Greedo taking the first blaster shot — well, missing it and taking one right through his chest — in Star Wars: A New Hope will somehow remain one of the weirdest controversies in a franchise that is almost self-sustained by how much its fans argue with each other. But according to a new book, it was a moment defined by an almost blink of an eye.
While showing off Taschen’s incredibly fancy new Star Wars: Archives book about the making of Star Wars from 1997 to 2005 — encompassing not just the restoration and re-editing of the Special Edition versions of the original Star Wars trilogy, but the creation of an entirely new era in the prequels — in a lengthy new “unboxing” video, author Paul Duncan discussed some of the content included in his coverage of the creation of the Special Editions. Noting that not all additions to the films were well-received, Duncan teased an interesting document photographed for the book which overlooks George Lucas’ on notes on changes he wanted to make to his beloved films.
The most infamous of all is the edit made to make Greedo take a shot at Han before the roguish smuggler blows his adversary away — which, according to Duncan, Lucas changed in just a matter of frames. According to the document Duncan found, in the Special Editions Greedo shoots just five frames of footage before Han does — about a quarter of a second, given that there’s 24 frames in a second of standard film. Such an infinitesimal change, somehow ended up being so massive!
This isn’t the last time the scene was edited, of course — the DVD release in 2004 saw Han painfully jut his neck to one side, as if Greedo was somewhat competent and would’ve actually hit him with his hit, and the 2011 blu-ray shorted the time between shots even further. And then there was the heady days of 2019, when the Disney+ version of A New Hope in 4K included the addition of the hapless Rodian shouting “maclunkey!” for some reason. Remember maclunkey? Good times.
What it is about the Greedo moment that compels Lucas to want to revisit — and revisit — it so much is still somewhat fascinating. It wasn’t in the original script, basically no one likes it, not even Greedo himself. But maybe there is something quintesstially Star Wars that, two decades on, we’re still getting worked up by the blink of an eye.
The Star Wars Archives: 1999-2005 is available to order from Taschen now, for a release this month.