Han Solo and the Princess

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The story of Leia and Han is a wonderful sub-plot and one of the greatest, most tenuous on-screen romances of all time. The Princess and The Pauper. Beauty and the Beast. Prom Queen and the Bad Boy. Call it what you want, it worked. Here are some of their lesser-seen moments as well as some other mentions of Han’s other love: The Millennium Falcon.

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The Millennium Falcon’s (and Lando’s) Demise?

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Was there originally another fate for Lando and the Millennium Falcon at the end of Return of the Jedi? The answer is no, but let’s examine the origin of this urban legend.

Rumor has it that in an early rough draft of the script or treatment, Lando contacts Wedge while trying to get out of the Death Star II. He regrets not being able to return the Falcon without a scratch and that he hopes Han will forgive him. Then KABOOM!

There’s a little foreshadowing of this in the film when Han is looking at the Falcon from the shuttle cockpit. He says that he feels like he’s never going to see her again. Not much, but it makes you wonder how the ending celebration might have been different.

1284There was once a site called B Squared’s STAR WARS Stuff that was quite informative. There was one section in particular that I’d like to reference and it deals with the subject of the Falcon’s rumored demise. It’s quite interesting, though I have to say I very much disagree with some of it. Robert Brown, the author, seems to be very sure that this scene was filmed and even tested with audiences! I have found very little proof of this. I was always under the impression that this idea was something possibly written into one of the early drafts but was written out almost as fast.

1285Robert  posted an image which he claimed to be the Falcon blowing up (which I think was doctored by the source). I’m not sure how Robert meant to explain the pictures on the page but he implies that this picture of the ship exploding was cut from the film and not just a fan-made picture sent in by a guy named Tim Ketzer. If he is in fact claiming that this picture is a deleted still, then I have to disagree.

1286 I overlaid the two images in Photoshop with the fiery shot at 40% transparency. As you can see, they are the same exact still. If the shot in question was in the film at all, even moving one frame at a time there would be some kind of movement,  especially in the background.

I don’t think that this scene was ever filmed, never mind test screened.

To further debunk this rumor, on June 9th 2000, the Official Star Wars Site posted an article in their Urban Legends of Star Wars section dealing with this idea. Here’s an interesting excerpt that proves this was never filmed.

One definite culprit in this legend’s longevity is a revised plot synopsis treatment entitled ‘The Revenge and Return of the Jedi’. Dated July 6 1980, (though undoubtedly printed at a later date), this concise retelling of the basic story — with notable changes — is a fake. It describes Luke taking over the Death Star (re-christening it the Life Star), Vader being the ‘other’ Yoda spoke of, and Leia and Han marrying at the film’s end, with Wicket one of the attendants at the wedding. It also contains the following passage:

‘Meanwhile, the Death Star ray begins destroying Rebel ships. Lando and the Rebel Forces unsuccessfully attempt to penetrate the force field, and the efforts on Endor have failed. Lando sees many of his comrades dying for the Alliance. He feels that the Alliance might die itself if something is not done soon. Lando makes a final decision to plow the Millennium Falcon through the force field in a self-sacrificing gesture for the Rebel Alliance. Lando and the Falcon explode in a beautiful burst of energy and color.’

An excerpt from the screenplay that has Lando and the Falcon destroyed and Han looking up, quietly voicing his loss, has shown up on the Internet, but it too is a fake. Also untrue are tales that footage of the Falcon made its way into test screenings of Return of the Jedi, but was ultimately left out of the movie because it didn’t score well with the audience.

Given the weight of this evidence, it appears there is no truth behind the rumor that the Falcon and Lando were originally to have perished. It is possible the idea may have been thrown around during undocumented brainstorming sessions, but the legend that it actually was committed to film is false.

It’s a burning question that has gone unanswered for a long time but at least they confirmed that it was never filmed. I’d still like to know if it was a glimmer in Lucas’ eye at one time.

Just for kicks, Greg Rossiter, was having some fun going through the Google archives that go back into the early 1980’s, before the Internet was really around in full swing. There was much discussion back then on the BBS and such. One post caught his eye. Return of the Jedi had been out less than a month and someone was already claiming that their friend saw the “Lando dies” ending. Now you can see just how far back some of these rumors go.

Now a friend who’s seen an unreleased version of RotJ tells me that in that version, the Falcon was consumed at the last moment as it was escaping from the exploding Death Star, presumably killing Lando and co-pilot. This seems like a much more dramatic (though perhaps less mass-appealing) ending. My friend says that there are other differences from the released version, as well.

Millennium Falcon Prop In Yuma?

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When the Internet was still young and new, there was a certain picture that was circulated among fan circles that caused much controversy. I think you’ll agree that this picture is a fake.

Ryan Silva writes:

We’ve discussed this before but have never come to a consensus as to what this picture is: a miniature or full-built Falcon; for ROTJ or one of the previous films; somebody’s model trainset, etc, etc. Is there anything you can tell us as to where it was first published or the context of what is being shown?

Alec can chime in if there are more details to tell, but I believe it was sent to him from an anonymous source when he was heading the AOL Star Wars area. We, unfortunately, were never able to unearth any information regarding it or its legitimacy. I’ve read the behind the scenes books for ESB and ROTJ and the photo doesn’t seem to fit in with either shoot; the sandstorm scene was shot on a sound stage.

Everything about the image makes very little sense to me, and for the life of me, I can’t remember why we originally determined that it was Yuma in the first place. Probably just bad research on my part. In the bibliography on my now-defunct web site, I changed the listing to “Falcon prop in unknown outdoor location from the collection of Alec Usticke (original source unknown)” so I must have begun to suspect something. That’s probably why I stuck the image in the Bibliography rather than the ROTJ section.

Alec Usticke writes:

As Ryan said, this image was sent to me by someone when I ran the Stars Wars area on AOL. Who that person was is lost to the ages. Back in the day, we had a few thousand members, and I communicated with several “insiders,” so the image could have come from anywhere. (The properties of the image are dated 12/17/1994, so that’s probably when I first downloaded it.)

JediSluggo writes:

After much thought, I have divided the arguments into pro’s and con’s of it being real or fake.

Fake:

  1. The biggest thing for this being faked is that a full sized Falcon doesn’t belong on a giant tower in the middle of nowhere. Logic points to this being a model photoshopped onto the platform.
  2. The Falcon looks just like the MPC model kit that has been around forever.
  3. The construction of a falcon anywhere other than what has been documented by LFL is dubious. Especially a full sized version.
  4. It doesn’t fit any the movies and surely wouldn’t be constructed by Lucas at such a huge expense.

To counter these, I have the following counter arguments:

  1. The photoshopping is very good.
  2. The MPC model (I have one here at Sluggo Central) looks alot like the Falcon anyway.
  3. Just because something is filmed for a Star Wars movie, or for that matter any movie, doesn’t mean it is documented. Or if it is, it just might not have been released by LFL (kind of like the scene where Luke puts his saber in R2 and sends them out of the cave to Jabba.)
  4. It could have been used for an overhead shot from the tower on the left and had a sandstorm or whatever matted around it.

Thinking about more, however gave me more arguments against it:

  1. It seems that somebody shot a pic of their Falcon model in the driveway and airbrushed it onto a pic of the tower. They likely included the models shadow as well, because it looks authentic. However, the Falcon seems slightly crooked on the platform (especially the back half,) like one of the real landing gear was slightly crooked or had a rock under it, or most likly, was at a slightly different angle than the photo of the ramp was taken. Then the photo was made grainy enough that you couldn’t tell it was faked.
  2. The model kit is missing a few bars of the cockpit canopy that the ILM models have. The falcon on the platform looks like it is missing those bars.
  3. Something this size surely would have SOME kind of documentation somewhere. Smaller barely known scenes, like the cut on-set gags that A NEW HOPE had remained mostly unknown (and who knows what is still out there) because it was usually the director going “wouldn’t it be funny if…” and after a take of two, they finish the shot and move on, getting back to the script. For such a huge prop to be built by LFL had to have a major purpose, but none of them exist. Which leads me to…
  4. If they needed a Falcon for a composite shot or who knows what, they would have used a model or a matte painting, like they did in the hanger bay of the Mon Calamari ship Home One.

Fake-ity fake fake. Why? Perhaps it was some kids high school photography class assignment. Maybe for a hoax to trick all of us fanboys. Maybe just for fun until someone else got a hold of it and sent it in. It does look pretty cool, you have to admit.

Skot writes:

And here’s what I’d consider the biggest argument against it: It was widely touted that the Yuma Sail Barge set was among the biggest (was it THE biggest?) ever built for a film. This “thing” the Falcon appears to be sitting on in this picture is *way* bigger than the Sail Barge set. There’s no way this would have been constructed or used without it being mentioned as well. On top of that… the Falcon was *never* constructed completely at full scale, and this picture shows it in full. Plus, we have been told the Falcon was constructed only once in RETURN OF THE JEDI, on an indoor sound stage, with a 360 degree “sandstorm” backdrop all around it.

Along with the arguments you guys had against it, I’m definitely of the opinion this picture is a fake. I think somebody found a picture of some huge outdoor platform and thought it would look cool with the Falcon superimposed on it. They did in fact do a pretty good job making it look convincing, especially for those lower-resolution days.

1287Merledog86 found a picture that looks like it’s from the exact same location. It’s from a page at http://www.brook.edu. Jan Hagelskamp got in touch with someone who worked at the The Trestle Electromagnetic Pulse Simulator on the Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, where this picture was originally taken. Here’s a copy of the e-mail he received after enquiring about the photo in question:

Good Morning,

I’ve lived here most of my life and the Millennium Falcon was not at Kirtland. It looks like the photo has had a Gaussian Noise brush used on it. This is a graphics tool used to give the appearance of age and uniformity to doctored photos.

377MSG/SCN
Kirtland AFB

On top of all this, I received an e-mail from a guy who was actually on the set at the time. His name is Dave and he is part of the “Blue Harvest Gang” that showed up on the set wearing Blue Harvest shirts, letting the crew know that the secret definitely wasn’t safe about the film’s incognito shooting title. He confirmed that there was never a Falcon prop there although he said that he spotted some out-of-place speeder bikes.

Another rumor put to rest.

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