Siar Wars

13 12 2015

With all the frenzy about the new Star Wars movie coming out, it’s easy for people to forget about Lucasfilm’s close ties to Stornoway. Although Ge*rge Lucas’ original trilogy is renowned as a Sci-fi masterpiece, the lesser known films that predated them (and directly led to their creation) are still held in high regard in the Outer Hebrides to this day.In 1967, while young Ge*rge was swanning around California making ruppish experimental films, Lucas’ older brother B*ll moved to Stornoway and took a job as a reporter at the Gazette. In between sherrif court reports and death notices, he put together the screenplay for the expansive movie trilogy that would go on to delight dozens of Hebridean filmgoers: Siar Wars.
Originally concieved as a nine part series, Lucas penned treatments for the first three movies, The Phantom Meh-Ness, Attack of the Blones and Rev-enge of the (Ang*s) Smith, but eventually decided to start with Part 4 since he couldn’t be fleeked with setting the scene. 
The first film to actually get made, “Siar Wars Episode IV: A Loom Hope” focuses on the exploits of a young Sgitheanach fisherman, Liù Skyewalker. Skyewalker longs to break away from his tedious life of mending nets and hauling creels, runs away from his tiny village of Tattarskavaig and hops across the Sound of Harris on the Tarbert ferry. On board he encounters a strange old man, shunned by others, propped up in the bar lounge with snifter and a pint. He reveals himself to be the legendary mystic Bogie Wan Kenobi. Together they catch the bus from Tarbert to Stornoway where Liù hopes he will find adventure and Bogie Wan hopes he will find the Crit still open.
Along the way, they pick up a Newly-Come-Over eco-warrior, Leia Organophosphatesheepdip, who is on the run from the corrupt Shawbost Common Grazings Committee for stealing their plans to drain Loch a’ Bhaile in order to build a gigantic Harris Tweed Mill. Upon their arrival in Town, and finding the Crit closed after all, they make their way through the Narrows where they bump into famed Gaelic singer, Mòd Solo and his faithful collie companion, Cù-Bacca. Together they join forces and ride off on Solo’s tractor, the Millenium Fordson, to save the Shawbost Machair and defeat the might of Emperor PalpatInacleteroad of the Common Grazings Committee and his black-clad Free Church elder henchman, Darth Shader.
Memorable scenes include the part where Liù and his friends are trapped by Darth Shader inside a dilapidated àirigh on the Barvas moor. Just before the walls start falling in on them, Mòd Solo utters the much repeated catchphrase, “I’ve got a bad shieling about this…”
Other famous quotes include the part when Bogie Wan, who has a cruel thirst on, finds a discarded bottle of 4 Crown on board the Millenium Fordson. He fears Cù-Bacca may have peed in it, but out of desperation takes a swig regardless. His relief is palpable when he exclaims, “That’s no’ mùn!”
The film was a runaway success at the Galaxy Cinema, which gave Lucas the push to complete the trilogy. The next film continued the story of Liù and friends as they join a breakaway Point congregation (the Rebels) in taking on the evil Common Grazings Empire, who have begun work on a new Harris Tweed Super-Mill that will require the destruction of the entire area from Upper Coll to Gress. In “The Empire Strikes Back” we follow Liù as he learns to use the power of the Cùram, as well as introducing a host of new characters such as the administrator of MaCloud City, Lando Collriversian.
The third film in the franchise, “Siar Wars – Episode VI: Return of the (Calum the) Ledi”, expanded the cast still further, with Mòd Solo falling foul of woodworking gangster Habba the Hutt. After Habba encases Solo in peat, Skyewalker and friends stage a daring rescue mission, and despite Skyewalker having a close shave with the fearsome Fankor monster, the gang rescue Solo and go on to defeat the Grazings Committee for good with the aid of a flock of cuddly blackface ewes.  
Despite the films’ local success, the big studios wouldn’t touch them due to the ridiculously parochial subject matter and ropey acting. The films were never released on video and the original 16mm reels were lost in a freak Bon-Accord lemonade bottle explosion. Thus, Siar Wars faded into obscurity.
That was until 1976, when Ge*rge Lucas was home visiting his brother for the August communion weekend, and seeing the opportunity for a quick buck, seized the manuscripts, changed the names, added a robot or two and went on to make cinematic history.
So as you watch Episode VII, spare a thought for the elder Lucas brother whose idea got shamelessly lifted to spawn a multi-Billion dollar movie franchise, and whose shoddy screenplay was still fleekeen streets ahead of that nonsense Ge*rge punted out in the prequels.