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

Reading Time: 4 minutes
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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