Another character study, and who else was it going to be next other than Han Solo. A favourite among fans, Solo is the outlaw with a heart of gold. He represents every lone hero that would populate every western that George Lucas loved, he was the cynical veteran next to the young apprentice in every Kurosawa period piece that helped inspire ‘Star Wars’. He’s supposed to be the every man in space, the guy that can observe Obi Wan’s crazy teachings about ‘feel, don’t think’ and smirk. As he said ‘I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to another and I’ve never seen anything to make me believe that there’s some all-powerful force’.
Even from a real world perspective this character is so significant, before this Harrison Ford stuck exclusively to supporting roles and was only made aware of the part due to Lucas failing to find an actor to play Solo, and called in Ford as they had previously worked together on ‘American Graffiti’ to take part in early screen tests with the newly cast Mark Hamill. By the end of the tests Lucas handed Ford the part and his career was changed forever.
As I said before Solo was the person who could shrug away mystical teachings and existential thoughts, maybe that’s one thing that was missing from the prequels, a character that could say ‘What the hell are you talking about’ every time someone said something about how they don’t like sand. When we first meet him in ‘A New Hope’ he’s arrogant, (boating about how his ship can make the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs) self-centred (‘I’m not in this for your revolution… I’m in it for the money’), and pretty much lives up to his name. He’s used to only looking after himself with the exception to his Wookie sidekick Chewbacca.
The excellence of Han’s character is how much it parallels Luke’s while retaining enough in common that they have to be on the same side. Where Luke is inexperienced, naïve and merely dreams about a life beyond what he knows, Han has done it and it’s made him a wizened cynic that’s only in it for the money. But they are both young, they both hate the Empire and both are willing to fight but for different reasons. Then of course when you compare him to Leia there’s the fact that even though both of them are far from naïve to the realities of the galaxy, she has the task of leading the Rebel Alliance, or in other words, a hell of a lot of responsibility compared to his care free attitude. It only makes his selfless acts in the sequels more noticeable, such as not putting up a fight when he is put into Carbon Freeze to try and protect his friends or volunteering to lead the Alliance’s strike team on Endor. It stands as a testament to some of the various developments over the course of the series that Han Solo, the quintessential loner forms a friendship with his polar opposite and romantic relationship with Leia.
Just thinking about it, there may be one more thing Han cares for when we first see him, his ship. The Millennium Falcon is a small freighter to which several extensive modifications have been made, and it shares many qualities with its captain. The Millennium Falcon something of a misfit, notoriously temperamental and undoubtedly untrustworthy in its appearance. As Luke said when he first laid eyes on the ship ‘What a piece of junk’ and even its previous owner Lando Calrisian later calls it ‘the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy’.
Solo continually tries to avoid commitment but ultimately that is what draws him back every time. Even when he has his reward for rescuing Leia, he returns to help Luke destroy the Death Star, and when he is set to leave again he prolongs his evacuation to save Luke from the wilderness and help Leia escape from the Empire’s attack. It would be safe to assume that when he is finally released from carbonite (after spending three years entombed) he is a changed man, still confident and bashful, but now committed to a cause.
So those are yet more ramblings on Star Wars, let me know some of yours by leaving a comment below, thanks and bye.