George Lucas Doesn't Respect You

Unless you've been living under a rock lately, you probably know that in a recent interview with Hollywood Reporter, George Lucas said that Greedo always shot first, but the audience didn't notice because it was all done in close-up shots so it was hard to tell who did what to whom. I'm not normally this blunt at the start of an article, but if he actually thinks anyone believes that, he's an idiot.

"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 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." --George Lucas

I've seen a lot of insults in my day, but this one might be the most offensive simply because of what George Lucas must think of us to have actually had the balls to fucking say it - oh yeah, to anyone who's new to How To Not Suck and came here because it's a topical link, I swear a lot, especially over things I'm passionate about; live with it. Now, before we go any further, let's look at the history of the scene, and why it's so damned important anyway.

The role of Han Solo is one of anti-hero. He starts out as essentially an outlaw smuggler, doing odd jobs for questionable people, with a giant walking carpet as a sidekick. He agrees to help out Luke and Obi-Wan for a price, not knowing or caring why they need transportation, only that he will be well paid. Then, on his way out of the Cantina, he's confronted by Greedo, who's there to collect a debt Han owes to the gangster Jabba the Hutt. Greedo pulls a gun on him and holds it on him for almost an entire minute while they talk and Han surreptitiously draws his own gun below the table, and then they threaten to kill each other and Han pulls the trigger first.

Old vs new

The reason this scene is so important is that it secures him in our minds as the take-no-bullshit ruffian who does whatever it takes to survive, including killing someone he thinks will kill him back. It also sets up the most complete story arc in the entire trilogy, as he goes from being the rebel whose only concern is his own skin, all the way to loyal freedom fighter who's willing to die for the cause. So willing, in fact, that Harrison Ford actually tried to convince George Lucas to let Han die in Return of the Jedi, because it would complete his character's story.

Then, in an effort to "soften up" Han for the new audience, when the remastered version of Star Wars came out, a shot was added that showed Greedo shooting first, and Han shooting in self defense. By making that change, he was hoping to make Han look more sympathetic to the new fans. And that is where George Lucas first began going right off the fucking rails.

Han shoots first, frame by frame

Han Solo isn't supposed to be sympathetic when we first meet him! He's an outlaw smuggler, who does what he needs to do in order to stay the fuck alive. If he made a habit of only shooting in self defense, he'd be fucking dead already. The entire point of his character is that he starts out as a remorseless self-interested asshole, and over the course of three films he grows into a shining beacon of honor and valor. If he's already starting halfway there, then there's no point in him even being there for the long haul; may as well have him die at the end of the first movie.

That change was audacious enough, but to now claim that Greedo always shot first? Go eat a bag of cocks, Lucas. I've gone over that scene in the original version frame by fucking frame, and there does not exist a single shred of footage that even hints at Greedo having shot first. In fact, there the frames are on the right. Let's look at them in order, shall we?

  1. Nobody's shooting at anybody. This is the first of 5 consecutive frames being shown. That light near Han's hand is there the whole time; it's nothing new
  2. Han fires from below his leg. The flash is bright, but there's a void against the wall. It doesn't take long to see that it's in the same shape as Han's head and shoulder, meaning it's a shadow from Han's blaster; not another shot hitting the wall.
  3. Hey look, it's Greedo not firing.
  4. The blaster shot.
  5. And Greedo has a brand new hole.
Star Wars shooting script

Not only that, but what you see to the left is what the shooting script had to say about things. You know what it doesn't say? "Greedo fires at Han but misses, and Han returns fire, killing Greedo." No, instead it says "Han blows Greedo away."

The way they added the scene wasn't by zooming out, or using CGI, but by taking a frame from another part of the conversation and inserting it, and then manipulating Han so that it looks like he moves his head. It was so sloppily done that it doesn't even look like it's in the right place. Just look at the posture differences: he goes from leaning forward to leaning back. His mouth goes from open to closed. His hand goes from up to down. His right shoulder changes position. It even looks like his shirt is less open. It's clearly not just a wider view of what we always saw; George Lucas just simply tried to pull a fast one on us. And now he's saying the reason we didn't know that Greedo always shot first was that we missed it? Fuck off, Lucas.

Consecutive frames from the special edition
These are supposed to be consecutive frames

Changing the scene so that Greedo shot first is disrespectful to the source material. If Han doesn't shoot first, then he's not the man he needs to be in order for the rest of his story arc to make sense. Claiming that Greedo always shot first but we didn't notice because of the framing is disrespectful and insulting to us, the fans. Not only is it provably not true, but trying to put the blame on us for his poor revision choice shows the kind of coward he really is.

Fuck George Lucas. Until recently, I still respected him for having created Star Wars and Indiana Jones, despite the mockeries he made of both franchises when he tried to use them to milk more money out of us. Now that last lingering shred of respect is gone. It's no secret that he hates the original trilogy - just look at where the main characters are in the Blu-Ray box art - but now it looks like he hates us for daring to fucking like it.

The next logical step

So fuck you, Lucas, and fuck your revisionist Star Wars. You want to destroy your own franchise? Good for you; I'm not going to pay to watch you do it. As fans, if you want George Lucas to stop turning the movies you love into bullshit, you need to vote with your wallets. Stop buying revised DVDs and Blu-Rays. Don't go see Phantom Menace in 3D (as if post-production conversions ever don't suck anyway). Protest by avoiding everything George Lucas lays his selfish asshole hands on, so that everything he fucking touches costs him money. Because after pulling this shit on us - telling us that we're responsible for his mistake - he fucking deserves it.

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