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!