George Lucas is stirring up trouble again.
Reaffirming his place in the annals of the saga he created, the writer/director/producer/tinkerer defended his controversial choice to have Greedo shoot first in the special edition (and beyond) of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Since it’s been forever since people were able to see the original version, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) shoots Greedo in the Mos Eisley cantina, but in the 1997 Special Edition and the subsequent DVD and Blu-ray releases, a digitally added blast from the Rodian bounty hunter precedes Han’s shot.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Lucas said the change between theatrical and special editions was to do with Han’s principles.
“Han Solo was going to marry Leia, and you look back and say, ‘Should he be a cold-blooded killer?’” Lucas asks. “Because I was thinking mythologically—should he be a cowboy, should he be John Wayne? And I said, ‘Yeah, he should be John Wayne.’ And when you’re John Wayne, you don’t shoot people [first]—you let them have the first shot. It’s a mythological reality that we hope our society pays attention to.”
Okay. Um. Where do I start? Firstly, to say nothing of the awkwardness of the additional blaster bolt shot (frames were trimmed out for the Blu-ray release to make it slightly less noticeable), there’s the issue that Greedo basically just said he was going to kill Solo regardless of if he paid the money. So there was imminent threat on the smuggler’s life.
Second, to Lucas’ point about John Wayne—Han Solo isn’t John Wayne when we meet him in A New Hope; he might be a cowboy, but he’s not a “White Hat.” He’s in it for money only, he only cares about himself, and he openly mocks both the Force and the Rebellion. The whole crux of his through line is that he’s a scoundrel who becomes a true hero. It’s always made Han’s arc more believable if he goes from extreme to extreme. That’s why we like Han Solo. Plus he shoots a million Stormtroopers “in cold blood” on the Death Star, so why is Greedo—WHO IS HOLDING A GUN ON HIM—the death that makes him a murderer?
Anyway. Ford himself has come down on the side of “I don’t know, man” on the topic of Greedo shooting first, and The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams said definitively that Han shot first. Lucas has always, with regard to the series, put his opinion over that of the fans, going so far as to block further distribution of the original theatrical cuts in favor of his hyped-up whatevers that he kept tinkering with. It doesn’t make his movies any better; in fact it makes them worse, and things like this statement proves that he doesn’t really understand what everybody loves about Star Wars.
But he’s not in charge anymore, so maybe one day we’ll actually get a cleaned up, HD remaster of the original versions of the film. Why he chose this one to defend is beyond me.
Let me know your I’m-pretty-sure-I-know-what-they’ll-be thoughts in the comments below.
HT: Entertainment Weekly
Kyle Anderson is the Weekend Editor and film and TV critic for Nerdist.com. He also just watched A New Hope again and has OPINIONS. Follow him on Twitter to read them.