New Brunswick

Copy of original Star Wars script discovered in UNB library

Deep in the archives of the University of New Brunswick’s library in Saint John, a famous movie script sat forgotten and collecting dust. It tells the tales of a galaxy far, far away — and no one knows how it got there.

UNB Saint John librarian Kristian Brown found the script when digitizing the library's sci-fi collection

Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill are shown in a scene from Star Wars. A shooting script from the 1977 film was discovered at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John. (20th Century Fox Film Corporation/Associated Press)

Deep in the archives of the University of New Brunswick's library in Saint John, a famous movie script sat forgotten and collecting dust. It tells the tales of a galaxy far, far away — and no one knows how it got there.

Since February, Kristian Brown, a librarian, has been sifting through the library's extensive science fiction collection.

With a big interest in the sci-fi genre, Brown was tasked to digitize the university's collection of zines, pulp magazines and novels.

Just as Brown was coming to the end of his contract, he came across what appears to be an original shooting script for Star Wars.

Kristian Brown, a librarian, came across what appears to be an original shooting script for Star Wars when he was digitizing the university's science fiction collection of zines, pulp magazines and novels. (Elke Semerad/CBC)
"I was just looking actually for something else entirely and then I just found this unique looking item," Brown said.

At the time, Brown said he wasn't sure exactly what he had stumbled upon. 

The script is bound in blue paper, emblazoned with official Lucasfilm Industries stamps.

The date of the fourth edition revised script is March 15, 1976, which is well ahead of the film's 1977 theatrical release date.

Lucasfilm Publicity said it looked to be a copy of the real, early script, but it appeared to be a "fan-made" replica version of the sort once sold at conventions. 

Brown is less concerned about its monetary value, as he is of its worth as a piece of pop-culture treasure.

"No matter how many new things are made, it all basically came from this first thing. And it's just good to look back at the origins of the entire thing and not forget, you know, what came first," he said.

Major differences

Aside from the Lucasfilm stamps, the titles also bear a curious look at how Star Wars evolved as it was written and distributed.

The first difference that pops-out is the name of one of the most recognized characters in recent film history.

"The character's name is different" says Brown while leafing through other omitted ideas in the revised script.

"The protagonist's name is listed Luke Starkiller instead of Luke Skywalker."

I'd love to know its journey and how it ended up here.- Chris Duffield, Star Wars fan- Chris Duffield, Star Wars fan

The script is also characterized as "Saga I" while the film would later be retitled as "Episode IV: A New Hope" after it became a box office success and spawned several sequels and prequels. Sections of the script showcase characters written differently than they appear on screen, not to mention scenes that were cut entirely. 

For Brown, the biggest thrill was reading how an original scene featuring Harrison Ford was meant to be.

When Lucasfilm re-released the films in 1997, the special edition altered a scene where Han Solo is met by a bounty hunter.

In the original, Solo fires at the alien, killing it without warning. The 1997 version changed the scene to make Solo look as if he was acting in self-defence. A change which incensed fans.

"I'll tell you one thing, right now," Brown gleefully points out.

"Based on the script, I can tell you 100 per cent, Han shot first."

The Star Wars shooting script contained many differences from what moviegoers saw when the film was released in 1977. (Elke Semerad/CBC)

Mystery appearance

At local comic book store Heroes Beacon, new editions of Star Wars comics have been a hot selling item. With excitement about a new movie, the comics usually sell out within days of going on the shelves.

The store's Star Wars buff Chris Duffield has read other earlier versions of the script and is interested to see some of the differences in the fourth draft.

"I'm not convinced the original script would have got a sequel," he said.

"It probably would have been the bomb that George Lucas thought it was going to be."

But Duffield is curious how the university got its hands on the script.

"I'd love to know its journey and how it ended up here," he said.

That remains a bit of a mystery.

As far as Brown can determine, it was acquired by a previous librarian in the 1990s.

"Among the many acquisitions that were made in that period, I think that this is the kind of thing that would have been earmarked as a significant find," Brown said.

Despite being a significant item, it was forgotten over the years.

Now that it has been found, the university has plans to put it on display along with other rare items in its collection.


  • An earlier headline described the script as an original, but further investigation revealed it was a copy.
    Jun 08, 2015 8:57 PM AT


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