overall aesthetic and designed the look of iconic characters such as Darth Vader, C-3PO and the Storm Troopers. McQuarrie left early as he was needed for the production on the second Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back (1981). He returned for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in 1986. McQuarrie’s protégé, Andrew Probert, was his replacement on The Motion Picture. Probert designed the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979), the DeLorean Time Machine in the Back to the Future trilogy and the Enterprise-D in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994).

McQuarrie Darth Vader Concept (Cnet)
One of McQuarrie’s original Darth Vader concepts Credit: Cnet

ILM has worked on most of the Trek films. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) was the first collaboration. The Genesis Device introduction was the first fully computer-generated sequence in a movie.

enterprise-destruction (Ex Astris Scientia)
ILM’s impressive VFXs in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) Credit: Ex Astris Scientia

Normally in the early stages of production a designer will create artwork based on the ideas and suggestions of the director. The drawings will be presented, feedback offered and the designer will go back and either refine or create new concepts. Once the director has given their final okay, a studio replica model is created. For Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), ILM changed things up. Davis Carson, Nilo Rodis-Jamero, Steve Gawley and Bill George drew up rough sketches of ships and created small 3D models of the USS Excelsior. It was a way for director Leonard Nimoy to inspect each design from every angle. The film needed the Excelsior to be the newest and most advanced Starship in the fleet, and it had to outshine the Enterprise. Towards the end of the model work, George created one more design that was inspired by Japanese architecture. This was the one Nimoy picked. Next to the Enterprises, the Excelsior studio model has appeared in more Trek movies and TV shows than any other ship.

USS_Excelsior (Memory Alpha)
USS Excelsior Credit: Memory Alpha

Roddenberry passed away from a heart attack on October 24th, 1991. He liked and respected Star Wars. His son, Rod, was a big fan growing up.

Numerous actors have appeared in both Trek and Wars. Clive Revill voiced Emperor Palpatine in The Empire Strikes Back and was a guest actor in an episode of The Next Generation. Best remembered as Boba Fett, Jason Wingreen also played a guest doctor in the original Star Trek series. Simon Pegg, Scotty in the new Trek films, was also Unkar Plutt in The Force Awakens. Deep Roy has not only played parts in Wars and Trek but has also been in Doctor Who and The X-Files.

Pegg in Make Up (Radio Times)
Pegg half in makeup in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) Credit: Radio Times

Both franchises have inspired real life science. Mobile phones are reminiscent of Star Trek’s communicators and modern-day medical equipment, such as MRI machines, share many functions with Tricorders. Characters in ‘90s Trek used Personal Access Display Devices similar to today’s iPads and Tablets. After Luke Skywalker lost his hand in The Empire Strikes Back, it was replaced by a robotic one. Similar technology is now being used for people who have lost appendages.

There have been subtle nods to the other in each franchise. The Millennium Falcon shows up in the background during a space battle in Star Trek: First Contact (1996). R2-D2 made a split-second cameo in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). A Cardassian ship can be seen on a console in an episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-).

Falcon in First Contact (Reddit)
Millennium Falcon cameo in Star Trek: First Contact (1996) Credit: Reddit

In 2012, Disney bought the rights to Star Wars. They started making plans for a new trilogy and standalone movies. JJ Abrams became the first person to direct Trek and Wars films. He’s helmed Star Trek (2009) and Into Darkness as well as Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and, the currently untitled, Episode IX (2019).

Enterprise Space Shuttle (Space.com)
NASA’s Enterprise Credit: Space.com

Neither franchise would be what it is without its fandom. There is something special that draws us to each, or both. Trekkies/Trekkers banded together to save the original Star Trek series from an earlier cancellation. Nearly ten years later, with a strong letter writing campaign, they managed to get NASA’s prototype space shuttle’s name changed to Enterprise. It was going to be called the Constitution, which is the vessel class of the first Enterprise. In 2013, Star Wars fans petitioned the US government to make a full scale Death Star. The spin was it would help the economy and create jobs. It was estimated to have a $850 quadrillion (15 zeroes) price tag. Barrack Obama’s administration responded after 35,000 signatures had been collected. They felt the endeavour was unfeasible and that they did not support the destruction of planets. Star Trek and Star Wars have new movies and TV series in production. It’s definitely a good time to be a fan.

Roddenberry and Lucas (Trek Nation)
The only known photo of Roddenberry and Lucas Credit: Trek Nation

Sources:

Designing the USS Excelsior – The Official Star Trek Starships Collection (Eaglemoss Magazine)

Gene Roddenberry – Stat Trek.com (http://www.startrek.com/database_article/roddenberry)

George Lucas – Britannica (https://www.britannica.com/biography/George-Lucas)

How ‘Star Wars’ Changed the World (https://www.space.com/8917-star-wars-changed-world.html)

Industrial Light & Magic (http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Industrial_Light_%26_Magic)

No ‘Death Star’ for US Military, White House Says (https://www.space.com/19246-death-star-white-house-petition-response.html)

Ralph McQuarrie – Memory Alpha (http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Ralph_McQuarrie)

Ralph McQuarrie – Wookieepedia (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Ralph_McQuarrie)

Space Shuttle Enterprise (http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Enterprise_(OV-101))

Star Trek: History & Effect on Space Technology (https://www.space.com/31802-star-trek-space-tech.html)

Star Trek vs. Star Wars – Diffen (https://www.diffen.com/difference/Star_Trek_vs_Star_Wars)

Star Trek Vs. Star Wars – The Perspective (https://www.theperspective.com/debates/entertainment/star-trek-or-star-wars/)

Star Trek vs Star Wars: the space battle that will never end (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/2016/07/18/star-trek-vs-star-wars-the-space-battle-that-will-never-end/)

Star Wars at 40 | 5 Ways Star Wars: A New Hope Changed Everything (https://www.starwars.com/news/5-ways-star-wars-a-new-hope-changed-everything)

Star Wars – Memory Alpha (http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Star_Wars)

The Story of Mad Max’s Interceptor

Max 01 (iMBD)
Credit: iMDB

Mad Max’s iconic black-on-black car has many in universe names: ‘Interceptor’, ‘the last of the V8s’ and ‘pursuit special’. It has appeared in some way in all four films, but the original car was only used in the first two. In the story line of the first movie, Mad Max (1979), the car was created to entice Max Rockatansky to stay with the police force. But after his wife and child are horrifically murdered by the Toecutter and his gang, Max steals the car to seek vengeance. The film Mad Max was part of the Australian New Wave cinema movement—a resurgence in popularity of Aussie movies across the world in the late 1970s—and was the brainchild of director George Miller and producer Byron Kennedy. These days the car is regarded as a famous and integral piece of Australian cinema history.

Kennedy Miller and Roger Savage (Mad Max Movies)
From Right: Kennedy, Miller and composer Roger Savage Credit: Mad Max Movies

Miller and Kennedy met during a short film course and the two became inseparable almost right away. They complimented each other perfectly: Miller the quiet, creative-type director and Kennedy as the opinionated, financially-minded producer. They collaborated on a short film, Violence in the Cinema, Part 1 (1971), together that was met with acclaim and controversy. After a couple of other small projects, the duo become more ambitious and wanted to tackle a feature film. Inspired by his years as an emergency room doctor, Miller came up with the rough idea that would become Mad Max. Miller, Kennedy and a handful of close others worked on a few drafts of the script before they shopped it around. In the end, the story decided on was set in a dystopian future, after a nuclear war, and featured a highway patrolman trying to survive. While the world and society were breaking down, fuel (‘guzzolene’) had become a rare commodity and road gangs were doing whatever it took to control it. The film entered pre-production in 1976.

Mad Max Poster
Original Mad Max (1979) Poster Credit: iMDB

Mad Max had a $350,000 budget, most of it raised by Miller and Kennedy (no figures in this article have been adjusted for inflation). It was the highest grossing film with the lowest budget of all time until it was surpassed by The Blair Witch Project (1999). $20,000 of the budget went to purchasing vehicles for the movie and an additional $5,000 to modifying them. The production crew attended a car auction in Frankston, Victoria, where they bought two ex-Police Ford Falcons and a repossessed 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT hardtop coupe. Destined to become the all-black Interceptor, the GT coupe’s original colour was polar white. Only six cars in the colour were produced in Australia. Originally a Ford Mustang was proposed for Max’s car. But when Murray Smith (the film’s mechanic) pointed out that parts wouldn’t be easy to come by, Miller and Kennedy decided to go with a locally manufactured car instead.

The GT coupe was sent to Graf-X to be spray painted and modified. Based on concepts by art director Jon Dowding, the company was told to make the car look evil. Some of the modifications included a custom-made front end, cut-down flares from a Holden A9X Torana and a fitted super charger. Miller wanted the super charger seen, so it was mounted a foot higher than usual. The modification work took three months to complete.

Max 02 (iMBD)
Mel Gibson played Mad Max Credit: iMDB

Mad Max opened on April 12 and was an instant success. It did surprisingly well all over the world and talk of a sequel began. As a token of good faith and acknowledgement of his hard work, Smith was given the Interceptor. He drove it around as his every day car until realising how expensive it was to run. Smith decided to sell it but no one was interested. When Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) was officially greenlit, Smith sold the Interceptor back to Miller and Kennedy for $7,500.

The car was again modified for the second film. Two large fuel tanks were installed in the boot, the lower section of the front was removed and the suspension was raised, making it easier to drive in an outback environment. The Interceptor was also made to look more weathered—the last couple of years in the Wasteland had been hell for Max. The producers bought a 1974 Ford Fairmont and made it into a duplicate. The Fairmont was used for wide shots while the original was used in close up and interior shots. The Fairmont was the car crashed and blown up in the film.

With the production of Mad Max 2 complete, the Interceptor was destined to be destroyed. Noting the significance of the car, the scrapper kept it. It changed owners a couple of times before ending up in the front of an Adelaide scrap yard. The Interceptor sat for three years, and was in bad shape, when Mad Max super fan Bob Fursenko discovered it. He bought the car and restored it for $25,000. He contacted Murray Smith to verify the car was genuine. Smith had engraved his initials under the interior door trim. It was the real thing.

Interceptor Scrap Yard 1-2 (The Mad Max Wiki)
The Interceptor rotting in a scrap yard Credit: The Mad Max Wiki

While at a German car expo in 1992, Cars of the Stars Motor Museum owner Peter Nelson heard that the Interceptor was for sale. It had been available for a while but had no buyers. Nelson purchased the car from Fursenko and it was shipped to him in the UK. In 2011, the Interceptor moved to the Miami Auto Museum in Florida. As of 2018, the car still resides there.

mad-max-v8-dezer-miami-1 (Deano in America)
The Interceptor on display at the Miami Auto Museum Credit: Deano in America

Miller spent many years contemplating a fourth Mad Max film. He wasn’t sure if it was right to continue the franchise after Kennedy was tragically killed in a helicopter accident in 1983. In the late 1990s, Miller came up with a premise that would eventually become Mad Max: Fury Road. The film was in ‘development hell’ for near fifteen years. Production was halted in 2004 after Broken Hill, NSW, experienced an abundance of rain. The location was too green to be used for the film’s desert setting. Miller moved between jobs—directing two Happy Feet films, among other projects—before Fury Road production began again in 2012. It was released in cinemas to critical acclaim in 2015.

Razor Cola (Fury Road Vehicles)
The Razor Cola Credit: iMDB

In the early 2000s, another Interceptor was built for Fury Road but stayed in storage for over a decade until it was needed. Miller always planned to have the car in the film, but never intended for it to be the same car. There are subtle differences between it and the original. The Fury Road Interceptor was destroyed early on in the story before being rebuilt, and stripped back to bare metal, by the film’s antagonists. It was rechristened as the Razor Cola. Four cars were made and used in the movie. A popular fan theory suggests that Max’s camel wagon, seen at the start of Beyond Thunderdome (1985), the franchise’s third film, is the Interceptor’s chassis reused after it was blown up. Miller is planning additional sequels, the first with the working title Mad Max: The Wasteland.

Max 04 (iMBD)
Interceptor and Max with the You Yangs granite ridges near Werribee, VIC Credit: iMDB

Sources:

Luke Buckmaster – Miller and Max (Book)

Ford Falcon XB GT Coupe 1973 “V8 Interceptor” (http://madmax.wikia.com/wiki/Ford_Falcon_XB_GT_Coupe_1973_%22V8_Interceptor%22)

Mad Max Interceptor, 30 years on… (https://www.motormag.com.au/features/0804/mad-max-interceptor-30-years-on)

The Real Story of the Mad Max XB GT Falcon (https://www.streetmachine.com.au/features/1505/the-real-story-of-the-mad-max-xb-gt)

There’s only one original Mad Max Interceptor and it’s not in Australia (https://www.hemmings.com/blog/2015/05/15/theres-only-one-original-mad-max-interceptor-and-its-not-in-australia/)

Rides: Terminator 2 3-D: Battle Across Time

T2c (iMDB)
Credit: iMDB

Terminator 2: 3D – Battle Across Time was a theme park attraction at Universal Studios Florida and Hollywood. As of 2018, the ride now only operates at Universal Studios Japan. James Cameron – director of the first two Terminator films – played a big part in its creation. The principle cast returned: Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator, Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, Edward Furlong as John Connor and Robert Patrick as the T-1000. The ride featured a mixture of live actors and 3-D film interaction.

The Production

In the early 1990s, designers from The Goddard Group and producers from Universal Studios met to come up with concepts for a Terminator attraction. The Goddard Group had previous success for Universal with rides such as The Adventures of Conan and Jurassic Park: The Ride, as well as other theme park attractions around the world. CEO Gary Goddard loved Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) so much when it came out that he took his entire staff to see it in the cinema. They took up an entire row of seats. He was very excited to work on the T2: 3-D project. Extensive brainstorming and storyboarding were completed before anything was proposed to Cameron.

Goddard (James Cameron Online)
Cameron, Goddard and Schwarzenegger
Credit: James Cameron Online

The director was unsure of the idea and was convinced he would be telling both companies “no” on his way to the meeting. He was very impressed with what Goddard and the rest had come up with and, not only had a few things to add, wanted to direct.

The budget for T2: 3D has been estimated at over $60 million USD ($24 million USD for the film alone). This makes it one of the most expensive theme park attractions of all time. The “near future” battle ground scenes were shot at night in the Arizona Desert and took three weeks to complete. New 3-D camera technology was invented to meet the requirements of the production. In one extreme close up shot, Schwarzenegger unintentionally damaged part of a $40,000 USD camera beam splitter with his shotgun prop. The film crew had to cut retakes short because of the incident.

T2 Theatre (The Studio Tour)
T2: 3-D Theatre Credit: The Studio Tour

While filming continued, a custom-built theatre was made at Universal Studios Florida. It featured three 15 meter wide screens, 66 speaker locations, as well as secret panels, sliding walls and hydraulic lifts that would work in sync with the film throughout the show. In post-production, editors continually tweaked the film to seamlessly match the movement of actors and stunt people. A full-size replica of the theatre was constructed in an abandoned airplane hangar where the live action choreography was rehearsed.

Winston (Wookipedia)
Stan Winston Credit: Wookipedia

Special effects, animatronics and puppetry fell to Stan Winston. Cameron and Winston had previously worked together on both Terminator films, as well as Aliens (1986). Winston’s other credits include Predator (1987), Edward Scissorhands (1990), Batman Returns (1992), Jurassic Park (1993), Iron Man (2008) and many other movies. He won academy awards for Aliens and Jurassic Park. Sadly, he passed away in 2008 from cancer.

T-70 (hollywoodhardware)
T-70 Credit: Hollywood Hardware

 Showtime…

After the audience are ushered to their seats, the show begins with a Cyberdyne Systems representative taking the stage and welcoming everyone. A brief video is played that highlights the company’s upcoming technological marvels, including a group of T-70s (a crude and simplistic precursor Terminator to Schwarzenegger’s T-800 model). The machines show off their capabilities before Sarah and John Connor highjack the video feed. They tell people to evacuate the building as they are about to blow it up. The T-1000 enters via a time portal and is followed shortly after by The Terminator on a motorcycle. The T-1000 chases The Terminator and John back through the time vortex to the 2029 battle grounds of the human and machine war. The Terminator and John evade the T-1000, Hunter Killers and Mini Hunters before infiltrating the Skynet complex. They fight the T-1000000 – a completely computer-generated chrome spider-like creature – before blowing everything up and winning the war. John is returned to the present day.

T-1000000 (Terminator Wiki)
T-1000000 Credit: Terminator Wiki

Legacy

T2 3-D opened at Universal Studios Florida on the 27th of April 1996. It received 5.1 million visitors during its first year of operation. A second attraction was opened at Universal Studios Hollywood in 1999, and a third in Japan in 2001. The attractions have been a great success, but the Hollywood ride was closed in 2012 and the Florida one in 2017. The ride at Universal Studios Japan is still going. With the release of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in 2003, T2: 3-D is no longer considered Terminator canon.

T2a (iMDB)
Credit: iMDB

Sources:

Stan Winston – IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0935644/?ref_=nv_sr_1)

T2 3-D: Battle Across Time – IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117880/)

T2 3-D: Battle Across Time – Terminator Wiki (http://terminator.wikia.com/wiki/T2_3-D:_Battle_Across_Time)

T2 3D: Battle Across Time – The Story Behind the Theme Park Extravaganza at Universal Studios (https://www.flickeringmyth.com/2012/12/t2-3d-battle-across-time-story-behind/)

The Making of T2: 3-D: Breaking the Screen Barrier (Documentary, 2000)

Filming Locations: Vasquez Rocks

poi_gallery_image-image-a810962e-f138-4a80-9da5-94c98c632a01(Roadtrippers)
The Vasquez Rocks Credit: Roadtrippers

The Vasquez Rocks are one of the most iconic filming locations in American cinema history. It has been used as a backdrop in movies since the late silent era and is still prominently seen in modern films and television series. The Vasquez Rocks have been featured in Dracula (1931), The Texas Ranger (1931), The Girl and the Bandit (1939), Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (1993-1995) and Star Trek (1966-1969), among many others. The rock formation is located close to the town of Agua Dulce and is about a forty-five minute drive from central Hollywood. It is believed the Rocks was formed approximately 25 million years ago when the tectonic plates along the San Andreas Fault line pushed together. The Vasquez Rocks are near 45 meters tall, at their highest point, and cover an area just under four kilometres square.

commandcenter-mountain(ryanmaccallum.blogspot)
Power Ranger Command Centre
Credit: Blogspot

The Rocks take their name from notorious outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez (1835-1875). The earliest known group of people to occupy the Vasquez Rocks region were the Chumash Native American Indians in 450AD. Their descendants, the Tataviam, later lived in the area. But it wasn’t until Tiburcio used the Rocks as a hideout in 1873 and 1874 that it would later gain fame. Before Tiburcio’s time, the area was known to locals as simply “The Rocks”. Born Jose Jesus Lopez, Tiburcio entered a life of crime at an early age. He was in and out of prison throughout his youth. On August 13, 1873, he and a gang robbed the general store in Tres Pino and killed three people in the process, including one marshal. A bounty was issued for his capture: $8,000 alive or $6,000 dead (no figures in this article have been adjusted for inflation). For the following two years, Tuburcio and his gang used the Vasquez Rocks to elude law enforcement. Eventually Tuburcio was captured and brought to justice. He was somewhat of a celebrity leading up to his hanging on March 19, 1875. While in custody, Tuburcio signed autographs and was considered charming by anyone who met him. He was played by Anthony Curio in an episode of Stories of the Century (1954-1955).

920x920(SFGate)
Tiburcio Vasquez Credit: San Francisco Chronicle

In 1910, entrepreneur Henry Krieg recognised the location’s uniqueness and invested in turning it into a tourist destination. Krieg’s family still reside in the area.

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Title Card from 1952 Credit: The Agua Dulce History Project

As of today, over 200 movies and television series have been filmed at the Vasquez Rocks. The site’s harsh and rural landscape was extremely popular in B-Westerns during the 1940s and 1950s. The Rocks can be seen in the backgrounds of Golden Trail (1940), Along the Oregon Trail (1947) and Shotgun (1955). Television companies began to utilise the area’s close proximity to Hollywood when they became regular productions in the 1950s. Some shows include The Lone Ranger (1949-1957), Gunsmoke (1955-1975), Bonanza (1959-1973) and The Big Valley (1965-1969). The Vasquez Rocks have been used as alien worlds in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979-1981), the original Battlestar Galactica (1979-1980) and four series and three movies of Star Trek.

la-1473298375-snap-photo(Los Angeles Times)
Captain Kirk and the Gorn fight  Credit: Los Angeles Times

In the Star Trek first season episode “Arena”, Captain Kirk is transported to the surface of a remote asteroid – by an alien intelligence – where he must fight a Gorn commander to the death. Using local materials, Kirk forms a crude weapon and overpowers the lizard. At the final moment when Kirk can kill the Gorn, he refuses. Impressed by Kirk’s resolve, the alien intelligence return them to their ships. Peaceful dialogue between the Federation and the Gorn Hegemony had been opened. The Enterprise flies off in search of its next adventure.

 

Considered corny by today’s standards, the fight sequence is regarded as one of the most iconic scenes in film history. The desert shoot lasted for two days in November, 1966. Actors Bobby Clark and Gary Combes got so hot inside the Gorn rubber suits that they nearly fainted. The Vazquez Rocks have been a favourite filming site for Star Trek and have been featured in The Next Generation (1987-1994), Voyager (1995-2001) and Enterprise (2001-2005).

The Vasquez Rocks was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. It is maintained by The County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation. The Interpretive Centre (tourist information) was opened in 2013, and was awarded the highest ratings award for environmental safety. People can visit the site most days of the year, but a permit is required for filming. Weddings are a popular event, with groups of up to forty being allowed per function. Filming shoots are still common at the Vasquez Rocks with many being planned for the immediate future.

vasquez-01-1(gruenassociates)
Interpretive Centre Credit: Gruen Associates

Sources:

County Parks – Vasquez Rocks Natural Area (https://santaclaritaguide.com/VasquezRocks.html)

How Vasquez Rocks, L.A.’s onetime outlaw hideout, became ‘Star Trek’s’ favorite alien landscape (http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/la-et-st-star-trek-50-vasquez-rocks-20160829-snap-story.html)

Memory Alpha – Vasquez Rocks (http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Vasquez_Rocks)

Movie Sites – Vasquez Rocks (http://www.moviesites.org/vasquez.htm)

The True Hollywood Story of The Vasquez Rocks – Hollywood’s Favorite Rocky Set (https://filmmakeriq.com/2012/06/the-true-hollywood-story-of-the-vasquez-rocks-hollywoods-favorite-rocky-set/)

Vasquez Rocks (http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/vasquez-rocks)

Star Wars: ‘Revenge’ of the Jedi

$_3
Credit: TheForce.Net

Up until two months before its release, Return of the Jedi was titled Revenge of the Jedi. T-shirts were made, posters were printed and even a teaser trailer was released. The rare 90-second promo was unveiled at the 2016 Academy Awards to coincide with A New Hope’s 39th anniversary. Since Return’s release in 1983, there has been no definitive answer as to why the name was changed. Fans and movie buffs, alike, have speculated based on behind the scenes stories that have surfaced over the years.

It’s possible creator George Lucas yielded to backlash. Fans have noted that revenge is against Jedi beliefs and they didn’t appreciate such a villainous tone. Before the film’s release, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper printed an article that explored fan anger. Though the article only represented a local voice, the opinion was felt universally.

LucasPanavision-MOSW
Credit: Wookieepedia

Another idea was that producers felt the name was too similar to the second Star Trek film’s then title The Vengeance of Khan. Both films were originally scheduled to be released close to each other in 1982. Producers didn’t want to risk confusing the general public with two franchises that had “star” in their titles. The Star Trek sequel was eventually released as The Wrath of Khan.

Co-screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan has gone on record as saying, that he suggested to Lucas, “return” was a weak title and that it should be changed. They worked on many script drafts under “revenge”, but, in the end, it was Lucas who ultimately had creative control.

There was a rumour that the title change was part of an effort to combat bootleg merchandise. It was perceived that Lucas was playing a big practical joke on those selling counterfeit products. This is highly unlikely as a considerable amount of money had been invested into marketing and publicity by the time of the name change.

There were many differences between Revenge of the Jedi and what was eventually seen on screen in the final version. The script had Princess Leia leading the fight on two Death Stars for the majority of the film. She was absent from Han Solo’s rescue. Luke and Lando Calrissian faced Jabba the Hutt and his men alone. There was greater conflict between Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader. In Revenge, Palpatine ordered Luke’s kidnapping without Vader’s knowledge. He felt that Vader was compromised knowing Luke was his son. Yoda was going to be left out of the film all together. Child psychologists reported that an established character was needed to reinforce that Darth Vader was in fact Luke’s father. Young children couldn’t comprehend the reveal in The Empire Strikes Back. Apparently, they believed Vader was being deceitful. Whether this was Lucas’s actual reasoning for Yoda’s return remains unknown. The climactic battle didn’t take place on Endor, but on a moon orbiting the capital world of the Galactic Empire. Wookies were going to be the moon’s native species in early versions of the screenplay. The Ewoks were introduced because Chewbacca and his people had already been established as being quite intelligent.

There were several endings to Revenge of the Jedi. One had Luke, Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi – Yoda and Obi-Wan as force ghosts – battling Vader and the Emperor in a lava environment. Palpatine met his end when Vader knocks him into molten rock. One ending had Luke walking off into the sunset like a cowboy in a western, leaving his friends behind in search of his next adventure. Another had Vader and Luke going in search of Luke’s lost twin. The part hadn’t been written as Leia yet.

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Credit: Pinterest

Merchandise for Revenge of the Jedi are highly sort after collectors’ items these days. Original posters can go anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to thousands, depending on condition. Film crew jackets – only issued on the set and extremely rare – sell at auction for $5,000 Australian.

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Credit : eBay

Revenge of the Jedi was used as the name of a comic strip that first appeared in the Los Angeles Time Syndicate newspaper. It ran from November 1982 to January 1983. Now considered part of the Star Wars Legends Universe (any non-movie material released before Disney’s Star Wars acquisition in 2012 and not officially licenced), the Revenge of the Jedi comic explored Admiral Ackbar species’ introduction into the Rebel Alliance. It also told the story of how Darth Vader gained command of the Super Star Destroyer Executor.

In Japan, the film’s title is still Revenge of the Jedi on some media. In a YouTube video, Techmoan presents a 1980s Return of the Jedi video disc. The English text reads “Return”, but the Japanese writing translates to “Revenge”. Skip to 15:30 in the below video for the clip.

“Revenge” was used for the title of the third film in the prequal series, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. In 2015, Return of the Jedi finally got a sequel after a 32-year wait. The Force Awakens was the first in a new trilogy of Star Wars films. Its follow up, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, hits cinemas this December.

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Credit: IMDb

Sources:

30 Things You Didn’t Know About Return of the Jedi (https://www.wired.com/2013/05/return-of-the-jedi-anniversary/)

[Opinion] – Reconstructing Star Wars: Revenge of the Jedi (http://www.disgruntledindividual.com/2012/10/opinion-reconstructing-star-wars.html)

Rare Star Wars: Revenge of the Jedi trailer discovered in the Oscars archive (http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2016-05-27/rare-star-wars-revenge-of-the-jedi-trailer-discovered-in-the-oscars-archive)

Revenge of the Jedi (Comic) (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Revenge_of_the_Jedi)

Revenge of the Jedi Script (https://web.archive.org/web/20070203075748/http://www.starwarz.com/starkiller/scripts/revenge_revised_rough_draft.htm)

Star Wars: George Lucas was FORCED into changing Return of the Jedi title (http://www.express.co.uk/entertainment/films/762235/Star-Wars-George-Lucas-Return-of-the-Jedi-Revenge-of-the-Jedi-The-Last-Jedi-Episode-VI)

The ‘Return of the Jedi’ That Could Have Been (https://www.yahoo.com/movies/blogs/movie-talk/return-jedi-could-202622407.html)

The Star Wars story that could have been – Return Of The Jedi was nearly VERY different (http://metro.co.uk/2017/02/01/the-star-wars-story-that-could-have-been-return-of-the-jedi-was-nearly-very-different-6416536/)

Was Return of the Jedi released in Japan as Revenge of the Jedi? (https://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/152833/was-return-of-the-jedi-released-in-japan-as-revenge-of-the-jedi)

D. C. Fontana: The Woman Behind Star Trek

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Credit: StarTrek.com

A television series is only as good as its creative team. Star Trek is no exception. For 50 years now the franchise has been a cultural phenomenon, pulling in new fans with each new incarnation. The original series (1966-1969) pioneered many things and seriously went where no TV series, of the time, had gone before. It presented a unique view of the future where humanity had put their differences aside and explored the galaxy peacefully in starships. Our hero ship, the USS Enterprise, was led by Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) with Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Doctor McCoy (DeForest Kelley) not too far behind. A big behind the scenes imprint came from writer D. C. Fontana. Not only did she write some of the most notable episodes, but she held a position very few women had in the male-dominated era of 1960s Hollywood.

Dorothy Catherine Fontana was born in Sussex, New Jersey, on the 25th of March, 1939. From an early age, Fontana had a great love for reading and writing. She would read whatever she could get her hands on and write short stories and plays, acting them out with friends. Her other great love was the western film genre. This love would go on to play a significant part in her writing style and television career, where she wrote for many series such as The Tall Man, Frontier Circus, The Road West and The Big Valley.

After completing a degree at Fairleigh Dickinson University, majoring in Executive Secretarial, Fontana moved to New York City where she became a junior secretary for the president of a television studio. Her position at Screen Gems didn’t last long as the president fell ill and passed away. With no job waiting, Fontana moved back home. She then tried her luck in Los Angels. She landed employment in the typing pool at Revue Studios. Along with a group of other secretaries, Fontana typed up documents for producer Samuel A. Peeples.

One day Fontana tried her luck pitching a story idea to Peeples. This was her first sell; she was 21-years-old. As time went on, Fontana continued her secretarial responsibilities during the day and wrote at night. She was dedicated making sure neither affected the other. Fontana followed Peeples to the production of The Lieutenant. Here she met Gene Roddenberry for the first time. When filming was wrapping up – The Lieutenant wouldn’t be returning for a second season – Roddenberry slid a document across a desk towards Fontana. He asked her what she thought. The document was the original network pitch for Star Trek.

Around the time she started on Star Trek, Fontana had some stories knocked back from other television series due to gender bias. Male producers rejected her proposals when seeing a woman’s name on the document. She changed her screen credit from “Dorothy C. Fontana” to “D. C. Fontana”. From then on when she met producers for the first time, they were surprised to find a woman behind the script. Many got over the initial shock as they only wanted a good story for their show.

While submitting pitches to other shows (she was quite successful), Fontana focused the majority of her attention on Star Trek. She was still a secretary when Gene Roddenberry asked her to write an episode. “Charlie X” was the second episode of the show to air on television. Fontana penned many notable episodes such as “Tomorrow is Yesterday”, “This Side of Paradise” and “Journey to Babel”. Roddenberry noticed Fontana had a unique understanding of Star Trek and promoted her to story editor. She juggled the responsibilities of the position while still writing episodes. It was extremely rare for a woman to hold such a title as story editor in the mid-60s. Fontana fleshed out much of the Vulcan race’s history and added a lot to Mr. Spock’s background.

Fontana left the production of Star Trek towards the end of the second season. She would write two episodes, including “The Enterprise Incident”, as a freelancer for the third season. Fontana felt she had done all she could on Star Trek and wanted to explore other writing opportunities in Hollywood.

In the ‘70s and ‘80s, Fontana wrote for shows such as Bonanza, The Six Million Dollar Man, Logan’s Run, Dallas and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. She contributed one episode to the short lived Star Trek animated series, “Yesteryear”. Fontana also started getting further involved with the American Writer’s Guild. She and others felt there was hardly any female representation in the industry and formed the women’s committee. At the time the guild was made up of 90% men and 10% women. Fontana would serve as a board member for the Guild in the late 1980s.

Gene Roddenberry approached Fontana for the production of Star Trek: The Next Generation in the late 1980s. She co-wrote the pilot, “Encounter at Far Point,” with Roddenberry and, again, served as story editor for the show. She pitched a number of ideas and wrote a few episodes for the first season. Fontana and other Star Trek production veterans left the show early on due to conflicts with Roddenberry. Fontana’s Star Trek days weren’t over just yet. The episode “Dax” was written for the first season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in 1993. Fontana also wrote three episodes for Babylon 5, another sci-fi series set on a space station.

Since 1998 Fontana has been teaching screenwriting at the American Film Institute. She gives this advice to aspiring writers: “…you can listen to experts tell you how to do it…but you have to write. You have to put the words on the page. You’re the one who has to tell the story”.

Fontana retired from professional screenwriting in 2009. She continues to teach and attends the occasional Star Trek convention.

This article was originally posted on The Sydney Feminists Blogspot on January 13th, 2017. (http://thesydneyfeminists.blogspot.com.au)

Sources:

D.C. Fontana – IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0284894)

D.C. Fontana – Memory Alpha (http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/D.C._Fontana)

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Dorothy Fontana, Part 1 (http://www.startrek.com/article/exclusive-interview-dorothy-fontana-part-1)

Star Trek Fontana, Dorothy (D.C.) (http://www.startrek.com/database_article/fontana)

Writer Speaks: D.C. Fontana, The (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCSp8TnnbNU)