Use the Try Harder, Luke

“When there’s a will to fail, ob­sta­cles can be found.” —John McCarthy

I first watched Star Wars IV-VI when I was very young. Seven, maybe, or nine? So my mem­ory was dim, but I re­called Luke Sky­walker as be­ing, you know, this cool Jedi guy.

Imag­ine my hor­ror and dis­ap­point­ment, when I watched the saga again, years later, and dis­cov­ered that Luke was a whiny teenager.

I men­tion this be­cause yes­ter­day, I looked up, on Youtube, the source of the Yoda quote: “Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Oh. My. Cthulhu.

Along with the Youtube clip in ques­tion, I pre­sent to you a lit­tle-known out­take from the scene, in which the di­rec­tor and writer, Ge­orge Lu­cas, ar­gues with Mark Hamill, who played Luke Sky­walker:

Luke: All right, I’ll give it a try.
Yoda: No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.

Luke raises his hand, and slowly, the X-wing be­gins to rise out of the wa­ter—Yoda’s eyes widen—but then the ship sinks again.

Mark Hamill: “Um, Ge­orge...”

Ge­orge Lu­cas: “What is it now?”

Mark: “So… ac­cord­ing to the script, next I say, ‘I can’t. It’s too big’.”

Ge­orge: “That’s right.”

Mark: “Shouldn’t Luke maybe give it an­other shot?”

Ge­orge: “No. Luke gives up, and sits down next to Yoda—”

Mark: “This is the hero who’s go­ing to take down the Em­pire? Look, it was one thing when he was a whiny teenager at the be­gin­ning, but he’s in Jedi train­ing now. Last movie he blew up the Death Star. Luke should be show­ing a lit­tle back­bone.”

Ge­orge: “No. You give up. And then Yoda lec­tures you for a while, and you say, ‘You want the im­pos­si­ble’. Can you re­mem­ber that?”

Mark: “Im­pos­si­ble? What did he do, run a for­mal calcu­la­tion to ar­rive at a math­e­mat­i­cal proof? The X-wing was already start­ing to rise out of the swamp! That’s the fea­si­bil­ity demon­stra­tion right there! Luke loses it for a sec­ond and the ship sinks back—and now he says it’s im­pos­si­ble? Not to men­tion that Yoda, who’s got liter­ally eight hun­dred years of se­nior­ity in the field, just told him it should be doable—”

Ge­orge: “And then you walk away.”

Mark: “It’s his frig­gin’ space­ship! If he leaves it in the swamp, he’s stuck on Dagobah for the rest of his mis­er­able life! He’s not just go­ing to walk away! Look, let’s just cut to the next scene with the words ‘one month later’ and Luke is still raggedly stand­ing in front of the swamp, try­ing to raise his ship for the thou­sandth time—”

Ge­orge: “No.”

Mark: “Fine! We’ll show a sun­set and a sun­rise, as he stands there with his arm out, strain­ing, and then Luke says ‘It’s im­pos­si­ble’. Though re­ally, he ought to try again when he’s fully rested—”

Ge­orge: “No.”

Mark: “Five god­damned min­utes! Five god­damned min­utes be­fore he gives up!”

Ge­orge: “I am not halt­ing the story for five min­utes while the X-wing bobs in the swamp like a bath­tub toy.”

Mark: “For the love of sweet can­died yams! If a pa­thetic loser like this could mas­ter the Force, ev­ery­one in the galaxy would be us­ing it! Peo­ple would be­come Jedi be­cause it was eas­ier than go­ing to high school.”

Ge­orge: “Look, you’re the ac­tor. Let me be the sto­ry­tel­ler. Just say your lines and try to mean them.”

Mark: “The au­di­ence isn’t go­ing to buy it.”

Ge­orge: “Trust me, they will.”

Mark: “They’re go­ing to get up and walk out of the the­ater.”

Ge­orge: “They’re go­ing to sit there and nod along and not no­tice any­thing out of the or­di­nary. Look, you don’t un­der­stand hu­man na­ture. Peo­ple wouldn’t try for five min­utes be­fore giv­ing up if the fate of hu­man­ity were at stake.”