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  1. #1

    Special Editions are a Lie

    You'll have to forgive the rather inflamitory title, I couldn't think of another way to say this in such a short manner. When explaining why the OT DVDs would be the Special Edition versions of the films, here's what was said:
    Despite pleas from "Star Wars" fanatics all over the world, these DVDs will not contain the original theatrical version of the movies. Instead, the DVDs will include the much-debated versions director Lucas released in the '90s with new digital effects and plot twists that softened the character of Han Solo - even though DVD makes it easy to offer both the original and director's cut of a movie.

    It's simply a matter of an artist's right, says Jim Ward, a Lucasfilm vice president and the executive producer of the set. "We realize there's a lot of debate out there," says Ward. "But this is not a democracy. We love our fans, but this is about art and filmmaking. [George] has decided that the sole version he wants available is this one."
    "This is about art and filmmaking" cute comment, makes Lucas's motivations here seem almost altruistic of the art... too bad it's bunk.

    Let me explain by posting a overview of the Special Editions.

    In the mid '90s, the vault that contained, among other things, the master print of Star Wars, was opened and the SW print was examined only to discover it was badly deteriorating. Lucas decided that the print must be salvaged immediately or it would become unusable and thus lost forever, so he began the Special Edition project and intended to release the salvaged film for its 20th anniversary in '97. In order to salvage the print, ILM technicians would have to go in and digitally color-correct each frame.

    Then Lucas got the bright idea that he could simultaneously go "fix" things he didn't like about the film's original version, such as the poorly-rotoscoped hover effect on the landspeeder as it passed through Mos Eisley, as well as add in a scene he cut from the original due to what he perceived as a lack of necessary filmmaking tools to properly complete the scene - this is the now-infamous Jabba scene - where Lucas had originally shot Han talking with an actor standing in for Jabba with the plan that the Jabba would be added into the shot as a special effect but found that no '70s effects looked convincing enough; Lucas had always regretted losing this scene and had made mention of it several times before the Special Editions had ever existed. Lucas and his producer partner for Star Wars, Gary Kurtz, had long since gone their separate ways and so Lucas brought on a relative newcomer as the Special Edition producer, Rick McCallum - who had worked on Lucas's Young Indiana Jones series and the film Radioland Murders. Lucas eventually ended up not fixing all the f/x gaffes (just the ones that bothered him), gutted many of the space sequences in exchange for CGI, and changed a few performances and sequences of the film.

    Ironically and unfortunately, this "fixing" seems to have ultimately destroyed the very reason Lucas began the project in the first place - to salvage the original Star Wars for posterity.


    As the buzz around the 20th anniversary "special edition" release of Star Wars grew during '96, Lucas decided he could also release the other 2 movies in the trilogy, and since he was already making headway with the Star Wars SE, why not give ESB and ROTJ a "special edition" treatment while he was at it? Granted, the master prints to ESB and ROTJ were in no danger of being lost due to deterioration, and Lucas had not actually "made" either of the films except for writing the basic outline for each, executive producing them, and rumor has it stepping in to direct & edit portions of ROTJ; for ESB, long considered the best film of the series by most fans, Lucas had actually stayed away from production most of the time; basically, the Special-Editioning of ESB and ROTJ was an arbitrary whim on the films' owner's part rather than a product of necessary film repair.

    So Lucas altered portions of each film, adding in new sequences and new effects, changing and replacing performances, and even adding a new musical number to ROTJ, even though he was not the director, writer, or producer of either film. They were his by right of ownership and creation, and therefore his right to tamper with those creations took precedence over the rights of the actual artists and filmmakers who made those 2 films.


    It seems a little hypocritical and two-faced then that Lucasfilm makes the claim that the SEs being the only versions of ESB and ROTJ available is about the art and filmmaking when Lucas himself is not the chief artist of either film.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "We named the dog 'Chewbacca'!"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  2. #2
    While I agree with your line of reasoning JT, I'd like to know your source on this timeline, i.e., deterioration of master print-->fixing of FX flaws-->do what ever the heck I want. I wonder if it happened in that order or if he was planning on doing this all along once he got finished making stuff like Radioland Murders and Howard the Duck and had nothing else to do. I'm not necessarily doubting you; I'd just like to get where GLu says this.

    We've done the OT vs. SE to death, so it's nice to have a different take on the whole thing. I just can't get past why both versions can't be made available, especially on a format as versatile as DVD (which is what Lucasfilm keeps saying about it).
    "I'm just a YES man trying to make my way in the universe." - Jango McCallum

    "Good dialogue and smooth editing are no match for a good YES man by your side, kid." - George Lucas

  3. #3
    Both versions should be made available. But according toG. Lu, the only version of ANH is the SE, right? or was I reading that wrong? I am sure there is another copy out there of the film somewhere. All you need todois get your hands on it. If the could make a DVD off of laser-disc, then it could be done toget the original remastered and on to DVD by G. Lu.
    thanks Chux Turbo LBC Bobafrett Mtriv73 Rjarvis JF96 JT JMG FB Rogue2 Tycho Slicker Deoxy Caesar JontheJedi JJReason Brandon Solo JMS UK for great deals.
    SSG Pro Football Pick em and Bowl Pick em Champ 2006. 2007 NCAA Bracket Champ
    #24 - Gone but not forgotten

  4. #4
    nice post JT. couldn't believe i wasn't reading some of stillakid's prose though.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Jax
    nice post JT. couldn't believe i wasn't reading some of stillakid's prose though.

    Nice. Sorry to disappoint you, but I had nothing to do with it. Just like my own comments, the above is verifiable fact. That some people feel the need to "protect" George and his decisions doesn't dissolve the facts of what happens. As JT points out again, George clearly wasn't entirely happy with the original versions so when the opportunity presented itself to "improve" the films, he did so.

    I for one am not necessarily opposed to improvements made to superficial aspects of filmmaking, like production design or visual effects. However, when "improvements" begin to influence story or character, the filmmaker has to tread carefully lest unintentional changes cause ancillary dominoes to fall. What that means is that while I didn't mind the "fixes" when it came to stuff like X-Wings and sand vehicles, I'm not so sure that having Greedo shoot first or having Luke scream like a little girl count as "improvements."

    Of course, as M.C. suggests, its not a bad idea to take an alternate look at George's decisions. So in that light, I'd put forth the possibility that George knew that the Prequels probably wouldn't be that good, so by "wrecking" the classic OT films, he could bring them down easier than he could bring the Prequels "up." Point being, if they are all just mediocre, then he'll have a cohesive saga which spans the decades.

  6. #6
    But he can not make us forget what we already have learned. We know the truth behind the fact that Greedo never shot first. He forgot that one little part. And it is out there for future generations to see.
    thanks Chux Turbo LBC Bobafrett Mtriv73 Rjarvis JF96 JT JMG FB Rogue2 Tycho Slicker Deoxy Caesar JontheJedi JJReason Brandon Solo JMS UK for great deals.
    SSG Pro Football Pick em and Bowl Pick em Champ 2006. 2007 NCAA Bracket Champ
    #24 - Gone but not forgotten

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by stillakid
    So in that light, I'd put forth the possibility that George knew that the Prequels probably wouldn't be that good, so by "wrecking" the classic OT films, he could bring them down easier than he could bring the Prequels "up." Point being, if they are all just mediocre, then he'll have a cohesive saga which spans the decades.
    Good God stilla; can't you keep your tired opinion regarding your hatred for the PT to yourself for one damned thread?!?!?! It seems that you just have to toss it out there for no reason; it's as if you like to read your own opinion and just say to yourself, "man, i am sure am good!" Your OPINION of the PT has NO bearings on this thread at all; so i'm going to politely ask you to save all that jibberish for one of your other numerous "I hate the PT", "Why GL is a big doo doo head" and "Why i should've been the director of the PT" and "Why I hate GL" threads elsewhere. Thank you.

    Anyway, i've been fairly medicore on the whole idea of the SE idea. On one hand, i like the idea that some random touches here and there. The fixing of the hovering affect, the random touch up on the X-wings and etc, but the idea of Greedo shooting first was crazy just as Luke and his damsel in distress scream at Bespin as well as the hideous ROTJ dance scene just makes me cringe. If maybe Lucas went back and touched up Jabba's CGI a bit, which you know he'd love to do, if he isn't doing it already and make HAN SHOOT FIRST, i'd accept these SE's with flying colors. Maybe one day we can maybe get the OT on DVD, but i'm not holding my breath. Until that day comes, i'll resort to my "other" copies of the OT i view.
    "Woke up at 9.55am. Soon as I woke up, I looked at Suzanne and she looked at me. I said, 'Did I tell you about the immune system?' Suzanne starting laughing, I said, 'it's amazing.' She said, 'Not now.'"

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jedi_Master_Guyute
    Good God stilla; can't you keep your tired opinion regarding your hatred for the PT to yourself for one damned thread?!?!?! It seems that you just have to toss it out there for no reason; it's as if you like to read your own opinion and just say to yourself, "man, i am sure am good!" Your OPINION of the PT has NO bearings on this thread at all; so i'm going to politely ask you to save all that jibberish for one of your other numerous "I hate the PT", "Why GL is a big doo doo head" and "Why i should've been the director of the PT" and "Why I hate GL" threads elsewhere. Thank you.

    Anyway, i've been fairly medicore on the whole idea of the SE idea. On one hand, i like the idea that some random touches here and there. The fixing of the hovering affect, the random touch up on the X-wings and etc, but the idea of Greedo shooting first was crazy just as Luke and his damsel in distress scream at Bespin as well as the hideous ROTJ dance scene just makes me cringe. If maybe Lucas went back and touched up Jabba's CGI a bit, which you know he'd love to do, if he isn't doing it already and make HAN SHOOT FIRST, i'd accept these SE's with flying colors. Maybe one day we can maybe get the OT on DVD, but i'm not holding my breath. Until that day comes, i'll resort to my "other" copies of the OT i view.
    Uh, no. This is all one big happy saga, right? So it's impossible to talk about one film without taking into account the other 6. What's the big deal? Besides, my opinion of the PT's has nothing to do with it. The PT is what it is and I had nothing to do with it.

  9. #9
    I loved your post Jeditricks, Im glad you spent the time to discussed the stuff about how GL changed or supposedely "fixed" TESB and ROTJ even though he had little artistic impact on them compared to others ie. the screen writer, directors..etc. I felt your point was valid when you stated..

    "It seems a little hypocritical and two-faced then that Lucasfilm makes the claim that ................"

    however i think you were still going to easy on George lucas/lucasfilm. I love Star wars which explains why im on this web site just like all of us here but, to learn the the SW DVDs will ONLY be released in their special edition forms is enfuriating to me. I think the special editions were absolute perversions of cinema history at best. If G.L. wants to ruin great movies (whether or not he "made" them) then fine, he has the right to do that. BUT, realease the original SW movies on DVD as well. I know im just blathering but i realy am at odds with this Special edition thing.

    oh yeah, was i the only one who wanted to kill G.L. the first time that greedo was seen shooting first??

  10. #10
    JT's timeline feels pretty accurate to me but I think ManCan's question is a valid one as well.

    Without question, Lucas rallied around the SE cause in terms of "film preservation" and yes he did end up going further and adding/subtracting/changing stuff.

    Personally, it's my gut feeling that he really had both ideas in mind at the same time. It has been documented that George was displeased with certain things about the OT. I just figure he went at it with both ideas at the same time.

    All this talk of artist integrity, film preservation, etc. is very noble but I think you have to come down hard on one side or the other. Some people are purists and wanted nothing changed with the OT. Fine.
    Then there are others like me, who feel "hey go ahead and tinker with it." Of course, then we put ourselves at risk because we may not like something he does. Myself? Well, I like much of the OT changes but some of them REALLY bother me. That's the risk "we" took because as much as I might love the new Wampa, I also got Greedo shooting first to tip the scales the other way.

    I just have a problem with the idea that it's okay for George to go back and tweak some of the FX and have that be alright while other changes are out of question for him to touch. It creates a slippery line and I don't understand it. It's okay for him to clean up a bad lightsaber shot but it's not okay for him to go "too far" and replace Snootles. (For the record, yes CG Snooty blows hard, I don't argue that it was a good change. )

    Anyway, where's the line? You might say that a cleaned up lightsaber shot is minor and worth fixing and then I might argue that the Sy Snootles puppet was just a special effect anyway, so why not tweak that as well?

    I guess the best example I can think of is Palpatine in ESB. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like there are many of the OT Faithful who are generally against changing the films yet it would be okay to redo the Emperor in ESB with Ian McDiarmid. Hey, I'd love for that to happen, but what about the artistic integrity of the people involved in bringing it to the screen? What about the chimp whose eyes were superimposed? What about the old lady, the people who put on the makeup, Clive Revill, etc. ?
    If talking about preservation, then of course you can't mess with ESB Palps. And at the same time, if youre talking about preservation, then I really don't think you can make exceptions for cleaned up TIE shots, matte lines, see through Snowspeeder panels, etc.

    The OT was released a certain way and they became successful "as is."
    If you're up for some tinkering, like I was, go ahead and enjoy it but be prepared for some disappointment (like I was).

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