How many Star Wars films did George Lucas plan? According to Dan Golding in his recent book Star Wars After Lucas, this depends on when Lucas was asked.
The often-quoted number is nine, but it might wind up being as many as 12. How ever many he planned, we know he planned them in threes.
Today’s release of The Rise of Skywalker, directed by J.J. Abrams, marks the end of the third trilogy in the franchise.
But where does the trilogy story form come from?
Changing the world
Trilogy is a very old form. The earliest known example is Aeschylus’ Oresteia, which tells a story of revenge and change in law following Agamemnon’s return home from the Trojan war. It was first performed in Athens 2500 years ago.
In the first play, Agamemnon is murdered by his wife Clytemnestra as revenge for the sacrifice of their daughter. In the second play, their son Orestes murders his mother, to avenge his father’s death.
In the final play of the trilogy – with no more family members remaining to avenge Clytemnestra’s death – Orestes is put on trial in front of an Athenian jury. Also the first ever courtroom drama, Aeschylus used this third play to twist the story world set up in the first two plays.
A hallmark of the trilogy genre is the shift in the final part, with a revolution (as in The Hunger Games) or a restoration (as in Isaac Asimov’sFoundation). In linking three individual texts, there is a fourth, monumental, overarching story.
In the first two Star Wars trilogies, we followed Luke Skywalker’s journey to becoming a Jedi (Episodes IV-VI) and Anakin Skywalker’s journey to the Dark Side (Episodes I-III).
The current trilogy (Episodes VII-IX), so far, has expanded this overarching narrative even further: a hero’s journey in Rey, mimicking Luke’s journey to becoming a Jedi; and an anti-hero’s journey as Kylo Ren following the same path as Anakin.