I personally believe that had this scene been in the original Star Wars, it would have given a different taste to the movie. With this scene, we see George Lucas stress that Luke is a naïve, young farmboy stuck on a planet that is described as “a big hunk of nothing”. On top of that, he has the nickname “Wormie”, which really doesn’t lend well to his character. Ugh, imagine having that nickname?
Also, it’s important to note that if this scene had been in the movie, it would have been the first time we met our hero, Luke, therefore making it our first impression of him. I believe what George was emphasizing here was the typical hero’s journey where the hero starts from nothing, and is even scorned by his friends/acquaintances, to being the star of the show by the end of the tale. When I read this scene today it actually strongly reminded me of the King Arthur tale. King Arthur was always known as “Wart” when he was younger and constantly was pushed out of the way and never paid attention to.
What else was George trying to make clear in this scene? Luke has a few friends, but the one he is closest to, has what Luke cannot have…and thereby makes Luke want it even more. Biggs is at the Academy now and the disparity we see between Tatooine and the Big Wide Galaxy is severe. Luke yearns for that world outside of Tatooine where he too can be a First Mate on a ship like Biggs. Biggs serves to show what Luke is missing out on by staying home and working.
So here is what we get from this scene: Luke is inept/annoying, we learn that this planet he is on is really in the middle of nowhere and not even the Empire is interested in it (so they say), and he seems impressed by his friend who has just returned looking very flashy.
Okay, but this scene never made it into the movie, so what’s missing from what we actually see on screen?
From the first moments we see Luke, we don’t get a feeling that Luke is completely incompetent. I mean, Luke does complain about not hanging out with this friends/power converters/whatever (maybe that line was added in later after they cut this scene? Not sure…but that’s a lot of hanging out with friends) and is slightly annoying, but he goes to work on the droids so we know Uncle Owen has no problem putting Luke in charge of things around the farm. We don’t see the yearning in Luke’s eyes to get off of Tatooine when he is jealous of his friend, though it is well shown and explained later on in the film with the dinner scene. We don’t get his nickname “Wormie” – thank goodness!
The more I think about it, the more I think George Lucas made a good choice on cutting this scene. I do like how we continue to follow C-3PO and R2-D2 longer than we would have if this scene had been in the movie. This scene seems to be primarily a world building scene as well as a typical way to set up the hero before he goes forward on his journey.
However, most of those points we get to later on in the movie anyway without Luke’s friends making him seem like a complete schlep. I guess a big reason for cutting them out would be that there are fewer characters to worry about later on in the movie, and I agree with that completely. What’s the point of introducing these characters if they are never seen again (excluding Biggs, but even his later scene was cut when the film first came out)? With other hero’s journeys, usually the friends or the people who treat him wrong are there throughout the story to serve as a reminder of what his life would have been like if these grand things did not happen. This is not the case with Star Wars as Luke makes other friends on his journey who help serve him and the storyline better.
Here’s the scene if you would like to check it out:
EXTERIOR: TATOOINE — ANCHORHEAD SETTLEMENT — POWER STATION — DAY.
Heat waves radiate from the dozen or so bleached white buildings. Luke pilots his Landspeeder through the dusty empty street of the tiny settlement. An old woman runs to get out of the way of the speeding vehicle, shaking her fist at Luke as he flies past.
WOMAN: I’ve told you kids to slow down!
INTERIOR: POWER STATION — DAY.
Luke bursts into the power station, waking The Fixer, a rugged mechanic and Camie, a sexy, disheveled girl who has been asleep in his lap. They grumbled as he races through the office, yelling wildly.
FIXER: Did I hear a young noise blast through here?
CAMIE: It was just Wormie on another rampage.
Luke bounces into a small room behind the office where Deak and Windy, two tough boys about the same age as Luke, are playing a computer pool-like game with Biggs, a burly, handsome boy a few years older than the rest. His flashy city attire is a sharp contrast to the loose-fitting tunics of the farm boys. A robot repairs some equipment in the background.
LUKE: Shape it up you guys!…. Biggs?
Luke’s surprise at the appearance of Biggs gives way to great joy and emotion. They give each other a great bear hug.
LUKE: I didn’t know you were back! When did you get in?
BIGGS: Just now. I wanted to surprise you, hot shot. I thought you’d be here…certainly didn’t expect you to be out working. (he laughs.)
LUKE: The Academy didn’t change you much…but you’re back so soon? Hey, what happened, didn’t you get your commission?
Biggs has an air of cool that seems slightly phony.
BIGGS: Of course I got it. Signed aboard The Rand Ecliptic last week. First mate Biggs Darklighter at your service…(he salutes)…I just came to say good-bye to all you unfortunate landlocked simpletons.
Everyone laughs. The dazzling spectacle of his dashing friend is almost too much for Luke, but suddenly he snaps out of it.
LUKE: I almost forgot. There’s a battle going on! Right here in our system. Come and look!
DEAK: Not again! Forget it.
EXTERIOR: TATOOINE — ANCHORHEAD — SETTLEMENT — POWER STATION — DAY.
The group stumbles out into the stifling desert sun. Camie and The Fixer complain and are forced to shade their eyes. Luke has his binoculars out scanning the heavens.
LUKE: There they are!
Biggs takes the binoculars from Luke as the others strain to see something with the naked eye. Through the binoculars Biggs sees two small silver specks.
BIGGS: That’s no battle, hot shot…they’re just sitting there! Probably a freighter-tanker refueling.
LUKE: But there was a lot of firing earlier…
Camie grabs the binoculars away banging them against the building in the process. Luke grabs them.
LUKE: Hey, easy with those…
CAMIE: Don’t worry about it, Wormie.
The Fixer gives Luke a hard look and the young farm boy shrugs his shoulders in resignation.
FIXER: I keep telling you, the Rebellion is a long way from here. I doubt if the Empire would even fight to keep this system. Believe me Luke, this planet is a big hunk of nothing…
Luke agrees, although it’s obvious he isn’t sure why. The group stumbles back into the power station, grumbling about Luke’s ineptitude.