The Legacy of Star Wars’ Journal of the Whills

The Journal of the Whills was once the document that held the entire Star Wars saga together. Learn more about it here!

Double Take is our new original video series debuting every Monday afternoon on the Den of Geek Facebook page. Each week, we uncover the hidden references, comics easter eggs, and Hollywood oddities you may have missed in your favorite movies and television shows.

Double Take: The Legacy of Star Wars’ Journal of the Whills

One of the most interesting stories about the early days of Star Wars – when George Lucas was still penning the first drafts of the original film – is the creation of the Journal of the Whills. While this mysterious journal was originally meant to be a vital part of the saga, it was eventually scrapped in later drafts. 

Lucas originally conceived the Journal of the Whills as a plot device that explained how the Star Wars universe connected to the real world. It’s the reason the main saga films open with the famous words: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” The idea was that the entire saga was being recounted by R2-D2 to a member of a species of higher beings known as the Whills. Thus the story of Luke Skywalker’s exploits would be recorded in the book for us to find many, many years later. 

Said Lucas about the Journal in The Annotated Screenplays:

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Originally, I was trying to have the story be told by somebody else; there was somebody watching this whole story and recording it, somebody probably wiser than the mortal players in the actual events. I eventually dropped this idea, and the concept behind the Whills turned into the Force. But the Whills became part of this massive amount of notes, quotes, background information that I used for the scripts; the stories were actually taken from the Journal of the Whills.

While A New Hope did away with the idea on screen, there is at least a passing reference to the Journal of the Whills in the novelization by Alan Dean Foster. Years later, the Journal of the Whills was finally made canon in the novelization of The Force Awakens, also written by Foster. The book begins with a quotation from the Journal: 

First comes the dayThen comes the night.After the darknessShines through the light.The difference, they say,Is only made rightBy the resolving of grayThrough refined Jedi sight.

That sounds like a prophecy that may be addressed in The Last Jedi, whose first trailer features an ancient book and a lot of talk about balance. Could the Journal of the Whills finally take center stage in Episode VIII?

Learn more about the Journal in the video below: