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La lettera di rifiuto della United Artists,
13 ottobre 1975

a cura di Davide Canavero

     Negli ultimi mesi del 1975 Star Wars, uno dei film più amati dal pubblico di tutto il mondo, ha rischiato seriamente di non vedere mai la luce. Ci sono stati momenti in cui il suo destino e quello di Lucas erano davvero incerti.
     La United Artists è una delle tante case di produzione che hanno rifiutato di investire nella futura "gallina dalle uova d'oro"; con un corollario di rimpianti senza fine. Questa lettera interna agli uffici della major esprime un rifiuto più netto di quello che abbiamo visto nel caso della Universal; rifiuto che colpisce perché arriva dopo una serie di apprezzamenti non di poco conto.

     (first page)United Artists Corporation

     West Coast Office Memorandum Date: October 13, 1975
     To: Mike Medavoy
     From: Marcia Nasatir

     Dear Mike:
     I like this very much. The innocence of the story, plus the sophistication of the world he will depict makes for the best kind of motion picture. It is truly a film for children of all ages.


     (page 2)TITLE: THE STAR WARS
     AUTHOR: George Lucas
     SUB BY: Confidential
     VIA: Mike Medavoy
     READER: Jerry Silverstein
     DATE: October 12, 1975
     FORM: Screenplay, 110 pp.
     LOCALE: Outer Space
     TIME: Future
     PLOT: An all out war has erupted between various solar systems. The DARK LORDS OF THE SITH, led by DARTH VADER, now rule. Civil war is everywhere, and the Emperor is worried because rebel forces have just won a major victory.
     A rebel spaceship is destroyed. Two contrasting robots, ARTOO & THREEPIO, escape. Meanwhile LUKE STARKILLER, a farm boy of 20, is on the planet Utapau. He longs to join the military academy and enter the star wars. His uncle OWEN buys Artoo and Threepio, who have been captured and sold as slaves. Owen buys the robots with the money Luke has been saving to leave the farm for the academy.

     Meanwhile, LEIA ORGANA, a beautiful rebel princess has been captured by Darth Vader. She refuses to tell him what she did with the secret data. He plans to torture her to death. Luke befriends Artoo and Threepio. He is cleaning them up, and notices a fragment stuck in Artoo's head. It is a hologram of Leia and she orders that Artoo be delivered to authorities on Organa Major. She says she has been captured, but the deliverer of this message will be richly rewarded. That is all Luke needs. He, and Threepio, and Artoo take off for various planets to rescue the princess and do their part to overthrow the tyranny that now rules the solar system. [sic]

     Along the way they enlist the aid of BEN KENOBI, the brave Jedi knight whose order has been overthrown, and under whom Luke's father served. Many close calls, involving all kinds of weird, frightening, and menacing monsters and creatures, present themselves. Eventually Luke and his followers destroy the Imperial order. Princess Leia is saved and Luke becomes a hero.

     COMMENT: Screenplay is a cross between a phantasmagoric Walt Disney cartoon and an exciting, juvenile FLASH GORDON adventure story. It is a fantasy world that has obviously been well thought out by its creator George Lucas. The production design at the screenplay's end is impressive and imaginative. There is no doubt that visually the film could be quite extraordinary, and expensive. The screenplay is very straightforward in its action.

     But there is no metaphysical message that 2001 contained, no salvation offered for the youths of today in the future. THE STAR WARS is a space action film for the entire family. It is a director's film. If Lucas makes it properly exciting and fantastic, keeping you on the edge of your seat so that the adventures completely engulf you, then he will have a hit. But if the simple story and heroics sag in any way you are going to have a costly bomb on your hands. Because I do not see how this picture can be inexpensively made. Essentially, there are no starring roles for important action. Word of mouth and the property itself will have to sell it. The decision has to be if you have enough faith in the director making an expensive family adventure film. I would not go with the project.
     There seems to be too much cost involved for this kind of juvenile story. But the director obviously knows what he wants, and may be able to bring it off. While so much is visual, my imagination was not really jolted or stimulated as the amusing, energetic heroics unfolded.

     A risky project -- one I would not do. Some people could think otherwise.


     Da una parte, il redattore di questo giudizio esprime entusiasmo per la sceneggiatura, più di quanto non ne esprimesse il collega della Universal; dall'altra, respinge il progetto bollandolo come una responsabilità troppo pesante e un rischio che non deve essere corso. La porta è chiusa in faccia a Lucas in modo più deciso.
     Stupisce la critica secondo cui Star Wars mancherebbe di aspetti metafisici e valori solidi e sarebbe mero intrattenimento; ma c'è da dire che era difficile giudicare un'opera scritta su pochi fogli, non visualizzabile e, soprattutto, ad uno stadio evolutivo più arretrato rispetto a quello finale che tutti conosciamo.
     Ad ogni modo, l'unica costante è che tutte le major ritenevano il progetto troppo dispendioso; cioè, in ultima analisi, pur immaginando che potesse appassionare notevoli fette di pubblico, non sospettavano che fosse in grado di incassare così tanto; o non avrebbero avuto timore di affrontare i costi di produzione.

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