Luke Skywalker stands on the edge of a terrace, talking with his friend Biggs.

Lucas or False Memories: What Are These ‘Star Wars’ Scenes?

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Luke Skywalker stands on the edge of a terrace, talking with his friend Biggs.
Remember this classic moment from ‘A New Hope’ where Biggs confides to Luke that he’s going to join the Rebel Alliance? I did, and not being able to find it in the movie was driving me crazy! Image: ‘The Star Wars Storybook’, Random House, 1978.

If your memories of the original Star Wars trilogy don’t match the films when you see them now, it shouldn’t be a surprise. Lucas’ famous tinkering with his films across multiple releases has altered character development, increased CGI clutter, and sometimes replaced elements of the films for no identifiable reason. The changes are becoming so entrenched that even when we remember that something changed, we can confuse what the change was: “Han shot first” sounds reasonable enough, but the fact is that Han shot only. Greedo never fired in the original cut of A New Hope.

The impact of these edits became apparent to me when I watched an overview of the Harmy Despecialized edition of the movies, a community effort which is striving to restore episodes IV-VI to their original glory. So it was with great anticipation that I dug into those films, hoping to see again some key moments that I was certain had gone missing over the years. Specifically, I remembered Biggs confiding to Luke on Tatooine that he planned to join the Rebel Alliance, wampas attacking Echo Base, and Vader on Hoth, watching the Millennium Falcon escape and menacingly stating “I want that ship.”

But they weren’t there. None of them.

In fact, on watching the movies I discovered yet another discrepancy:  I was certain that during the Vader-is-Luke’s-father reveal that Luke yelled “No, it’s not true, I’ll never join you!” But it’s clear that Luke has always yelled “No, that’s not true. That’s impossible!”

It drove me nuts! Why was I remembering the movies so differently? I began to wonder if there had been other versions in the theater for the initial run, but I couldn’t find any corroborating stories that supported that idea. Besides, I was just three years old when A New Hope came out. I did find both the Biggs moment and wampa attack as deleted scenes, but they didn’t look familiar to me, and they had clearly never been part of the movie. Chewing the mystery over in my mind later, it suddenly came to me: maybe these were scenes from the books!

The full-color photograph books from 'Star Wars' and 'Empire Strikes Back' alongside the two read-along books, with 33 1/3 RPM records showing.
Oh storybooks: why must you turn my movie memories into a house of lies? Image: Mike LeSauvage

Not novels, mind you. I’m talking about the read-alongs and other children’s books from the time of the movies. Fortunately, these survived my father’s Star Wars yard sale apocalypse. I grabbed my copy of the 1980 Buena Vista Records read-along of The Empire Strikes Back and flipped through it:

The cover to the Buena Vista read-along of The Empire Strikes Back, showing Luke fighting Darth Vader with Yoda looking on. On the right side of the image is a page from the book where Luke exclaims "I'll Never Join You".
I have you now!  Page 21 gave me proof I wasn’t going insane or being gaslighted. Image: Mike LeSauvage

I still have the record, but no record player. I’ve since tracked down a version where you can enjoy the book in its original glory. What’s amazing to me is how different the voices are, but in my memories I had nevertheless transposed the dialog into Mark Hamill’s timbre.

After finding one scene, I put the rest together quickly. Here’s Luke and Biggs talking on Tatooine (it’s the lower half of the page from the header of this article.)

Text from the book and an inset picture of Biggs talking to Luke. The text has Biggs confiding in Luke that he plans to join the Rebel Alliance.
Image: ‘The Star Wars Storybook’, Random House, 1978.

And here’s the wampa attack. This one is actually kind of insidious, because the part with ice chips falling onto Artoo-Detoo (looks weird, right? Check out the image below where it was written that way!) is actually in the movie, though in the film it’s used to signify the approach of the Imperial walkers. So I had a real memory of what I had seen, mixed up with the rest of the wampa attack from the book.

Two pages from the book with text, the first noting a wampa claw showing scratching on the other side of an ice wall, followed up by a wampa attack that R2D2 discovered and ran from.
Two pages from ‘Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back Storybook’, Scholastic Book Services, 1980.

Finally, though Vader does tell Admiral Piett, “I want that ship, not excuses,” the line I remember comes from both the read-along and the Scholastic storybook:

More false memories from the Empire Strikes Back Storybook and the read-along in Vader saying "I want that ship" as the Millennium Falcon escapes Hoth.
‘Empire Strikes Back’ books. Left: The read-along. Right: The Scholastic Storybook. Image: Mike LeSauvage

You can hear this one in the read-along as well. In my mind, I can see Vader, watching the Falcon blast out of the hangar, his fist clenched as he delivers the line in perfect James Earl Jones fashion. Of course, he does neither in the movie; instead he just watches as the heroes escape.

I’m pretty sure I’ve sorted out all my false memories from the movies and I’ve learned a lot about how fallible my own brain can be when putting together conflicting data. I suppose it’s true what Yoda said in Episode V: “Seagulls… Mmgh! Stop it now!”

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31 thoughts on “Lucas or False Memories: What Are These ‘Star Wars’ Scenes?

  1. So True!! I still can’t watch A New Hope without hearing the words in my head “The hope of freedom was kept alive by Rebel Forces….”. Thanks for posting this.

  2. The scene I remember ‘seeing’ in A New Hope is Luke seeing the space battle above Tattooine thru binoculars. It was from the Alan Dean Foster novelization Star Wars:The Adventures of Luke Skywalker from DEC 1976 and was not in the film.

    1. I remember that one! I’m glad I’m not crazy. Reading all the storybooks as a kid then novels as a teenager has me completely unable to wow my daughter with full knowledge of The “ancient films” (her words). I have to stick with mouthing all the words through Monty Python and Princess Bride {{wink}}

  3. It’s because back then kids had imagination. We were dreamers where when we read something we could see it. Kids these days lack this kind of creativity.

    1. One of my fellow GeekDads pointed out that it used to be years before movies came out on video – you couldn’t just get the movie at home and obsessively watch it. So the books were our source data for years on end. In fact, Rob check and the video release for A New Hope was in 1982 – so Empire Strikes Back was 2 years old before you could watch Star Wars at home. No wonder the books had such an impact!

      1. Ah, but when did it come out on HBO? I distinctly remember getting up as a kid on Saturday mornings, eager to begin my weekly viewing of Star Wars. (On Betamax!) My parents had recorded it at some point. I *think* this was around 1980, certainly not as late as 1982.

  4. The radio dramas of Star Wars and Empire may also be a source of some false memories from the films. I know the Star Wars one included an extended version of the meeting w Biggs as well as Luke looking up at the space battle above the planet, in the company of a malfunctioning treadwell droid. One other possible source of note: the truncated audio versions of the first three movies put out on LP format. I listened to those over and over, at a time when there was no way to watch Star Wars or Empire at home.

    1. Someone else brought those up on our GeekDad Slack channel. I hadn’t even thought about them as a potential influence. They weren’t part of my childhood, but I’m certain that others will have internalized those moments into their own movie memories. Thanks for sharing that.

  5. The Wampa Scene from empire was actually filmed but cut later.. You can see it on youtube and on the special editions extra scenes !

  6. I remember the droids’ names being spelled “Artoo Detoo” and “See-Threepio” in the books and also on this collectible drinking glass my parents got from Pizza Hut in the 70s. Seeing those spellings again in this post brought back memories! I don’t see that spelling anymore…

  7. I have a very clear memory of Luke in a pod race on Tatooine, but I’ve been told I’m crazy. Am I?

  8. Patricia- the glasses were from Burger King.

    If you find the deleted Biggs scene at Tashie Station (the other friends were Windy and another dude I think) Biggs and Luke have an interesting, albeit prequelesque, convo about the political climate and the empire drafting people.

  9. I remember the “I want that ship” line from the adult novelization, which I grew up reading and rereading. Although there it takes place in the rebel command center, when Veers reports to Vader about seventeen ships destroyed, and they don’t know how many got away, clearly hoping he doesn’t ask about the Falcon. Naturally Vader does, and says the line after Veers reluctantly says that they’re tracking it. I think it works better; it’s a strong moment without being over the top.

  10. I remember the scene in the ice cave where Luke wakes up and is greeted by Obi Wan who tells him to think the sabre into his hand. And I definitely remember Hobbie crashing into Veers AT-AT. Or is it just me???

  11. The marvel comic book has illustrations of the wampa fight. I too was confused just like you because I read that comic book version a lot in my youth.

    Since the longer production time of making books and comics versus final edits of movies, we wind up with disparate continuity.

    Check out His Dark Materials movie novelization by Scholastic for The Golden Compass versus the movie edit. It ended as the original but the movie didn’t test well with the ending so they made it a happy ending!

    1. I didn’t have any of the comics, but I’ve since heard from people who had them in the mix as well. The variety of experiences people are having is really cool!

  12. I remember Luke looking up in the sky with binoculars and later saying he saw a battle that took place above Tatooine at the very beginning of the first Star Wars movie. Was sure I saw a film print that included that.
    Looks like it was only in the books.

    1. Hey found this site and wanted to say thank you for it, because yes, there are so many scenes that changed from the very first time I saw Star Wars – and it wasn’t called Episode IV – it was just called “STAR WARS” in the roll up story reel.

      I saw STAR WARS in July 1977 at the Northpoint Theater in San Francisco, CA. It was one of the old single room glorious theaters from by gone days, the one’s with the balcony that was almost as big as the floor, which I sat in the front row center of. The scene with Luke watching the battle and his speaking with Biggs was in movie. That is the ONLY time I have seen it, just like the Han killing Greedo, and a number of other slight changes. But that scene was there and this is why you knew who Biggs was later on when Luke runs into him on moon of Yavin (Yavin 4) – also included was the scene when Biggs tells there general in command that Luke is one of best pilots he knows and can handle himself.

      These are all gone. I read some years ago when Lucas was interviewed about it he said he felt he introduced the protagonist too early with that scene and that is why he removed it. I thought the scene worked great but now you don’t meet Luke until the Jawas pull up to where he lives with his Uncle and Aunt.

      The other very important scene that you didn’t mention, which actually occurs in “The Empire Strikes Back” (besides the wampa attacts, which were mentioned in the movie was the scene on Bespin where Darth Vader uses the force to choke hold Lando Calrissian after you see Han, Chewie & Leia taken away from the white table room Vader force grabs Han’s pistol when the door first opens and they discover it’s Darth Vader.

      The scene has been removed, but you still see Lando grab at his neck during the carbonite scene when Vader tells him He is leaving a permanent garrison there and taking Leia. I know the comments are almost 9 months old but just thought I would bring this up.

      But to answer you properly Gary, that scene with Luke wearing his cap and looking up through his binoculars and speaking with Biggs afterwards was in the movie I saw 40 years ago.

      Thanks for the interesting subject.

  13. It’s weird … I too can ‘hear’ Luke saying “No, it’s not true, I’ll never join you!”. Are you sure it wasn’t in a trailer or something?

    1. I’ve never seen it in any of the editions. It would have had to be an entirely different take of the scene. For sure the one from audio book isn’t it – they did a decent job, but it clearly isn’t Hammill’s voice. It’s really, really crazy how your brain can have you remember the line but in someone else’s voice!

  14. Many fans, comparing what they saw in the first few weeks of the release in 1977, noticed discrepancies.

    Two I remember most concern OWK and Han. These are observations made with friends in late May 1977.:
    1) When Luke is set upon by the Sandpeople, you hear the dragon sound that scares the Sandpeople. They look around. The visuals cut to a rise in the desert hills, empty of anyone, then go back to Luke and the fleeing Sandpeople, then back again to the rise where a cloaked figure is coming over the hill. The Sandpeople are not around long enough to see the figure, just to hear the noise and scram. This is different from what some friends saw in other cities where the scene is as it soon became: SP attack Luke, sound, SP look around, cloaked figure appears, SP flee.
    2) On the Death Star when Han and Chewie are running away from the stormtroopers, I remember an Open the blastdoors! Close the blast doors! sequence that changed later. Again, friends saw that scene differently.

    I’m pretty sure that someone told me about some beginning scenes with Luke that we saw nothing of at all, and that poor person was probably sure that she was imagining things (or pulling off the novelization as suggested above).

    In those first years, I remember reading about how prints were being cut up, and I remember people noting differences. Somewhere in my boxes of memorabilia, I may have clippings — but also, I may have heard at cons from LF guests* — that there were (at least) 2 different types of prints released for various reasons (not enough prints were made for the demand, different theater needs, prints getting cut up for clips to sell, etc.) and that because editing was being done till the last minute before distribution (the famous claim that prints were delivered still wet), there were discrepancies that were ironed out over the summer of 1977.

    *Yes, production people came to many cons back then. I met the gent who rotoscoped Artoo when the Jawas grabbed him, Sid Ganis, director Marquand, and other.

    1. There were also different audio tracks made for the 70mm 6 track presentations with different lines added or deleted so if you were lucky enough to see SW that way, you did hear a few things differently.

  15. I wonder also, how many people’s memories of these things come from the Marvel Comics adaptation of Star Wars (what became issues #1-6 of the comics, also printed in giant-sized format as both a single issue, and two parts (1-3 & 4-6))?

    I had similar things occur with some of those scenes, but my exposure to them was via the comics, not the storybooks. (hell, I never saw any of the movies until I saw RotJ in the theater, when on vacation in Ohio not long after getting my driver’s license).

  16. Somewhere in my boxes of “memorabilia” I have the booklet you could buy at the 1977 movie, listing all the characters and some backstory.

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