December 11, 2003

Star Wars: Which came first, the movie or the book?

Does anyone know the timeline of how the Star Wars series appeared? I have an ongoing fued with an officemate that Lucas wrote the movie screenplays first, then novelizations of the book appeared. He argues the other way around - that the books came first, then the movies. Trying to actually find stuff on the web about this is nigh-impossible, since googles for "Star Wars" and "Star Wars" books, etc. brings up millions of pages. Anyone care to help me out?

Posted by scott at December 11, 2003 12:32 PM | TrackBack
Comments

Actually, Frank Herbert wrote Dune long before the first Star Wars movie ;-)

Posted by: bob at December 11, 2003 12:52 PM

I vote for your side scott--I think you're right.

Posted by: Matthew at December 11, 2003 01:04 PM

Is Star Wars a Dune rip off? I read those a long time ago, but can't remember much of the series, except that it seemed more explicitly religious and went into greater detail about economic matters (ie, trade around the spice material, etc.).

I mean, Lucas basically ripped off everything to make those movies, didn't he? After watching Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, I realized for the first time how much of LoTR had been not-so-subtlely used in Lucas's own story.

Posted by: scott cunningham at December 11, 2003 01:11 PM

Even the official Star Wars Web Site has very little info about this. the only thing I could find is in the collectors database, some Luke Skywalker book from '77

As to Lucas stealing everything from LoTR. I'm really not so sure about that. I really think you're stretching, Scott, to build a connection that is nebulous at the most.

Posted by: ColeSlaw at December 11, 2003 01:20 PM

Yea, I'm exaggerating. I'm just making conversation, actually. :0) But, parts of Fellowship did seem overwhelmingly similar to things in A New Hope, even if only superficially. The wise, gray-haired man leading a pack of diverse characters into the enemy's lair. Maybe it's just Obi Wan's similarity, visually, to Gandalf and that threw me off a bit.

But thanks for the tip to that Coleslaw. I saw something a little bit earlier. I saw a book of A New Hope from Ballantine Books in October of 1976, making the case that the book came first a bit more credible. But then I did some more digging around, and I think that that was a novelization of the movie that appeared as part of a marketing strategy to promote the film. From what I can gather, all references are being made to Lucas writing scripts/screenplays, not a novel.

Posted by: scott cunningham at December 11, 2003 01:29 PM

I haven't looked into this too much, but I know that for Episodes I and II, they released the novelizations a few days before the movies came out. But they had been filming for over a year. Make of that what you will.

Posted by: Tim at December 11, 2003 02:19 PM

Scott, according to this Yahoo biography of Lucas, he wrote it, but was inspired by the writings of Joseph Campbell and the works of Akira Kurosawa.

Hope that helps!

Posted by: joseph at December 11, 2003 08:24 PM

Thanks Joseph. That's a really interesting biography. Although, it still doesn't explicitly state whether his screenplay came before the books themselves. But, since it makes no mention of the books themselves, but only of Lucas writing and then directing the screenplay for Star Wars, I'm feeling more and more confident that I'm write about which came first. It really wouldn't make sense that he would write these books ahead of time, the more I think about it. No one knew, for instance, that Darth Vader was Luke's father until Empire actually came out. It's continually mentioned, on websites, that fans and critics were left hanging after Empire, because they didn't know what would happen after seeing Han frozen, Luke's hand cut off, etc. It gives the impression that the films, and not phantom novels, were what people were focusing on. And besides, Lucas is a filmmaker, and it would only make sense that he was writing scripts, not novels, for the movies.

Posted by: scott cunningham at December 11, 2003 08:53 PM

I'm pretty sure that he wrote it as a screenplay. I remember this interview with him on TV in which he was describing where he got his idea for the movie.

Generally what happens is that a movie comes out, becomes a hit, and is made into a book. One of those post-movie release revenue generators. That reminds me, I read Bact to the Future before seeing the movie. Actually, I liked the book much better, because I had all the characters imagined in my head.

Posted by: joseph at December 12, 2003 01:15 AM

You read Back to the Future, ie the novelization of the movie, before seeing the movie - or you read a book upon which the movie was then based?

Yeah, the novelization stuff, I think, may have been partly the genius of marketing Star Wars. From what I can gather, the books that came out with the movie were a bit hit, and helped spawn the novelization stuff.

Posted by: scott cunningham at December 12, 2003 10:43 AM

It was a novelization of the movie, but seriously, it was better.

Posted by: joseph at December 12, 2003 05:06 PM
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