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)

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.

71CXWnoBb5L._SY355_
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.

revenge_jacket
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.

star-wars-the-last-jedi-poster
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)

Frances Marion: One of the First Hollywood Screenwriters

Marion_CCP_FIGX_WFP-MAR091
Credit: Columbia University

Over half the scripts written during Hollywood’s silent era were written by women. The women came from a variety of backgrounds when they entered the industry. Some were actors, some came from Broadway and others started off as journalists, to name a few professions. Largely unknown to a modern film audience, Frances Marion was one of the first well established and sought-after screenwriters in American cinema. During the 1910s to late 1930s, she penned many scripts for films that are now considered classics. She wrote across many genres and even received academy awards for The Big House (1930) and The Champ (1931).

Born on the 18th of November 1888, in San Francisco, her parents named her Marion Benson Owens. She would later be inspired and take her screen credit from famous American Civil War soldier Frances Marion. She started out as a journalist, model, career artist and World War I correspondent before eventually moving to Los Angeles.

Marion’s Hollywood career began in the early 1910s when she was hired as a writing and general assistant at Lois Weber Productions. The company was started by Florence Lois Weber, herself a pioneering film director. It was here that Marion learnt about the film industry and honed her script writing skills.

Written with Anita Loos, her first screenplay was The New York Hat (1912). It was directed by the legendary D. W. Griffith and starred the day’s most well-known actress Mary Pickford. The experience was great exposure for Marion and started a powerhouse partnership (and friendship) with Pickford.

PickfordMarion
Credit: Time Magazine

Marion and Pickford had similar mindsets and worked extremely well together. Director and acquaintance Clarence Brown noted their strong chemistry and compared their ability to create new material together as being “spontaneously combustible”. It wasn’t long before they became close friends and regularly spent time together outside of work. Pickford soon hired Marion as her exclusive writer. Some of their greatest collaborations include The Little Princess (1917), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917), Stella Maris (1918) and Pollyanna (1920).

On the production of The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917), Marion and Pickford were creating comedy material that clashed with director Maurice Tourneur’s vision. He felt the subject material was too dark in nature to make funny. But because Pickford was the star and had creative authority, Tourneur’s objections were overruled. Based on a play by Eleanor Gates, the story follows a young girl – Gwen (played by Pickford) – in a middle-class family who is lonely and unwanted. Her parents make no time for her and the housing staff, who are responsible for Gwen’s wellbeing, push her around and abuse her. Producers were also not happy with the film’s final cut and thought it was in their best interests not to release it. Marion was distraught that she had possibly destroyed Pickford’s career. The two campaigned, the producers gave in and the film was distributed. It was a success and was responsible for Pickford’s trend of playing young children in comedy roles. She was twenty-four when she played 11-year-old Gwen.

MV5BNTJkNWY0YjctNGRlZC00YzY3LTljMzYtMDI0OGIwYmQzYWFkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjE5MjUyOTM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,727,1000_AL_
Credit: IMDb

By the 1920s, Marion was one of the most popular Hollywood screenwriters with a string of hits to her name. She was the highest paid screenwriter earning $3000 a week (no figures in this article have been adjusted for inflation), an astronomical amount never heard of before in the industry at the time. Marion gained critical acclaim for Stella Dallas (1925) and The Son of the Sheik (1926). She even had a hand in directing with Just Around the Corner (1921), The Love Light (1921) and The Song of Love (1923).

Marion retired from screenwriting in the late 1930s. She was disillusioned by the state of Hollywood screenwriting and described it as “like writing on sand with the wind blowing”. She found it very restrictive in its rigid, structured approach. At this stage in her career, she had written over 100 scripts and won countless awards. She wrote Pickford’s last starring film, Secrets (1933), before Pickford retired from acting to focus on producing. Their partnership had lasted nearly twenty years. In 1937, Marion wrote one of the first guides on American screenwriting, How to Write and Sell Film Stories. The book was taught as part of the film curriculum at the University of South California.

Marion spent her later years writing stage plays and novels. She passed away in 1972. Her academy award winning script, The Champ, was remade in 1979 and starred Jon Voight and Faye Dunaway. Marion will be played by Julia Stiles in an upcoming Mary Pickford biopic, The First (2017).

Frances_Marion_1918
Credit: Wikipedia

This article was originally posted on The Sydney Feminists Blogspot on August 29th, 2017. (http://thesydneyfeminists.blogspot.com.au)

Sources:

Frances Marion – Biography.com (https://www.biography.com/people/frances-marion-214110)

Frances Marion – IMDB (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0547966/)

Profile – Frances Marion (https://wfpp.cdrs.columbia.edu/pioneer/ccp-frances-marion/)

Julia Stiles To Play Scribe Frances Marion In Mary Pickford Pic ‘The First’ (http://deadline.com/2013/01/julia-stiles-frances-marion-mary-pickford-the-first-418595/)

The Poor Little Rich Girl: Mary Pickford and her wordsmith. (https://trueclassics.net/2012/06/03/the-poor-little-rich-girl-mary-pickford-and-her-wordsmith/)

This Forgotten Female Screenwriter Helped Give Hollywood Its Voice (http://time.com/4186886/frances-marion/)