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There has been numerous debates about who shot first in Star Wars Episode IV: Han or Greedo. It's also been rumored that who shoots first has changed between each subsequent release of Star Wars.

Lucas explains that Han never shot first, but that can't seem to be true.

The questions is: Who really shoots first in each release of Star Wars Episode IV?

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also see : scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/2286/… –  DavRob60 Feb 14 '12 at 16:14
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I find it quite amusing ... either George is deceiving himself, or he is a terrible director who managed to edit the first releases such that it clearly looks like Han shot first, despite it being the opposite of what he now claims he intended. –  iandotkelly Feb 14 '12 at 23:06
    
I think the operative words to clarify this is, "Perceptively to the masses...." –  Andrei Freeman Jun 27 '12 at 19:30

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Only one shot was made in the original unedited version (the VHS). There was no second shot. So either Han shot and killed Greedo or Greedo shot and somehow the blaster (bolt) ricocheted off of Han's blaster and killed him.

In all edited versions after the theatrical release and the first unedited VHS Greedo is shown as shooting and then Han Solo shoots Greedo from Under the table in response. This is shown in the remastered Versions that were digitally altered and re-released in theaters in the late 90's.

No explanation is given for how Greedo could of missed at that distance or where his shot did go (no debris from a blaster shot).

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I clarified the question bolding 'each release' –  TheSavage Feb 14 '12 at 15:39

I am going to assert my personal knowledge here.

I actually saw 'Star Wars' in 1977, several times, on its original release. In the original theatrical version there is only a single shot.

Bear in mind that they are sitting down, at a table in the Cantina bar, opposite each other. Greedo goes for his gun, saying, "I'm going to enjoy this". There is a muffled blast, and a flash, as Solo, in self defence, fires under the table, without even drawing his blaster from its holster. Greedo slumps face-down on the table, dead.

I don't understand where the suggestion has come from that Solo shot him in cold blood. Greedo quite plainly grabs for his own blaster, and even has time to deliver his gloating line; his intention to murder Solo is perfectly clear.

Solo merely waits, to see what Greedo's intention is. It is only when that intention is clearly demonstrated, and Greedo is actually in the act of going for his gun, that Solo fires.

That shot got a big laugh, because Greedo was so clearly not expecting it, and so obviously thought Solo was entirely at his mercy. But, unexpectedly, Solo shoots him - without even drawing his weapon. His innocuous, unthreatening posture took the audience, and Greedo, completely by surprise; and the unexpected reversal - with Greedo shot dead instead of doing the shooting - got a well deserved belly laugh.

Lucas is mistaken. The reason why audiences reacted badly to his later tampering with this scene was because they wanted to preserve that laugh.

The whole point of the scene is to introduce the character of Han Solo with a joke and a belly laugh. Greedo thinks he's got the upper hand; but Solo demonstrates how clever and resourceful he actually is, behind his harmless pose. It's an Indiana Jones moment, pulling his chestnuts out of the fire unexpectedly, and at the last possible moment.

Audiences wanted to associate Han Solo with that particular laugh, because that's how he was first introduced to them in the entire 'Star Wars' saga. They resented Lucas for later tampering with a scene that was already perfect, and that perfectly summed-up the character.

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George Lucas says, in a recent interview with THR:

"The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo [who seemed to be the one who shot first in the original] to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down."

(the emphasis is mine) what this means is that, according to Lucas, the writer, creator, director, and therefore the ultimate authority on the matter, is that Greedo shot first.

can't say I like or dislike it, but there it is.

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oh, thanks for this. I think the key here is that Lucas changed the camera angle for a wider shot. Something I've never heard of or noticed before. –  Mathew Foscarini Jun 27 '12 at 15:00
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Except for the fact that it's not really a wider angle; it's a really bad digital edit to move Han to avoid an added shot. Side by side is kind of obvious that while it may have been G.L.'s intent; his explanation is fairly weak. End topic which has endless wasted i-net bandwidth in argument. –  Andrei Freeman Jun 27 '12 at 19:29

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