Want to know the rarely discussed conspiracy theory around one of the greatest movie franchises in history? The one only a few old time fans discuss? No, it’s not that Jar Jar Binks was secretly a Sith Lord and helped Palpatine engineer the clone wars (that IS on YouTube). LOL
It’s that George Lucas didn’t actually write Star Wars at all!
The theory or story is that George Lucas was approached by an unknown third party with the manuscripts for (at least) the original trilogy. Lucas liked what he saw, bought the story outright from this mystery author, and went on to make a fortune from the manuscripts while leaving our poor unknown author to fade away in obscurity.
I’m going to take a rational look at this theory and it’s evidence here.
First, there’s the original 1976 copies of the books for Star Wars (A New Hope). All the early printings had a note on them that said either “Based on the Adventures of Luke Skywalker” OR “From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker”.
What IS known and admitted to is that Alan Dean Foster ghost wrote the novels for the original trilogy for Lucas. Part of his reward for that was being able to author “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye”, which was the only other Star Wars novel for ages.
The naming inconsistency between the New Hope film and novel is something that points towards Lucas and Foster working with an outside manuscript. Even in 1976, the movie was “Episode 4: A New Hope”, but the book (which actually was released shortly before the film) was not. Lucas otherwise kept VERY tight creative control and branding over the franchise for decades, but couldn’t keep his branding consistent at the start?
Lucas not writing the original manuscripts would also explain some of the inconsistencies with canon between the original films and the prequels. The biggest of which is how “the Force” is defined. In the original trilogy, the Force is described in terms that are nearly identical to the concept of chi / qi / ki / prana in Eastern cultures; “…an energy force created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us and binds the galaxy together.” Jedi seem to be equal parts Zen Buddhist warrior and Taoist chi wizard.
The other big indicator of a different author’s mindset is the infamous “Han shot first” drama over Lucas adding in an attempted shot by Greedo before Han kills him in the Mos Eisley cantina. That’s a BIG change in mindset by an author OR it never was Lucas’s belief system to begin with. The original author understood that when a known killer is holding a gun on you and says he’s marching you out of the building to kill you, it’s a reasonable use of lethal force in self defense to shoot them before they can shoot you.
Lucas gets typical West Coast far, far left wishy-washy on self defense and adds Greedo shooting first. Worse, he turns the Jedi into monastic unfeeling robots. The teaching of every Eastern philosophy that the Jedi were remotely based on is NOT that emotions are to be completely eliminated, it’s that they’re to be controlled. Unlike Catholic monks, the monks of most Eastern religions and philosophies are permitted to marry also. Part of my dislike of the prequels is in fact that Lucas’s ideas of the Jedi come across as the badly bastardized and distorted idea of Buddhism that exists among the new agey white folks on the West Coast looking only to virtue signal and pretend to be more enlightened than those around them.
The force… Reduced to a virus, or more accurately some microscopic symbiotic parasite. That from a energy source created by and surrounding all living things. The former is as unspiritual and illogical as you can get while the other reflects at least a casual understanding of martial arts or Eastern philosophy. It’s just FAR too big a change in view to make it likely that they both came from the same author.
We can also look at some of the things that were leaked EARLY on also. For example, it was known / leaked shortly after “The Empire Strikes Back” and Vader was first seen without his helmet that he needed his armor because he was disfigured in a duel with Obi-Wan at a volcanic site. Yet it took almost 30 years to see this come to life on the big screen. Either Lucas was planning far, far, far in advance OR he had a manuscript he was working from.
The tipping point for me came when a friend of mine actually talked to Alan Dean Foster. My friend said that Foster was cagey about outright confirming that Lucas was working with somebody else’s earlier work. He did confirm some of what’s known elsewhere though, such as Luke’s original last name was going to be Starkiller (hence the tribute name of the character in the game “The Force Unleashed”). Foster also said that (quoting my friend here) “alot of Lucas’s visions were borrowed”.
MY conclusions from all of this: Lucas VERY likely did buy the manuscripts from a third party. Lucas and Foster probably spent a great deal of time fine tuning the manuscript into a workable trilogy. A New Hope probably got the least amount of modification from the original as Lucas worked on getting it to the big screen. The other two likely got a little more.
So, do we go out and burn Lucas at the stake for profiteering off of somebody else’s work? Nope. We have no way of knowing exactly how close the movies are to a theoretical original manuscript. As somebody who has followed the franchise since it’s inception, I can also say unequivocally that the movies wouldn’t have succeeded without all the other work that Lucas put into it. Just about EVERY special effects technique used in film for 30 years following the original trilogy has it’s roots in Star Wars. Blue screen (later green screen) being one of the biggest example. It also takes connections and resources to bring a book or books all the way to a blockbuster film franchise. This alleged other writer doubtless didn’t have them and Lucas did. For all we know, this mystery author (maybe Foster himself) is also getting quiet royalty checks to this day from Lucas.
As an author and fan however, I *do* wish Lucas would have been more true to the original vision of the franchise.