Over at Jamie and Adam’s TESTED DOT COM website, Norm and Adam share with us their mutual labor of love for a prop in the film Star Wars: Han Solo’s DL-44 Blaster.
Watching this video was weird. I don’t appreciate guns very much, but I really enjoy watching Adam and his friends dissect minutia of cinema and turn fantasy into actual tangible reality. It’s weird, but it’s satisfying. It’s difficult to explain or even understand why that is, but it is.
I musta watched Star Wars (only) a few dozen times in my life, but I’m nowhere near the aficionado I once thought I was. Just a peripheral search on the Internet reveals so many other people, worldwide, who have contemplated this movie even more than I have, and I thought I was obsessed with it in my youth. From about the age of nine to even today, Star Wars retains a special place in my heart as a film that opened up entire worlds to my inner child’s imagination, where I romped and played and had my own adventures in my mind’s eye.
It never occurred to me to watch Han Solo’s gun for changes from one scene to the next. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that the “Greedo Killer” is a different gun from elsewhere in the film. When Norm & Adam mentioned that, almost in passing, like it was common knowledge for them, I audibly gasped, and then laughed at myself.
This video was a great fun geek out. Guilty pleasure. I guess I haven’t contemplated it much, but my obsession with the Star Wars franchise is more of an esoteric exploration of the fantastical ideas put forth and also I geek out over the acting and writing flaws and triumphs.
For example, in the celebratory scene where Han, Leia and Luke reunite in the hangar, Mark Hamill actually calls out for Carrie Fisher by name and not her character’s namesake. This had to be pointed out to me years later. My first initial half dozen or so times experiencing this film, I never noticed it. That’s how jubilantly (im)perfect that scene actually is. Maybe this threw other people out of the suspension of disbelief at an inopportune time, but for me watching it now it just shows how some parts of the acting weren’t really acting. In that moment, on that stage, those three people honestly and sincerely had an appreciation for one another that wasn’t just artificial. They were friendly souls brought together on a queer and crazy project which would haunt their careers and their personal lives, and they would affect the souls of countless millions of others worldwide for many years to come. Their joy for their craft and their wonder at discovery would seep into this film and echo into modern culture for generations.
The Han Solo gun is itself an extension of the character wielding it. While I haven’t marveled at the prop itself, I have on occasion obsessed over how Harrison Ford uses his props in his early films. Both the blaster in the Star Wars franchise and things like his hat and whip in the Indiana Jones series of films. Harrison Ford treats them like trusty sidekicks at times, and ornery buffoons at others. In Star Wars, the blaster is a partner in any negotiation. While Chewbacca’s bark is worse than his bite cuz deep down he’s just a cuddly softie, Solo’s blaster has a bite as powerful as its bark, and he’s not afraid to use it. Ford’s early acting in the first Star Wars film is simultaneously genius and buffoon. He’s finding his way. You can tell he’s not as confident and talented as he pretends to be, and it works for the character on levels perhaps even George Lucas didn’t realize until reviewing the dailies. This becomes evident in Return of the Jedi (particularly scenes on the Endor moon forest). By this time, the character of Han Solo almost feels like a poorly tailored suit in Harrison Ford’s possession. He’s already grown out of the role. It doesn’t fit him anymore, but he does his best to deliver anyway. He’s simply become too good of an actor to capture that overconfident swagger. He just didn’t have anything to prove anymore. It’s like he became a Buddhist or something.
Anyway, my point is, my obsession with this film is more with contemplations of the acting and writing (which are rarely spot on but fun just the same). It’s good to be reminded how so many others share my obsession with this film to such curious extremes. I should perhaps look at the nuts and bolts of the props and scenery more. I’ve taken them for granted. Always welcome another excuse to watch that film again.
I used to say this was my favorite film of all time. It’s certainly a childhood favorite that has withstood multiple viewings. Few films can do that. FlickChart has opened my eyes to the realization that I am wrong. There are other movies I place in higher esteem. Sneakers. Citizen Kane. Princess Bride. Many of the works of Joss Whedon. After Lucas’ CGI tweaks to the original trilogy many years later (Han shot first, dammit!), and the ham-fisted prequels, the original film that started it all has lost the luster of my youth.
However, perhaps a renewed appreciation for the details that went into making the film can help me revisit the original Star Wars of 1977 and maybe at least put it back up in my top ten.