Will they finally do the right thing, after all this time, and give us the original theatrical editions of the original trilogy?
I wish I didn't even have to type such a question. It just seems like a foregone conclusion to me, given the history of cinema on home video, that the original edition of any film deserves to be preserved.
The argument that gets routinely thrown around in defense of Lucas's actions goes something like this: They're his movies and he can do what he wants with them. Well, sure. And I'm perfectly within my rights to pillory him for rewriting his own cinematic history, not just once but many times, and depriving future generations of important perspective on his work.
The original movies were not perfect. They were flawed in ways that had nothing to do with the quality of the effects. But they were a product of their moment in time, and deserve to be seen that way — as direct evidence of what they were.
* * *
One way or another, though, I suspect I've made my peace with what Star Wars has become and is likely to remain. It's something I can now take or leave, because other things have taken its place.
When I was growing up, the first three movies occupied a space in my life slightly larger than, oh, oxygen and food. One evening I was out with my parents at some mall near our house; we were at a Barnes & Noble that had a massive $1 discount bin up front. I had $3 (a ton of money for me at the time) burning a hole in my pocket, and I grabbed three books that immediately caught my attention. One was the Star Wars spinoff Splinter of the Mind's Eye (by Alan Dean Foster). The other two were the first two books in Yukio Mishima's "Sea of Fertility" tetraology, Spring Snow and Runaway Horses. I didn't have a clue what they were, but for some reason they caught my attention.
Over the next several years I read Splinter I don't know how many times. (This was a common thing for me at that time: I had a very small roster of books that I read over and over again, and almost nothing else.) Snow and Horses sat in a drawer and turned yellow. Every several months, I'd pull one of them out, open it up, and try to read it. I never got past the first page. I don't believe I had a learning disability, so to speak: it was just such alien territory as a story that I couldn't even begin to figure out how to process it.
Years went by. The cycle repeated itself, with a couple of changes. Splinter eventually fell off the reading list entirely. In came Stanisław Lem's Star Diaries and Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?. I tried cracking Snow every so often, but still couldn't get more than a few pages in without becoming hopelessly lost. But at the same time, I sensed that I was trading up — that by expanding the scope of my attention from Lucas's pastiche to other things, I was doing myself a favor.
1985. Kurosawa's Ran appeared in theaters. I saw it and was galvanized. A little research about the man turned up a review of The Hidden Fortress, which Roger Ebert had described as "the wellspring of the Force". After Star Wars, I was finally discovering Lucas's source material.
By the time my first year in college rolled around, I'd made a pact with myself: I'm going to read Spring Snow by the end of my freshman year, no matter what else happens. Somehow I'd convinced myself that if I could crack that, I could tear through anything.
Within the first month, I'd opened it up and blown through Snow -- and Runaway Horses the month after that. The stone which had sat immobile for so long was now rolling downhill of its own accord, and was breaking through one barrier after another.
When the remastered trilogy reappeared in theaters, I saw it and felt great affection for it — but it was not the all-pervading, tunnel-vision love that I'd felt before. The world, my world, was that much bigger now. It wasn't that Star Wars had been pushed out; it was that my inner landscape now had that many more trees 'n shrubs in it.
Star Wars was the beginning of many things for me. But it hasn't proven to be the destination. I'll be happy to see it on BD, and I'll be disappointed if it's not the version I remember so fondly. My world's full of that much more to cherish, and take influence from, and enjoy.
Other Lives Of The Mind