The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Monday, June 13, 2005

Shadows of the Empire


I'd commented on Michele's site about Shadows of the Empire ("SotE"). I was acting in my occasional capacity as "troll", playing on Steve Perry's name. Way back in November of 2001 I'd posted in rec.arts.sf.starwars.misc as "Zimri" with a review of SotE. I figured it was time to collect all my thoughts in blog form, given that the "circle is now complete" and all.

SotE was a mid-1990s LucasArts venture in which George Lucas dabbled more directly into his own "Expanded Universe" than he had done beforehand.

At the time (1996), Lucas was working on re-releases of his IV-VI trilogy, ultimately preparing the way for Revenge of the Sith. As part of this he decided to fill in the space between V and VI with an "everything-but-the-movie" story arc. As with The Phantom Menace, I am not arguing that SotE was better left unmade.

Lucas figured, rightly in my view, that such an arc would be best served by a video game, with the rest (comic, book, soundtrack) buttressing this. The marketing salvo for all this further gave him practice for all that merchandising he was planning for TPM.

The plot of SotE is, by necessity, under constraint from V and VI. SotE has a beginning, where Han gets captured and his friends escape; and an ending, where Luke and friends finally locate Han's body in the latter's Tatooine digs. Meanwhile, Vader's still looking for the prime independent mover in the Han rescue, who is none other than Luke Skywalker. And Luke has to train to Jedi Master level (if not status).

Also, I suppose the Death Star II's plans need stealin'. More on that elsewhere.

SotE shares with Episode VI the same mess which Episode V left behind: that the Empire's destruction and Han's rescue are incompatible objectives. That's why Return of the Jedi had to be a two-part movie.

SotE's further problem for its audience is the problem of IV's and VI's beginning: Han's not in any condition to deliver wisecracks and to romance the ladies. This problem is particularly problem-ish for gamers, who otherwise might want to be Han.

Lucas dealt with both by means of a character who could swing between helping with Solo (the Luke arc) and helping with the Rebels (i.e. Leia). A scoundrel. A character like Lando Calrissian.


posted by Zimri on 18:30 | link | 0 comments

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