Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Obligatory Geekdom

Speaking of DVD releases for which fans have begged, the recent announcement of the original, unaltered Star Wars trilogy finally being released on DVD has kept many a fan awake at night, wetting his bed in anticipation.

A fair amount of cynicism has also been expressed over the announcement, as just as many people feel it’s a case of Lucas once again gouging fans out of money. Well certainly he is...but only if they go out and purchase them. Nobody can make anyone do that, and one cannot argue that he isn’t giving people what they want - which is only mildly perplexing as he’s for so long insisted this would never happen. But money is a force far stronger than, um...the Force, right? Moving on...

There was a time when I’d have been excited about these releases, but the news was strangely disinteresting to me. It’s not a matter of Star Wars burnout, even. Am I one of the few who has come to enjoy and appreciate the new editions of the old films and in many ways regard them as superior to the versions I grew up on?

Heck, one of my biggest beefs with the New Hope redux was the infamous Greedo-shoots-Han-first debacle, which was tweaked and tinkered with further on the recent box set release so that it doesn’t seem nearly as phony. I’ve pretty much gotten used it and don't give much thought to how it was "back in my day". The Jabba/Han scene in the docking bay is as good it ever could be given what they have to work with, so that’s really a matter of “use it or lose it”. (I prefer to use it.)

They got rid of Luke’s scream as he falls down into Cloud City and added Ian McDiarmid into Empire. The former was imperative; the latter is just a swank bonus. In fact, the Empire redux is unquestionably superior to the original.

If there’s one disc of the new releases I may buy, it’s Jedi, mainly because I didn’t care for what they did to the band in Jabba’s palace and the new song was lame. I’ll even geek out in the most hideous way possible and admit that I’ve got a sick fondness for the Ewok “Yub Nub” tune. Don't ask - just accept. Jedi might be the only one I’d prefer viewing in place of its redux version and at the moment that’s a big “might”. I’d have to do side-by-side taste test comparisons to know for certain.

Lucas has largely made better films out of the old Star Wars movies by tinkering with them. What seemed controversial at the time has proven to mostly be an instance of father knows best. The new versions of Episodes IV-VI fit together far better with Episodes I-III than the old versions do, and I like the new trilogy more than enough to look at this as a solid series of six films. Given how important these movies are in film history, they really do deserve to hang together and congeal in the most cohesive ways possible.

All of the above pompously pronounced, I’m glad these discs are coming out for the people (some of my closest friends among them) who’ve longed for crisp, clean commercial copies of the originals. By no means should they be hidden away, unseen by and unavailable to the people who appreciate what they were and are. I mean, come on - it's fucking Star Wars, which is as close to a religion as some people I know have. (OK, I don't really know anyone like that - but I know they're out there... somewhere.) If people want to see Han shoot Greedo first, then goddamnit, that choice should be made available to them.

But for the record - my childhood was never even remotely raped over this nonsense.