Saturday, March 20, 2010

Han Shot First: A College Essay

I was just going through old college essays and came across one I was and still am particularly fond of. This was one in a series of essays you had to read out loud for this class. I got an A or a B and a bunch of confused looks on this one. Enjoy.

Jason Duarte
ENG 3001

Straight up, a few of you had to have seen the remade Star Wars trilogy that was released in 1997. Or as I like to call them, the children that George Lucas raised and unknowingly molested.

First off, the inserted CGI technology was unnecessary and pretty pointless, if you ask me. Most notably among the remakes, I would like to address a scene in Episode IV, where Greedo, a bounty hunter, tracks Han Solo at a bar, with intentions of killing him.

Now, the story behind this incident is, Han Solo and his companion, Chewbacca, were on their way to drop off a shipment (an illicit narcotic, called “spice”) to Jabba the Hutt, but ditched it when the millennium falcon was boarded and searched by Imperial troops. Greedo travels to the spaceport of Mos Eisley on Tattooine (Luke Skywalker’s home planet) in search of Han Solo, so he can capture him and bring him to Jabba for a lot of reward money. This is the spot where Han and Chewy are currently hiding, looking to gather passengers to enter the depths of the empire. Having said he simply lost the shipment made no difference to Jabba, putting Han in a pretty sticky situation, and that is why there’s a bounty out for Han and Chewy. And as Han and Chewy are doing business with Obi Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker on Tattooine, Greedo forth goes to claim his bounty.

There, now that the setting is in place, Greedo finds Han in a bar on Tattooine. As Solo gets up to leave the bar, Greedo runs into him, with his blaster point blank at Solo's chest. “Going somewhere, Solo?” Greedo asks. “Why yes, Greedo, I was just going to see your boss (Jabba),” replies Solo. Greedo forces Han to sit at a table, while Han is basically trying to cover himself by telling Greedo that he has Jabba’s money and that he was just on his way to give it to him. Greedo replies, “It’s too late. You should’ve paid him while you had the chance.” He then tells Solo that there is such a large price on Han’s head that every bounty hunter in the galaxy will be after him.

So now, to put Solo in an even more uncomfortable situation, he tells Solo how lucky he is that he found him first. Solo replies, “Yeah, well this time, I’ve got the money,” again, trying to get out of basically being killed. Greedo tries to swindle it out of Han, telling him that if he gives Jabba’s money to Greedo, Greedo will forget he ever ran into him. So, nervous, Han tells him that he doesn’t have it with him, and begins to reach for his blaster, as things are getting pretty heated at this point. Greedo is getting pissed off, blaster still pointed at Solo’s chest, and replies, “Jabba’s through with you. He has no time for smugglers who drop their shipments at the first sight of an Imperial cruiser.” So, Han tells him that he didn’t have a choice, that he was searched, where Greedo replies, “Tell it to Jabba. He may only take your ship,” referring to that over his life. So of course, Han gets defensive and says, “Over my dead body.” Greedo tells him he’s been looking forward to it for a long time.

Now, at this precise moment, is what I want to look at. In the original 1977 version of Episode IV, Han, with his hand on his blaster under the table, straight up shoots Greedo right there on the spot, killing him. Then, with no remorse, gets up and smoothly tips the bartender, apologizing for “the mess” on his way out. Now, Han Solo has amazing survival skills. He doesn't look for trouble, but it’s his deciding of what’s right and what is wrong in life or death situations that only further him on the downward spiral. His decisions are basic acts of human survival. Greedo’s new to the bounty hunting game, overly eager to get his reward money, and it’s his lack of carefulness that brings him to his eventual fate. So, fast forward 20 years to 1997, where we have our first remake of the Star Wars trilogy. Before that Episode 1-3 bullshit, which is a 10-page paper in itself. As Lucas was toying around with his stupid CGI effects in the movie, he changed this scene, as he thought it was too “cold-blooded” of Han to shoot Greedo in, well, cold blood and changed it for “kids.” Han was a good guy, and good guys don’t shoot first, according to Lucas. So in the new scene, Greedo shoots first, TWO FEET AWAY FROM HAN, and misses him, hitting the wall. Han, hand still on his blaster, then shoots Greedo in “self defense,” and the scene continues as normal with him walking out.

This is quite possibly the dumbest idea George Lucas has ever come up with next to making Episodes 1-3. Shooting Greedo before Greedo shot him doesn’t make Han cold, it makes him cool. Han Solo is a bad ass, and the pussification of his character hurts the movie, Han’s character and my ability to think logically, because in the end, HAN STILL KILLS GREEDO. Okay. To give Lucas some credit, fine. Children shouldn’t be exposed to such brutality, because maybe they’ll be lead astray when they see a good guy killing someone without any bullets flying at them first. Or as Episode IV would have it, lasers. But what’s ridiculous about changing this scene is that fact that even after pretending he cares about children, he goes and shoots a scene in Episode III where Anakin Skywalker decapitates Count Dooku with two lightsabers because the evil Senator Palpatine told him to. Now, if you ask me, decapitation is more graphic and wrong to a child’s eyes than Han shooting a bad guy before the bad guy shoots him. I was only 11 when I saw the remakes in theaters, but had already grown up on the trilogy. So this was before I fully understood the why aspect of Lucas’ changing the scenes. But at this time, fans were up in arms about this, upset about the scene change, and so to butter up an attempt to make it up to his fans, Lucas occasionally wears a t-shirt that reads, “Han Shot First.” It’s an awesome t-shirt, but it’s a lame attempt at making up for something you completely ruined.

But, the die hard fans got what they wanted before the blasphemy took place. In 1995, the original trilogy was re-released THX re-mastered and adapted from laserdisc. The whole “Greedo shooting first” thing was ridiculous and a huge mistake, made by Lucas. In what he claims was an attempt to make Han’s character better and more sensitive was the worst mistake in cinematography next to casting Paris Hilton as an actress. Actually, no, scratch that. Fans of hers actually want to see her on the big screen. The whole thing was just dumb. Even a storm trooper could have hit Han from the distance Greedo was sitting from him. Jesus Christ, even the editing was bad in that scene. When Greedo fires his shot at Han, Han’s head literally is cropped off and jerks to his right, and then reattaches to his body. It isn’t as bad as it sounds, and is only for a split second, but it is pretty bad. Lucas clearly gave this no time, thought or effort. So that being said and off my chest, great movies like the Star Wars trilogy should be controlled by the fans, because it is their hearts in which this masterpiece of a movie lays, not Lucas’. Let’s just put it this way, if someone came and edited the Bible, making Jesus a bad guy, or changing who killed him, wouldn’t you be pissed too?

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