A Lost Change to Star Wars?

09 Nov 2006

Apparently, in the scene where Luke throws his grappling hook across a shaft in the Death Star and carries Leia across to safety, some people recall the hook coming unstuck the first time, requiring a second throw.

That sounds familiar, but apparently there are two throws in the novelization. And I’ve learned not to trust my memory on these things.

If this change is real, I wonder why it was made. The failure of the first throw actually increases dramatic tension, and I wouldn’t expect an editor to want to reduce the tension at that point in the film.

On Slashdot, there’s an unintentionally ironic quotation from Lucas, although it is unsourced and so I can’t really verify he ever said it.

I am very concerned about our national heritage, and I am very concerned that films that I watched when I was young and the films that I watched throughout my life are preserved, so that my children can see them.

Did he really say this? If so, it seems a bit hypocritical!

And here’s an interesting bit of trivia: some videodisc players existed that did not use a laser pickup. (They did not use a “needle,” precisely, but they used a physical pickup that touched the disc. Very strange. I had never heard of these until a former boss mentioned them to me. I always wondered how a vibrating needle could carry a signal of sufficient bandwidth to reproduce video).

From Wikipedia here:

SelectaVision used a special medium known as a Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED). The VideoDisc was a 12 in (305 mm) platter housed in a special caddy. The video and audio signal is stored on the Videodiscs via peaks and valleys in the grooves, similar but not exactly like a phonograph record, of both sides of the discs. To play a Videodisc, you inserted the caddy into the player and the platter would be extracted. A keel-shaped needle with a titanium electrode layer would ride in the groove with extremely light tracking force, reading the electrical signal from the groove where it is decoded back into its FM state.
Unlike a phonograph record, where physical movement (vibration) of the stylus in the groove of the platter led to an audio signal, the stylus in a SelectaVision player slid along the crests of the groove, at a constant rotational speed of 450 rpm. The varying undulations of the peaks and valleys in the groove provided differing amounts of capacitance between the stylus and the conductive carbon loaded PVC disc. This varying capacitance was measured by the player circuitry, providing an audio/video signal.

If that’s not weird enough for you, read about PixelVision.

Very strange! But an object lesson in obsolete media formats. What would you do with one of these discs, if you found them? Somewhere I have a rare 7” analog videodisc containing several music videos by They Might Be Giants. It’s a really pretty coaster!

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