“Bring my shuttle…”

In the original version of the movie (the movie) The Empire Strikes Back, toward the end, Darth Vader offers a bargain of sorts to Luke. Luke declines, then falls off a platform, apparently to his doom. Soon after that, there’s a shot of Darth Vader striding along surrounded by some of the Imperial garrison he’s stationed on Bespin. He says,

Bring my shuttle.

The scene is only about 15 or 20 seconds long, but it’s a nice little moment. It leverages the inscrutable mask and the voice-over talents of James Earl Jones to leave you wondering just how Luke’s decision has affected Vader.

In the DVD box set that came out in the fall of 2004, there are many improvements and a number of bad decisions. Of the later, the most controversial is having Greedo shoot first, but the worst is probably the alteration of the musical number in Jabba’s throne-room from Return of the Jedi. It was bad before, but now it’s simply awful.

But. Bad as that is, it’s understandable. The old music was limited by the puppets’ acting ability but also by the evolution of musical tastes. You can see why Lucas (or someone whose opinions he values) decided to replace the puppets with CG and the music with something “modern.” Fine. They were terribly, terribly wrong. But it’s just a tragic misjudgment: you can at least understand their motivations.

What is unfathomable, however, is the replacement of the original dialog for this tiny scene where Darth Vader summons a ride back to his star destroyer. Now, instead of saying:

Bring my shuttle.

Vader says:

Alert my star destroyer to prepare for my arrival.

What could have possessed them to make this change?

  1. It’s too wordy. Why say nine words when three will do very nicely?
  2. It’s so not Darth to alert anyone about anything. This is just the sort of time when people better be ready to show him how on-the-ball they are, or suffer the consequences.
  3. Finally, it suggests incompetence on the part of the Imperial Navy. “Bring my shuttle” says that you flunkies have been waiting for my order, the shuttle is fueled and manned, and you’re about to set the All-Empire record for transit from orbit to airborne city landing platform, or else everyone involved will die a slow, miserable death gasping out their apologies. “Alert my star destroyer to prepare for my arrival” envisions a star destroyer whose crew is so unfathomably lackadaisical as to be unalerted and unprepared when
    1. the Emperor’s personal representative is onboard
    2. when said representative is Darth Vader, and
    3. when he’s already strangled Admirals Ozzell and Needa since coming on board.

Accordingly, I hereby nominate this change for the single dumbest alteration of what is nevertheless one of the best movies ever made, and by far the best of the Star Wars series.

1 thought on ““Bring my shuttle…”

  1. Pingback: Mess of Pottage » Truly moved in.

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