Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The Ban on the Original Star Wars Trilogy

I have so many angry complaints about Star Wars these days, where do I begin?

I was a huge Star Wars fan as a kid of course. I'd have to be. Anyone who didn't grow up loving Star Wars wouldn't have the energy to muster the bitterness that I now harbor over the whole franchise. If you've never loved Star Wars, then you can look at all the current Star Wars mediocrity and just shrug your shoulders. There's a lot of crap out there right now; why should Star Wars be any different?

When I watched The Phantom Menace in the theater with a friend one time, he remarked after the movie: "Wow that sucked." And later: "Well, at least he has the original trilogy. No one can ever take that away from him."

He was right with his first statement, (I now freely admit that Phantom Menace did indeed suck, though I didn't at the time) But sadly, his second proved false. George Lucas is taking away the original trilogy. Taking it away from himself, and from all of us. What he left in its place is the Special Edition, a remake where (in my estimation) about 75% of the changes were huge mistakes.

The original trilogy is floating around on old VHS tapes and laserdiscs, and that's it. Unless the new crazy-George changes his mind, we'll never see it again.

A few months ago, I read an article on the internet about a California film festival that was going to screen one film from each decade of the twentieth century, each film chosen to represent the best of that decade, as a sort of celebration of film. They did George Lucas the great honor of selecting Star Wars to represent the seventies. They asked Lucasfilm to lend them a print of Star Wars for the festival. Lucas refused to give them a print of the original, offering them a Special Edition print instead. The festival managers responded gently that they were interested in the historical significance of the 70's version, and that the 90's Special Edition was not suitable. Lucas still refused to lend it, citing his bizarre and unprompted promise made in the 90s that he was withdrawing availability of the original trilogy for good. The festival asked, reasonably, if that promise was meant to refer to commercial availability, and not to, say, a one-night only honorary screening at a festival for historic prints. Lucas said no. The festival had to reluctantly choose another film.

Ladies and Gentleman: fuck George Lucas.

It's not easy saying fuck George Lucas. It's painful. The guy is responsible for bringing great joy and happiness to millions of lives through his brilliant cinematic fantasy. But he's gone nuts. He lives on a kind of compound in California, surrounded entirely by worshipful, fawning employees who don't dare disagree with anything he says. Never trust people who live on "compounds". Or are surrounded by worshipful sycophants. You end up with L. Ron Hubbards that way. And L. Ron is responsible for a whooooole lotta bad sci fi himself.

So the Special Editions are being released this fall on DVD. The originals, of course, will not be included. In fact, these aren't even the 1997 special editions. They're new special editions, edited even further to incorporate things from the new trilogy. Apparantly the apparition of Anakin at the end of jedi is now going to be replaced with Hayden Christensen. Supposedly there is new stuff on Alderaan.

Lucas likes to point out that they are HIS movies. He can change them however he wants. He can withdraw access to earlier versions if he wants. I wish I could somehow organize a boycott of these DVDs, to show him exactly how much he can keep HIS movies all to himself.

For the record, I have no objection to George tinkering forever on the Original Trilogy, making more edits and additions for the next 30 years, so long as he keeps the originals for sale in the meantime. He's not capable of understanding that his new trilogy is distinctly inferior. He's not aware that all his efforts to tie the original trilogy with the new one through new Special Editions simply cheapen the superior originals.

I refuse to buy the new DVDs. I refuse to pay for anything special-edition related. I have a set of Asian DVD bootlegs of the original trilogy. Widescreen. They have visual hiccups between chapters, and the audio synching is off by about half a second. But I'll take those bootlegs anyday over George's special editions.

Next time: my full case against the special editions. Man, Lucas pisses me off.

No comments: