Sunday, October 03, 2004

Repent Ye, for Thy High Geekerie!

In my slow exploration of the Star Wars DVD package, I've noted a couple of intriguing things.

:: First of all -- and I posted something about this to the off-topic section of the FSM Message Board -- my ear was caught by something odd in a noted gaffe in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. During the trash-compactor sequence, Luke tries to contact C-3PO on his commlink, but when we cut to the control room where the droids are hiding, they've retreated to a closet as a cadre of stormtroopers bursts into the room. Hilariously, though, as the door slides upward to open, admitting the stormtroopers, the one on the right hits his head on the door as he enters. It's one of the most famous filming flubs in all of Star Wars.

But on the DVDs, something else happens. The stormtrooper still hits his head, but now the impact is actually accompanied by a metallic bonk noise. When I dug out my old VHS copies of the Special Editions and fast-forwarded to that same scene, sure enough, there was no metallic bonk. Therefore, I surmise that this sound was actually added to the film for the DVD.

According to a respondent on the FSM board, George Lucas actually says in an audio commentary to Attack of the Clones that when Jango Fett hits his head while boarding Slave I, this is an intentional allusion to that gaffe in the original film, since the stormtroopers are all clones of Jango. (I haven't confirmed this by listening to the commentary myself, but surely I have a reader who might know?)

My supposition now is that this also provides some explanation of why the stormtroopers are all such lousy shots. My guess is that the very reason Jango Fett -- and, later, his son Boba -- carries all that extra weaponry, like a jet-pack and a flamethrower and cable-ejectors and whatnot, is precisely because he's such a lousy shot with the blaster. So maybe a large part of why the Empire untimately loses is that the Kaminoans just happened to choose a bad shot as their original template for all those cloned stormtroopers!

(I know, not really, but hey, it's fun being a geek sometimes.)

:: The scene in The Empire Strikes Back in which Darth Vader confers with a hologram of the Emperor has been changed to include Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine, since the role was originally played by some other guy in the original film. Fair enough; I wasn't particularly attached to that other Emperor in that one brief scene. But now the dialogue has been changed, with the Emperor saying something like "The Rebel who destroyed the Death Star was the son of Anakin Skywalker", to which Vader expresses disbelief. The implication is, I think, that this is the first time Vader's learning that he has a son, or that his son is a Rebel.


Earlier in the film, when the Imperial Fleet receives the transmissions from the probe droid on Hoth, Vader takes one look at the images and announces, with certainty: "That's it. The Rebels are there, and I'm sure Skywalker is with them." (Emphasis added.) Undisputably, Vader already knows who Luke Skywalker is. So what's with the shift of dialogue in the Emperor scene?

I really don't know. Maybe Vader's merely feigning ignorance in that scene; maybe he's actively trying to conceal the fact that he already knew who Luke was. (I mean, he'd have to know who Luke was, since he's already named him as "Skywalker". I can't believe he'd learn that a notable Rebel is named "Skywalker", and then not make any conclusion beyond, "Heh, isn't that weird, I used to go by the name Skywalker too! Must be a distant cousin....Anyhoo, about that new Star Destroyer....) Maybe this is the very first inkling of the seeds of the Emperor's crucial miscalculation that Vader can never be turned away from the Dark Side.

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