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George Lucas didn’t rape my childhood. With all the furor and outrage over even more changes being made to the Star Wars movies for the Blu-ray editions, I know that I’m supposed to get all upset again that the movies are being taken even further away from the originals, but… I just can’t be bothered. No, even worse than that: I’m not sure I fully understand why people are getting upset about it.
The latest changes, in particular, are pretty ridiculous to get bothered by: Some rocks have been CGI-ed in front of R2D2! There are more TIE fighters in a space battle! Obi-Wan is making a different unintelligible noise to scare off the sand people! So what? None of these things really change any of the actual story or performances from the movies. I can understand people getting upset about whether Han or Greedo shoots first, because that does change a character moment (Not to mention establish that Greedo is a very, very bad shot), but everything else…? They’re really, really cosmetic changes. To get upset about them, I think, suggests a “can’t see the forest for the trees” mentality a little bit.
After all, which is more important: The experience of watching the movie, or the movie remaining exactly as it did when you initially saw it? There’s been a certain fetishization of the Star Wars movies in their original forms, as if the original trilogy was somehow perfect when it was first released and somehow holy and unchangeable – and that’s very definitely not the case. Yes, the movies were a lot of fun, and yes, the slight shabbiness of certain things within the movies is definitely part of the charm, but… What really makes the movie work is the central story and the performances of the main actors, and both those things survive any and all amount of re-edits and special effects upgrades. Every time I see people complain about the movies being “ruined” with all the tinkering, I always wonder whether or not it was actually the movie they loved, or a very specific idea of the movie that they want to impose upon the world.
The odd thing is, in some perverse way, I think that it’s good that Lucas keeps changing things up. There’s something oddly reassuring about the fact that he keeps on trying to “improve” the movies, bring them closer to some platonic ideal of Star Wars that he keeps in his head, for me; some weird “He cares! It’s not just something that he walked away from when he was rich!” Does that make sense? It would have been easy enough for him to just release DVDs, BluRays and whatever and keep the cash flowing in that way, but he keeps the movies evolving, even though it pisses off the hardcore and cuts off that particular revenue stream (If Lucas was really just being mercenary, he’d release the original versions of the movies on BluRay as well; that he doesn’t says to me that he’s still invested in Star Wars as his story, for better or worse). Even if you don’t like the changes he’s making, surely there’s still something admirable in that…?
I have the feeling that I am, surprisingly even to myself, in favor of all the edits and special editions and redos, when it comes to Star Wars. I may not be that invested in seeing them, and I may wish that Lucas would just make a new movie instead of tinkering with his old ones, but… I don’t know. Despite myself, I like the idea of Lucas obsessed with “perfecting” his movies, even if the audience wants him to move on. There’s something in that that speaks to the idea of his being an “artist,” instead of a hack.