An early draft of the screenplay for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, written by late science fiction author Leigh Brackett, has been leaked online. Brackett wrote the script based on a story outline by Star Wars creator George Lucas, and submitted the draft to Lucas just before she died of cancer in March of 1978.
Apparently, Lucas didn’t like the direction of Brackett’s script, but she did receive screenwriting credit, along with director Lawrence Kasdan, for the 1980 sequel to Star Wars.
The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite movie of all time, and while I think it’s perfect as is, I couldn’t help but wonder what if?. So, I read the script and let me tell you, not only would Empire have been so much different if Brackett’s script was used, but so too would the history of the entire Star Wars universe! Reading this script was like getting a peek at an alternate Empire universe. I’m a big fan of the Star Wars expanded universe, so I would have loved to see some of the elements of Bracket’s version make it into some of those books.
Check out some of the details from Brackett’s script here below.
- On the Rebel base, Leia talks to Han about his stepfather, an extremely powerful man named Ovan Marekal.
- After Luke escapes the Wampa cave, Obi-Wan doesn’t appear to him with the message to go to Yoda on Dagobah.
- There’s no banter about going out to rescue Luke; instead, Han and Leia lead a search party to find Luke and they do so quickly.
- While Luke is in sick bay, he describes the snow creatures that attacked him (what becomes the Wampas); Commander Willard asks him if he thinks these snow creatures pose a threat to the Rebel base, and as it turns out, they are attacking it at that very moment! There’s no sexual-tension exchange between Han and Leia. And Leia doesn’t plant that incestuous kiss on Luke… just then, but when she returns to visit him later on, the script says that we see them “in the midst of a tentative, and very tender love scene.” Ooh!
- There’s an Imperial city-planet known as Ton Muund, which is the center of the Empire. The first time Vader appears in the film, he’s in his quarters there finding out the location of the Rebel Base.
- As Darth Vader and his troops prepare to invade the Rebel base, Vader mentioned Luke Skywalker by name, saying how Luke used the Force to help him target to destroy the Death Star.
- Later, the snow-creatures return and attack the base with a plan to rid the Rebels from their planet for good. This is what prompts the discussion of the Rebels’ evacuation, which leads to Luke sensing a dark disturbance in the Force (which is Vader and his men about to invade).
- Dagobah is referred to as the Bog planet and Luke is comatose as he approaches it, thanks to Vader Force-choking him from afar. There he meets a “frog-like” creature named Minch (Yoda). Bog was a training center for young Jedi, and that’s where Obi-Wan trained. Later on, Minch demonstrates a Jedi duel, calling upon Obi-Wan (“By the Force, I call you!” Minch says, summoning Obi-Wan) to be his opponent.
- While the Millennium Falcon is in the asteroid field, Han kisses Leia; she kisses him back at first then goes to smack him (something she did too on the Rebel base). Han then demands to know if she loves Luke.
- Darth Vader has pet gargoyles.
- Lando Calrissian is known here as Lando Kadar and his family were refugees of the Clone Wars. He was an “honest smuggler,” according to Han, who had “gone respectable on a world called Hoth.” As they approach the place, it is a world “shrouded in clouds.” Han tells Leia that Hoth means “cloud.” When they arrive, a group of white-haired, white-skinned “tall, noble-looking warriors” with pneumatic dart weapons comes at them. We find out later that these are the native White Bird clan of the Cloud People.
- Princess Leia’s alias on the Hoth/Lando planet is Ethania Eredith, the daughter of a smuggler who Han found stranded on an unpleasant world.
- Luke is finally able to summon Obi-Wan, who brings along Luke’s father! His father asks if him if he knows about his sister (the draft has the name Nellith, but it’s crossed out a few times and replaced with “sister”). His father says he can’t reveal her name for fear that Darth Vader would read Luke’s mind and find out about her. Luke then takes the oath of the Jedi Knight; afterward, Minch says Luke’s real test [of resisting the Dark side of the Force] will come from Vader.
- Leia suspects that Lando is a clone; he later confirms that he is a clone of the Ashardi family, that his great-greatfather wanted many sons, so he had clones of himself made. Lando says after the Clone Wars, there aren’t many of them left. Before the wars, he’d see his own face on many people in the street and that it gave them a “sense of oneness, of belonging.” Later, when he betrays Han and Leia, he’s not remorseful at first.
- Vader knows that Luke is in love with Leia, so he is going to use her to get to Luke.
- When Luke arrives at the Hoth cloud city, the White Clan warriors nearly attack them, but then help him with his encounter with Vader and then try to fight off the Imperial troops.
- When Luke and Vader have their lightsaber duel, Luke inadvertently uses the Dark side of the Force. Later, there’s no reveals or surprises, and Luke isn’t injured. Vader just wants Luke to join him to rule the galaxy. Luke escapes the fight the same way, but when he lands, he sees the Falcon and jumps on it; Chewbacca lets him into the ship. No Leia Force-like ability at play. Everyone escapes in the end, including Han.
- The story ends on the planet Besspin Kaalieda, with the group saying their farewells. Leia is with Han, telling him “come back to me” because she loves him; Han is leaving with Chewbacca to meet with Ovan Marekal like he was supposed to at the beginning of the film. Luke still loves Leia, but now in a different way since he has matured. Luke, Leia, Lando, C3PO, and R2-D2 watch as the Falcon takes off; Luke ignites his lightsaber in salute. THE END.
[My PDF Script]