Look, I get it.
Every time the “Star Wars” films are released on a new Home Video format, Lucas can’t resist messing with them. And by the same token, the hard core fans can’t resist bitching about the changes. It’s is unending. It is eternal. It is the fanboy version of “The Story of O”.
And at this point, I’m off the bus on this one.
I understand the longer issues at play. The idea of film history being tampered with. At what point does a creator give up his creation and let the audience take ownership of it. I get that.
But this time around, I just can’t work up the outrage. Because, in my dotage, I knod of understand why he keeps doing
In the first place, the man is a tinkerer. And we’ve known this about Lucas for years. As a teenager, he spent all his time dealing with hot rods. He was that kid in the neighborhood who’d spend his weekends under the hood, relentlessly tuning the points and sharpening the sparkplugs. (Or whatever people do with cars. Sue me. I was a musical theater nerd in high school.) Tinkering is in his blood.
But there’s another reason and I’m surprised that no one (To my knowledge anyway.) has bought it up.
The following clip is from the 2004 Documentary “Empire of Dreams”. As you can tell, it was not a happy shoot.
To which you might respond, “Well, Richard. Lots of films have tough shoots and none of those other filmmakers have been as relentless about revising films. Hell, Werner Herzog shot ‘Aguirre, The Wrath of God’ in Peru for months, even at one point, allegedly pulled a gun on Klaus Kinski! And you don’t see Herzog fiddling with that film.”
Well, in the first place, I say good luck to anyone trying to find someone to put up the scratch to finance a special edition of “Aguirre” which has a much more selective fan base than “Star Wars”. (Seriously, how many people went to Comic-Con this year dressed as Spanish Conquistadors?)
Secondly and more germain to our discussion, Herzog wouldn’t even consider it. He’s not that kind of film maker.
Walter Murch once observed that there are two opposite poles to film making, personified by two directors. On one end was Alfred Hitchcock who would painstakingly map out every single shot and consider the actual shooting a formality. On the other pole is Francis Coppola who will leave himself open to any and all variables and accept when things don’t go quite as planned..
Lucas falls clearly on the Hitchcock side of things while Herzog is more on the Coppola side of the scale.
And as the above clip demonstrates, it was a tough, fucking shoot. Not “I’m gonna point a gun at Harrison Ford” tough but…you know…tough.
And speaking from personal experience, I know that when you go through an unpleasant experience creating something, it is hard to separate your feelings about the process from the actual work.
(Believe me, there are couple of plays I’ve done as an actor that I would give my eyeteeth to digitally alter.)
So, as you and I would look at the original trilogy and see awesomeness, Lucas sees only compromise and pain. I suspect that this is why Lucas quit directing after the first film and didn’t start the prequels until he was absolutely dead dog certain that he could control every aspect of the production down to the molecular level. (Which, of course, is why the prequels feel so closed off and hermetic.)
Lucas isn’t tinkering because of greed, he could have used the previous versions for the Blu-Rays and still made his money. He tinkers to end the pain of imperfection.
So, in conclusion, my fellow fan boys, save your venom. Lucas is a man to be pitied more than scorned.
Because to paraphrase a Jonathan Coulton song, He’s the only man on Earth
who couldn’t enjoy Star Wars.
NOTE: Above video got yanked while I was still writing. Borrow the DVD’s from a friend to see what I was talking about.