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…
…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…
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…
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…
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,