Now, there are not too many moments in cinema history more iconic than the opening crawl of Star Wars. For some of us, it's one of the defining memories of our childhoods, and one of the most essential moments of any new Star Wars movie.
As it happens, though - our iconic introduction to the Star Wars universe was almost very different from how we now know it.
The story goes like this:
George Lucas has a tradition of showing the rough cuts of his movies to a close-knit group of friends before going on to create the final cut. So, back in the months before the first Star Wars movie was released, Lucas did just that.
However, the audience - which included legendary cinema figures like Steven Spielberg, John Milius and Brian De Palma - not only had the chance to watch the movie - they also got to see a very different Star Wars from the one we now know and love. The action scenes weren't finished yet, and had been replaced by footage from World War II, and the film was generally unfinished. All in all, they weren't impressed.
One particularly criticized part of the movie was it's opening crawl - which, back then, read like this:
Fortunately, though, Brian De Palma, and Time magazine writer Jay Cocks - who were also at the screening - offered to help Lucas out - and to completely rewrite the opening.
First, they added the legendary...
"A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...."
And then, from...
"It is a period of civil wars in the galaxy. A brave alliance of underground freedom fighters has challenged the tyranny and oppression of the awesome GALACTIC EMPIRE."
...De Palma and Cocks gave us the far less wordy...
"It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire."
Which is definitely punchier.
Next, they changed...
"Striking from a fortress hidden among the billion stars of the galaxy, rebel spaceships have won their first battle with the Imperial starfleet. The EMPIRE fears that another defeat could bring a thousand more solar systems into the rebellion, and Imperial control over the galaxy would be lost forever."
"During the battle, rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet."
Which, again, is much, much clearer. Just so much so.
And, finally, the duo changed...
"To crush the rebellion once and for all, the EMPIRE is constructing a sinister new battle station. Powerful enough to destroy an entire planet, its completion spells certain doom for the champions of freedom."
"Pursued by the Empire's sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy..."
Which is awesome for one key reason - it eliminates any mention of the term "champions of freedom."
So - there you have it.
Brian De Palma and Jay Cocks totally saved Star Wars
Or, at least, the opening sequence...
What do you guys think, though?