40 years ago today, on January 11, 1982, filming began on what was to be called Star Wars: Episode IV — Revenge of the Jedi. That first scene, set in the middle of a deadly Tatooine sandstorm, was never released. But four decades later, we’re getting a look at this forgotten Star Wars moment that reveals a dark truth about Han Solo’s journey.
Shared on Twitter by documentarian Jamie Benning, the scene in question takes place shortly after the Return of the Jedi’s opening set-piece at Jabba the Hutt’s palace and outside the Sarlacc pit. As Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia flee the desert planet, a sandstorm rages. You can barely hear them speak as the characters reconnect only to say goodbye again. (Luke is headed back to Dagobah to see Yoda, while the others are joining the rest of the Rebel Alliance.)
It’s impossible to hear any of the dialogue in what should have been a poignant exchange, but thankfully, Benning has reconstructed the scene in his full documentary Returning to Jedi. You can watch it for yourself at roughly the 48-minute mark in the video below:
Considering that not much is said, it makes sense George Lucas cut this scene to keep the plot moving quickly. However, one line from Harrison Ford’s Han Solo feels particularly important. After thanking Luke (Mark Hamill) for saving him, Han describes the sensation of being frozen in carbonite in startling detail.
“That carbon freeze was the closest thing to dead there is,” he says. “And it wasn’t just sleepin’. It was a big wide awake nothing!”
In other words, when Solo was frozen in carbonite, he wasn’t just knocked out cold. He was apparently conscious the entire time. His brain was awake, but because he was trapped in carbonite, he couldn’t move or use any of his senses.
That’s pretty dark, but it’s even worse when you consider what it means for Star Wars in general. Han Solo isn’t the only person to get frozen in carbonite during the franchise’s long history. If Han Solo’s words can be considered canon, then every single person who got the same treatment also suffered in the same way.
In The Mandalorian Season 2, we also learned that after Mythrol (Horatio Sanz) was trapped in carbonite in the series premiere, it permanently damaged one of his eyes. So not only is being trapped in the stuff terrible but there are long-term repercussions as well. Maybe that explains some of Han’s behavior in The Force Awakens.
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