In the 40 years since its release, Star Wars has been a defining piece of science fiction cinema, influencing countless stories with its iconic visuals and characters. Things weren't always that way, as the final film reflected multiple changes from not just the original script, but the original character designs crafted by artist Ralph McQuarrie. In honor of those first imaginings of the galaxy far, far away, students from the Digital Animation and Visual Effects school took it upon themselves to bring those iconic images to life with the trailer below.
Knowing that describing the events of his story couldn't match the images in his head, George Lucas tapped McQuarrie to create concept art to show the bizarre worlds he imagined, full of excitement, adventure
One of the biggest differences, as you can see in the footage above, is that the lightsaber wasn't originally a coveted weapon that only Jedi used, resulting in certain Stormtroopers wielding the elegant weapon. Were the saga to have been full of lightsaber battles every other scene, it would have taken away from the mystery of those duels and put less emphasis on the number of lightsabers in the galaxy.
Although it wouldn't have drastically altered the film's narrative, there are quite a few differences with the original character designs, most notably that Luke Skywalker was originally female, Han Solo had a beard and Chewbacca was almost a completely different creature.
Audiences who have enjoyed watching the animated Star Wars Rebels are sure to recognize that the character Zeb on the series is modeled after the initial concept of Chewbacca, proving how unique the design remains. Another concept drawn from the McQuarrie artwork is the modified design of Darth Vader, which features more angular features in the series, as well as the design of lightsabers, with the show depicting the weapon as having a much more narrow blade.
In 2013, Dark Horse published the eight-issue The Star Wars series that brings to life Lucas' original script.