Friday, September 16, 2016

Did Han Shoot First? Does It Matter?

Last month I read Tony Laplume's latest opus, Miss Simon's Dime Novel.  About a third of the book is the eponymous character and her husband debating whether Han Solo shot Greedo in the cantina in the original Star Wars back in 1977.

In the original movie Han clearly shot Greedo.  Then 20 years later George Lucas came along with the genius idea that Greedo should shoot first, something most people found ridiculous.  Which is of course why Tony Laplume is spending a third of a book defending it.  The characters go on and on about the philosophical implications of it without ever once considering the practical reality.

The simple fact is fans were right to reject that scene not for any philosophical reason, but because Lucas staged the revision so incompetently that it could not be believed.  By that I mean, consider the situation:  you have Greedo, a bounty hunter and triggerman for the galaxy's most feared gangster sitting across a cantina booth from his prey.  They're less than five feet apart and yet somehow he misses from pointblank range, without Han Solo so much as flinching.  That's just not possible.  Plenty of jokes are made about how bad Stormtroopers are at shooting, but at least they're trying to hit moving targets.  Han is sitting almost completely still!

What Lucas really needed to do if he really wanted Greedo to shoot first was to completely rewrite the scene.  To miss from that range, something would have to hit Greedo's arm or maybe Ben Kenobi could have used the Force on him.  Otherwise it's simply impossible for a trained killer to miss so badly at that range.

This wasn't the only revision to the "Special Edition" that was staged badly.  There was also a scene where Han meets with Jabba the Hutt by the Millennium Falcon.  As he's talking to Jabba, Han steps on Jabba's tail and just continues talking without missing a beat while Jabba's eyes comically bulge.  The reason for this is that Jabba didn't have a tail visible when they shot the scene back in 1977 and Lucas couldn't get Harrison Ford to reshoot the scene.  Instead of just dropping it, Lucas half-assed it, making for another ridiculous addition to the not-so-Special Edition.  I guess the idea was he needed to add something new to make it seem worthwhile and didn't really give a shit if it looked decent or not--a portent of what was to come.

I guess you could take this as a message about editing.  And not doing things half-assed.  If you are going to half-ass it, then don't bother with it at all.

Anyway, this whole post is moot, because we know who the real winner of Han vs. Greedo was.


  1. I have to agree with you that it shouldn't be rewritten. Perhaps it makes Han look less bad if he fired second, but I always took it as if he hadn't of fired first he was going to be dead.

  2. Look, Pat, George Lucas didn't entirely reshoot those scenes. For one thing, it would've looked even worse for a Harrison Ford who was obviously twenty years older, assuming there was even a tiny fraction of a chance he'd've agreed to do it. For another, Lucas also knew fans would talk about it regardless of whether or not they liked it. He knew starting with Return of the Jedi that they had stopped loving everything. But that they had lost the ability to ignore it. Think about that, too.

    1. Yeah, none of that is an excuse to half-ass it. Actually it's the opposite.



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