I didn’t spend my fourth of July with a sparkler in my hand and a goofy smile on my face. I spent it gritting my teeth and clenching my fists while in a hotbox without air conditioning on a new couch that is aesthetically pleasing, but possibly too plush, puddingy, and accommodating. I was watching Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope on television — hence my frustration.
Now, I own the movie on DVD, and I also own it on VHS (it’s coming back, just you wait!) but as I was changing channels my remote just magically stopped working as Luke stood in what was left of the Lars homestead. It’s really right at the beginning of our heroes journey, but as I’m prone to do after kicking back some NyQuil, I forgot that Spike TV (the channel that I was watching) shows the allegedly re-mastered version of the film. Hence the odd CG paste job that began rearing it’s ugly head as Luke, Obi-Wan, R2, and C-3PO arrived in Mos Eisley.
Soon I was overloaded with Greedo shooting first, a svelte Jabba and all the other little tweaks that made me want to throw a table and believe in an unjust God (yes, high infant mortality rates didn’t do the trick, I needed to see ILM overreach to believe in an unjust God).
I need to stop now to issue the disclaimer: of course it is nearly the same movie and sure it’s Lucas‘ creation to mess with as he sees fit… I guess (he said through gritted teeth), but does he have to brush aside the real masterwork that was the original theatrical cut and pretend that it doesn’t exist? Must we be forced to see these new re-workings on Blu Ray and on TV?
I object loudly to all of his post release tinkering, hell I’d rather see him do a shot for shot remake if he is so eager to tell the story with more advanced CG and today’s advances — and I say that fully aware of what the dreaded prequels looked — but let us decide what we think is the definitive cut of Star Wars, because without us what is George Lucas but an insecure bearded man without an empire.
Self-important fanboy boast aside, the counter argument to someone ranting about a remake or this kind of thing is usually — you will always have the original. I said the same thing to people who said Alien was ruined by Prometheus. People who said the experience of seeing the original was tarnished, as if Ridley Scott had not just made a film but a pathway to the past that would erase the thrill of seeing that first film. He did not, and neither did Lucas, but let’s let these modified and disfigured versions (because these changes all look awful and awkward) stand next to the originals, not on top of them, became as he tinkers, and tinkers, and tinkers, putting color forms on the Mona Lisa, the original version of the Star Wars trilogy seems like it’s fading faster than Michael J. Fox at a 1950’s dance.
Why does that matter? Because while I’m almost sure that George Lucas would be fine throwing the originals into the Great Pit of Carkoon and us with them, there are people born everyday who have never seen the original trilogy and it is becoming easier for them to experience it in the wrong way and that is a damn shame… and also, because IT WAS COMPLETELY FINE BEFORE!!!