Han shot first

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The 1997 "Special Edition" of Star Wars depicts Greedo firing a shot at Han Solo shortly before Han responds in kind. In the original 1977 release, Han is the only one to fire.

"Han shot first" is a phrase used to refer to a controversial change made to a scene in the 1997 "Special Edition" re-release of Star Wars (1977) in which Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is confronted by the bounty hunter Greedo at the Mos Eisley Cantina.


Greedo is an associate of Jabba the Hutt, a Tatooine based crime lord for whom Han Solo also used to work. Before the events of the film, Jabba has put a bounty on Han, who had been transporting cargo for the crime lord, but was forced to dump it in order to avoid capture by an Imperial search party. The scene depicts Greedo pulling his blaster on Han as he attempts to leave the Mos Eisley cantina and cornering him to sit down in a booth. Han tells Greedo that he has accumulated enough money to pay Jabba back, but Greedo demands the money and grows angrier when Han tells him he does not have it in his possession. As Han slowly, but secretly begins to ready his own blaster underneath the table, Greedo tells him that Jabba has run out of patience with Han and that he, Greedo, had been "waiting for a long time" to take out his former associate. Han replies, "Yes, I'll bet you have", and shoots him dead through the table with a concealed blaster.

In the original 1977 theatrical release of the film, immediately after Han says to Greedo, "I'll bet you have", a cloud of smoke appears and blurs the screen showing Greedo face-on followed by a shot of Greedo's corpse, from behind, slumping over the table. Director George Lucas expressed his dissatisfaction with the scene's climax believing that it depicted Han, who is the film's supporting protagonist, as a cold-blooded killer. For the film's 20th anniversary theatrical re-release in 1997, Lucas altered the scene with an additional second of footage by showing Greedo shooting at Han first from point blank range and missing only to result in Han retaliating by firing back and killing Greedo.[1][2] Thus, the phrase "Han shot first" is a retort to director George Lucas' explicit cinematic assertion that "Greedo shot first".

Controversies, further changes and Lucas' response[edit]

The alteration of the scene was disagreeable to a number of longtime fans of the series, provoking some to create an online petition demanding that the changes be retracted.[3] The primary objection to the revision is that it alters Han's initially morally ambiguous character, making his later transition from anti-hero to hero less meaningful.[4] Since the "Special Edition", there have been two additional DVD releases. In the film's first official DVD release in 2004, the disputed scene was altered again, this time with Greedo still shooting before Han does and missing at close range, but the timing is altered so the shots are fired at nearly the same time and to depict Han "dodging" the shot (digital manipulation is used to "lean" the character to one side).

In 2006, Star Wars was released individually on DVD in a "Limited Edition" release that featured two versions of the film: the 2004 release and the compressed 1993 Definitive Collection laserdiscs version (credited as the "unaltered edition" from 1977).[5] When announcing the release of the dual-version DVDs, Lucasfilm Ltd. noted that the scene was included by saying: "...and yes, [viewers] see Han Solo shoot first."[6]

For the 2011 Blu-ray release, the shot of Han and Greedo firing at each other from the 2004 DVD has been tightened up by several frames.[7]

In a 2012 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Lucas altered his previous statements by announcing that Greedo had always shot first, stating that a combination of bad close-up shots and the audiences' inaccurate perception of the Han Solo character was what actually caused all the confusion. Lucas stated

"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 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." [8]

Despite this claim from Lucas, drafts of the original shooting script on the internet make no mention of Greedo shooting at all, only Han.[9]

Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca in the original series, was asked in a Reddit AMA, "Mr Mayhew. Did Han really shoot first ? You were there. You saw it first hand. The truth needs to come out !" His response was "uughghhhgh uughghhhgh huuguughghg."[10]

Harrison Ford, was also asked in a Reddit AMA, "Hi Mr, Ford. I think we would all like to know: Who shot first? Han Solo or Greedo?"; he responded: "I don't know and I don't care."[11]

No official version of the film in a format quality better than LaserDisc depicts Solo being the only shooter; this includes all currently available licensed DVD and Blu-Ray versions.[12]

See also[edit]