|This article is part of UnNews||Where man always bites dog|
8 March 2011
SAN FRANCISCO, California -- An exchange of gunfire whose motive and particulars have been the source of heated debate between historians for more than a decade may have new light shed on it in coming years, as the Hollywood director who first introduced the event to wider audiences has agreed to revisit the subject.
A press release today from George Lucas’s little-known independent film company Lucasfilm confirmed that the maverick director feels there is something more to be said on the famous Solo-Greedo duel of 1977.
“In recent years, I felt like my portrayal of [the duel] was awfully two-dimensional,” admitted 66-year-old Lucas during an interview at his retreat at the legendary Cadillac Ranch. “I think there’s a third dimension to the story here that audiences haven’t seen before, and it must be told.”
Nearly 34 years ago, an exchange of pistol fire rang out in a seedy port-town tavern, briefly disturbing the bar’s other clientele from their drinks. In the aftermath, a zealous young enforcer for a local mobster lay slumped over a table, while his unrepentant killer only offered apology, according to witnesses, for, “the mess.” The accused shooter Han Solo walked away that day, while Greedo lay there smoldering.
For years, this scenario was generally accepted as the most likely one by crime historians, and perpetuated by Lucas’s docu-drama Star Wars, which starred 1970s leading man Burt Reynolds as Han Solo and Walter Matthau as Obi-Wan Kenobi. The film depicts Han, an irreverent smuggler, shooting Greedo in a flippant and vaguely pre-meditated fashion, effectively killing the green-hand gangster before he can even get a shot off. The killing establishes Solo’s questionable morality in the film, making his eventual transformation into an American hero all the more compelling.
However, a long-asked-for director’s cut in 1997 lent credence to the opinions of a dissenting set of historians who believed that Han Solo, like all American heroes, was unquestionably righteous, and only bad guys like Greedo shoot first. Therefore, in the pivotal scene, Solo is seen to prepare his gun like he did in the 1977 version, but in the newer version, Greedo fires first but wide of his mark; Solo hesitates a beat, and then kills Greedo in a more palatable display of self-defense.
“People didn’t like that,” said Lucas. “I was accused of everything from hero-bashing to revisionist history.” Some historians proudly maintained that ‘Han shot first,’ donning T-shirts that said the same. In 2004, at great personal expense, Lucas released yet another director’s cut of Star Wars on DVD meant to mend fences between the two camps of historians, in which Han and Greedo fire nearly simultaneously, but Greedo still misses. Rather than appeasing everyone as Lucas hoped, the 2004 version merely added fuel to the fire.
The family of the real-life Greedo has consistently declined to comment due to a long-running unresolved civil suit against the Solo estate. However, sources close to Greedo's family suggest that the family finds Lucas’s 1997-onward depictions of Greedo as an inept shooter incapable of hitting a stationary target at point blank range, "insulting, to say the least."
The new version of Lucas’s film will be released in 3D, trying to cash in on a fad led by 2009’s Avatar. Lucas expects to release several of his more successful films in 3D before Star Wars, starting next February with 1999’s acclaimed psychological thriller The Phantom Menace, starring Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter. Star Wars is anticipated for a 2015 re-re-re-release.
Asked how he plans to re-interpret the famous Solo-Greedo duel, Lucas remains mum. “If I give away all of my secrets, no one will go see my movies,” he said, referencing the vast fortunes lost due to spy reports on his other recent productions. “This might be my last chance at this, barring any new home video formats that emerge before I die, so I guess I should try to get it right this time.”