I loved Star Wars before I ever saw the movie. I remember in 1978 when my father brought home a cassette entitled The Story of Star Wars, an abridged version of the audio track from the film narrated by the distinctive voice of Roscoe Lee Browne. That was my first exposure to the story that would leave an indelible mark on my childhood. The great thing about listening to it before actually seeing it was that it sparked my imagination, and the faraway galaxy I conjured up in my mind was much more epic than the one I eventually saw onscreen.
I think the main reason why so many of us 40-somethings are Star Wars fans is that it was one of the first movies we remember seeing on the big screen. Sure, we were blown away by the special effects, but we really fell in love with the story of a ragtag group of lovable misfits banding together against a virtually invincible evil.
That was before the dark times...before the Lucas Empire.
On the heels of the first film's success came the abysmal monstrosity known as The Star Wars Holiday Special. That should have been our first tip-off. But it wasn't until the 1997 version of Star Wars that we realized what we were up against. That's when we were introduced to the infamous "Greedo shoots first" scene.
Yes, George Lucas had committed the unpardonable sin of rewriting Star Wars history. Everyone knows that Han shot first. There is no question about it.
Changing such an iconic scene was insulting enough, but ol' George has now decided to add insult to injury, insisting that we didn't really see what we all know we saw 35 years ago. The creator of one of the most beloved movie franchises in history now claims that Han Solo NEVER shot first:
The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo [who seemed to be the one who shot first in the original] to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down.I have never heard anyone try to argue that Captain Solo was a cold-blooded killer. Although he did fire the first shot in that confrontation, it was entirely justified. Greedo got the drop on him, promising to turn him over to a ruthless gangster who would very likely have him killed in a most gruesome way. The reptilian bounty hunter then threatened to kill Han himself when Han refused to comply. It was a clear case of self-defense. Perhaps someone should tell that to the guy who wrote the story in the first place.
The seemingly endless onslaught of edited, re-edited, and re-re-edited versions of the original three films has only served to detract from older fans' enjoyment of the story. George Lucas, the man who once inspired millions of impressionable moviegoers, is guilty of assaulting and corrupting the very childhood memories he helped create. We are now the parents of a new generation of Star Wars fans, and we have been left with the monumental task of sorting through those fractured memories for our own kids, trying to separate fact from fiction...well, you know, to the extent that's possible in a make-believe world set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.
(HT: The Knight Shift)