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8 Star Wars Questions We Still Need Answered

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The Star Wars franchise has given birth to one of the most passionate and knowledgeable fan bases in all of pop culture. Each installment has been scoured by fans for decades in order to answer every question that George Lucas’s seminal space opera posed. But as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars, there are still a few mysteries about the saga that have no definitive answers. Here are eight Star Wars questions we still need answered.

1. WHY DOESN'T ANYONE RECOGNIZE R2-D2 AND C-3PO?

Nineteen years are supposed to have passed between the end of the Star Wars prequels and the start of the original trilogy, so you should forgive Obi-Wan for being fuzzy on the details of a few of his younger exploits. But how can he not remember R2-D2 and C-3PO when they show up in 1977's A New Hope? Obi-Wan fought countless battles with the two droids by his side, with R2 swooping in to save his life on a number of occasions. And don't forget that C-3PO was Obi-Wan's ride home after the Jedi Master turned Anakin Skywalker into a quadruple amputee (and subsequently doomed the galaxy for two decades) at the end of Revenge of the Sith. Surely you'd remember a thing like that.

So it’s a bit strange that when he first encounters the droids in Episode IV, ol’ Obi-Wan specifically says, “I don't seem to remember ever owning a droid,” before listening to Princess Leia’s message about the Death Star plans. Either Obi-Wan is lying (which he does pretty often), is being way too literal (he never actually owned R2 or C-3PO), or simply forgot about the previous three decades of his life.

Almost as bad as Kenobi’s memory is Uncle Owen’s. In the prequels, a young Uncle Owen lives with C-3PO for years on the farm on Tatooine, as we see when Anakin and Padme stop by in Attack of the Clones (2002). Yet when the two droids wind up at his front door, he doesn’t offer up so much as a nod of recognition. Even for emotionless droids, that’s got to hurt.

2. DOES OBI-WAN FORGET THAT LEIA IS A SKYWALKER?

On the subject of Obi-Wan’s suspect memory, he also seems to completely forget that Leia is the daughter of Anakin Skywalker during The Empire Strikes Back (1980). When Luke leaves his Jedi training early to save Han and Leia from Darth Vader, Obi-Wan tells Yoda that Luke is “our last hope.” Yoda then famously reveals that, “No, there is another.”

It’s a great line, but there’s one problem with it: Obi-Wan knows that there is another Skywalker around that could defeat Vader; he literally helped deliver Leia as a baby. So he’s either forgotten about another major event from the prequels, or he doesn’t even entertain the thought of Leia being able to save the galaxy. The most likely explanation? George Lucas was just making this stuff up as he went along.

3. WHY DOESN’T DARTH VADER SENSE ANYTHING ABOUT LEIA?

The Force is a powerful weapon, and throughout the saga, Darth Vader showed that he could use it to sense things about people that others couldn’t. He sensed Obi-Wan’s presence aboard the Death Star, he got into Luke’s head during their duel in Return of the Jedi, and he could seemingly see his loved ones' futures throughout the prequels. Yet he couldn’t feel something—anything—about Leia having the Skywalker blood when they first met in the opening moments of A New Hope.

It’s not entirely clear when it was decided that Leia would be a Skywalker, so it could be assumed that this was never part of the plan in 1977. But in the 40 years since, no one has been able to offer up an official reason—no matter how contrived—to explain away this question.

4. WHY DO SOME JEDI DISAPPEAR AFTER THEY DIE?

When Obi-Wan and Yoda die in the original trilogy, their bodies cease to be, disappearing and becoming one with the Force. It’s a noble end to two of the most important characters in the franchise, and it also set a precedent at the time that all Jedi disappear when they die. Well, the good guys at least, since Darth Vader’s body doesn’t disappear after his death in Return of the Jedi (though fan opinions differ on whether or not his physical body vanishes before his funeral pyre).

Yet in the prequels, none of the Jedi disappear when they die, most notably Qui-Gon Jinn. It’s later revealed that Jinn is the one who teaches Yoda how to communicate with the living from beyond the grave. Despite his body never vanishing, Jinn still winds up as a ghost in The Clone Wars animated series, and his spectral voice is even heard in Episode II when Anakin goes on his murderous rampage of the Sand People. So what made Obi-Wan and Yoda’s deaths so special? What did they learn while in seclusion that allowed them to vanish? With the next Star Wars movie being called The Last Jedi, it looks like time is running out on an answer.

5. WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH ANAKIN’S FATHER?

In The Phantom Menace (1999), Shmi Skywalker—Anakin’s mother—gave Qui-Gon the eye-rolling explanation that Anakin has no father and was the product of a miraculous birth. The mystery surrounding Anakin’s parentage gets more interesting in Revenge of the Sith, when Chancellor Palpatine tells Anakin of his mentor, Darth Plagueis.

According to Palpatine, Plagueis was a Sith Lord so powerful that he could use the Force to manipulate the Midi-chlorians (think weird cells that give Jedi super powers) in a person’s body to create life. It’s never explicitly said that this is how Anakin came to be, but the theory is a popular one among fans. Even if it’s true, there’s the bigger question of whether it was Plagueis himself, or his pupil, Palpatine, that created Anakin.

6. SO WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED TO THOSE BOTHANS?

Mon Mothma doesn't get a whole lot to say throughout the movies, but her most famous line is also the most cryptic of the entire saga. When detailing the stolen plans of the new Death Star in Return of the Jedi, Mothma’s face suddenly drifts into an expressionless mask as she chillingly says, “Many Bothans died to bring us this information.”

Whatever happened to the Bothans, it couldn’t have been good. Though they never even appear on screen during the movies, the best we can tell is that they look like pint-sized wolves and are apparently big-time movers and shakers in the world of intergalactic politics. We’ve already seen one Death Star get its plans stolen on film, but the plight of the ill-fated Bothans might be worth its own movie just to explain Mothma’s thousand-yard stare.

7. HOW THE DID SECOND DEATH STAR GET BUILT SO QUICKLY?

In the closing moments of Revenge of the Sith, we see the very basic skeletal structure of the first Death Star being constructed. Nineteen years later, the thing is cruising around the galaxy and turning entire planets into dust. After the first Death Star is destroyed, the Empire has another one—even bigger than the original—almost fully operational in the four years between A New Hope and Return of the Jedi.

So how did the second Death Star go up so quickly? If you head over to Reddit, you can read a lot of theories about improved technology and shortened research and development time. But seeing as though we’ll never get a movie revolving around the galactic construction union contracted to work for the Empire, it’s best to just accept the Death Star as is. It’s not like it lasts long anyway.

8. WHERE DID THE EWOKS GET LEIA’S DRESS?

Isn’t it a little bit odd that the Ewoks had a dress for Princess Leia just lying around in Jedi? Watch it again—it’s a really nicely tailored dress that fits Leia perfectly. This is one of those small details that probably didn’t capture many fans’ attention at the time, but once you realize how strange it is, it’ll be hard to watch the movie the same way again.

There’s really no logical reason for a race of warrior teddy bears to be in the business of sewing together people clothes just in case they have company. But this is Star Wars after all, so fans already have plenty of theories. The most popular? The Ewoks eat humans, and the dress is something left over from a recent meal. Terrifying, but completely reasonable.

We already know that the little critters were fixing to cook Chewbacca, Han, and Luke when they first captured them, so we can assume they’ve eaten people before. And since the dress was put on Leia so quickly, we can also assume that it wasn’t just made on the fly from spare fabric. Therefore, it must have belonged to someone else at some point, and that someone else might have met her end at an Ewok barbecue. And with no official explanation coming in the foreseeable future, this is all we have to go on.

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15 Must-Watch Facts About The Ring
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An urban legend about a videotape that kills its viewers seven days after they see it turns out to be true. To her increasing horror, reporter Rachel Keller (then-newcomer Naomi Watts) discovers this after her niece is one of four teenage victims, and is in a race against the clock to uncover the mystery behind the girl in the video before her and her son’s time is up.

Released 15 years ago, on October 18, 2002, The Ring began a trend of both remaking Japanese horror films in a big way, and giving you nightmares about creepy creatures crawling out of your television. Here are some facts about the film that you can feel free to pass along to anybody, guilt-free.

1. DREAMWORKS BOUGHT THE AMERICAN RIGHTS TO RINGU FOR $1 MILLION.

There were conflicting stories over how executive producer Roy Lee came to see the 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu, Hideo Nakata's adaptation of the 1991 novel Ring by Kôji Suzuki. Lee said two different friends gave him a copy of Ringu in January 2001, which he loved and immediately gave to DreamWorks executive Mark Sourian, who agreed to purchase the rights. But Lee’s close friend Mike Macari worked at Fine Line Features, which had an American remake of Ringu in development before January 2001. Macari said he showed Lee Ringu much earlier. Macari and Lee were both listed as executive producers for The Ring.

2. THE DIRECTOR FIRST SAW RINGU ON A POOR QUALITY VHS TAPE, WHICH ADDED TO ITS CREEPINESS.

Gore Verbinski had previously directed MouseHunt. He said the first time he "watched the original Ringu was on a VHS tape that was probably seven generations down. It was really poor quality, but actually that added to the mystique, especially when I realized that this was a movie about a videotape." Naomi Watts struggled to find a VHS copy of Ringu while shooting in the south of Wales. When she finally got a hold of one she watched it on a very small TV alone in her hotel room. "I remember being pretty freaked out," Watts said. "I just saw it the once, and that was enough to get me excited about doing it."

3. THE RING AND RINGU ARE ABOUT 50 PERCENT DIFFERENT.

Naomi Watts in 'The Ring'
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

Verbinski estimated that, for the American version, they "changed up to 50 percent of it. The basic premise is intact, the story is intact, the ghost story, the story of Samara, the child." Storylines involving the characters having ESP, a volcano, “dream logic,” and references to “brine and goblins” were taken out.

4. IT RAINED ALMOST EVERY DAY WHEN THEY FILMED IN THE STATE OF WASHINGTON.

The weather added to the “atmosphere of dread,” according to the film's production notes. Verbinski said the setting allowed them to create an “overcast mood” of dampness and isolation.

5. THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER WAS INFLUENCED BY ANDREW WYETH.

Artist Andrew Wyeth tended to use muted, somber earth tones in his work. "In Wyeth's work, the trees are always dormant, and the colors are muted earth tones," explained production designer Tom Duffield. "It's greys, it's browns, it's somber colors; it's ripped fabrics in the windows. His work has a haunting flavor that I felt would add to the mystique of this movie, so I latched on to it."

6. THERE WERE RINGS EVERYWHERE.

The carpeting and wallpaper patterns, the circular kitchen knobs, the doctor’s sweater design, Rachel’s apartment number, and more were purposely designed with the film's title in mind.

7. WATTS AND MARTIN HENDERSON HAD A FRIENDLY INTERNATIONAL RIVALRY.

Martin Henderson and Naomi Watts star in 'The Ring' (1992)
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

The New Zealand-born Henderson played Noah, Rachel’s ex-husband. Since Watts is from Australia, Henderson said that, "Between takes, we'd joke around with each other's accents and play into the whole New Zealand-Australia rivalry."

8. THE TWO WEREN’T SURE IF THE MOVIE WAS GOING TO BE SCARY ENOUGH.

After shooting some of the scenes, and not having the benefit of seeing what they'd look like once any special effects were added, Henderson and Watts worried that the final result would not be scary enough. "There were moments when Naomi and I would look at each other and say, 'This is embarrassing, people are going to laugh,'" Henderson told the BBC." You just hope that somebody makes it scary or you're going to look like an idiot!"

9. CHRIS COOPER WAS CUT FROM THE MOVIE.

Cooper played a child murderer in two scenes which were initially meant to bookend the film. He unconvincingly claimed to Rachel that he found God in the beginning, and in the end she gave him the cursed tape. Audiences at test screenings were distracted that an actor they recognized disappears for most of the film, so he was cut out entirely.

10. THEY TRIED TO GET RID OF ALL OF THE SHADOWS.

Verbinski and cinematographer Bojan Bazelli used the lack of sunlight in Washington to remove the characters’ shadows. The two wanted to keep the characters feeling as if “they’re floating a little bit, in space.”

11. THE TREE WAS NICKNAMED "LUCILLE."

The red Japanese maple tree in the cursed video was named after the famous redheaded actress Lucille Ball. The tree was fake, built out of steel tubing and plaster. The Washington wind blew it over three different times. The night they put up the tree in Los Angeles, the wind blew at 60 miles per hour and knocked Lucille over yet again. "It was very strange," said Duffield.

12. MOESKO ISLAND IS A FUNCTIONING LIGHTHOUSE.

Moesko Island Lighthouse is Yaquina Head Lighthouse, at the mouth of the Yaquina River, a mile west of Agate Beach, Oregon. The website Rachel checks, MoeskoIslandLighthouse.com, used to actually exist as a one-page website, which gave general information on the fictional place. You can read it here.

13. A WEBSITE WAS CREATED BY DREAMWORKS TO PROMOTE THE MOVIE AND ADD TO ITS MYTHOLOGY.

Before and during the theatrical release, if you logged into AnOpenLetter.com, you could read a message in white lettering against a black background warning about what happens if you watch the cursed video (you can read it here). By November 24, 2002, it was a standard official website made for the movie, set up by DreamWorks.

14. VERBINSKI DIDN’T HAVE FUN DIRECTING THE MOVIE.

“It’s no fun making a horror film," admitted Verbinski. "You get into some darker areas of the brain and after a while everything becomes a bit depressing.”

15. DAVEIGH CHASE SCARED HERSELF.

Daveigh Chase in 'The Ring'
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

When Daveigh Chase, who played Samara, saw The Ring in theaters, she had to cover her eyes out of fear—of herself. Some people she met after the movie came out were also afraid of her.

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12 Facts About Disney's The Jungle Book
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It may not have followed Rudyard Kipling's book exactly—in fact, Walt Disney preferred that scriptwriters not read the book—but The Jungle Book was a toe-tapping box office success. Here are a few "bare necessities" you should know about the 1967 animated classic, which was released in theaters across America 50 years ago.

1. WALT DISNEY THOUGHT THE FIRST VERSION OF THE SCRIPT WAS TOO DARK.

Writer Bill Peet was brought on to script the first version of the movie, but Disney believed it was too dark. It’s not clear whether Peet left or was booted from the project; either way, a new team was brought in for rewrites. Floyd Norman, one of the new writers, said Walt wanted the film to have more laughs and more personality, and—true to Disney form—he also wanted sign off on every little detail.

2. MOST OF THE SONGS WERE DEEMED TOO DARK AS WELL.

Composer Terry Gilkyson was hired to write songs for the movie, but as with the script, Disney felt they lacked a sense of fun. Though the Sherman brothers (Richard and Robert) were brought in to write a new soundtrack, one of Gilkyson’s songs did remain in the movie: "The Bare Necessities." We'd say he got the last laugh: Not only is “The Bare Necessities” one of the best tunes in Disney history, it was also nominated for an Oscar (the film's sole nomination).

3. IT WAS THE LAST ANIMATED FEATURE WALT DISNEY OVERSAW.

When Disney died on December 15, 1966, the studio closed for a single day. Then they got back to business working on the last animated feature Disney had a hand in. It was released on October 18, 1967.

4. A RHINOCEROS CHARACTER GOT CUT.

Rocky the Rhino was intended to be a dim-witted, bumbling, near-blind character that would provide some comic relief. His scenes were completely storyboarded before he got the boot: He was supposed to appear after King Louie’s scene, but Walt didn’t want to put the funny sequences back-to-back.

5. THEY WANTED THE BEATLES TO VOICE THE VULTURES.

The Sherman brothers wrote the vultures’ song “That’s What Friends Are For” with The Beatles in mind, even giving the characters similar accents. But the Fab Four turned them down. “John was running the show at the time, and he said [dismissively] ‘I don’t wanna do an animated film.’ Three years later they did Yellow Submarine, so you can see how things change,” Richard Sherman said.

Here’s what the version of “That’s What Friends Are For” would have sounded like, as well as a glimpse of Rocky the Rhino:

6. THERE ARE MAJOR MISPRONUNCIATIONS IN THE MOVIE.

According to a guide written by Kipling, the main character’s name is pronounced "Mowglee" (accent on the 'Mow,' which rhymes with 'cow'), not “Moe-glee,” which is how Disney chose to say it. In addition, Kaa the snake is supposed to be “Kar,” Baloo the Bear should have been “Barloo,” and Colonel Hathi is really “Huttee.”

7. KING LOUIE WAS BASED ON LOUIS ARMSTRONG.

Although jazz singer and bandleader Louis Prima voiced the fire-obsessed orangutan, he’s not the Louis who the Shermans originally had in mind when they began writing “I Wan’na Be Like You” for the character. "We were thinking about Louis Armstrong when we wrote it, and that's where we got the name, King Louie," Richard Sherman told The New York Times. "Then in a meeting one day, they said, ‘Do you realize what the N.A.A.C.P. would do to us if we had a black man as an ape? They'd say we're making fun of him.' I said: ‘Come on, what are you talking about? I adore Louis Armstrong, I wouldn't hurt him in any way.'” In the end, Louis Prima stepped in.

8. A JUNGLE BOOK DANCE SEQUENCE WAS LATER BORROWED FOR ROBIN HOOD.

King Louie and Baloo’s “I Wan’na Be Like You” dance was later repeated, frame for frame, in Robin Hood, which also borrowed dances from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The Aristocats. This was achieved through an animation technique called “rotoscoping,” where animators trace over the frames of old footage to use it in a different environment.

9. THE SONG "TRUST IN ME" WAS ALSO RECYCLED.

Originally written for Mary Poppins as “Land of Sand,” “Trust In Me” was recycled with new lyrics for Kaa to sing while hypnotizing poor Mowgli. Here’s what it would have sounded like:

10. THE YOUNG ELEPHANT WAS VOICED BY CLINT HOWARD.

Ron Howard’s younger brother also voiced another Disney youngster: Roo in the Winnie the Pooh movies.

11. PHIL HARRIS BROUGHT NEW LIFE TO BALOO.

Allegedly, Walt Disney chose Harris to voice Baloo after meeting him at a party. At the time, Harris was retired and nearly forgotten in Hollywood. His first day of recording didn’t go so well at first: Harris found Baloo’s tone wooden and boring, so asked if he could try a little improvisation. Once given the go-ahead, "I came out with something like, 'You keep foolin' around in the jungle like this, man, you gonna run across some cats that'll knock the roof in,'" Harris recalled. Disney loved Baloo’s new personality and rewrote lines to suit the style.

12. THERE WAS A SEQUEL.

It came out in 2003 (not direct-to-video, surprisingly) and featured Haley Joel Osment as Mowgli and John Goodman as Baloo. By most accounts, you shouldn’t bother seeing it; it currently has a 19 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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