Among the array of unforgettable moments from 1977’s original Star Wars was the iconic, form-dissipating sacrifice of Alec Guinness’ Obi-Wan Kenobi, buying enough time for Luke Skywalker and the Millennium Falcon crew to escape the Death Star. However, while posterity has labeled the scene as a key component of the Joseph Campbell-esque structure of the Star Wars story, a recently uncovered early version of the script reveals that it was a late idea.
Actor Peter Mayhew, who, of course, donned the furry costume of Chewbacca for five of the seven currently-existing Star Wars films, recently posted some intriguing food for fan thought on Twitter in the form of script pages from a draft of the original Star Wars Death Star escape sequence that goes much different than the version we know. The lede here? Obi-Wan LIVES!April 13, 2016
While the story we know depicts Obi-Wan becoming, as he states, ���more powerful than you can possibly imagine” after he is struck down by Vader’s lightsaber, leaving only a pile of clothes, it seems that he managed to avoid that “upgrade” fate in this version. Here, Obi-Wan, with his endurance fading from the duel with Vader, manages to escape his would-be assailant after being separated by the hangar blast doors, trapping Vader in a tunnel.
However, that’s the just the tip of the iceberg as far as the deviations are concerned. Stormtroopers begin to open fire and Obi-Wan, blocking the blaster bolts, gets wounded by an explosion, forcing Luke to return an earlier favor on Tatooine to rescue an unconscious Obi-Wan, picking off the remaining aim-impaired bucket-heads and carrying his mentor to safety on the Millennium Falcon. Indeed, this is one scenario that would have dramatically altered the landscape of the entire Star Wars mythos had it been depicted in the film.
While old letters revealed that the late Guinness initially held disdain for the inauspicious Star Wars gig during its production and seemed to welcome Obi-Wan’s death, the film’s success — possibly helped by Obi-Wan’s dramatic demise — ultimately changed his tune. Of course, just about any person even casually familiar Star Wars can probably tell you that Guinness’ Obi-Wan Kenobi is best known for meeting a martyred fate at the hands of Darth Vader; a necessary sacrifice casualty designed to give gravity to the overwhelming odds that the Rebel forces faced against the Empire, also setting its protagonist in Luke to perform his ensuing heroics in destroying the Death Star on his own (well, sort of, anyway).
Indeed, the necessity of a sacrifice in the onset of a larger story would be echoed in the Prequel Trilogy’s launch in The Phantom Menace with the death of Obi-Wan’s mentor Qui-Gon Jinn and recently in the Sequel Trilogy with Harrison Ford’s long-requested patricidal fate for Han Solo in The Force Awakens. Nevertheless, the idea that plans were originally in place for Obi-Wan to actually stick around post-Death Star is a fascinating bit of history.