Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
If the arguments and counter-arguments about ‘who shot first?’ were to be printed - on both sides - of simple A-4 size sheets of paper and bound into little volumes as books, even the Death Star wouldn’t be able to hold all of them.
We are of course referring to the infamous shoot-out scene in A New Hope where Han Solo faces off with bounty hunter (and disgruntled creditor) Greedo.
In 1977, they both had guns but to this day - thanks to an apparent tweak in the scene - it’s unclear who shot first, whether both shot at all or only one and who it should have been who shot first. The whole thing, it seems, hinged on whether Solo was essentially a good guy who’d play fair even when cornered or a gun-slinger indifferent to the very concept of fairness.
A tribute to George Lucas[...] He’d started a movement. One that’s alive and kicking nearly 50 years after his first Star Wars movie. Who can argue with that?!
Whatever actually happened on set, on screen - then or later - it is the fans who ended up judge and jury all rolled into one, expressing righteous incredulity and anger with equal fervour at the very thought that the scene was tampered with in subsequent releases or at the very thought that anyone (including George Lucas himself) would have to feel apologetic that Solo may well have shot first.
On one hand, fans argue that if Solo was to stay in character he’d have no compunction about shooting first.
On the other hand, fans say that if Lucas wanted to correct what he felt was a misreading of a major character, he was within his rights to alter the scene to suggest that Solo merely returned fire - and that he wasn’t the cold-blooded killer some imagined he was.
That Solo was the last man standing is apparently beyond doubt and we must be grateful that it remains without debate even today.
What the controversy demonstrated to every filmmaker then and since is just how in thrall Star Wars viewers were in 1977, not just of scenes but micro-scenes within a scene, not just of major characters but even the most minor ones. A tribute to George Lucas, no matter how you dice it. He’d made more than ‘a movie’. He’d started a movement. One that’s alive and kicking nearly 50 years after his first Star Wars movie. Who can argue with that?!
For all its excitement the fan-war can, unfairly, overshadow the importance of the scene - it’s essentially the point where Han Solo is introduced to fans in that little first bar-side chat with Obi-Wan and Skywalker. Solo brags about his flying skills and the Millennium Falcon and is hired as pilot; that’s when Greedo stops him with that line ‘’Going somewhere, Solo?’’