The death of Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977's Star Wars is one of those pivotal moments off which the entire classic trilogy is based. But what if the legendary Jedi master never lost his life on the Death Star? It's a possibility we've never previously entertained, but are now seriously thinking about after reading pages from George Lucas's original draft of the sci-fi classic. Take a look for yourself in the Tweet below, courtesy of everyone's favorite Wookie.
Some of you might have known this, but we're discussing it again because Chewbacca himself, Peter Mayhew, has been taking time here and there to share material from the original script to Star Wars on Twitter, and this item has to be one of the most surprising. The pages shared by Mayhew are from the famous scene where Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi duel on the first Death Star. The big change is that instead of Obi-Wan being struck down and becoming more powerful than Vader could have ever imagined, he is aided by Luke in fleeing the scene and lives to fight another day. Should George Lucas have kept this alternate take, it would have changed everything that followed in Star Wars history.
For starters, Obi-Wan surviving his duel on the first Death Star robs Luke's journey of a fair amount of the dramatic stakes that would come afterwards. Not only does the climactic Death Star run lose a sort of poignancy, as Luke's reunion with his newfound teacher's Force ghost is a surprise that saves the day; the entire Yoda subplot is basically rendered useless. Sure, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda could train Luke together, but having two trainers would make Luke's journey all the easier. So instead of the difficult, soul-searching journey Luke embarks on in The Empire Strikes Back, we would have had Luke safely learning with two older masters of lesser patience.
Of course, the greatest reason for why Star Wars doesn't work as well without Obi-Wan's noble end is the fact that the Jedi Master's death was one of the greatest narrative twists in the 1977 original. Take a moment to watch the moment the final film stuck with, in the video below.
While we're not sure of the specific reason George Lucas would alter Obi-Wan's fate in Star Wars, we'd assume it was because losing Obi-Wan would up the stakes of Luke's path to becoming a Jedi. If his journey had been an easier endeavor, with two teachers instead of one, it wouldn't have been as narrative compelling as the end result we ultimately wound up with. Of course, another theory is that Sir Alec Guinness saw the potential for a sequel, and really didn't want to continue playing a major role in the franchise. It's no surprise that the legendary actor had problems with the role most folks would remember him from, so between better serving the story and keeping his actor happy, Lucas might have made a quick change, and inadvertently created history.
Obi-Wan Kenobi's survival at the end of Star Wars' earlier draft will always remain as one of the greatest cinematic "what if?" scenarios we've ever come across. Unfortunately for him though, the character is of more use to Luke Skywalker, and the film in general, by dying a heroic death in order to save his friends. Still, with the script pages Peter Mayhew shared above, we can imagine what could have been in an alternate universe far away.