Star Wars Trilogy - In defense of Lucas
| Star Wars fans are the biggest whiners in the cinematic world. These are fans who saw these films originally in their formative years and their perceptions were coloured by naiveté and aspiration. However, today they are cynical bastards who can't see beyond their own self-disappointment and transfer that resentment to the rest of their lives. They have romanticised the original Trilogy and think anything new is an aberration of their childhood.
It's too bad too because, they are basically cheating themselves out of a very real chance to enjoy the magic of movies. The original Star Wars Trilogy is the kind of movie making magic that strikes only a few times in a century. In all honesty these aren't really good movies. The scripts are schlocky, the acting is wooden and the effects are a mixed bag of the awkward and the truly innovative. Their appeal exists on another level, the art of mythmaking, kick ass story telling, and collective euphoria. These are legends and characters that will live with us for all time on the level of the Odyssey, King Arthur and beyond.
What these "fans" can't understand is that other "masterpieces" have been altered in the past as well. I am sure Shakespeare faced heckles from those with nothing better to do when he changed lines in Hamlet because the first production just wasn't how he wanted it. Eric Clapton faced charges of 'just wanting to milk more money from fans' by recording new and somewhat innovative recording Layla. Altered editions of novels have been issued for centuries. These critics are relying on the false notion that a piece of "art" is at one point in time "achieved" and after that it is no longer the property of the artist and becomes the property of the world, or some other such nonsense.
Instead, I choose to look at this as a continued evolving project. I can enjoy or disagree with the choices that Lucas is making and still enjoy the experience of loosing myself in this galaxy far, far away. I can choose to loose this magical experience and memory wallowing in my own bitterness or I can add to the rich mythology that Lucas has added to my life and escape into a world that continues to captivate and mesmerize me.
Today we have the original Trilogy released on DVD for the first time and George Lucas, the creator now viewed as the devil by die hard fans, has tinkered with them once again. What has he done? Well, this version is not a great deal different from the 1997 tinkering. He has improved these recent additions and made a few alterations that add consistency with the new Trilogy.
I have to confess that I prefer the new versions for the most part. Greedo still shoots first in this new version of the famous scene. This was always the only change that bothered me in the Special Edition as it seemed to change the nature of Han Solo. In this version, the two shots are almost together as if Han and Greedo almost shot at the same time. While this is somewhat better is still doesn't change the fact that this alteration is lame. However George feels very strongly that Han Solo is not a murderer so despite fanboys desires to the contrary, this is the way it will stay. In the end, at least this scene is improved from the 1997 version.
Most of the other shots actually improve the movies and fan boys that can't admit that are kidding themselves in the same way they kid themselves about not liking those Ewoks when they were young. Taking out English writing and replacing it with the alien script that is appropriate is a pleasant yet subtle change. Replacing the stupid looking Emperor's head in Empire with the head of the actor who plays the role in all the other films is also welcome.
The picture quality is remarkably improved and even more of the distracting mat lines are gone. Colour and sounds are in top form punctuating the experience and story. Regardless of the fact that I never saw the films look this good, this is how I remember them. Now the reality is simply matching my fantasy.
In my opinion, it's how he has cleaned up the films along with the subtle improvements of the Special Editions, like the windows of Cloud City in Empire, the more populated world of A New Hope, and the much improved celebration music at the end of Return of the Jedi are some of the best changes.
I also love that he has left many of the fun gaffs. Luke still screams "Carrie!" instead of "Leia" after blowing up the Death Star. Oola's breast still falls out before she is thrown into the Rancor pit. The Storm Trooper still knocks his head on the door. These are great because they add to the legacy of the film not distract you from the story.
However, the most fun is the fourth disc with its never before seen behind the scenes stuff and probably the best documentary on the making of the original Trilogy ever made. Those who skip out on this set are truly missing out on some real fan boy fun.
I feel sorry for those who can't embrace the world of Star Wars and are too lost in their own animosity. As someone who is reduced to such giddy pleasure and joy, I feel for those who are denied that bliss.