Friday, May 05, 2006

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count...

When I was in the first grade, I was a dweeb, I suppose. I think I was the only one in the entire class who had not seen Star Wars. And, when recess time came around, and every one of the boys took on their assigned roles as Luke, Darth, Han, Storm Trooper, or any other cool character, I was assigned the role of Obi-Wan. Every time. You know why? It was so they could kill me off.

One day, I even decided that for once, Obi-Wan wouldn't die.

"You can't do that," they boy who played Darth said to me. "Obi-Wan always dies."

Yeah. I know. And for the rest of recess, I would just wander around and occasionally say, "Use the Force, Luke!"

Ironically enough, I saw Empire Strikes Back before I ever saw A New Hope. Back in those days, VCRs just weren't an option, so if you missed it at the movie theatre, you were out of luck until it came to television.

But, like every little boy (and, I suppose, little girl...though, in my experience, the girls just never connected in the same geeky way that the boys did) I became obsessed with Star Wars. When Return of the Jedi came out, it was the topic of conversation for months. Videos became the norm, and was determined to set the world record in the number times anyone had seen the trilogy. I stopped counting once I reached thirty viewings of each.

Then came the Special Editions, then the new trilogy.

And now, how do I feel about it all? Well, for one, I feel angry. Angry that George Lucas has taken what was a pure joy to watch as a child and turned it into a monetary empire. Because it is clear he is doing things now purely for profit, and nothing more.

Take the re-release of the original trilogy. He spent all that effort to edit them and release them into the theatres, then he releases them to video, and video alone. So, what does any die-hard Star Wars fan do? He buys them, frustrated that they aren't available on DVD. (Fortunately, I still had my original versions on video and decided against the purchase of the Special Editions.)

Then comes the new trilogy. Released straight to DVD. Doesn't make for a very pretty display on the shelves to have the videos next to the DVDs.

And finally, Lucas decides it's time to release the Special Edition to DVD. This is the very first time, mind you, that the original trilogy in any form was available on DVD. It took, quite literally, years. So, what does any die-hard Star Wars fan do? (I mean after he dresses up like a Storm Trooper and heads to the Star Wars convention.) Yep, he re-buys the very Special Edition version of the original trilogy that he bought just a few years earlier, probably only having watched them a couple times. Cha-ching!

And now, according to this article, Lucas is doing it yet again! For a limited time, you will be able to buy the original trilogy in its original theatrical form, sans newly done special effects, on DVD.

So, let's count here. VHS versions of the original trilogy (and quite possibly Betamax versions...though, I never owned a Betamax player). VHS versions of the Special Edition trilogy. DVD versions of the Special Edition trilogy. Then DVD versions of the original trilogy.

That's a lot of love going on for something that is "only a movie".

The thing is, I'm almost tempted by the latest limited time offer. Because, frankly, I wasn't too fond of some of the changes he made. Like the musical number in Jabba's palace. What in the world was that? The original version was far better. Wouldn't you agree? (Or, perhaps, you don't even remember the original version?) Or the scene added back into A New Hope with Jabba and Han Solo. Yes, I know it was in the book. But I'm afraid the scene just looks cheesy. There was good reason it had been cut.

Oh well. What's a guy like me supposed to do? George will do what George will do, and nothing anyone says, apparently, will stop him. (Just look at what he did with the new trilogy, after all! I mean, honestly...does he have any idea how people actually communicate in the real world?)


Mike, ESC!Cast Network said...

Hi Ryan,

Well blow me down! I guess "never" just got here. Didn't Lucas say this was "never" going to happen?

I stopped buying Star Wars after I got the VHS version (with "matting" problems and all) because I refused to accept the "new and improved" versions as being the only option on DVD.

Why not release it like his buddy Spielberg did "E.T."? That is, both versions in the same set so old fogies like me can watch the version we love (with guns) and the youngins' can watch "their" version (with walkie-talkies)?

Well, it seems money has once again prevailed and the time for the originals to come out is neigh.

I'm plunking down my cash on this set before he changes his mind! (Though I'll pay it, I don't think I'm ready to see the price yet...)


RyanBruner said...


It sounds like Lucas is going to do just that. If you buy this "original" version, you'll also get the special edition versions bundled with it. Of course, great for those who didn't bother buying the special edition versions, but for folks like myself, it means paying twice for the same movie! (Or three times, I suppose.)