Like many people from my generation, “Star Wars” is not just a favorite film, but an almost spiritual experience from childhood. Like I need to say anything about the story? The whole reason to see this picture is for those that never experienced it in the theater and to view the new scenes. Let’s discuss those extra four minutes for a second, shall we? I found them incredibly distracting. Take one of the most effective scenes, the one in which Ben Kenobi is interrogated by the Stormtroopers outside of Mos Eisley. “You don’t need to see his identification.” Remember that scene? It’s completely ruined by the all-too-noticeable presence of a floating robot who buzzes around the heads of the troopers. The Jabba scene doesn’t add any new information to the film and Jabba himself comes off as a buffoon. Han steps on his tail? The snail-like blob isn’t menacing in the least. That’ll be a real contrast to the evil muppet in Jedi. The Greedo scene is laughably bad. Everything that has been added, the dinosaurs, floating robots, little creatures is all an effort to make the film more “cute.” Ugh! If Lucas had these new ideas, couldn’t they have been incorporated into new movies instead of messing with the originals?
The final battle scene is now an abomination. While the original scene was based on old World War II dogfight footage, the new scene seems to be based on, embarrassingly, video games. Yes, video games. It’s no surprise because employees from LucasArts, George’s computer game company, worked on the film. Besides the fact that these new digital X-Wing fighters are mixed with really bad footage that still doesn’t work gives the best scene in the film a hodge-podge feel. What were they going for? The music doesn’t even match now.
The truth is when Lucas made the film in the 70s he made it with the best tools on hand at the time. And it worked. The new scenes and digital effects just don’t fit. For me, no matter how great they make computer effects look, they look like effects produced on a computer. Period. Perhaps in the next millennium we’ll look on the 90s and say, “Ugh, look at those cheesy digital effects, they look so 90s.” But I’m gonna say that right now. Kind of like those blue-screen effects from the 70s where you can see that little blue line around the actors. Same deal.
I’m all for film restoration, but film “alteration” is another story. I’m disgusted that this may start an annoying trend. Colorizing a film is one thing, the original still exists in black and white and the colorized version is another way to view it. To me, this is butchering of the original. Do we really want our classic films updated and altered so they are more “modern?” Do we want to add more expansive civil war battle scenes digitally with tens of thousands of soldiers into Gone with the Wind? We can do it. Do we want more flying monkeys digitally added to The Wizard of Oz? It’s possible. Should we use a computer to alter the ending of Casablanca so Rick gets the girl? We can. Not to mention the fact the Lucas has “improved” Empire and Jedi. Huh?! What does Irvin Kershner, the director who produced Empire, arguably best film of the series, have to say about Lucas changing his film? Should filmmakers be allowed to remake their own films? Writers rewrite their own books? Governments to rewrite history? Where will it end? With lots of money, I can promise you.
Let’s face it, when all is said and done, I would have rather seen new Star Wars movies than this minor “improvement.” I really feel that Lucas contradicts himself when he says (and he’s said it in almost every interview) that “it’s not about the effects, it’s about the story and the characters.” Then he says that he’s been waiting to make the new films so that the technology will make it possible to create new types of effects. Wasn’t it about the story and the characters? That’s what you said George?!
I’m sure there are many of you who will take issue with much of what I’ve said here, so let’s begin the debate, shall we? These are important questions worth exploring. Send your supporting or dissenting opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d love to hear what you have to say.