Growing up I’ve always been a Star Wars fan and I’ve been around long enough to remember them in their unaltered states. But not old enough, mind you, to watch the original theatrical releases. I remember when I was in 7th grade and the Special Editions were being released in the theaters. At that age I remember thinking this was the greatest thing to ever happen. Not only did I get to see the whole trilogy in the theaters, but they had updated them to make them look better. Not all the changes were great, but then again they weren’t all bad. Take for example just the addition of windows in Cloud City did seem much more of a luxurious place to live. I still stand by the change in this case. As an adult, a filmmaker, and a nerd of fine tastes (most of the time) I do not appreciate the shtick that was added. Did we really need a shot with a large animal being spooked by a landspeeder? The extra hustle and bustle of Mos Eisley is one thing, but the addition of physical humor was not needed. And while it was nice to see that Han Solo was in real trouble with Jabba the Hutt we didn’t need the hokey tail stepping sequence. And I’m pretty sure Han calls Jabba a “human being” at one point.
This leads me to the current Blu Ray editions of the entire Saga that have been released recently. Now I was all for buying the Blu Rays even though I had bought the Special Editions on VHS when they were released and I bought the Limited Edition DVDs just so I could also have the original theatrical releases too. I’m not sure that I can reasonably buy the Blu Rays on top of that. Then I heard about the additional changes. Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand as an artist that the temptation to alter your work is very tempting, but it gets to the point where you need to just let it go and move on to the next thing. Now I haven’t watched the new Blu Rays yet and I’m not sure if any of my nerd friends are going to shell out the money for them either. Most everything I heard/read about were changes that I’m pretty sure if I weren’t looking for them I may not have noticed right away (except for the ewoks blinking….creepy). There were two in changes in particular that I thought were jokes when they were released.
1. Obi-Wan’s Krayt Dragon call to scare off the Tusken Raiders. It sounded like a mix between a football fan whooping and the Wilhelm scream being stretched out. Knowing Ben Burtt’s love of the Wilhelm half of this might actually be true. This is the perfect example of the old phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I’ve never heard anybody ever complain about the old dragon call and now Lucas has brought more attention than ever to it.
2. Added dialogue to the final confrontation in “Return of the Jedi.” I heard more about this than any other change that has been made. This simple addition of two lines of “No” is more of controversy than who shot first. I completely agree with the uproar. This scene used to be a moment about inner turmoil between the man you are and the man you used to be. Now it has brought us back to the whiny days of the prequels and most die hard Star Wars fans do not enjoy thinking about Anakin temper tantrums while watching Darth Vader’s most redeeming moment in the Saga.
There are plenty of other changes, both good and bad, here is link to a more complete list.
All in all, I guess Lucas has the right to change what he feels is necessary, but if he does he should be releasing them as separate editions. Sure, Blade Runner has more cuts than they know what to do with, but at least each cut seems to be available, more or less, to the public.