George Lucas explains why he made controversial 'Star Wars' changes for Special Editions

Tom Beasley
·Contributor
·3 min read
Characters from the film "Star Wars" join writer and director George Lucas, left, Carrie Fisher, center, and Mark Hamill at the world premiere of "Star Wars Special Edition" Saturday, Jan. 18, 1997, in the Westwood section of Los Angeles.  The movie  was first released 20 years ago. (AP Photo/Rene Macura)
Characters from the film "Star Wars" join writer and director George Lucas, left, Carrie Fisher, center, and Mark Hamill at the world premiere of "Star Wars Special Edition" Saturday, Jan. 18, 1997, in the Westwood section of Los Angeles. The movie was first released 20 years ago. (AP Photo/Rene Macura)

George Lucas says his notorious decision to tinker with the original Star Wars trilogy for the 1990s Special Editions came about because he was “embarrassed” by aspects of the films.

Some of the edits are infamous among fans, with particular turmoil surrounding the debate around whether Han Solo or Greedo shot first during their encounter in the Mos Eisley cantina.

In the new book Star Wars Archives: 1999-2005, Lucas explained why he felt compelled to go and take a second look at his original 1977 movie.

He said: “There are two or three shots that are really bad and I know that [A New Hope] is going to be judged on that. I was embarrassed.

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“In 1993, the 20th anniversary was coming up and that was the impetus for doing a Special Edition of A New Hope – to bring it up to the standard we were aiming for.”

Watch: Luke Skywalker arrives at the cantina

Lucas suggested that a specific scene of a Stormtrooper riding a dewback was something he was unable to make in the way that he wanted back in the 1970s.

In the wake of the new version of the first movie, he also delved back into Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi for their re-releases.

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The 76-year-old, who ceded control of Star Wars to Disney in 2012, defended his desire to keep fiddling with his work years later.

“Nobody ever really finishes their movies. They’re abandoned,” he said.

“I was not happy with A New Hope. I was still mixing and we were still sticking shots in after the film came out.”

Greedo and Han in A New Hope (Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney)
Greedo and Han in A New Hope (Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney)

Many believed that the Lucas-induced tinkering would come to an end once Lucasfilm was sold to Disney, with a release of the true original movies suggested as a possibility by some fans.

With that in mind, fans were shocked to see yet another alteration to the scene between Han and Greedo when the movies were added to the Disney+ streaming service.

Read more: Greedo actor is as confused as we are about “maclunkey”

Han and his nemesis now shoot at the same time, with Greedo yelling the apparently nonsensical word “maclunkey” before pulling the trigger.

Lucas’s final edit does appear to have some precedent in the Star Wars universe, with malevolent alien Sebulba using the word in The Phantom Menace — subtitled as “it will be the end of you”.

The 'Maclunkey Edit' has added even more weirdness to the most controversial 'Star Wars' scene. (Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)
The 'Maclunkey Edit' has added even more weirdness to the most controversial 'Star Wars' scene. (Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

Lucas’s tinkering days might now be behind him, but the new book reveals the vision he once had for the Sequel Trilogy.

In the Star Wars creator’s vision for the post-Death Star world, Darth Maul would be reintroduced as the main villain of the series, with Leia stepping up as the central hero.

A female apprentice for Maul, known as Darth Talon, would also have played a key role.

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Explaining why he never ultimately made those movies, Lucas said: “It takes 10 years to make a trilogy. I’d still be working on episode nine.

“Finally, I’d decided I’d rather raise my daughter and enjoy life for a while.”

Star Wars Archives: 1999-2005, penned by Paul Duncan, is available to purchase now.

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