Monday, May 18, 2020

Long Forgotten Version of The Empire Strikes Back!

Just in time for the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, we found a little-mentioned alternate version of the story, in a pretty unlikely source!

It is hard to really comprehend just how big Star Wars was in the late 1970's and early 1980's. It wasn't just popular, it was a pop culture phenomenon.
Larger version at the bottom of article

Every major magazine seemingly had Star Wars on the cover at some point, some multiple times, including TIME, People, Us, Rolling Stone, and in 1980, Family Circle.

Family Circle?

Family Circle was a very popular "women's interest" magazine published from 1932 and up to the end of 2019, always very much intended for mothers. Yes, of course moms like Star Wars too! (True fact: my mother introduced me to Star Wars! Thanks Mom!)

The August 5, 1980 issue seems like a typical one for the time but there on the bottom of the cover after headlines of diets, beautiful skin, recipes and the "right look in pants" are those glorious words: The Empire Strikes Back.

Not even a mention of the words "Star Wars". There was no need. By then, months after the movie premiered, the blockbuster sequel was a household name by itself! And Family Circle was definitely all about households.
Donald F. Glut's Original Novelization
This was no ordinary feature though: what Family Circle ran across 4 pages was the entire story of The Empire Strikes Back! This is a condensed version is written by Donald F. Glut, author of the official novelization of the movie published that spring.

With a few black and white illustrations borrowed from the Marvel comics adaptation of the movie (including the infamous scary-looking Yoda based on early concept art that was later corrected in comic reprints), Glut's short-story version of The Empire Strikes Back emphasizes the action and romance and leaves out almost all of Luke's Jedi training.

There's a few key moments from the movie left out to shorten the story. Here's a few examples of what's different in this version (or scroll down to enjoy it yourself):

- There is no Wampa attack, and so there's no Luke lost in the snow or in the medical clinic. Instead Luke encounters the vision of Obi-Wan (Ben) Kenobi after he crashes his snowspeeder during the Hoth battle.

-Yoda doesn't play around. He introduces himself almost immediately.

-Luke's X-wing doesn't crash on Dagobah, so there's no levitation scene later.

-There's no mysterious Dagobah cave, so no dream-like fight with Vader.

-C-3PO doesn't get broken up, or go missing on Cloud City, so instead of worrying about his whereabouts, Leia and Han have a little romantic scene that was apparently cut from the movie.

-When Han is frozen in carbonite, instead of saying "I love you" and "I know", Han and Leia have much more to say. (This is consistent with the comic adaptation as well as Glut's own novelization).

It's very hard to believe this amazing movie is 40 years old now as it seems so timeless today. Hopefully in another 40 years fans will be celebrating and discovering new ways to enjoy these movies that crossed generations and appealed to so many of us in so many ways!  

May the 40th Be With You!  

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