I'm paying attention to these discussions about Star Wars with some interest, and I've been thinking a lot about my relationship to the fiction. I've got some conclusions that might be instructive to all of us when we try to dig into them for inspiration: the fiction promises certain things, but then it softpedals them. I come back because I'm hoping to see those themes addressed by noticing new stuff in the source fiction. (Also, I come back because Lucas's design crews were stunningly good on IV-VI and the movies are straight up beautiful.)
So screw that. I'm doing my own treatment.
There are a number of classical themes that just weren't OK to put into a movie in the 1970s, least of all a G-rated one. I think those themes are kind of central, though, particularly in a story that takes a moral standpoint. But we're grownups here, and we make stories for our own benefit without the concerns of budget or ratings. Here's how I would do it.
- Incest. Luke and Leia have a child.
- Jealousy. Han and Luke's relationship to Leia — and their need and resentment toward each other — is their strength and their weakness.
- Feminism. It's not a classical theme, but it's an important one. Leia's struggle is about guiding the Alliance to victory through politics and action. The Force shows itself in her by her ability to read and change minds. She can see motives from across the galaxy. She wants to be a just ruler in a system that hasn't had one in generations.
- The Œdipal struggle. Luke kills Vader. Han and Leia, the leaders of the Rebellion, raise Luke's child as their own. When Luke's jealousy gets the better of him, he's killed by his son. He can be redeemed by his son, too, but the important thing is that Luke wind up either supporting his own son's growth or being destroyed for refusing to. Personally, I like the former. I like the idea that conflicts can be resolved, even in the thick, by doing what's right on all parties' parts. It would be good to see the Republic move forward reducing the blood on its hands.
- Han's voyage from mercenary to hero. He leaps in to save Luke. Luke leaps in to save him. Han knows the child isn't his, but he's doing what he can to make things right for the people he loves — Leia, his "son", the Republic, and, reluctantly, Luke. It doesn't mean he always acts well. I see him as kind of tragic; he's of secondary importance to Luke, who can accomplish greatness as a hero. He's of secondary importance to Leia, who winds of Queen of the Republic. He's of secondary importance to his "own son", who's destined to be the most powerful and wise Jedi in history. Han's a support character, and he knows it.
Some other fun stuff:
- Droids are slaves. Good people leave off the restraining bolts, just like house slaves didn't wear chains. Given agency, how do they prove their humanity? What can be said about that?
- Non-humans. The Empire is clearly and wholly racist. There are only humans. The Rebel Alliance is egalitarian, in that cowardly squidmen can be admirals. Without the constraints of moviedom (needing expressive faces, keeping within a budget) what does the Alliance look like?
- Economy. What does the Empire look like, with its healthy black market? How does the Republic deal with an economy that, for a generation, has been almost wholly illegal?
Keep in mind: the idea here isn't to "dirty up" Star Wars. It's not to make good characters into bad people, or amp up the violence or anything that shallow. It's to put the characters in a position to really address the themes that are only hinted at in the source.
(I'll do Star Trek in another thread when I've thought about it more. A game I'm playing right now, Human Contact, is sort of my antidote to Star Trek in my mind, and I'll get into that.)