I learn through the internet that George Lucas has made further changes to the Star Wars saga as part of their recent release on Blu-Ray.
This doesn’t really affect me as I don’t have a Blu-Ray player, but I have noticed quite a lot of fan rage.
The case of George’s unending tinkering with Star Wares interests me, and reminds me of the old saying that ‘”art is never finished, only abandoned”. Supposedly Leonardo da Vinci kept the Mona Lisa until the day that he died, insisting that it was never quite finished.
Of course there are many, many examples of Director’s Cuts of films, even films that are well regarded overall such as Blade Runner. So there’s nothing unusual about films being changed, though the frequency with which George is tinkering with his saga is unusual. I imagine that the main reason for the difference is the unusual amount of intellectual control George has kept over the Star Wars films.
Cynics might assume that Lucas is motivated by money. But I think that ignores the fact that Lucas is already fantastically wealthy and has enormous clout in the film industry through Industrial Light and Magic, Skywalker Sound and THX (not to mention his contribution to the early days of Pixar).
I can understand some people feel annoyed about changes that are clearly intended to encourage us towards rethought interpretations of characters. This harks back to the old conflict between authorial intention versus audience interpretation. George wants us to see Darth Vader as a tragic figure, but many of us prefer to see him as a stone cold evil badass mofo, and let’s not even start on the ‘Han shot first’ debate. Also its odd to think that the films that made such an impact back in the late seventies and early eighties might not have really reflected what George had in mind, and that what he was trying to do was something that many people think is less compelling.
I’m not really sure where I stand on this issue. I must admit that most of the things I really like about Star Wars owe more to the Expanded Universe (seriously guys, check out Allston and Stackpole’s X-Wing series!) than the films. Also, I find it hard to sympathise with a lot of the ‘They Changed It, Now it Sucks’ crowd. Like the people who complain that the prequels contradict the original trilogy when whet they really mean is that they contradict their personal theories based on statements in the original trilogy. I think overall, it’s his film so he can do what he wants, but I just hope that one day he is able to walk away reasonably satisfied rather than spending his twilight years picking away at his work, unable to rest until his work reaches some unobtainable state of perfection.