Luke makes the fabled Hero’s Journey throughout the original trilogy. He starts out as a young boy, is thrown into adventure with an older wizard-like mentor, does the unexpected, defies the odds, and comes out on top. The path has not always been easy, though.
It’s been said that Luke was originally supposed to be staying at Ben’s old home while on Tatooine. The Revenge of the Jedi Revised Rough Draft by George Lucas refers to a “Tatooine Inn” or hovel as another location. It looks like these locations were dropped in favor of a hidden cave.
On pages 241 and 242 of the book Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays there’s some discussion of this scene. Here are some relevant excerpts:
In the rough draft Luke is asleep and struggling with thoughts of Vader and the dark side. Yoda and Ben are also present in the dream, and Luke berates Ben for not telling him that Vader is his father. Yoda explains that he’ll soon be joining Ben in the Netherworld, and therefore he’ll become stronger and will be better able to help Luke. Vader’s voice reappears, and Luke awakens. He has been staying on Tatooine in a peasant hovel with two strange-looking creatures (Del Andues).
In the revised rough draft we left Vader alone on the bridge of his ship after his confrontation with Grand Moff Jerjerrod, and he reaches Luke in his sleep. There is, however, no dream sequence in this version of the script. Instead, Luke wakes up in a small, rundown tavern and the Del Andue creatures from the previous draft have been replaced by “two vile, little dirty Jawas, Atetu and Tweetu.”
Here’s the scene from the Revised Rough Draft – and take note of the alternate plan to infiltrate Jabba’s Palace which was eventually dropped:
Luke snaps awake from a sound sleep, his head still ringing with Vader’s words. It takes a moment for him to focus on his surroundings. He is in a small rundown, tavern. Two vile, little dirty Jawas; ATETU and TWEETU, stare at him from across the room. They shake their cloak-covered heads and go back to cooking an odorous stew.
The howling wind outside blows the door open with a loud crash. Luke reaches for his pistol, the Jawas hide. Out of the dust cloud emerge two familiar shapes, SEE THREEPIO and ARTOO DETOO. Luke relaxes as the angry Jawas come out of hiding, scolding the robots for not closing the door. Atetu waddles to the door and strains against the wind to close it.
Master Luke, I beg you not to send us
out in weather like that again…it’s
unbearable out there.
Artoo whistles his agreement.
Were you able to get
everything I asked for?
An impossible task, but yes
we have all of it…Artoo?
Artoo beeps and one of his tiny arms pokes out of its hatch carrying a small box. The door to the hovel bangs open again giving everyone a start, including R2 who drops the box of parts.
Out of the cloud of dust comes LANDO and CHEWIE. Atetu is very angry and starts yelling at Lando and Chewie. The little Jawa storms over to Chewie and screams at the Wookiee (in his gibberish language), shaking his fist. Chewie stares at him blankly, then shrugs and closes the door. Atetu continues to vent his anger on Luke, then waddles back to his cooking.
Next time I’ll try to get us better
accommodations, but trustworthy innkeepers
are hard to come by around here.
Chewie barks and puts several small parts before Luke.
What did you find out?
He survived the unfreezing process but
I couldn’t get any report on his condition;
but we’re going to have to hurry, the
execution has been set for tomorrow.
Threepio picks up a small micro chip.
Master Luke, I beg your pardon,
but how can these micro parts help
rescue Capt. Solo?
Luke holds up an odd looking box.
When it’s finished it will be our ticket
into the palace. But first, we must
send this JABBA the HUTT a message.
That’s where you two can help.
At your service.
Tweetu calls out and points to the bowls of steaming food on the table. Chewie barks and heads for the table followed by Lando.
Better get something to eat, Luke,
we may not get another chance.
You go ahead, I still have some things
to do first. (motions to R-2)
Come over here, Artoo.
Threepio follows Chewie to the table and asks Tweetu something. The creature answers and goes to a cupboard. Threepio sits at the table. On the far side of the room Luke stands before Artoo and recites a message. A beam of light from Artoo passes over him as he speaks. Tweetu brings Threepio an oil can, and Threepio starts oiling his joints.
A few more trips outside
and I’ll surely short circuit.
Chewie barks and Lando passes him some food.
It’s a miracle that Han survived the
unfreezing process. I just hope he’s
still in one piece.
Chewie barks his agreement. Luke and R-2 come over to the others. R-2 begins to beep at 3PO.
We have to leave?!? What are you
talking about? I’m not going out in
that storm again!
3PO, I need you to go
with him to the palace.
He’s going to need your help.
Artoo beeps at Threepio again.
All right, I’m coming. I’m coming.
I was afraid of this. Master Luke,
are you sure…
I’m depending on you.
Yes, Master Luke.
Artoo and Threepio leave the Inn as the wind howls madly outside. Luke grabs some food off of the table and goes back to his work.
What makes you think those droids
will ever get in to see Jabba –
let alone deliver the message.
Greed. It’s Jabba’s weakness.
With this phony spice extractor and
his greed, we’ll make contact with Han as
soon as I finish. You and Chewie are going
to have to make the next visit
to the palace.
You mean just walk right in??
They’ll kill us.
Not when you present Jabba with
this little gem, and tell him we have
a hundred more just like it.
You’ll be all right.
But we don’t have another hundred
just like it. I think this plan of yours leaves
a lot to be desired.
Listen, Lando, you know we couldn’t get
Han out of that stronghold even if we had an
army with us. Our only hope is to get
Jabba to take him out of there, for us.
Then you leave the
rest to me.
Lando shakes his head in disbelief.
I sure hope you know
what you’re doing.
Chewie concurs, as Luke goes back to working on his gift.
As it turned out, the hovel and dream never made it into the film, but another series of shots was used instead which started with Darth Vader telepathically calling out to Luke and ended with Luke putting his newly constructed lightsaber inside R2-D2.
TELEPATHY & THE LIGHTSABER
In the beginning of the film, there was originally a brief scene after Vader and Jerjerrod’s talk on the Death Star. This series of shots began with Darth Vader telepathically contacting Luke on Tatooine. After the brief exchange, we cut to Luke on Tatooine who has just built a new lightsaber. He plants it inside R2-D2 who later on conveniently launches it to Luke while on Jabba’s barge. The droids then leave and make their way to Jabba’s palace.
There is some music on the Special Edition soundtrack that was to accompany this scene. Here’s the description from the soundtrack booklet:
After a bold resolution of Vader’s theme, the music continues with TATOOINE RENDEZVOUS, most of which accompanies a sequence eliminated from the film. In it, Vader uses the Force to contact his son, Luke Skywalker. The tone of the music changes with the appearance of a synthesizer and dissonant strings, which Williams uses to gracefully transform the setting to the desert planet Tatooine. The next thirty minutes of music are imbued with dark complexity as Luke and his companions embark on the rescue of Han Solo from the notorious gangster, Jabba the Hutt. Eerie tonalities of wailing woodwinds and abrasive brass seem to emerge directly from the dingy, cavernous environment as the heroes encounter a repulsive den of bizarre alien creatures. The sequence begins with the brief telepathic exchange between Luke and Vader, which is broken by the appearance of droids Artoo-Detoo and See-Threepio, accompanied by Luke’s theme and a playful bouncing wind melody as Luke places a newly constructed lightsaber inside Artoo’s domed head.
I conducted an interview with Anthony Daniels in May of 2000 and asked him about this scene:
Q: Do you recall anything at all about a Cut Scene from ROTJ that involved Luke, R2, 3PO and possibly some jawas that was to take place BEFORE the droids go to Jabba’s palace to deliver Luke’smessage? I think it involved Luke placing his lightsaber in R2’s head.
A: I filmed the background to this in Death Valley just before the road to Jabba (the last scene filmed in ROTJ). It was a tiny crew and George and me. It was the best time I had in all four movies.
Daniels doesn’t mention Mark Hamill being involved at all. This makes sense because in the storyboards, C-3PO is located outside the cave. He’s never inside with Luke at all like R2-D2 is. This also makes some sense because the dates on the storyboards are different. The one that takes place inside the cave is dated November 1982 and the one with both droids outside the cave is dated January 1983. They were most likely shot at different times.
It’s possible that they didn’t need Daniels on the day they shot Luke and R2-D2 because he was actually outside the cave and filmed separately. You’ll notice on the storyboard notes it has Luke and R2 on the “stage” and C-3PO on a “plate” which means other footage to be composited later. So there most likely was a big bluescreen where the cave’s doorway was located when they did the interior shot.
Now, over at the Australian site Hyperspace, there’s an interview with Anthony Daniels talking about this scene:
Q: A cut scene that people often refer too is the opening scene in ROTJ where Luke constructs a new lightsaber and hides it in R2. Was this scene actually filmed and what do you remember about it?
A: Oh yes, we nearly filmed that. I helped write that scene. We were going to film it right at the very end. The first scene we did was an exterior shot as though you were in a cave looking out, so in the studio you’d have the outside with me as it were standing guard. Scary thought. Whilst on the inside Luke Skywalker was making a new lightsaber. So we actually shot the exterior of that, and then in the end there was no time. It was like “You get a lightsaber anyway.” So we left it at that.
In the book The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi there’s a small passage that reads:
Mark Hamill is coming back for one day of shooting later this month [November] to do the scene where he builds his new lasersword…
That scene was not the only reason he was returning for pickup shots. At this point in November 1982, it was decided that the entire Sandstorm sequence was going to be dropped and they needed Hamill to shoot a few things to tie up the loose ends in the dialogue. So there’s the explanation for the storyboard date discrepancy.
Paul Harrison, master of Elstreeprops.com, has actual photos of the hero prop that was created for this scene. Here’s what he had to add:
This is a very unique one-off for the scenes where Luke is in Obi-Wan’s hut making his new lightsaber after losing his in the battle with Darth Vader. This is a close-up model built to show the detailing inside. Many parts unlock and slide open! The whole saber can be telescoped shut in one move, with a satisfying whoosh of compressed air rom the pistons inside! One twist and the whole saber locks solid to be hung from the belt.We made Luke’s hero saber and the brief we got was to make it look like Obi’s as a Jedi apprentice would base his own saber on his masters. Luke lost his Vader one in ESB during the fight. We made six new sabers for Luke at the start of the production, then towards the end were asked to build a special one. This one had to have opening emitter, control panel and butt end, and telescope in the middle. It has to close in one movement and then lock in place so Luke could put it in R2’s head. It also had to have a green crystal in the pommel, and make a pneumatic sound when closed.
We also have the saber that was fired from R2’s head. Ours was too heavy so they made a lighweight resin version. The first time it went up it smashed into a rock on a landing. If you watch the firing scene you will see it had no emitter and a chipped end.
“Luke’s new saber for ROTJ was made from a rough sketch on a bit of paper by Ralph McQuarrie just saying add a bit, take a bit off, make some fins etc. Once we had one right we had to make two more as spares, but one accidentally got damaged and thrown in the scrap.”
My friend Adam Parr wrote a book called In A Galaxy Not So Far Away… The Star Wars Filming Locations of the United States. Adam found the cave from the deleted scene in Return of the Jedi where Luke constructs his lightsaber and sends C-3PO and R2-D2 to Jabba’s palace. Enjoy the excerpt below and don’t forget to pick up a copy of the book:
This was a discovery nearly thirty years in the making. In late 2011, the Saga was released for the first time in high-definition video via blu-ray disc. The last two discs of the set present a number of deleted scenes from all six of the films. One scene in particular had already been of great interest to us. Rumors had circulated for years regarding a “lost” scene in which Luke Skywalker completed the construction of his very own green-bladed lightsaber, but there had been no actual footage to support the story.
That all changed in early 2011 when the never-before-seen deleted scene was leaked onto the Internet. We finally caught a glimpse of a hooded & cloaked Luke tinkering with the lighstaber hilt within the dark cave. Also featured were R2 & 3PO, presumably on the Road to Jabba’s Palace. It was entertaining, to be sure, but it was not quite the new groundbreaking scene for which we had hoped. And sadly, there was no solid visual evidence to tie it specifically to Twenty-Mule Team Canyon. So, we simply assumed that the interior cave shots had been captured inside of an artificial environment on a soundstage somewhere in Elstree Studios. Those interior shots, we presumed, when combined with the existing footage of the two droids on the Road to Jabba’s Palace, had produced the footage finally leaked onto the web in early 2011. Fair enough.
What no one knew was that the leaked scene was woefully incomplete. Only a small portion of the finished footage had made its way onto the web, and it had been taken completely out of context. Enter the official blu-ray release of late 2011. For the first time, we were now able to see the famed deleted scene in its entirety.
It begins with Vader’s arrival at the second Death Star during the opening of “Return of the Jedi”. He makes his way out of the hangar bay, having spoken with one of his officers about the impending arrival of the Emperor, and the lack of construction progress on the giant space station. (This portion of the scene is very familiar; it made the final cut.) Vader then arrives at his private meditation chamber and reaches out through the Force to his son Luke, imploring him to join the dark side, to see that this is the only solution, the only way to unravel Palpatine’s Gordian knot. We then see Luke, in the darkness of the cave, silently receiving the telepathic message, working on the lightsaber. Finally, he hides the weapon inside of R2 for safe keeping, while 3PO waits outside. The conclusion of the scene is the visual lynchpin. It is an exterior shot of C-3PO standing beside the cave, with Luke & R2 unseen within.
We had discovered and documented this exact cave location in 2002, and had no idea. Having never seen any of the completed footage, we had absolutely no way of knowing. No one did.
We had heard the rumors over the years, and we had paid attention. We had listened to the talk of caves & lightsabers, and had discussed it upon our first arrival to Twenty-Mule Team Canyon in 2002. “How cool would it be if these were the caves they used?” We had some fun, poked around, wandered through a couple of them, and took some photos. We even recorded gps coordinates, though I am not sure exactly why. We certainly had no good reason for doing so at the time.
So now, in November of 2011, twenty-eight years after the release of the original film, we compare the exterior cave shot to our cave photos. One of them is a fingerprint-match – it is that exact. What were the odds? Nearly impossible. We had discovered, explored, documented and photographed another bona fide Death Valley shooting location, nine years earlier, and had no clue at the time how right we were. A once-in-a-lifetime find.
LUKE, YODA & OBI-WAN
There’s always been a little bit of a gray area involving the decision to tell Luke about who his father and sister were. I attribute this partially to the fact that Lucas was struggling with that important story decision for a while. When Yoda mentioned the “other” hope in The Empire Strikes Back, I don’t think he really knew for sure what was going to happen with it all. There are bits of dialogue deleted from scenes with Yoda and Obi-Wan that allude to why Luke was never told. Yoda claims in one scene that he wouldn’t let Obi-Wan tell him. Obi-Wan claims it was for Luke and Leia’s protection.
According to early drafts of the script, during the scene on Dagobah where Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi’s ghost teaches Luke about the concept of seeing things from a “certain point of view,” there was originally more dialogue. Ben went on to reveal much more about Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, Luke’s mother, Leia and more. He also takes the blame for some of the events that led to Luke’s current situation.
Here’s an excerpt:
Yoda will always be with you.
Luke looks up to see the shimmering image of BEN KENOBI.
Obi-Wan! Why didn’t you tell me?
The ghost of Ben Kenobi approaches him through the swamp.
You told me Vader betrayed
and murdered my father.
You father was seduced by the dark
side of the Force. He ceased to be
Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader.
When that happened, the good man
who was your father was destroyed.
So what I have told you was true…
from a certain point of view.
LUKE (turning away, derisive)
A certain point of view!
Luke, you’re going to find that many
of the truths we cling to depend greatly
on our own point of view.
Luke is unresponsive. Ben studies him in silence for a moment.
I don’t blame you for being angry.
If I was wrong in what I did, it
certainly wouldn’t have been for the first time.
You see, what happened to your
father was my fault.
Ben pauses sadly.
Anakin was a good friend.
Luke turns with interest at this. As Ben speaks, Luke settles on a stump, mesmerized. Artoo comes over to offer his comforting presence.
When I first knew him, your father
was already a great pilot. But I was
amazed how strongly the Force was with him.
I took it upon myself to train him as a Jedi.
I thought that I could instruct him just
as well as Yoda. I was wrong.
My pride has had terrible
consequences for the galaxy.
Luke is entranced.
There’s still good in him.
I also thought he could be turned
back to the good side. It couldn’t be done.
He is more machine now than man.
Twisted and evil.
I can’t do it, Ben.
You cannot escape
I tried to stop him once.
I couldn’t do it.
Vader humbled you when first you
met him, Luke…but that experience was
part of your training. It taught you,
among other things, the value of
patience. Had you not been so impatient
to defeat Vader then, you could have
finished your training here with Yoda.
You would have been prepared.
But I had to help my friends.
BEN (grinning at Luke’s indignation)
And did you help them?
It was they who had to save you.
You achieved little by rushing back
prematurely, I fear.
I found out Darth Vader
was my father.
To be a Jedi, Luke, you must confront
and then go beyond the dark side –
the side your father couldn’t get past.
Impatience is the easiest door – for you,
like your father. Only, your father was seduced
by what he found on the other side of
the door, and you have held firm.
You’re no longer so reckless now, Luke.
You are strong and patient. And now,
you must face Darth Vader again!
I can’t kill my own father.
Then the Emperor has already won.
You were our only hope.
Yoda spoke of another.
The other he spoke of
is your twin sister.
But I have no sister.
Hmm. To protect you both from the Emperor,
you were hidden from your father when
you were born. The Emperor knew, as I did,
if Anakin were to have any offspring, they
would be a threat to him. That is the reason
why your sister remains safely anonymous.
Leia! Leia’s my sister.
Your insight serves you well.
Bury your feelings deep down, Luke.
They do you credit. But they
could be made to serve the Emperor.
Luke looks into the distance, trying to comprehend all this.
(continuing his narrative)
When your father left, he didn’t know
your mother was pregnant. Your mother
and I knew he would find out eventually,
but we wanted to keep you both as safe
as possible, for as long as possible.
So I took you to live with my brother
Owen on Tatooine… and your mother took
Leia to live as the daughter of
Senator Organa, on Alderaan.
Luke turns, and settles near Ben to hear the tale.
(attempting to give solace with his words)
The Organa household was high-born
and politically quite powerful in that system.
Leia became a princess by virtue of lineage…
no one knew she’d been adopted, of course.
But it was a title without real power,
since Alderaan had long been a democracy.
Even so, the family continued to be politically
powerful, and Leia, following in her foster
father’s path, became a senator as well.
That’s not all she became, of course…
she became the leader of her cell in the
Alliance against the corrupt Empire.
And because she had diplomatic immunity,
she was a vital link for getting information to
the Rebel cause. That’s what she was doing
when her path crossed yours… for her foster
parents had always told her to contact
me on Tatooine, if her
troubles became desperate.
Luke is overwhelmed by the truth, and is suddenly protective of his sister.
But you can’t let her get involved
now, Ben. Vader will destroy her.
She hasn’t been trained in the ways
of the Jedi the way you have, Luke…
but the Force is strong with her,
as it is with all of your family.
There is no avoiding the battle.
You must face and destroy Vader!
LUKE AND VADER
Before we talk about the epic duel that ultimately brought balance to the Force and fulfilled a prophecy long forgotten, let’s talk about a short deleted scene that involves Vader bringing Luke from his shuttle to the Emperor. Here’s the excerpt from the novelization:
Vader’s shuttle settled onto the docking bay of the Death Star, like a black, wingless carrion-eating bird; like a nightmare insect. Luke and the Dark Lord emerged from the snout of the beast with a small escort of stormtroopers, and walked rapidly across the cavernous main bay to the Emperor’s tower elevator.
Royal guards awaited them there, flanking the shaft, bathed in a carmine glow. They opened the elevator door. Luke stepped forward.
The passage goes on to talk about Luke’s feelings and thoughts as he’s in the elevator shaft.
There’s another noticeable cut scene involving Vader and his son near the end of the film. You may have noticed that in the novelization, when Luke is hiding from Vader under the stairs, Luke gives up his lightsaber but when he attacks Vader again, he uses the Force to retrieve it… from Vader.
Here are some excerpts from novel:
Vader threw his scintillating blade – it sliced through the supports holding up the gantry on which Luke was perched, then swept around and flew back into Vader’s hand. Luke tumbled to the ground, then rolled down another level, under the tilting platform. In the shadow of the darkened overhang, he was out of sight. Vader paced the area like a cat, seeking the boy; but he wouldn’t enter the shadows of the overhang.
“You cannot hide forever, Luke.”
“You’ll have to come in and get me,” replied the disembodied voice.
“I will not give you the advantage that easily.” Vader felt his intentions increasingly ambiguous in this conflict; the purity of his evil was being compromised. The boy was clever indeed – Vader knew he must move with extreme caution now.
“I wish no advantage, father. I will not fight you. Here…take my weapon.” Luke knew full well this might be the end, but so be it. He would not use Darkness to fight Darkness. Perhaps it would be left to Leia, after all, to carry on the struggle, without him. Perhaps she would know a way he didn’t know; perhaps she could find a path. For now, though, he could see only two paths, and one was into Darkness; and one was not.
Luke put his lightsaber on the ground, and rolled it along the floor toward Vader. It stopped halfway between them, in the middle of the low overhead area. The Dark Lord reached out his hand – Luke’s lightsaber jumped into it. He hooked it to his belt and, with grave uncertainty, entered the shadowy overhang.
After this and some taunting from Vader, Luke then snatches his saber from Vader’s belt with the Force.
Personally, I’ve always had trouble with part of this scene. I’ve always had the impression that Vader was looking for Luke down there, but was really having a hard time locating him. The book, however, made me think that Vader first refuses to look, but then heads in later almost knowing where Luke is hiding.This makes some sense to me.
The problem I have with the filmed version is shouldn’t Vader have been able to “feel” where Luke was with the Force? Also, the little area Luke was in was not that cavernous. Then there’s the fact that when Luke does strike out he is practically right next to Vader. Perhaps, more like the book, Vader was just stalling and didn’t want to find Luke right away.
Starwars.com once posted an old script page from this scene. In the dialogue, Vader says, “You cannot hide forever, Luke,” to which Luke replies, “You will have to come in and get me.” Vader continues, “I will not give you the advantage that easily.” Luke then says, “I wish no advantage Father… I will not fight you… Take my weapon.”
Then it reads: Luke’s laser handle rolls into Vader’s P.O.V. Vader collects it and
places it on his belt moves on. Luke is hiding.”
So Vader was holding it when Luke snatched it away, but we never really saw the snatch. Luke just jumps up and has the saber in his hand so perhaps we’re supposed to assume (when watching the film) that he had it the whole time and never gave it up.