Today’s image from the daily Star Wars calendar that sits on my desk at work: the showdown at the Mos Eisley Cantina. This is obviously from the Special Edition, because we can see Greedo’s blaster bolt hitting the wall about a foot from Han’s head.
And this still image shows exactly why the Special Edition is so ridiculous. Greedo shoots at almost point-blank range…and misses Han by a foot? What an incompetent bounty hunter. Well, I guess we already knew he was fairly incompetent, since he neglected to disarm his mark, or even keep Han’s hands in sight.
Also, note the expression on Han’s face: totally cool and unconcerned. He shows no reaction whatsoever to Greedo’s shot. He has not even moved. (It’s almost like…Greedo didn’t actually shoot!)
It is clear that Han’s shot is not a reaction to Greedo shooting at all; Han had already made up his mind to shoot. Does this make him a “cold-blooded killer?” Absolutely not. There is nothing “cold-blooded” about someone holding a blaster on you and making explicit threats on your life. And Han has killed people, sure, but it is clear that his is not looking for trouble–he even tries to talk his way out of the situation with Greedo before resorting to his blaster.
The cantina scene is our introduction to Han, and the original firmly establishes his character as someone who is always looking out for himself. This is what makes his actions at the end of A New Hope so compelling: Han is now willing to risk his own life for his friends’, and for something greater than himself.
Of all the changes made in the Special Edition, I think this one rankles the most because it is not merely cosmetic. I hope to watch Han shoot first on my lovely VHS copy of the original theatrical release for many years to come.