Wednesday, May 17, 2006

“Who’s scruffy-lookin’?”

I am not what David Letterman calls a “Star Wars Trekkie.”
In my mind, the original film had about enough story to sustain thirty or forty minutes of play… Episode VI lacks any recommendation whatsoever… and the prequels accomplished only one good thing: the construction of potent Jedi in the form of Qui-Gon Jinn and an Obi-Wan who actually does something besides die.

But I am neither a Star Wars anti-fanatic.
As hinted at above, in the “new trilogy” I can genuinely enjoy Liam Neeson’s flashing lightsabre and keen tongue, not to mention the mute efficiency of a young Obi-Wan Kenobi assisting, feeding droids to his blade.
In both time frames I can appreciate good droid design: R2-D2, the Droidekas, etc.

And as for story, I say Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back makes darn good cinema. Come the Tuesday of 12 September, with the two-disc release of each of the original films in its original form, I will be buying it (V, that is).

“Star Wars Trekkies” across the country are celebrating the announcement of this untampered-with presentation, particularly after the trilogy box-set release a year before.

For the uninitiated, I will explain: Mr. George Lucas did not just tamper with his prior creations once. Oh no. I confess to having seen his revamped-for-theaters version of the first trilogy, which (aside from an overabundance of sickly orange CGI) wasn’t so terrible. Sure, Greedo shoots first, but whatever (I don’t care about Episode IV, remember?).
Then came the DVD release, which had been altered to a much greater extent. Most grievous of all was the alteration of lightsabres to match those in Episode III: The Abomination. Originally, you see, a lightsabre (with it’s “blade of pure energy”) was shown as a bright white shaft surrounded by a hazy, pulsating, and colorful corona. Quite beautiful, actually—particularly in dark blue. But in the most recent movie (the one where Darth Vader is no longer a steely villain who can wipe out hordes of his enemy, but instead a simpering loudmouthed idiot) the lightsabres are a flat, pointed stick of pure color.
And so to achieve a kind of retroactive continuity, Mr. Lucas had the pointy, boring lightsabres digitally replace the original in every frame of the DVDs. (Strange that he cares so much about visual continuity but ignores real continuity it in the storyline of the final release.)

All right, so I prefer the shaft-and-corona version personally. A lot of people do. (If you can’t tell by now, while I am not a “Star Wars Trekkie,” many friends are.) But Lucas went a step beyond removing that. Oh yes. One glance at Darth Vader’s blade of fury and I am sure you will be won entirely over to my side.
You see, originally Darth Vader’s sabre was a fearsome red thing, representative of the evil for which it was so well used. (In the first film, they skimped on it’s design due to time constraints on their laborious process of rotoscoping in the sabre over the prop used, and Vader’s sabre was a bit odd-looking. But in the next two, when budget allowed for the time to do so, every frame was given the proper white shaft and red corona.)
But look now at the DVD release. See for yourself in the grand duels from V and VI. Not only is Vader’s instrument of death a pointed travesty of a lightsabre, it is pink. That’s right! No more cool, villainous red, let’s make Vader more accessible to the audience. Let’s arm him with something from a little girl’s tea party. Maybe it’ll help him reconnect with his long-lost daughter Leia if he kills people with pinkness.
I mean, come on! PINK?!?

So, yeah, stick with the original. Let us together throw off the shackles of revisionist filmmaking and its wussy villains! Arise, people of Earth. Arise!
Oh yeah, and do it by the end of the year, ‘cause New Years Eve the original cuts will be taken off the market.


Parker said...

That guy is a bastard.

Lucas, that is. Not Vader.

M. Randolph said...


Parker, am I to assume you have learned of the ’new old’ cut discs’ other deficiencies? The lack of any features, the anamorphic-free framing, the direct scan from the 90’s Laserdisc release, the audio that isn’t even up to the standard’s of the original releases?

I don’t foresee a difficulty in locating minds likened unto your own.