Palpatine’s Star Wars Prequel Trilogy Arc Was Planned Decades In Advance

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Though it’s generally agreed that the Star Wars films took a significant downturn in quality with the Prequel Trilogy, many elements from these oft-ridiculed movies sprung from the mind of a younger George Lucas who’d only just kicked off the Original Trilogy.

These early ideas are heavily explored in J.W. Rinzler’s book The Making of Star Wars, which observes how much of Sheev Palpatine’s journey across the prequels was mapped out decades in advance. Just take this excerpt from the notes written by Lucas back in 1977, in which the filmmaker describes how the Emperor came to power through crafty political maneuvering:

“One of the Chancellor’s began subverting the Senate and buying off the Senators with the help of the large intergalactic power companies… By the time the third term came along, he had corrupted so much of the Senate that they made him Emperor for the rest of his life.”

Though Palpatine had yet to make his first appearance in the series at this point, it seems that Lucas already had his trajectory more or less planned out. It’s an arc that the director’s 1977 notes elaborate on further, describing how power in the Senate traditionally shifted every four years until Palpatine brought about a change in the system that allowed himself to be reelected. In particular, it’s said that there were members of the Senate who felt that all this shifting in power disrupted bureaucracy, and believed that the Emperor “could bring the bureaucracy back in line.”

Of course, Lucas’ vision for prequels didn’t go completely unchanged during the decades that followed. For one thing, Revenge of the Sith saw the formation of the Galactic Empire after the purging of the Jedi, having deceitfully framed the conflict as a rebellion. In Lucas’ notes, however, things don’t play out in quite the same way, with the Jedi being killed in the wake of an actual rebellion against the Empire.

“There was a rebellion… many of the Senators who were fighting the Emperor at that time mysteriously died. The Jedi Knights…rallied at the Senate’s side. But there was a plot afoot and when the Jedi finally rallied and tried to restore order, they were betrayed and eventually killed by Darth Vader.”

By and large, however, it’s clear that much of the prequels’ heavily criticized content involving the Trade Federation and the Senate were on the agenda as far back as 1977. Whether or not Lucas would’ve executed these plans in the same way if he’d made the Star Wars prequels back in the ‘70s is, of course, another matter entirely. Sometimes you can sit on an idea for so long that it loses its initial spark of inspiration, but then again, maybe it was never a promising idea to begin with. We’ll leave it to the fans to draw their own conclusions.

Source: Screen Rant

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