It’s been 39 years since the original “Star Wars” came out in the cinemas and thrilled moviegoers worldwide. George Lucas’s space saga about ‘a galaxy far, far away’ impressed audiences and critics alike and a total of seven “Star Wars” movies have been made since then. However, the biggest “Star Wars” controversy that has endured ever since Lucas decided to tinker with his original trilogy was whether Han Solo (Harrison Ford) shot first. Now, Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew has revealed the original shooting script of “Star Wars,” which settles this debate.
Mayhew posted snapshots of four pages from the shooting script of the cantina scene on his Twitter account with the words “#chewscript 014 Han Shot First. Period. @starwars.”
Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the original “Star Wars,” George Lucas decided to re-release the original trilogy in theatres and restored the original negatives. However, he made some changes that fans of the original have always criticised.
In the original theatrical prints, the Correlian smuggler shoots Greedo without warning but in the “special edition” and every home video version onwards, George Lucas changed the shot digitally by making Greedo shoot first and Han shooting Greedo in self-defense.
The change is particularly jarring as the effects are quite shoddy and also changes Han’s character significantly. He is no longer the reckless guy who shots first asks questions later; a trait that fans originally fell in love with.
In 2012, George Lucas told The Hollywood Reporter that Greedo had always shot first and that the framing of the scene caused doubts in the minds of the cinemagoer. “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,” said Lucas.
From the script it’s very clear that either Lucas incorrectly remembered or he tried to falsely justify his changes as the original theatrical cuts became rare. Lucas said something particularly that fans found very disagreeable. “Star Wars, there’s basically one version — it just keeps getting improved a little bit as we move forward … ”
George Lucas has since sold Lucasfilm to Disney and it seems like he will most likely not be making any further changes or updates to his films. However, despite Mayhew’s revelation, Greedo shooting first still remains canon because that’s how the “Star Wars” creator wants the scene to exist.
Will the Han Solo anthology movie address this issue? Most likely not.