Rafa\’s Corner of Nonsense, Part Deux

… where Rafa\’s thoughts see the light of day…

On the dangers of a director considering himself an “artiste

There comes a certain time in every director’s or actor’s life when, in their minds, they metamorphose from an “artist” to an “artiste” [read with hoity-toity French accent]. They suddenly believe their view on all things artistic is somehow superior than everyone else’s, and that they have some God-given right to show the world how their aesthetics surpass everyone else’s.

I don’t know exactly WHEN this happened to George Lucas, but it’s safe to say that “Star Wars” had something to do with it.

As you may or may not know (if you’re residence of late has been “Under-A-Rock Street”), this week the long-awaited DVD release of the original “Star Wars” trilogy came out. I was one of the many fans that on Tuesday flocked to their nearest computer superstore (read “Fry’s”) to buy my copy (on widescreen format, of course: I accidentally touched one of the full-screen versions and had to ritualistically wash my hands for hours, à la Lady MacBeth: can you believe they actually put out a full-screen version at all?? Anyhoo… that’s another rant for another day).

The thing is that Lucas, ever the “artiste,” has decided to make even more post-Special Edition changes to the movies, from digitally changing scenes to including Ian McDiarmid as the Emperor on “Empire Strikes Back,” to, more offensively, adding Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker in ghost form at the end of “Return of the Jedi.” And, to add insult to injury, there are no deleted scenes (as is the staple of most DVDs nowadays): Lucas insists that these movies are “his realized vision,” so obviously, including deleted scenes to the immense delight of all fans would be unthinkable, because if he removed them in the first place, then they obviously are unworthy of watching and would thus tarnish his “vision.”

You might wonder, if you’re still reading my diatribe and are of the curious sort, why the hell did I buy the DVD set when I so obviously have issues with Lucas’ modifications to the original trilogy (and, more accurately, his general mental health)? Well, I am a realist: I know that they are his movies, and we’re gonna get only the version he foists on us. I realize he has more money than I could ever imagine, to the point where the number starts becoming ridiculous in terms of how much any single human being could ever possibly spend, so me not buying the DVDs is not so much me “depriving him” of my $36 (yes, they’re on sale at Fry’s this week: hurry!), but rather depriving myself of a high-quality version of the movies I love so much (even if they are in a somewhat adulterated, violated form).

So, what is your take on the matter? Anger, apathy, hunger, sleepiness…? Share with the class. 😀

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September 22, 2004 - Posted by | Rant

4 Comments »

  1. i usually think that what the artist wants to do is what the artist wants to do, and that’s all there is to it. it’s his/her “vision” that caught you in the first place, so why question them now?

    Comment by what have i become? | September 22, 2004 | Reply

  2. Thanks for the post. 🙂 Your point is very well-taken: I do admit that “Star Wars” is Lucas’ “baby” and it makes sense that he should be the one to direct its course.

    My main objection is his obstinacy in not seeing that “Star Wars” has turned into so much more than his “baby”: that, though he’d be loathe to admit it, “Star Wars” also belongs to the general public, and to the people who have given it (and him) the status it now has. Though I respect his right as the owner of the movies to edit them as he sees fit, I cannot understand why he can’t just have his cake and eat it too: would anyone (other than him) be opposed to having both the original version and his new, “fully realized” version, on the DVDs? Whom would it hurt? No one: it’s just his pride at being the one who gets the final say, and that’s it his way and that’s it.

    Check out the following link for an interesting CNN.com
    interview
    with Lucas regarding these new changes.

    This is the part that I find really illuminating:

    Q: Do you pay much attention to fan reactions to your choices?

    LUCAS: Not really. The movies are what the movies are. … The thing about science-fiction fans and “Star Wars” fans is they’re very independent-thinking people. They all think outside the box, but they all have very strong ideas about what should happen, and they think it should be their way. Which is fine, except I’m making the movies, so I should have it my way.I wonder how Lucas would feel if Michael Curtiz, the director of “Casablanca,” rose from the grave and decided to tinker with its ending and have Humphrey Bogart and Ingrig Bergman end up together! 🙂 After all, it’s his movie and his vision, right? 😉

    Keep ’em coming, folks! 🙂

    Comment by Rafa | September 22, 2004 | Reply

  3. The modifications to ANH and ROTJ are horrible and take me out the movie. However the changes to ESB are great IMO. The wamba snow creature, the real emperor and the new and improved cloud city , it actually makes it a better film , it certanily doesnt destroy it. The changes to the first movie is the most cringe worthy of the entire trilogy.
    Guedo shoots first, Jabba the Hut(WHY LUCAS WHY) and appraoach to mos isley. The Changes to ROTJ again cringe worthy, the sarlac pit and the new musical scene at Jabba’s palace.

    Comment by Johnnie Whicker | September 1, 2013 | Reply

    • The changes you described are, like you said, the most cringe-worthy. However, even the minor ones, especially when they eliminate things instead of adding them, seem offensive to me. For instance, the actor who played The Emperor in ESB but was been replaced by Ian McDiarmid, is now not in the movie. That just seems… wrong to me.

      In any case, my main point is that Lucas could have easily offered two versions of the movies — the original version (for us purists) and his “fully realized vision” for people who like the tinkering and enjoy the added effects. That’s a win-win situation — him choosing to alter the movies AND refuse to ever offer the original versions is just hubris, pure and simple.

      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

      Comment by Rafa | September 1, 2013 | Reply


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