Special Dispensation

OK. I’m only going to discuss this one time. After this post, I will discuss it no more (unless you bring it up).
First off, I want to clearly point out that Han Shot First. Period.  Anakin Skywalker’s ghost at the end of Return of the Jedi should NEVER have been Hayden Christiansen. And Boba Fett’s voice should not have been re-dubbed. Period.
Those are my 3 biggest pet peeves with how George Lucas decided to handle the Special Edition and DVD releases of StarWars Eps 4, 5, and 6.  All of the other stuff (enhanced scenes blah blah) doesn’t really bother me all that much. But the three things listed above really just cheese me off. Every time. And will continue to cheese me off. Every time. Period.
In a nutshell, here’s why. The first point. Han Shot First. He’s a space pirate/smuggler who carries a gun on his hip. He’s a bad-ass. Anyone who pals around with a wookie is a bad-ass. Period. He’s got some cheese head greenie in his face about to toast him. So he shoots him and pays the bartender for his troubles. It’s a classic western staple–think of any western where the ‘hero’ shoots someone under the poker table. The baddie never actually shoots (usually). Mostly they flinch like they’re going for their gun. And that’s enough to merit the dirt nap. Han did the same thing. I don’t know whether it was a crisis of consciousness or not, but Lucas should have just left that one well enough alone. End of story.
As for the other two….my biggest problem is that they are so clearly lame attempts to make the first three movies conform to the prequels that it’s sickening. When Luke removes Vader’s helmet, the face he sees is that of Sebastian Shaw. It only makes sense that that’s who the ghost should be. True, it can be argued that it should be Hayden Suckensen because that’s who played Anakin when he became Vader. There’s just one fatal flaw with that. It’s assuming that the human part of Vader would never age in the suit. Clearly Jedi (and Sith) age. Obi Wan aged. Yoda aged. Palpatine aged. Why are we to assume that Anakin’s ghost (which wasn’t a ghost until Vader died in Jedi) also wouldn’t be that of an aged man? Lucas screwed up. This was clearly an attempt to make all 6 movies ‘cohesive.’ Why stop with the ghost? Why not digitally put Hayden’s face over Shaw’s when Luke removes the helmet? Why? Oh yeah, because then they’d be the same freaking age and it wouldn’t work AT ALL!!  He should have just left it alone.
The last one is a minor point. Boba Fett’s voice. Boba Fett is a badass. Jango Fett (from the prequel) was played by a bad Australian actor with horrible delivery. Why Lucas would want to can Jeremy Bulloch’s kick-ass menacing reading of Fett’s lines and replace them with Temuera Morrison’s flat lifeless readings is beyond me. And it doesn’t even make any sense. Boba Fett was an unaltered clone. Can we not assume that his voice would not have been exactly like Jango’s?
So, those are my biggest peeves (in order of cheesed-offedness).
But (and here’s where the temperature in Hell lowers a few degrees)……but….I can understand why George did what he did. Yes. I said it. I understand why.  Now settle down…I still don’t think there’s any excuse for the 3 main cheese points listed above. But as for the rest, wanting to “enhance” it I can totally see where he’s coming from (and no, I don’t think the above items “enhanced” the story in ANY way, shape, or form and I will debate anyone who states otherwise).
But, going back to the why. I understand now why Lucas wanted to go back and tinker with his former masterpieces.
Simply put-because he could.
The technology for the first three movies didn’t exist at the time that Lucas made the movies. Lucas invented it. He and his team single handedly spearheaded the Hollywood Special FX revolution. Fast forward to when he released the special editions….computers were more powerful. Editing was easier. And I’m sure that every time he watched his movies he thought “if only I’d have done this instead of that.”  He made the movies. Only he knows what he REALLY wanted to do with the movies. I’m sure he wanted a sprawling Mos Eisley space port. But budget and technological constraints prevented it. Flash forward to the release of the special editions. Compositing tools were better, editing was easier. And ILM was off the charts at the time. So, sure-it makes sense to beef up the Mos Eisley scene.
And that’s how I feel with most of the enhanced scenes. Shit just wasn’t around when Lucas filmed it originally. So when he re-released them, he made it “better.”
I know…I know. It’s like messing with the sacred text or something, but again. I know WHY he did it.
My very first movie, “Air Check” was shot with a 2MP digital still camera that took digital video (640×480) at 20fps at 20second intervals. It was all I had. And I wanted to make a movie. So it was all I needed. Because making the movie was more important to me than what I used to make it. And I suspect StarWars was much the same way for Lucas. Not too much longer after I completed it, I got a Canon MiniDV camcorder. I thought about re-shooting Air Check with the new gear. I had it all storyboarded, it would have been fairly straightforward.  And then in January of this year. I got a Panasonic 3CCD miniDV camera. And again, I thought…”wow…my gear is now SO much better. Wouldn’t it be cool to reshoot it and see how much better it could be?”
And as tempting as it is to think about doing that, it cannot happen. The filming of Air Check was lightning in a bottle for me. It was a time of self-discovery when I realized that my voice was not entirely in my music (as I had always thought), but was instead in my movies. Getting the visuals in my head out into the universe. Every step of the way was a learning process, a journey of self-actualization.  If I were to go back and try to refilm that, some of that initial, virginal essence would be gone. Sure, the scenes might look better, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the result would be better.
It’s a subtle difference. And it surprises me that it escaped Lucas.
But apparently it did, because for some of us die-hards, Han will have always taken the first shot.

4 thoughts on “Special Dispensation

  1. how do you really feel? 😉 The other thing is, the changes were made to make the new stuff (and new versions of old stuff) sell more. Make more $$!!!! New fans want jazzed-up stuff. Old fans want to have \”complete collections.\” So – remake something, it will sell to twice as many people, not just the \”new generation.\” I question the \”artistic\” intention of the changes to the old stuff… I see it as largely motivated by greed.

  2. Greed was probably a factor. There was no reason to re-release the \”special\” editions. It was Lucas doing it because he could. And some of the changes (Mos Eisley being the most notable), I\’m OK with. I can understand wanting to beef up the stuff you couldn\’t do because of whatever limitations when it was originally filmed. The things that cheese me off do not fall into that category. And especially changing things for the DVD (like Hayden Christiansen)…that was just flat out wrong. But even having a \’special edition\’ phase at all was probably pure greed. He could have just waited until the DVDs and made his changes then. The decision to have a special edition at the time it was released was to get a new fanbase to buy into all of the marketing tie-ins. And it worked. Parents took their kids…and bought all the action figures for their kids that they had when they were kids. I think I want to go back and take my original VHS (which are largely unaltered) and transfer those over to DVD. So I at least have copies of the old ones i can watch without worrying about how long the tapes are going to last.

  3. Well. The problem is there will never be a clear winner. Only bloodshed and sorrow.I\’m sure there are things that we could each go off the geek chart on (StarWars and movie stuff for me, Comix and indie bands for him).But on the StarWars trivial pursuit…I think I could take him.

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