Word Count Comparison
This page compares the number of words used in the draft shooting script in RBML’s possession to the final film stereo mix released on May 25, 1977.
The final film is shorter than the draft script by 2,662 words, making it 20.9% shorter in terms of words. Breaking down the number of words spoken by men, women, and characters with unclear gender, male dialogue takes up a significant majority of the dialogue in both the draft script and final film. The proportion of female dialogue improves slightly in the final film, rising by 0.6 percentage points, though women speak 106 fewer words in the final film. Meanwhile, men speak 2,593 fewer words in the final film compared to the draft script, which is 97% of the 2,662 fewer words overall. However, male dialogue is so dominant in both versions that the proportion of male dialogue only decreases by 1.2 percentage points.
Another major reason why male dialogue decreases more than female dialogue is because the deleted scenes almost entirely consist of men. While the deleted early scenes with Luke feature two women not in the final film (Camie and an unnamed woman), their roles are very small. The film's most significant woman, Leia, is not in any of the film's deleted scenes other than a couple of her lines that were cut from the final Death Star battle. As a result, Leia’s dialogue largely stays intact in the final film, making up a larger proportion once male dialogue was cut. This is also the case for the only other woman in the final film, Beru, though she speaks far fewer words than Leia.
Another notable change is the increase of dialogue by characters whose gender is unknown, rising from 16 words to 90 words. There are only four characters like this who speak transcribable words: a Gonk droid with two words (“Gonk Gonk”), a Jawa who says one word (“Utini!”), the Death Star computer that announces how close the rebel base is, and the rebel base computer that announces how close the Death Star is. The Gonk droid and Jawa were not given explicit dialogue in the script, and the two computer announcements were inserted into the Death Star battle during editing and were not in the script. Only the rebel base announcements are in the draft script in some form, listed as:
The rebel base is on the station, it’s moving into our system.
The ships are away.
I decided to count these two lines as belonging to the same voice that announces how close the Death Star is coming to the rebel base in the final film, but because these lines are not in the final film, it is ultimately ambiguous which character they are meant to belong to, especially since they have different names. It could be argued that either or both should belong to the same character who says to Luke, “Luke, you switched off your targeting computer! What’s wrong?” which sounds like a male voice in the film. I decided that they should belong to the same generic “rebel announcer” with an unknown gender, since it is especially ambiguous in this case, even if it is meant to be a different character.
Below are both the draft script and final film broken down by character, with any characters with less than 1% of their dialogue making up the film going in the “Other” category:
Every major character (which I am defining as any character making up more than 4% of the dialogue) loses words from the draft script to the final film, but Luke decreases the most by quite a lot, losing 695 words and 1.2 percentage points. After all, Luke loses all of his dialogue in his early scenes on Tatooine that were cut, as well as a fair amount of dialogue that was cut from the Death Star battle and a brief scene with C-3PO on the landspeeder.
Most of the other major characters actually improve their proportion of dialogue due to Luke’s losses. Han increases by 3.4 percentage points, C-3PO by 2.8, Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi by 0.4 points, Leia by 0.6, and Tarkin by 0.7 (putting him above the threshold for major character in my arbitrary 4% cutoff point). Darth Vader though decreases by 227 words and 0.8 points.
Another notable takeaway from this breakdown is the significant decrease of dialogue from rebel pilots. Biggs in particular suffers a great deal from losing both his dialogue at the start of the film, his follow-up scene with Luke, and some of his dialogue during the Death Star battle. Thus, Biggs goes from having 5.3% of the script’s dialogue to 0.8% of the final film, a loss of 4.5 points and 587 words, which pushes him all the way to the “Other” category in the final film. Meanwhile, Garven Dreis (Red Leader) loses 2.5 points, Wedge loses 0.7 points, and Jon Vander (Gold Leader) loses 0.2 points.
Lastly, the most significant character to lose all of their dialogue is Jabba the Hutt, going from 1.4% of the script to 0% of the final film, as his scene was cut.
For the sake of completion, here is a word count listing of every character to have dialogue in either the final film or the draft script. One notable takeaway from this chart is that incidental dialogue from extras such as Stormtroopers and Imperial Announcers increases significantly.
Because Star Wars is famous for having backstories of even the most obscure characters in the original trilogy, many of these character names may be unfamiliar. If you click on any of the names, that character’s Wookieepedia page will open in a new tab.