It’s no secret that I’m a huge Star Wars fan. The real secret is that I’m not. Let me explain.
It was announced this week that the original Star Wars trilogy will finally be released on DVD in September of this year. However, I use the term “original trilogy” loosely — these are not the films that came out in 1977, 1980, and 1983; they’re the “special editions” that came out in 1997. You know, the ones with the extra fakey CGI Jabba, the silly Death Star explosion rings, and the infamous “Greedo shoots first” change.
Those movies were released with much fanfare and hype in 1997, but the lasting effect wasn’t overly positive. The changes made ranged from the merely pointless to the actively detrimental — very few of them, if any, truly improved the movies. I’m not alone in this…the “Special Editions” arrived with a thud only later drowned out by the arrival of The Phantom Menace.
Lucas refuses to release the original movies on DVD. The statement from his people is:
We realize there’s a lot of debate out there, 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.
Of course, the idea that this isn’t a democracy is only true from a certain point of view. Of course this is a democracy. Last I checked, no one HAD to buy Star Wars on DVD, in any incarnation. So what we have here is the actual closest voicing of the words “screw you” we’ve had from Mr. Lucas to his fans.
Now, rest assured, there has been an uneasy relationship between those two parties for some time. Buffy fans seem to really like Joss Whedon. Tolkien fans appreciate the man and his work. Babylon 5 fans will go on for some time about the genius of J. Michael Straczynski. But Star Wars fans have, by and large, always enjoyed it despite Lucas. His bizarre handling of the universe has alienated us more times than not. So although this is not a new development, it has taken things from “reluctant partnership” to “Faustian bargain”.
I stated at the beginning that I’m not a Star Wars fan. I used to be. But in my lifetime I’ve had to go from “Star Wars fan” to “fan of the movies” to “fan of the original trilogy” to “fan of the original version of the original trilogy.” There isn’t much further that I can be marginalized. The venn diagram circle of “All Things Star Wars” is enormous compared to the tiny circle within that I inhabit.
Many people already think I’m a fool for having continued so long as a fan. Try as he might, though, Lucas can’t erase the feeling of joy and amazement I had in 1977. If he can’t see the value in that original movie, I sure still can, and it saddens me that he’s worked so hard to diminish it.
So no $50 Star Wars DVDs for me. I’ve gone this long without them and can go even longer. I’d much rather take my VHS tapes of the original movies and convert them to DVD for myself. This is a democracy, you old hack, and our wallets are the voting machines.