This is a response to Matt’s column from yesterday.
Sure, Matt – George Lucas is allowed to make changes to these movies. But why should he? They were perfect when they were initially released. I’ll admit, a lot of the changes that were made for the special editions turned out okay. But, were they necessary? No. Did they improve the movie? No.
Matt argues that since Lucas is the creator, it’s his prerogative to make whatever changes he wants. I disagree with that on the basis that he’s not really the creator. He wrote and directed the first movie, and co-wrote the next two, but does that make him the creator? Sure, he came up with a lot of cool concepts – Lightsabers, Jedi, The Force, Darth Vader, The Death Star, etc.
But, how much of those concepts were actually executed by him? He came up with the name Darth Vader, but that’s just a fancy way of saying Dark Father, which is ultimately not that cool. James Earl Jones’ voice and the costume designer made that character cool. The same can be said for the lightsaber. The concept is kind of silly when you really think about it – a glowing blue sword is an effective weapon in a world of guns – but the special effects team and Ben Burt (the sound designer) make it work. Also, I think we can all agree that Han Solo is probably the coolest part of the original trilogy and that’s all Harrison Ford.
Before he makes changes to these films he should probably consult his many collaborators and co-creators. If he had to make a director’s cut, he should have at least consulted the directors. Irvin Kershner and Richard Marquand directed Empire and Jedi respectively, and it doesn’t seem like they had much say in the changes that have been made to their films.
Speaking of director’s cuts, they’re usually released as a supplement to the theatrical cut. They very rarely completely replace the original. Lucas is releasing these new versions without offering the original cut alongside them. That’s not cool. At least with the last batch of changes he had the decency of saying that they were special editions. Now, they’re being released without any hint that they’re different from their original release.
So, two days, two opposing viewpoints. Please tell Matt how wrong he is. Thank you.
P.S. You should check out this Wikipedia list of all the changes that have been made to the Saga over the years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_changes_in_Star_Wars_re-releases