Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Of First Shots and Second Chances

Greedo: I've been looking forward to this for a long time.
Han Solo: Yeah, I'll bet you have. [BLAM!]

This was an exciting day for us aficionados of the classic Star Wars trilogy. Today, the original, unaltered versions of those movies, as seen in theaters, were released on DVD for the first time in galactic history.

For fans of my generation who saw these movies in their pristine form, and then had to endure the crass distortions of their so-called "special editions" - vile corruptions that George Lucas had the gall to pass off as "improvements" - this is a day of both glee and vindication. The former self-evident, the latter because as recently as two or three years ago, Lucas was quoted as saying that the original versions "no longer exist", and smugly suggested that the die-hard fans should just "forget about them". Well, even the king of all pompous geniuses can have a change of heart, it seems. And perhaps even learn a little something from us patient, stubborn fanboy geeks.

Arguably the most egregious of the alterations which will now be mercifully undone is the infamous "Greedo shot first" scene. For anyone who hasn't heard of this controversy, here's a good analysis; to quote the most salient point:
Lucas explains that the change was made because he felt that Han Solo would never shoot another in "cold blood."...Some critics state that the change dilutes and compromises Han's rebellious and ruthless nature. The change is felt to detract from Han's "anti-heroic" qualities, and diminishes the character's growth and development over the story from a rogue smuggler who cares only about himself (and his co-pilot Chewbacca) into a committed member of the Rebel Alliance.
I'd even go a step further, and perhaps get a bit more pedantic and serious than this topic would appear to merit. But I have a big problem with an approach that outlaws "shooting first" under any circumstances, even ones of clearly imminent danger to the shooter. This attitude seems all too familiar when I think about the mainstream media's condemnation of any possible action by Israel - and often, the USA as well - in its own defense. And I can't help but notice that Israel's one pre-emptive war - the one time it did actually "shoot first" - was its most clear-cut and overwhelming success.

Something to think about. It's nice to know that even gentile Hollywood producers can do teshuvah at Rosh Hashanah time! Perhaps our politicians and pundits can learn something from Mr. Lucas. Or to quote Master Yoda himself,
“You must unlearn what you have learned!


At 9/14/06, 10:57 AM, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Wow you are so educated I know nothing about this.

At 9/14/06, 10:59 AM, Blogger Elie said...

Thanks for the compliment, though I don't know if I'd call being a Star Wars buff part of my "education"!

At 9/14/06, 1:49 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

Marvel put out a comic book version that I think had Jabba as a humanoid (not as a giant slug) after Han fries the guy. I guess it was in the script (or the scene was shot but not used).

DS9 had a similar issue with Quark. Earlier on he was really bad (though maybe not evil bad), but as time went on he softened and "grew". (i.e. became more of a touchy feely Democrat.) Sort of like Han.

At 9/14/06, 2:02 PM, Blogger Elie said...

I have a tape of an HBO "Making of Star Wars" special from the late 80s, long before the special editions were envisioned, where they showed the scene you mentioned. Jabba was a chubby human who spoke English (or whatever language the main characters speak in Star Wars) with an Irish accent, and dressed in furs. In fact, they way they made the special edition "new" scene with the Hutt-Jabba meeting Han, was to add the Hutt-Jabba image over the human-Jabba actor, and dub in "Huttese" instead of his previous English dialogue.

In terms of Quark, that is a good example of character evolution. But the DS9 creative crew never went back and changed the early episodes to make him the kindler, gentler Quark all along!

At 9/14/06, 2:16 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

I guess that they didn't go back and give R2D2 all the functionality he had in Revenge of the Sith, though. :-(

At 9/15/06, 1:06 AM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

I agree with you. Han is much cooler as a man who evolves from the greedy smuggler into a "general."

At 9/15/06, 8:44 PM, Blogger benning said...

I think South Park did the best at taking shots at those who would monkey with the original product as a way to pull in more dollars. They really nailed Lucas and Spielberg. :D

At 9/16/06, 8:49 PM, Blogger Elie said...

I'm not generally a South Park fan (often too vulgar for my tastes), but I saw the episode you refer to and loved it.


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