Scene it on Friday – ROTJ Scene #59

I love this, I love this!  This webpage I’m getting the scenes from clearly does not have the final, edited scripts, but rather a previous version of the almost-done scripts.  We’ve seen a couple of times in different scenes that there will be a line that was later omitted in the final film version or even a scene that was completely cut (like ROTJ #20).

This scene is pretty accurate, up until the very end where we see that Lando actually goes down in a ball of flames with the Millennium Falcon.  I love reading this because I had always heard and knew about how Lando was originally supposed to die and the Falcon was supposed to go down with the second Death Star.

Personally, I think he should have died.  It just would have been a little more…realistic.  No hero ever dies in the Original Trilogy of Star Wars.  And if they do, they come back to life (you know what I mean) like Obi-Wan.  Yoda died, but it was old age which is, yes, realistic but not in terms of a war.  Biggs Darklighter died, but if we had seen these films in the original release, we would not have even known he was Luke’s best friend.  Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen die, but it was more for moving the plot along.  We hadn’t connected with them as an audience; we connected more with Luke as he went through the emotional pain of losing his adoptive parents.

Lando would have been the perfect character to die.  I strongly believe that.  He’s a hero of the OT, but more of a reformed hero and we had connected enough to him over the past film to be sad he died. As a reformed hero who had so much potential of reworking his friendship with Han, it would have been more poignant.  Add to that the fact that he died doing a very noble act of blowing up the second Death Star and it would have been the final act of redemption.  If anything, we would be heartbroken to see the Falcon die, which had turned into its own character at that point, similar to the Black Pearl in Pirates of the Caribbean.

All in all, it also makes the movie a lot more realistic.  This is the final battle of the war and all our heroes pretty much came out unscathed.  C’mon, George, just one death here, please!  Whenever I see the final scene in ROTJ with everyone standing around looking like a big, happy family Christmas photo – it makes me cringe.

The only reason I could think for George keeping Lando alive is that these movies were loosely based on the TV serials he watched as a child, and in those, the hero always lived another day.  A death, as George probably saw it, was in the form of Darth Vader who had newly returned to the light side to be Anakin Skywalker.  Vader’s death was the loss we were supposed to feel as an outcome of this epic story that spanned over three movies.

Yes and no.  There was no choice but for Vader to die.  If he wanted to neatly wrap up the series, then the antagonists had to die and George presented that to us in a package with a bow.  So yes, Vader died, Luke felt a loss and so in turn, as an audience, we also felt a loss.  But no, Vader was a cop out because he HAD to die; these movies could not go on forever (though now we see otherwise lol).

George should have let Lando go down in a supernova of glory.

Final thought on this scene: Wedge Antilles really does not get enough credit as an awesome, steady character in the films.  I’m glad the EU came around and gave him a more prominent role.  But think about it: he was a good pilot who was reliable and had a hand in almost every battle he flew in.  I’m glad he lives.

But seriously, George should have let Lando go down in a supernova of glory.

second death star destroyed

EXTERIOR: DEATH STAR

The Millennium Falcon leads a swerving bomb run through the immense superstructure of the half-built Death Star. The Rebel Star Cruisers outside continually bombard the huge station. And each direct hit is answered by resonating, chain-reaction explosions within the station itself.

INTERIOR: MILLENNIUM FALCON – COCKPIT AND GUN PORTS

Lando’s crew fires away at the pursuing TIE fighters as the dashing Baron of Bespin and his alien copilot home in on the main reactor shaft. It is awesome. A lone X-wing is just in front of the Falcon.

WEDGE: There it is!

LANDO: All right, Wedge. Go for the power regulator on the north tower.

WEDGE: Copy, Gold Leader. I’m already on my way out.

The X-wing heads for the top of the huge reactor and fires several proton torpedoes at the power regulator, causing a series of small explosions.

The Falcon heads for the main reactor, and when it is dangerously close, Lando fires the missiles, which shoot out of the Falcon with a powerful roar, and hit directly at the center of the main reactor.

He maneuvers the Falcon out of the winding superstructure just ahead of the continuing chain of explosions.

INTERIOR: REBEL STAR CRUISER – BRIDGE

Ackbar and other Mon Calamari lean on the railing of the bridge, watching the large screen showing the Death Star in the main briefing room.

ACKBAR: Move the fleet away from the Death Star.

EXTERIOR: DEATH STAR

An Imperial shuttle, with Luke alone in the cockpit, rockets out of the main docking bay as that entire section of the Death Star is blown away. But as Luke pilots toward the safety of the Sanctuary moon, his thoughts – enhanced by the Force – turn to his friends aboard the Millennium Falcon.

The Falcon flies at top speed, with a single X-wing as escort, over the endless surface of the Death Star. A series of explosions within the superstructure follow, then swiftly overtake the small craft as it races for an exit.

INTERIOR: MILLENNIUM FALCON – COCKPIT

Lando turns to Nien Nunb and shakes his head.

LANDO: (into comlink) Wedge, I don’t think we’re going to make it.

WEDGE: (VO) You’ll make it. Just follow me Gold Leader.

LANDO: (to himself) I promised to return his ship without a scratch… I sure hope that old pirate forgives me. This is gonna be close.

EXTERIOR: DEATH STAR

An X-wing, piloted by Wedge Antilles, races out of the exploding superstructure and whizzes toward the Sanctuary Moon. But the Millennium Falcon is not fast enough as it explodes with the Death Star in a supernova of glory.

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5 thoughts on “Scene it on Friday – ROTJ Scene #59

  1. I am reading this on May the fourth (in Australia) at it literally gave me goosebumps. George can write well when he wants to. Shame he changed the scene. Now to have a marathon SW gaming session on the Playstation.

    May the fourth be with you!

    • A marathon SW gaming session on Playstation? Sounds like a perfect May the 4th. The original Playstation or PS3? I had a Star Wars game I loved on the original Playstation but never got past a certain level, unfortunately, so I gave up.

  2. Whoa. I had not realized that Lando was slated to die. As I think about it, that would have been a pretty epic way to send both him and the Millennium Falcon off. I think you’re right it would have made the story more poignant. Do you think that it would have overshadowed Anakin’s death? George may not have wanted to have two big deaths so close together. Or… perhaps he was trying to avoid the crazy ’80s movie cliche of having the black guy die first. 😉

    Also, Wedge Antilles is probably one of my favorite characters! He’s the only pilot to make an attack run on both Death Stars, and the only pilot to down an AT-AT with the tow cable method. All without any Force sensitivity. That guy is badass.

    • Nathan-I’m surprised you didn’t know that about Lando! I always had heard about it, but this is the first time I read a previous script and saw the facts.

      Like I mentioned, I don’t think it would have overshadowed Anakin’s death because Anakin’s death was necessary. You can’t have Vader come back as a good guy because everyone in the galaxy would still equate him with the harbinger of death. So his death had to happen…Lando’s, however, would have been a surprise and therefore, more poignant, like you say.

      I feel that as I grow older and watch the movies more, I really like Wedge Antilles’ character more. Completely not given enough props in the OT.

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