George Lucas To Continue Killing Star Wars In Blu-Ray Release

George Lucas is once again "enhancing" his epic films for the upcoming Blu-Ray release.

George Lucas has become notorious for making changing to subsequent releases of his iconic Original Trilogy Star Wars films, with the most infamous being his alteration of the Cantina confrontation between Han Solo and Greedo to make it appear that, unlike in the original film, Greedo shot first when everyone knows that it was Han who shot first, in a scene that in some sense defined his character from the start. Now, with the Blu-Ray release of all six movies set for later this month there’s word of even more changes, including one that fundamentally alters the climatic scene of the entire story:

It’s an event that seems to happen in the “Star Wars” world about as often as Wookiees celebrate Life Day, and which fans await with just as much dread. New versions of George Lucas’s space-fantasy films are released, and with them come changes to the movies – alterations to audio and video, characters’ actions and even dialogue that is very different from what fans remember seeing in theaters a long time ago and far, far away.

So it goes for the latest editions of the six “Star Wars” live-action features that are being prepared for a Blu-ray home video release on Sept. 16. Previously, it was reported that the version of “Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace” included in this release would replace the puppet version of the Yoda character with a computer-generated creation. Then on Tuesday, an online report by Devin Faraci suggested a revelation almost as troubling as the news that Luke and Leia had been brother and sister all along: in a climactic scene from “Return of the Jedi,” when Darth Vader hurls the evil Emperor to his demise on the Death Star, he would now shout “No!” (In all previous versions of “Jedi,” Vader has committed this crucial deed in silence.)

On Wednesday, a press representative for Lucasfilm confirmed that this change will be included in the Blu-ray release, writing in an e-mail: “Yes — Darth says NO.”

Kelsey Williams at the San Francisco Chronicle isn’t pleased at all:

The new line is a fairly obvious reference to the abysmally comedic moment in “Revenge of the Sith” (2005), when Darth Vader makes his debut in the chronology of the series, learns of his wife Padme’s death and cries cartoonishly, “Noooo!” This moment, clearly meant to evoke tragedy and empathy for the newly made Dark Lord, mostly drew mocking laughter (at least that was the case in my theater).

But hey, Lucas has been futzing with his work for years. Adding in ghostly Hayden Christenson at the end of “Return of the Jedi,” putting a CGI Jabba the Hut into “A New Hope,” changing the sequence of events, updating graphics for aliens and monsters, and even making three prequels that are pretty much universally considered the unwanted-stepchildren of the Star Wars bunch by fans.

Most of these changes spawn frenetic online activity from the Star Wars fanbase, and bring Lucas into the limelight for yet another 15 minutes of Google trending fame.

And, to be fair, some of the changes are either minor or relatively acceptable. The addition of CGI effects to the Special Edition release of Episode IV didn’t really alter the story significantly, and gave more of an alien feel to many of the scenes. Lucas said at the time, that he had intended to have these effects in the original movie, but they were either too expensive at the time, or simply technologically impossible in the late 1970s. That’s one thing, altering the plot of the movie, though, is something different. It would be like Francis Ford Coppolla suddenly deciding to add a digital comedic character into The Godfather, or changing the horse’s head to a pot of spaghetti sauce. As Allahpundit, put it, say what you will about Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles careers but at least he hasn’t released an “enhanced” version of Abbey Road with an accordion added into the mix. It detracts from the movie, and it’s usually just profoundly dumb.

Lucas has the right to do this, of course. They’re his movies and he can do pretty much whatever he wants to them. In the end, it probably won’t even impact the sales of the Blu-Ray edition all that much since all the fanboys will buy it anyway because they’ll want to have a complete set of everything Star Wars related. But anyone who hits “play” that DVD of Episode IV, V, or VI should realize that the movie they’ll be watching isn’t the same one that audiences flocked to 35 years ago. If  Lucas were smart, he’d offer a Blu-Ray version of those original releases, including that scene where Han shoots first. I know I’d buy it.

Anyway, judge what is likely to become the most infamous Lucas alteration for yourself.

Here’s the original scene from Return of the Jedi where Vader throws off the shackles of the Dark Side:

And here’s the new version:

Frankly, the original strikes me as clearly superior, and Lucas’s “enhancement” turns the climatic scene of a six-part story into something slightly cheesy. Pretty sad.

FILED UNDER: Entertainment, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Herb says:

    They’re his movies and he can do pretty much whatever he wants to them.

    And this is the real shame of the matter. The Star Wars movies were so successful that no one is going to say “Noooooooo!” to George Lucas. If Coppolla tried this with the Godfather, Paramount would nix it immediately, mostly because who wants to spend the money? But also because it’s unnecessary and stupid.

    At Lucasfilm, no one’s going to tell GEORGE LUCAS his idea is unnecessary and stupid.

  2. @Herb:

    The difference is that that copyrights on The Godfather are owned by several entitles, including Paramount, Coppola, and the estate of Mario Puzo. So Coppola can’t just alter the movie and re-release it. Lucas owns pretty much everything about Star Wars

  3. Jay says:

    Lucas please stop raping my childhood

  4. Herb says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Right, and the sycophants he’s hired at Lucasfilm won’t lift a finger to stop him from raping people’s childhoods. Hopefully Spielberg will keep him from messing with the Indy movies. Make another crappy one if they want to…just don’t touch Raiders.

  5. PJ says:

    @Herb:

    Hopefully Spielberg will keep him from messing with the Indy movies.

    When Spielberg edited E.T. he did add the original movie to the DVD, and I found this from July:

    Steven Spielberg: Oh, I know. I totally understand that. (In the future) there’s going to be no more digital enhancements or digital additions to anything based on any film I direct. I’m not going to do any corrections digitally to even wires that show.

    If 1941 comes on Blu-Ray I’m not going to go back and take the wires out because the Blu-Ray will bring the wires out that are guiding the airplane down Hollywood Blvd. At this point right now I think letting movies exist in the era, with all the flaws and all of the flourishes, is a wonderful way to mark time and mark history.

    Good news.

    George Lucas could go ************** ********* ************ *************.

  6. @Herb:

    Hopefully Spielberg will keep him from messing with the Indy movies.

    Well, they’ve already nuked the fridge, how much worse can it get?

  7. Lee says:

    Before launching into my comments I will offer my bona fides for commenting. I am an original fan. I have seen the each of the films in it’s original release in the theater. I won a radio contest to see a special prescreen of Empire. I have to say that at the time I was the only person in the theater who hated Jedi after leaving the theater. There that’s out of the way.

    I have to say that since the release of these movies I am actually ashamed to be lumped in with most Star Wars losers. The stories are not yours. They are Lucas’s. It’s his story. An artist not only has the right but has the responsibility to re-imagine their work. All artists in all art forms do this. You don’t hear complaints about people going to concerts getting upset when a band doesn’t play their songs exactly like the album. Who wants to spend 50 bucks to listen to the album?

    Shut up about it. Seriously. You are laughing stock. Raping your childhood?!? Seriously? Get a freakin life. They aren’t your movies. It’s just so embarrassing being lumped in with you losers.

  8. @PJ: Actually, Spielberg did make changes to the 20th Anniversary Edition of ET. He digitally changed the firearms being held by the police officer in one scene to radios:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E.T._the_Extra-Terrestrial#20th_anniversary_version

  9. James in LA says:

    @Lee: I tend to agree. If you enjoyed the films, Lucas cannot reach in and tamper with your memories of the bye-gone age. If you are worried this will happen, don’t order the new blu-RAY.

    When I read comments like, “stop raping my childhood,” just how much control over your life have you given Lucas specifically, and media generally, that you would be so brainwashed, so hand-fed that such a comment is even in the realm of rhetorical possibility, to say nothing of how it diminishes actual sufferers of rape?

    It’s a movie. Not a priest.

  10. I’m of the opinion that George Lucas is talentless and has always been talentless. The real credit for the Star Wars Movies, American Grafitti, etc. properly should go to Marcia Lou Griffin, his ex-wife, who also served as the editor on his earlier films. The divorced in 1983, during the production of the Return of the Jedi and even in that film we start seeing the indications that without someone there to tell him no, he simply has no sense of taste.

    It’s sad its taken the gradual destruction of one of our great film series to make it clear that George Lucas has built a legend off taking credit for someone else’s vision.

  11. Murray says:

    Raping your childhood?! Don’t be silly.

    Star Wars was also part of my childhood. Since then I grew up.

    They are just a bunch of completely cheesy movies in their original version and a few changes won’t make that much of a difference.

  12. Burt Likko says:

    Having seen both versions of the scene side by side here, my opinion is that:

    1. The original scene is superior, and
    2. The modified scene is not so bad as the purists make it seem. It sort of works.

    These are not inconsistent opinions.

    Artists’ styles frequently evolve over time. An early Picasso is very different in tone and appearance than a late Picasso. It’s often interesting to compare works from early in an artist’s career to later ones, especially if the artist revisists the same subject matter. And Star Wars was never of high enough artistic quality to be of the same caliber as a series of Picassos, even the early movies. They make no particularly bold or even interesting artistic statements nor do they offer any new insights into the human condition. They’re fun and were for their time technical marvels of moviemaking. But they are also pulp fiction, modeled after the old weekly serial movies which were about spectacle and action rather than deep writing, they intended solely to entertain, and like a Golden Era comic book, aimed primarily to entertain children in early adolescence at that. When we adults enjoy these entertainments, we are indulging in child-like entertainment, which is fine, but we should keep in mind that the movies are aimed at kids.

    Now, there is no reason that Lucas could not offer both versions of the scene at the same time, and commentary from Lucas or someone else explaining why they thought that the alteration made sense. It would not be hard to program the disc to play either the “Original Theatrical Version” and “Enhanced Director’s Cut” of each of the movies or whatever they might want to call it. That’s the Blu-Ray version I’d be interested in having. If Lucasfilm does not release such a product, that’s a marketing error and not an artistic one.

  13. Brett says:

    Although I understand why people like Vader betraying Palpatine in silence, I actually like the double “No’s”. The first one is almost quiet, as Vader realizes that it’s happening again – once again, someone he values, the son of his beloved Padme, is going to die right in front of his eyes (he thinks that he killed Padme with his rage choke at the end of Revenge of the Sith). It reinforces that this is a Moment of Truth. The second is more affirmative – “NOOOO!” – as he makes his decision.

    It’s not subtle (and that is a drawback), but Anakin/Vader was never portrayed as subtle in the Prequel Trilogy.

  14. Anakin/Vader was never portrayed as subtle in the Prequel Trilogy.

    Thanks to the sub-par actor they cast he was never really portrayed believably, IMO

  15. PJ says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    Actually, Spielberg did make changes to the 20th Anniversary Edition of ET. He digitally changed the firearms being held by the police officer in one scene to radios:

    I know, that’s the “edited E.T.” part. My point here is that he still gave us the original version.
    George Lucas at first refused to add the original versions of the original trilogy, and when he did those were lousy transfers.

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Well, they’ve already nuked the fridge, how much worse can it get?

    Indy 4 is like the Star Wars prequels, I don’t have to acknowledge their existence. Spielberg and Lucas can add as many prequels, sequels, cartoons, video games, cereal boxes, etc they want, that’s not an issue.

    @Lee:

    They are Lucas’s. It’s his story. An artist not only has the right but has the responsibility to re-imagine their work.

    I remember when George Lucas was campaigning against coloring black and white movies.
    In Hollywood it’s clear that it’s not the writer that is owning the movie. So, is it the producer or studio who owns the right to edit a movie? Then it was all ok to color black and white movies. Is it the director? Then what right had George Lucas when he “re-imagined” Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi?

    Personally I don’t care about movies being edited as long as you can still get a good version of the original. But the movie revisionism that George Lucas is doing? Appalling…

  16. @Doug Mataconis:

    Hayden Christensen is a fine actor. The problem is that George Lucas is terrible at writing dialogue and at directing and ends up getting wooden performances from even great actors.

  17. @Lee:

    The stories are not yours. They are Lucas’s. It’s his story. An artist not only has the right but has the responsibility to re-imagine their work. All artists in all art forms do this.

    This is a true statement, but incomplete. Yes, Lucas can do what he wants. However, the consumers of his products have every right to complain.

    You don’t hear complaints about people going to concerts getting upset when a band doesn’t play their songs exactly like the album. Who wants to spend 50 bucks to listen to the album?

    Oh, I have little doubt that some people complain about a stage version of a song not sounding like the album, especially if the state version is inferior to the album version (which is often the case, but not always).

  18. Michael says:

    I am sick of hearing people bashing Geore Lucas. All he has done is taken a great Sci-Fi Movie and turned it into an Icon. As for the Movies, fans may like them, or others may not. Hold onto whatever gets you through the day. If you don’t like a particular change, then watch the previous version. I will say this I love Star Wars and I love the Prequels. Does this make me a loser? I really don’t care. I like what I like – that is my preference. I will continue to watch my favorite movies, and if the fan boys out there, who can’t get over if Han shot first or not, or Darth Vader saying Nooooo! They should get over themselves. Oh My God Vader screams Nooooo! lets call out the troops, because GL has messed with the movies. If that is how you feel then move on, SW is not for you anymore. However if LIke me, you love to thrive on the joy that is Star Wars then enjoy and don’t let all these Posers ruin anything for you.

  19. Anderson says:

    “Climatic moment,” Doug? You mean, “90% chance of Sith lightning”?

  20. Anderson says:

    … Really, I hope more filmmakers do this kind of thing.

    Maybe Mel Gibson can re-edit The Passion of the Christ so that Jesus’s last word on the cross is “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

  21. Rob in CT says:

    I’m unsurprised. A man who goes back and edits A New Hope to have Greedo shoot first has no idea what he’s doing. 😉

    Ok, I say that in jest, but seriously Lucas is his own worst enemy at times. The Prequels were awful, not because of the cast (there were good actors in those films, even if you assume Christenson is bad, and they all pretty much sucked. It was the dialogue & plot, not the actors). He did more harm than good with the last round of editing.

    Han shot first. That is all.