An Open Letter to My Friend George Lucas…(UPDATED)
September 15, 2011

Dear George,

When’s it going to stop?

You’ve put us through Greedo Shoots First.  Then Greedo…basically shoots first.  Then Han bounces on a lil’ trampoline over I Guess That’s Jabba’s tail.  Then Han bounces on a lil’ trampoline over I Guess That Looks a Bit More Like Jabba’s tail, except not as much.

You’ve put us through Luke’s Bitch Scream of Death off a Bespin gantry.

You’ve put us through, “Close.  The.  Blast.  Doors.”  “Open the blast doors!  Open the blast doors!”

You’ve even put us through six hours of some of the stiffest, artificial, dramatically flaccid, needless backstory; essentially three movies worth of Take One, wherein you used actors like paper dolls, dialog for story, and a computer for everything else, all for the sake of selling floppy-eared Stepin Fetchits and blue Boba Fetts.

You’ve put us through all that, and still we’re here.

Now, you’re going to put us through this…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27RVJJfny4I[/youtube]

…and the Original Trilogy dies.

I hate nerd hyperbole, George.  I’ve never said you raped my childhood, I never signed an Internet petition to release the original cuts of the OT; never did anything like that.  Aside from what I mentioned above, I actually liked the Special Editions.  I thought the expanded Battle of Yavin was great.  I loved the little inserted shot of Luke shaking hands with Wedge at the Ewok celebration; that guy deserves all the adulation he can get.  I liked the few extra shots of the wampa and the expanded Cloud City.  I didn’t even mind the musical number at Jabba’s palace; it’s not like there wasn’t a song there to begin with.  I didn’t mind anything new on the DVD release, either.  I especially liked not hearing Luke’s Bitch Scream of Death, anymore.  So, you may wonder, why is this change, the latest of many the Original Trilogy has endured, the one over which I resort to dramatic pronouncements?  Simple…

You’ve stopped trying to improve these movies, now you’re trying to undermine them, and I hate it.

The added effects to the Battle of Yavin were just that, additions.  They used technology unavailable during the movie’s original release to expand and improve the climactic action sequence of A New Hope.  The effects did not, however, alter the story.

Greedo shooting first alters the story.  It makes Han a standard, reactive Good Guy.  It essentially castrates him.

That wasn’t supposed to happen until Episode VI.

Luke screaming as he falls from a Bespin gantry eliminates the bravery of his sacrifice.  See, he’d rather die than join Darth Vader, who now claims to be his dead father, of all things, in the Imperial cause.  Luke’s a commander in the Rebel Alliance and possibly, the first in a new breed of Jedi.  He’s lost friends and subjected himself to mental and physical punishment on Dagobah to become those things.  There’s no way he’d ever join Darth Vader, the symbol of everything he’s fought against, father or not.  And so he steps, silently, defiantly, into the abyss.

The scream makes it look like he may have slipped.

Anyway, do you see the difference, George?   Using special effects to enhance a story: good.  Using technology to retrofit your characters for the Church of Oprah: bad.

I know you used to know the difference…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjKaziaNtz8[/youtube]

So, now you know the good alterations to existing films from the bad ones.  Before we get into why Vader’s newest NOOOOO!!! is the worst of the latter, let’s talk a bit about this business of going back and altering the Original Trilogy at all.  I thought it was interesting when you said this…

“There will only be one. And it won’t be what I would call the “rough cut”, it’ll be the “final cut”. The other one will be some sort of interesting artifact that people will look at and say, “There was an earlier draft of this.” The same thing happens with plays and earlier drafts of books. In essence, films never get finished, they get abandoned. At some point, you’re dragged off the picture kicking and screaming while somebody says, “Okay, it’s done.” That isn’t really the way it should work. Occasionally, [you can] go back and get your cut of the video out there, which I did on both American Graffiti and THX 1138; that’s the place where it will live forever. So what ends up being important in my mind is what the DVD version is going to look like, because that’s what everybody is going to remember. The other versions will disappear. Even the 35 million tapes of Star Wars out there won’t last more than 30 or 40 years. A hundred years from now, the only version of the movie that anyone will remember will be the DVD version [of the Special Edition], and you’ll be able to project it on a 20′ by 40′ screen with perfect quality. I think it’s the director’s prerogative, not the studio’s to go back and reinvent a movie.”

While I understand the auteur’s dilemma, do you think Orson Welles would say what you said about Citizen Kane?  Do you think Jean-Luc Godard would say that about Contempt?  Do you think Clint Eastwood would say that about anything he’s directed?  I don’t think they would.  I think those men got it right the first time and wouldn’t spend decades after the fact trying to eliminate the contributions of others from their work.  I’m sure they’re not happy with aspects of everything they’ve done, but they always looked creatively forward, or tried to, rather than cynically back for any nickels and dimes they may have missed the first time.  I definitely don’t think any of those directors would attempt to graft empty bits and ugly bobs from their later films onto their masterworks in an attempt to make them “rhyme.”

Think of this.  I know you’ll never need the money, and clearly you’re creatively bankrupt but, do you think any studio would hire you to direct anything not called Star Wars, at this point?  If you answer honestly I think you have to take a long, hard look at what you’ve done.

While we’re at it, you ever wonder why other directors haven’t followed your lead?  I know, most of them do work for hire and don’t have the kind of control you have over Star Wars, but, think about it.  If David Fincher wanted to tweak Se7en so it’s R. Lee Ermey’s head in the box, or Quentin Tarantino wanted to go back and remove the shoes from the ALL the women in his films, don’t you think they’d be allowed to do it?  I think they would.  I would hope, though, that someone would be there to tell them what horrid ideas those are.

If only you had someone like that…

Oh, well.

Of course, your pal Steven Spielberg has followed your lead down the path of antiseptic film-making.  Remember how well the walkie-talkies in E.T. went over?  Yeah, I do, too.

It turns out Steven remembers how the new E.T. was received, too.  Here’s what he said about it just a few days ago at a Q&A following a 30th anniversary screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark:

“I tried this once and lived to regret it. Not because of fan outrage, but because I was disappointed in myself. I got overly sensitive to [some of the reaction -- including parents who had been less than pleased with the guns in the film] to “E.T.,” and I thought if technology evolved, [I might go in and change some things]…it was OK for a while, but I realized what I had done was I had robbed people who loved “E.T.” of their memories of E.T.”

He then pledged to release E.T. and Raiders unaltered on Blu-Ray.

Thanks to Roth Cornet and Screenrant.com for that.

Anyway, George, even you must know where we’re going now.  One of the worst moments in the prequel trilogy, if not the nadir itself, was this…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWaLxFIVX1s[/youtube]

It’s a horrible, crushing moment for those of us who spent our lives watching Star Wars because it reduced Darth Vader, the badest badass ever to scare us into loving him, to a confused, petulant crybaby.  All the godawfulness of your writing and Hayden Christensen’s acting crossed over into the armor, infesting it.  That moment made the once mighty Darth Vader a dupe, as well, since what Palpatine tells him to elicit the scream isn’t even true.

By the way, have you gotten the autopsy back on Padme, yet?  I’d be interested to know how she died.

As bad as the prequels are, they are easily ignored if one so chooses.  That was sort of the separation agreement between you and fans, George.  You can have the prequels, you can even have Clone Wars, but WE get to keep the Original Trilogy, even if Greedo does shoot first.  Now, you’re even taking that away from us.  You’re shoehorning something that had no place existing to begin with into a place it definitely doesn’t belong and you’re doing it for the sake of completing another verse in your epic rhyme.

By the way, I think Inigo Montoya might want to have a word with you about the definition of “ryhme.”

Even if Return of the Jedi is the weakest of the three films, Darth Vader saving his son from Emperor Palpatine is THE defining moment in the Original Trilogy.  It redeems Vader, validates everything Luke and his friends have suffered through, and gives the viewer what my best friend and I used to call The Feeling, that tingly rush over your head and shoulders that only a great movie moment can provide.

And now it won’t.

I really don’t understand why you do this, George.  It can’t be for the money.  Are you really that limited, that shallow?  Are Gary Kurtz, Irvin Kirshner, Lawrence Kasden, and your ex-wife really that responsible for that made Star Wars great in the the first place?  Is that what this is about, making the OT over in solely your image?

I don’t know.  But you’ve definitely lost one Blu-Ray sale.

For all the good it will do…

Sincerely clutching my DVDs,

Jason

Jason "JJJason" Chirevas
Jason Chirevas is a toy collector whether he likes it or not (and he often doesn't). This former Would've-Been Action Hero is as interested in the humanity, psychology, and psychosis of collecting as he is in the action figures themselves. Fun guy.
Read other articles by Jason "JJJason" Chirevas.

 

 

 

32 Comments »

  • Jason Geyer says:

    Amazingly, nearly every nerd who complains about this will still buy a copy. And the blu-ray set of figures. And a new SW: Art of the Blu_Ray book.

    George will make changes because he wants to make changes. And he owns the film. And unlike Citizen Kane, he never felt he got it right the first time. You may disagree, but you do not own the film. I guarantee you that CK is the only one of Welles films he didn’t want to revisit, and had he the tools, he’d most likely be digitally jacking with them to this day.

    I just don’t understand how one changed line of dialogue changes your entire outlook on movies that you’ve seen multiple times. I can only imagine when a tv edit of a movie comes on network tv how lathered up all the viewers get and threaten to burn down the studios. Oh wait. No, it’s just the “fans” who act that way.

    • Tony C says:

      Kinda rough on our friend Triple J, weren’t you? I mean, he’s allowed to not like something, isn’t he? He even backed up his opinion with examples and everything. I thought he made a good argument. Some of Lucas’s decisions are bad ones, whether he owns the franchise or not. Darth Vader yelling “NOOOOO!” IS stupid. But its George’s character so we all have to like it? No, we don’t.
      At least JJJ is still posting on this site. Pretty regularly, too. Even if it isn’t always toy-related, at least he’s contributing. SDCC came and went, and after all the dc/mattel announcements alone (subscriptions, no dcuc at retail, character reveals, etc.) nary a word was written by the founders of this site. SDCC should provide fodder for you guys to write about for weeks, but this site was pretty silent, blog-wise. Kind of disappointing that this article is what brought you out of retirement. i would have loved to have read your opinion on something involving…I don’t know…action figures.

  • Chad says:

    If you don’t like it don’t watch it, or go and create your own massive pop culture movie saga. The fact of the matter is Lucas made the movies and can do whatever he wants to them. I mean really, is an extra sound clip here and there really enough to ruin the experience for you? I’ve been a star wars fan since I was 7 and still love the movies. An extra dewback inserted into the background is not going to ruin a movie for me. If you are that invested where one little change makes you want to completely do away with something than maybe it is time to reevaluate just how much you are investing in it.

    • Zeroed Out says:

      Chad, you’re an idiot. Why? Because he clearly said that an extra dewback or whatever didn’t bother him at all. His point was having a problem with changes that affect STORY. Good job with the whole reading and paying attention thing.

      Yes, the films are Lucas’ and he can change them if he wishes. But when will it be enough? When will he get it right? Someone said he didn’t get it right the first time, but he apparently didn’t get it right the second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. The only solace I can take right now is that maybe he’ll remove the NOOOOOO is the next version.

      And for Jason Geyer, who asked if this kind of change really alters your perception of a movie you’ve seen multiple times, my point has always been not for myself, but for my son. He’s at that age where he can now sit down and watch Star Wars … and I was planning to buy the Blu-Ray and enjoy it with him, but I want him to see what I experienced so that I can give him some context and explain how much of an evolution of cinema Star Wars really was. Now I have to explain to him what happens when an adult reverts back to being an immature perfectionist who doesn’t understand that what he created has surpassed his own ownership, because legality aside, Star Wars is owned by US and has been for years. It has entered the lexicon in such a way that, for many of us, in one way or another, it is part of our lives … and I’m not talking about in a geeky, silly way, but in a wonderful way that only the greatest of entertainment can achieve. That should be an honor, but Lucas treats it like a burden.

  • kevfett says:

    I haven’t watched Jedi in forever. What’s different in that scene?

  • Lightso says:

    Maybe ole’ George won’t sell us the original versions because he knows they’d outsell his new “officially stamped” versions. That would be embarassing.
    It’s always been about George being in control after all.

  • demoncat says:

    like it or not the star wars films including the ot is Lucas to do what he wants for he will always be tweaking it till he feels he has finaly made star wars the films he ment them to be incluidng haveing Vader go no before he drops Palpatine down the shoot. for fans can either scream and moan that Lucas is wrecking his legacy or just face the facts Lucas is going to keep tweaking star wars for the version he wants fans to have. as long as he does not get to where he is putting Jabba in the slave bikini as for the orginal uneditied versions of the ot. Lucas stated the master prints would need a lot of restoration work they are that decayed. for dvd but does not have the funds to do so .

    • Zeroed Out says:

      He doesn’t have the funds? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! That is the funniest thing I’ve heard in quite a while. You realize he footed the bill for the entire new trilogy, right?

  • Eric Qel-Droma says:

    As far as funding for the master prints goes, I call BS. He could DONATE THE WHOLE PROJECT TO CHARITY and top people would work on it for FREE and it would raise millions for starving children. He would literally not have to lift a finger except to sign the contract.

    George thinks that his name will live beyond eternity. What he doesn’t realize is that it will, but as a punchline.

  • Shellhead says:

    I think you’re taking all this WAY too seriously. Lucas lost me when he put Annie in at the end of Jedi. It’s his universe, we just get to watch. I’m not a fan of either of the “NOOOOOOOOO!” scenes, but what can you do? Maybe when he dies, his kids will milk it by releasing the OT in original form on BluRay or whatever the current format is.

    Or maybe, just maybe, another director will get a crack at George’s playground. After all, the best movie was Empire and it wasn’t directed by him.

  • Fallen Eldor says:

    I completely agree Jason, just like you I’m stuck between watching the Original-OTC and the “Special” OTC…I hate it! I hate myself for hating it and not being able to enjoy Star Wars like I did when I was a child and there was ONLY one version to enjoy!!!! Would you like to know how I saved my sanity? I started to torrent Fan Edits. Hell, some of them have even made the prequel trilogy watchable.

    http://originaltrilogy.com/forum/
    http://fanedit.org/
    http://www.fanedit.info/

    p.s. the deleted scenes alone are worth the price to me.

  • Fallen Eldor says:

    On a brighter note, I like the idea of the blinking eyes on the ewoks. I wonder if they’ll add that to Greedo…

    http://io9.com/5835951/darth-vader-will-lose-a-little-more-of-his-dignity-in-star-wars-original-trilogy-blu+rays-listen-for-yourself

    And being a huge fan of Queen I LoLed @ the last clip.

  • Crashmantle says:

    To all those who would say “These movies are his, so Lucas can do what he wants with them”, well, you’re wrong. Lucas made the movies, but then he gave them to the fans, and the fans loved them and nurtured them and supported them. Star Wars is the powerhouse it is today because of those adopted parents, and not some maniacal film maker who keeps trying to change his kids because he doesn’t like the way they turned out.

    Truth be told, I lost faith in Star Wars after episode 2, so this news has little effect on me. But I feel for those of you who are true fans. I’m just saving my rant for the “Han weeps like a baby when being frozen in carbonite” re-edit.

  • BookPimp (@The_BookPimp) says:

    A-Fraking-MEN

  • Duke Crywalker says:

    You whiners are an embarrassment to the fan community. Look at the things you’re complaining about? How can you carry on like this and not feel like a pathetic, spoiled and childish wretch?

    And it’s sad that you don’t even realize how shameful and sad you really are.

    For Christsakes, if something like this fills you with such contempt, how do you survive at all in the real world?

  • gl666 says:

    Star Wars is very simplistic science fiction to begin with; any changes made will not alter that basic fact.

    • Tony C says:

      Wow. Like…deep, man. So what’s your point?

      • gl666 says:

        I thought the point pretty obvious: this is all much ado about nothing. Some act like this drawing a ‘stache on the Mona Lisa; its not. BIG TIME. Time to move on…

        • Tony C says:

          No. It wasn’t, at least in regards to the topic of this blog. The blog was about the writer’s distaste for George Lucas making changes to his original work. You just made a broad statement about disliking Star Wars as a whole, because it’s “simplistic science fiction.” if you feel that way, why even bother reading and then commenting on a subject you so obviously loathe. But you’re right, and a half a billion other people are wrong. Star Wars sucks. Congrats, you’re King Geek of this comments section because you’re too intellectual for Star Wars like the rest of us mouth-breathers.

  • UncleMarsellus says:

    I’m still taking a day off from work to revel in my geekness and absorb the blu-ray offering of movies I’ve already seen a million times. ;)

    Not crazy about that addition. It’s still below Greedo shooting first which is the only addition that really bugs the heck out of me. (Though I do think the Jabba scene and pre-Yavin flight banter are unnecessary.)

    But I’m not on the bash-Lucas bandwagon. While I might not agree with him, the movies are his; not mine. Not ours. He can do with them as he pleases and we can choose to not spend our money and bitch about it on the internet.

    A lot of directors would go back and change little things about their movies if they owned them and had the funds and time to do with them as they pleased. Not to mention a pre-existing, large, rabid market to sell it to at every turn. Lucas is unique. The studio system, time, and smaller, less passionate markets are all that prevents others from doing the same thing.

  • roback says:

    The WOOKIE GROOMER VERSION MKV… is the BEST HD STAR WARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Han shoots first!!!!.. ( IN HD)
    The Empire Strikes Back NOT BLUE TINT!!!!!!!
    IS FREEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    George. SUCKS!

  • Howard the Duck says:

    To almost paraphrase someone else’s post above, it’s complete crap to fall back on the old, ‘It’s George’s movie/universe and he can do whatever he wants…’ Well, yeah. So? It doesn’t mean that he SHOULD do anything he wants.

    For the record, George Lucas does not own Star Wars. Nope. Because in my memories, I own it. It has been my favorite movie ever since the original release back in ’77 when I was four years old. The memories and the fascination I have had for Star Wars are mine, and I happen to share them with millions of other like-minded people. George can make all of the dopey pointless scene-changing tinkering he wants to. But every time he does; for every Greedo shooting first…for every Vader ‘Noooooooooooooo’, for every other brain-numbing fiddling and fumbling edit he makes, I shake my head and wonder. And I appreciate the original versions all the more.

    Lucas might ‘own’ Star Wars, but he doesn’t own it. Any famous and world-renowned piece of art, from the Mona Lisa to (insert your particular favorite here) exists in the form it was originally created, and has been enjoyed by millions of people for decades, or possibly much longer. Now you tell me, who deserves the ‘ownership’ of such fine works of art? What if the original artists decided to alter their work in a way that was contrary to what made it beloved in the first place? Say, give Ms. Lisa orange hair and three eyes? Does that make it right? No, it does not.

    We fans own Star Wars, and once it left Uncle George’s editing room in ’76/’77 it was turned over to us fans. And without those fans, Star Wars would not be what it is today, in spite of it’s creator and whatever oddball decisions he sees fit to make.

    Solo shoots first, and Vader never says ‘Noooooooo’. Like the Force, these truths will be with us. Always.

    • UncleMarsellus says:

      Not going to refute your sentiment but there is one hole in the argument. Leonardo DaVinci is dead. He can’t fiddle with his art anymore. But he, and many artists, fiddled with their paintings for years, or even decades, if there was no commercial interest. What stopped them usually was a deadline for the commission or if they physically couldn’t mess with it anymore due to limitations in the medium (fresco, for instance). But artists have a long history of going back and messing with their work; even redoing it entirely.

      Again, Lucas is unique. He has the time, money, and established, passionate, market to drop it on. Many directors would do the same thing if they had the same level of control over their work and big market to justify it.

      Doesn’t mean we have to like it. I just accept it for what it is.

      • federico says:

        Please don’t compare Leonardo Da Vinci with George Lucas. Da Vinci was a scientific and artistic genius. George Lucas is a very talented visual storyteller and merchandising man. But of most of the creatures, places, and situations of both trilogies, have been copied from european sci fi comics by Moebius or Jean Claude Mezieres, among others, published well before 1977. It’s not an hommage. Watto is lifted from the Shingouz of Ambassador of the Shadows, published in 1975. A device very similar to the carbonite encased Han Solo appears in The Empire of a Thousand Planets, published in 1971. A robot identical to the probe droid, appears on Moebius and O’Bannon’s The Long Tomorrow. published in 1975.

  • jesus santillan says:

    George lucas “The King Troll”

  • jesus santillan says:

    Hey, a found this video of Simpsons Skinner.He say Noooooooo.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ry0UN0UmRnM

  • MisterPL says:

    I’m way ahead of you, Jason. I started losing faith in Lucas in 1983 right after watching “Return of the Jedi.”

  • GaryG says:

    So George Lucas is basically my dad back in the early ’70′s constantly tweaking the color on the old console TV. Dad was never satisfied, but we were never happy with the results either. Bascially standing in our way for what we were already happy with. But….

    Star Wars is George Lucas’ property. He can do with it as he pleases. Some fans may like it, some may not. Same can be said about the new Camaro, the new Ultimate SpiderMan, the President, Britney Spears, or the new Torchwood. It’s all relative. So like it or not, it’s out there. Guess what? Your choice to buy and watch. Or not.

  • NathanW says:

    I drew a pretty funny cartoon that sums up my feelings on the subject quite well. Enjoy.

    http://bbqedmarv.deviantart.com/#/d490tqz

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