Han shot Greedo first: How a Star Wars edit rekindled the decades-old discord between fans and the franchise

Exploding Death Stars. Light up. No Star Wars. Star Wars: A New Hope had it all. For all the breathtaking and instantly iconic scenes that will appear in the film, it’s odd that its most controversial setting is also the simplest: two characters sit down at a table, blinking before when shooting at each other.

This scene happens about 50 minutes into the movie, right after we’re introduced to Harrison Ford’s cucumber smuggler boss Han Solo. Han is forced into a dinner counter by bounty hunter Greedo – an alien curious with large, bulging eyes and reptilian blue skin. Greedo points a gun at him, explaining that he is here to collect Han’s debt to local crime boss Jabba the Hutt. Han paused in time, while attentively taking off his pistol. Then, like a coiled snake, he attacked – shot dead his unsightly foe. Footage is everything you need to know about Han Solo. He is not a saint, not a hero. This is a man who will shoot first and looks great doing it. At least, what it looked like if you watched it in 1977.

Twenty years later, this has not happened. In 1997, A new hopeGeorge Lucas, the director of the film, oversaw the remastered and revised digital re-release of the original Star Wars trilogy. The majority of Lucas’ changes can best be described as benign but unnecessary – a previously deleted scene restored using CGI Jabba the Hutt; Exploding planets have been provided with additional visualizations. But one change proved too much for fans.

The fateful meeting between Han and Greedo was changed to clear Han of all wrongdoing. Han no longer “shoots first”. Instead, his alien enemy somehow missed a shot from close range, giving him the opportunity to quickly open fire in retaliation. Reactions to the change ranged from various shrugs to incandescent rage: for some fans, this was a betrayal not only of the film’s sanctity. original but also Han’s personality. The backlash has become one of the biggest fan-creator debates of all time. In the process, it set the template for a new era of torture battles between fans and creators, from Ghostbusters arrive Alliance justice.

Subsequent re-edits of the film have retouched the details. A DVD released in 2004 showed the two gunmen shooting almost simultaneously; The 2019 version added some cryptic dialogue in which Greedo can be heard saying a gibberish that many fans have heard is “maclunkey”. The whole matter of “who shot who first and how” had become so confusing, it would take a skilled Cluedo player to get to the bottom of it.

Paul Blake, the actor who played Greedo, spoke about the scene several times, including in an interview with New York Daily News in 2016. When asked for his thoughts on the “Han shot first” debate, he replied, “It said it all in the original script. We did the scene in English and at the end it said ‘Han shot the alien’. It would be lovely to see them go back to the original version – I have to say I like it much more. ” To the same question, Harrison Ford’s answer was quite succinct: “I don’t care.”

For his part, Lucas was clear about his reasons for the change. “I never designed Han to be a ruthless killer,” he said. “All good people shoot in self-defense.” He has reiterated many times over the years that the Star Wars movies are primarily aimed at children. The fact that so many of the franchise’s biggest fans are now adults – and have been for decades – causes no small amount of conflict when it comes to the tone and direction of the series itself. .

Don’t be complacent: Harrison Ford as Han Solo in his fateful confrontation with Greedo (not pictured)


Little was known at the time, but the “Han shot first” rampage was just the first in a series of protracted disputes between factions within the Star Wars fanbase and the villains. look at the mustache of the franchise. After 1997, Lucas would continue to make changes to the original Star Wars trilogy over the next two decades, adding peripheral CGI characters and enhanced effects. His prequel trilogy, starting with the years 1999 The Phantom Menace, was opposed by a large section of the audience because, among other things, its tone was too immature. Disney’s billion-dollar acquisition of Star Wars in 2012 took the series away from Lucas and him out of reach, but the struggle between fans and creators continues unabated. reduction. Whether it’s the polarization of Rian Johnson The Last JediJJ Abrams is widely criticized The Rise of Skywalkeror unlucky Solo: A Star Wars Story, Disney’s commitment to providing Star Wars assets has long overshadowed any so-called transgressions by Lucas. The time to grasp pearls is long gone. However, for many people, “Han shot first” still stings like a laser shot into the gut.

Professor Josef Benson, author of Star Wars: The Triumph of the Nerd . Culture, said the franchise’s revolutionary approach to merchandising helped seed the backlash against Lucas. “[With A New Hope]Lucas was interested in creating a myth and from the very beginning, fans wanted to be part of it,” he said. “As millions upon millions of action figures flooded the market, Star Wars as a myth left an indelible mark on the minds of an entire generation of children. In this way, fans of the film begin to feel ownership over the films unlike anything that has come before. “

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While the initial reaction to the news that Lucas was updating and re-releasing the original trilogy was broadly positive, the situation changed when they realized what this meant for the franchises. their precious original film. “For fans, this is a powerful move that helps make it clear who the Star Wars in the world really belongs to,” Benson said. “Many people feel as if the movies are no longer Lucas’s to change. The so-called flaws in the movie are really what affects people the most, unlike the cigarette in one of Jackson Pollock’s oil paintings. ”

‘Aliens’: Paul Blake as Greedo, Han’s arch-nemesis


With various re-edits by Lucas, now the only commercially available version is widely available A new hope, it begs the question: who is responsible for preserving the original, captivating Star Wars experience without blemish? Some fans have made their own. Fan-made re-edits of the original trilogy have long circulated online, with restorations such as “Harmy’s Despecialised Edition” attempting to successfully recreate the series’ original cuts. movie. It’s far from ideal, but these kinds of unofficial reverse channels are sometimes how niche or “lost” movies come into existence. It seems ludicrous to label a movie as huge as Star Wars as a sort of buried cinematic curiosity, but in its original, authentic form, it is.

In the grand scheme of things, Lucas’s aborted re-edits aren’t necessarily the serious acts of cultural vandalism they are sometimes made for. Dodgy restorations have always been a part of Hollywood – consider the monstrous hues of the Laurel and Hardy movies, or the decision to replace guns with walkie-talkies in the 2002 re-release of Dodgy. ET (a decision Steven Spielberg later reverted to). The question of whether Han is a cold-blooded killer – or simply a slow killer – doesn’t really change the rest of the movie too much. But it’s a matter of principle. It’s a debate that will likely linger long after Lucas has passed away, after Disney’s Star Wars franchise becomes its eleventh trilogy, and after “Son of the Mandalorian” turns into season eighth. If there’s one thing these movies teach us, it’s that war never really ends.

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/star-wars-han-greedo-shot-first-b2001852.html Han shot Greedo first: How a Star Wars edit rekindled the decades-old discord between fans and the franchise

Tom Vazquez

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