This isn’t exactly news. (I don’t think anyway.) Lucas hasn’t ever really been satisfied with the original versions of Star Wars. It’s why he got into making special effects in the first place. He wanted to make the movies look better. He had a vision and he wanted the movies to be closer to what he imagined.
There are plenty of issues within these issues. You have a man who was a film maker who created something so popular, he never really made a film again. I sometimes wonder with all the hub-bub if this is the reason for Lucas’ dealing with the fans and with his movies. He seems to enjoy doing things that he knows will piss people off just because he can. Fans may cry that the movies belong to all of us, they’re part of the culture now, but he wants to remind them that ultimately the movies belong to him. He’s quoted as having said:
“The other versions will disappear. Even the 35 million tapes of Star Wars out there won’t last more than 30 or 40 years. A hundred years from now, the only version of the movie that anyone will remember will be the [Special Edition] version.”
This makes me sad. It’s sort of a mean thing to say to people who loved the original just as it was. It seems… ungrateful. This is why I have the theory that secretly, maybe even subconsciously, Lucas hates Star Wars because it derailed his entire career. If it’s subconscious, that might explain the prequels a bit. (At least it does to me, because while I don’t exactly hate them, they do manage to undercut many of the good bits of the original movies– like the force that binds everyone and everything together suddenly being the biological work of the Midi-chlorians which kills the element of faith that the force originally was meant to require.)
Looking at this entire thing as a fan, I won’t like, it makes me sad. I love the unaltered originals for no other reason than I saw them first. Watching them makes me remember that amazement I felt when I was four and sitting much too close to the TV. I don’t believe the old movies were “good for their time.” I believe the old movies, with the old special effects, actually do hold up. It’s not like when you watch old Star Trek episodes with the old metal panels with all the lights and buttons. (Which I admit I love. That has it’s own charms.)
Looking at this as a creator, I have a few reactions. I wonder why he’s so ungrateful to the people who supported him all these years. Then again, it is his work, and he’s revisiting it with more experience now and better technology (which he had a hand in developing). Doesn’t that mean this could turn out better and that fanboys and fangirls are just whining because, ultimately, people don’t like change? But then again, I also know there is a such thing as over-editing. A creator can easily keep editing and editing, trying to reach some shifting vision and in the process turn their piece into mulch. This is especially possible when the editing happens over the course of decades. At some point you should stop because you can’t always trust your judgment. It’s why I share my work with beta readers who I can trust to give me solid and honest opinions.
So I guess this is the thing– when something becomes part of the public, they will have opinions on it. Does it belong to them? Do they have a right to tell the creator what they do and don’t want to see? Should the creator completely disregard their opinions? It’s a fine line to walk. As I see it, this wouldn’t be so bad if Lucas would simply respect his fans and understand that they love the old movies. So maybe that’s the key? If you have fans, be grateful for them and don’t get mad when they have opinions on something that means a lot to them.
(This post brought to you by The People vs. George Lucas, which is on Netflix right now. It’s worth a watch if you’re a fan.)