Monday, September 13, 2004

Star Wars DVDs

Well, from what I understand, the DVD box set of the original Star Wars trilogy is either out or preparing to come out and yes, more changes have been made, including and beyond those in the special editions.

And I am a sad person for it.

I'm not going to write a "Goddamn you Lucas" rant, or bitch about Jar Jar, or Ewoks, But I do want to ramble a bit about how I feel about this DVD box set.

A lot of little tweaks have been made to these films, some of which I don't much mind. It doesn't -really- bother me that he improved the effects for the speeder going into mos-eisley, or that he switched a blaster bolt effect here or there. Honestly, it doesn't even bother me that Greedo shoots first, or that The ghost of Anakin skywalker has been replaced with Hayden Christiansen.

The thing that really bothers me is that Lucas has said unequivocably that there will not be a DVD release of the original theatrical versions. He believes that an artist should have the right to decide how his art should be presented. And as a largely self-made filmmaker, he has a unique position to uphold that ideal for himself.

But art isn't always just art. It's not always just about the creator's vision.

When I was younger, Star Wars was the ultimate cool thing in my life. It was adventure, it had action, romance, the full range of human emotions. Good vs evil. Loss, redemption...It was, in many ways, the inspiration in my youth. The thing that made me want to be a better person. To help and care about people, like they did in the film. It's one of those stories...that's just -bigger- then the film it's printed on. It meant that to a lot of people. A -lot- of people my age, and older, and younger. Like Lord of the Rings, or so many other epic stories, it was about the kind of people we all wanted to be. And deep inside, that we all can be.

Star Wars isn't just art. It's not just a film. It's -inspiration-. It's -culture-. It is and has been a part of the lives of a generation of mankind. And while you see it as flawed art that should be corrected, to us...It's memories. It's a hearken back to the days when we were younger, and idealistic, before we'd been confronted with the evils of the world, with terrorists that would kill innocents because of their nationality, polititians who abuse the trust of their office to push their own private or religious agendas, before we ever could even suspect that our freedoms might be snuck out the door while our backs were turned.

It's nostaglia. It's a desperate yearning for simpler times. It's just plain happy memories.

And besides...while it seems all well and good to edit Hayden into "Jedi" for consistency, or change the voice of Boba Fett...Well, you're editing people -out-, too. You're reducing someone's presence in the mythos of your creation. It doesn't seem like that big a deal, but when the only reason for it is to satisfy your own hubris, just changing it for the sake of changing it... It seems disrespectful to the actors that worked so hard to help make your franchise the success it is today.

All told...I'm not buying the DVD set. I would, to be honest, buy a special edition set, if I was assured of getting a theatrical version release as well, but without the latter, I'd rather do with neither. Sebastian Shaw may not be around anymore, but his face is ingrained in my memories, and seeing Hayden's face in his place would only leave me wanting.