“Before Disney had acquired Lucasfilm on October 30, 2012, George Lucas himself wrote a treatment for a new trilogy of Star Wars movies. We’ve chronicled in the past how those story treatments were largely thrown out by director J.J. Abrams when he came on board the project on January 24, 2013. We will likely never find out what Lucas had planned for the Star Wars sequel trilogy, but the new Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi book gives us one small peek at a George Lucas-approved Jedi Temple on the planet that later became known as Ahch-to. This is the closest we might ever come to seeing Lucas’ original vision for the sequel trilogy.
In the book, we learn that one of the first meetings to visualize The Force Awakens happened on January 16, 2013 at Skywalker Ranch with George Lucas himself. Among the pieces presented at the meeting were portraits of an older Luke Skywalker training a new disciple named Kira (who was later renamed Rey). The idea was that, 30 years after the fall of the Empire, Luke had gone to a dark place and secluded himself in a Jedi temple on a new planet. The paintings show Luke meditating, reassessing his whole life.
Apparently, the initial plan for Star Wars: Episode 7 was that Luke, over the course of that movie, would rediscover his vitality and train this new Jedi. So basically, what we got from the Rey/Luke storyline in The Last Jedi was initially supposed to be the bones for George Lucas’ Episode 7. Imagine an alternate universe where Episode 7 was Luke reluctantly training a new Jedi – it would be completely different. […]
The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi features many of these old designs, including one of an old Luke standing next to structures that crumbled long ago. Another one features an ugly bell-shaped building that was approved by George Lucas before J.J. Abrams was even hired for The Force Awakens. You can see it above.
Here are some details:
“This was a very early take on Luke’s temple, way back when there was still no director. This artwork was shown to George Lucas in a presentation. Doug [Chiang] came back and said, “Congratulations, James. You got a George “Fabulouso” stamp.” VFX art director James Clyne recalls.
Adds Lucasfilm executive creative director Doug Chiang, “After working with George on the prequels for seven years, I knew in some ways how to anticipate what forms he would like – which is really good, because he still likes those forms. So for the Jedi temple, he loved that bell shape. It’s reminiscent of some of the imagery that [original Star Wars trilogy concept artist] Ralph McQuarrie painted way back.”
Some of these designs look very much like something from the prequels. One features Luke in heavy thought and another could depict a Sith Force ghost haunting him. You’ll have to buy the book to see them all, but here are a few noteworthy images: