The CBC ran a story about a librarian in New Brunswick who found a shooting script for the first Star Wars movie (Episode IV: A New Hope) that had several lingering differences from the finished movie. Luke Skywalker’s last name is still “Starkiller” in this version, and the movie is referred to as “Saga I” rather than Episode IV.
The script also seems to confirm the views of certain diehard fans that “Han shot first.” The “Han shot first” debate refers to the scene where Greedo confronts him in the Cantina and tries to collect/intercept the money Han owes Jabba the Hutt. In the original, Han shoots Greedo under the table, and Greedo never fires a shot at all. For the 1997 Special Edition release of the film, Lucas inserted some footage that shows Greedo shooting at Han, and missing from a range of about two feet, before Han caps him. Lucas in 2012 claimed that it was always his intent for Greedo to have shot first, but that the scene was not shot correctly in the original film.
Here’s why the “Han shot first” debate matters to fans: If Greedo shoots first, that means that Han Solo is just sitting there with his gun drawn waiting for a professional bounty hunter to miss at point-blank range before killing him. This turn of events means Han kills out of self-defense rather than self-preservation. Hey, Han’s a good guy, but he’s not an idiotic Dudley Do-Right. If Greedo has a gun in his face and Han has a way to take Greedo out first, he’s going to pull that trigger. It’s ludicrous to suggest that Han has to wait to be fired upon first, just so that he can kill while retaining the moral high ground.
It’s the kind of moralizing correction that an older filmmaker, enamored of his Jar Jars and Ewoks, and perhaps thinking of his grandkids or Lego playsets, might make. But if Han doesn’t shoot first, his character is much less interesting.
Back to our librarian in New Brunswick: “I’ll tell you one thing, right now,” he told CBC. “Based on the script, I can tell you 100 per cent, Han shot first.”
With this story again in the news, and a document confirming that Lucas’ original vision of Han was as a shoot-first kind of guy, who should weigh in but Chewbacca himself, actor Peter Mayhew. Mayhew posted a page from his own script on Facebook. (While our librarian’s assurances were nice, he hadn’t actually shared a clear scan of the crucial page from the script.) Here’s Mayhew’s page:
Here’s a side-by-side look at the scene as presented on an ’80s VHS tape and the edited scene from the 2004 widescreen edition:
And here’s the video from CBC: