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January 14th, 2013

This is more for my reference, but it's about Star Wars (yes I'm still on a Star Wars kick) and rewriting, so maybe it'd interest some of you:

The rough cut of the original 1977 Star Wars (and the first issue of Marvel Comics's adaptation of it) had a wordier opening crawl to describe the state of the galaxy. Director Brian DePalma, who was in the small audience Lucas showed the rough cut to, teased Lucas about the opening crawl then helped him rewrite it to be shorter. This is what (based on admittedly incomplete Googling) should be that early version of the opening text:

It is a period of civil wars in the galaxy. A brave alliance of
underground freedom fighters has challenged the tyranny and oppression
of the awesome GALACTIC EMPIRE.

Striking from a fortress hidden among the billion stars of the galaxy, rebel
spaceships have won their first victory in a battle with the powerful Imperial
starfleet. The EMPIRE fears that another defeat could bring a thousand more
solar systems into the rebellion, and Imperial control over the galaxy would
be lost forever.

To crush the rebellion once and for all, the EMPIRE is constructing a sinister
new battle station. Powerful enough to destroy an entire planet, its completion
spells certain doom for the champions of freedom.


That's 115 words long *; the final film's text is 83 words long. For reference:

It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden
base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.

During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's
ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power
to destroy an entire planet.

Pursued by the Empire's sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her
starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore
freedom to the galaxy....


Let me try to make it even shorter!

IN A.D. 2101 WAR WAS BEGINNING...


...kidding. I'll try again:

An entire galaxy is at war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base,
may have turned the tide against the Galactic Empire.

During the battle, spies found and stole the Empire's secret plans for an ultimate weapon:
the DEATH STAR, an armored space station powerful enough to obliterate a planet.

Princess Leia, a Rebel leader entrusted with the plans, races in her ship towards safe
haven, the Empire close behind...


Now it's 70 words. It's not better, overall, but I got a kick out of that little bit of writing exercise.


* To be even more completer (it amused me to write it like that), here is a still earlier version of that same text, also 115 words:

It is a period of civil wars in the galaxy. A brave alliance of underground freedom
fighters has challenged the iron fisted oppression of the powerful GALACTIC EMPIRE.

Striking from a fortress hidden among the billion stars of the galaxy, rebel spaceships have
won a crushing victory over the awesome Imperial Starfleet. The EMPIRE knows that one more
such defeat could bring a thousand more solar systems into the rebellion, and Imperial control
over the galaxy would be lost forever.

To crush the rebellion once and for all, the EMPIRE has constructed a sinister new weapon: THE
DEATH STAR. Powerful enough to destroy an entire planet, it spells certain doom for the champions
of freedom.