31 August 2011

Dear "Star Wars" - We Need a Break.

I want to be clear about this:

It's not me.  It's you.

For years, I heard hyperbolic fans declare the original movies as "The Holy Trilogy" and I scoffed at their adoration becoming sacrilegious.  But I enjoyed them, and what did I care if some fans took it too far?  Then came the Special Editions in 1997.  I can't name a single change I felt actually improved any of the movies, but I was largely indifferent to them (except the song changes in Return of the Jedi; "Lapti Nek" > "Jedi Rocks" and I dig "Ewok Celebration").

When I saw The Phantom Menace at its midnight premiere, I knew going into it there was no way that audience was going to be satisfied.  They had spent 16 years developing what the movie should have been, and it was impossible that whatever we watched would have met those demands.  I didn't hate it like the others did.  I still feel fans made too much out of Jar Jar Binks, but I also feel they made too much out of Darth Maul, as well.  I liked some of the movie; Liam Neeson was great as Qui-Gon Jinn, and "Duel of the Fates" was the best thing John Williams composed since Jurassic Park (and would still be the best thing he's done since, were it not for his work on Harry Potter).

Since then, the prequels and DVD releases of the original trilogy have created two camps, each of which is relentless in taking to the Internet to wage its war.  There are the apologists and there are the haters.  At times, I've been both.  In recent years, the hyperbole of the haters has bothered me more than the blind loyalty of the apologists, so I've been quicker to challenge the haters.

I knew when the Blu-ray Disc box sets were announced that they would feature yet more revisions.  I told myself I had made my peace with that fact and, indeed, kind of looked forward to see what would make these versions unique.  I've spent six years waiting to see digital Yoda in The Phantom Menace, ever since it was previewed on the Revenge of the Sith DVD bonus disc.  Never did it occur to me that there would be something like the change to Return of the Jedi's climax.

Darth Vader now yells, "Noooo!" while watching the Emperor electrocute Luke Skywalker, breaking into action and yelling it a second time as he carries his dark master to the pit and throws him to his death.  The inner conflict of the character never needed to be verbalized.  Staring at his expressionless mask, listening to the swell of the music, we know what's going on inside the guy, who has spent the last two movies desperate to connect with his estranged son.  When Vader finally takes action on behalf of Luke, John Williams's Force theme erupts and we cheer--even if only to ourselves.  It's one of the most heroic moments in any movie I've ever seen, largely because it is noble.  Anakin Skywalker has had enough, and he overthrows not only his Emperor, but Darth Vader as well.  We all get that's what happened; we know he's really the Jedi who has returned.

I've spent months looking forward to the release of these Blu-rays.  I knew I wasn't going to be able to afford them initially, but I've been squirreling away Amazon gift credit and am currently just under $30.  But after this revelation, I just don't care to see the movies right now.  I'm fatigued from months of speculation and debate with the online community.  I don't begrudge those who do buy and enjoy these 4.0 incarnations.  One day, maybe I'll own them myself.  Right now, though, I just can't make myself even want to be around you, Star Wars.

So we're going to take a break.  I'm unsubscribing from forum threads that have anything to do with you.  I'm going to un-follow your Twitter feed.  I'm removing you from my Amazon Wish List.  I won't be buying any of your stuff for a while.  I won't be talking about you on this blog.  Maybe later, we'll try to get back together but you're going to have to take the first step.  Just leave me alone for a while, and then when you think you're ready to get back together, you let me know and we'll reevaluate our relationship then.  George Lucas isn't the devil, I don't wish him harm or any of that nonsense.  I just can't around you right now.


  1. Derek Armstrong8/31/2011 8:09 PM

    I saw this a couple days ago. I'll repeat some of my comments to friends here:

    1) As bad as this footage is, it has the benefit of making me appreciate the original all the more. Sometimes, we can only appreciate subtle filmmaking through the use of contrast. When else have you been in a discussion with a Star Wars fan about how cool it is that Vader doesn't say anything when he throws the Emperor down the shaft? Now that we see what it's like when he DOES say something, it makes me think that choice in the original film is brilliant. Whereas otherwise I never would have considered it at all. (I'd have considered the moment, but not whether or not he said something.)

    2) It's also funny how lazy Lucas has become. With all the technology/money/power at his disposal, isn't he using the EXACT same "Nooooo!" from Revenge of the Sith? What, was he worried that James Earl Jones would tell him to shove it? And rightly so if he did.

    I also want to say I agree with you on the boring and overly familiar diatribes of the haters. What's really obnoxious about their criticisms -- sorry, their *negative* criticisms -- about George Lucas is how clever they seem to consider themselves to be, like they are the first person to string together witty epithets about the soullessness of Jar Jar Binks.

  2. It's just exasperating to even discuss Star Wars these days. Fortunately, there are plenty of other interests of mine I can discuss instead. For instance, James Bond fans are pretty rational (provided you overlook that rabid segment of anti-Daniel Craig lunatics).