Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Han Shot First

For those of you that don't know, 'Han Shot First' is a phrase commonly used by Star Wars fans referring to a controversial change made in 1997 to a scene in the first Star Wars film, one of the greatest scenes of all time; the Cantina scene.

Basically, 1977 Han (Harrison Ford) has a bounty on his head. He runs into a Bounty Hunter in a Cantina and shoots him before he can finish his let's-hold-Han-at-gunpoint conversation. This decision is more than acceptable given his situation, but most importantly, it is crucial to defining Han's morally ambiguous character.

Here's where it all goes downhill: 1997 Han gets shot at first, manages to dodge the shot via digital manipulation, then proceeds to shoot the bounty hunter in the face. Not only was the scene changed for no good reason, but it was changed poorly and in an awkward manner in order to convince the kids of today that ‘Han had no choice’.

What makes it worse is the fact that in the 2004 altered version, the Bounty Hunter’s head is engulfed in flames as Han casually walks away. Is this even worse than the regular-smouldering-head original? Quite possibly.

Lucas had obviously grown weak after 20 years of pressure from moral skeptics and single mothers. This I cannot ignore. But he went for the overkill. He tried too hard to fix things that didn't need fixing and ended up making it worse. As the saying goes… Well, you know.

We’re due for a Blu-ray release of the entire Star Wars saga sometime this year if memory serves, so it will be interesting to see if Lucas has spent the last few years changing the only two things that truly need changing: The removal of Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman.

- Aaron.


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