I don’t know about you, but STAR WARS is a big fucking deal to me. If you look around my house, you wouldn’t necessarily think it, but you see… In an odd way STAR WARS and reading about STAR WARS led me on a greater path of cinema that I’ve explored my entire life.
I was already a film fan when I first saw STAR WARS upon original release here in Austin, Tx. But it was the first movie that I bought toys for. That I saved my pennies for. That I bought magazines, just because it had images of STAR WARS upon them. Thus I discovered STARLOG, that put me on the path to finding out about movies before they came out. In Lucas’ interviews he mentioned Joseph Campbell and Akira Kurosawa with reverence, he talked about John Ford, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD – which was already my favorite film. So I asked my Dad about them. And my father showed me EVERYTHING. It created a language between the two of us where I’d have endless conversations about what they could do in the next Star Wars and Dad would hand me Burroughs & Heinlein at a very early age. STAR WARS is part of my primary love of cinema. I follow the careers of almost everyone that was a part of it. Knowing Phil Tippett was doing Stop-Motion in ROBOCOP made sure I went, although it sounded utterly retarded otherwise. Thus I discover Verhoeven. This film is why I saw David Lean’s films early in life. I was obsessed with Ben Kenobi – and my father told me OB1 was in other films. Suddenly I was seeing LAWRENCE OF ARABIA & DR ZHIVAGO at the Paramount Theater as a kid. Watching STAR WARS on a double bill with SCHLOCK: THE BANANA MONSTER led me to Landis early – and I realized that Rick Baker was a part of both. This led me to collecting Monster Masks.
You see… The STAR WARS toys at the time were simply the best things ever. The Video Game was epic. The film friends I have ranging in age from my Father to my 11 year old Nephew… we all talk STAR WARS. It is a vernacular of geek that I speak. So as the GEEK NATION has seemingly gone bugnuts insane about “NOOOOOOOOO! 2.0” – I have quietly sat it out.
You see, I hate modern STAR WARS fandom to a large degree. STAR WARS was what united us… This “raping of my childhood” crap just kills me. For me at least, he taught me to stare in the night sky and dream. He taught me to appreciate sunsets. OB1’s death traumatized me. Aunt Beru burnt up & so did my mother. Luke on Tatooine was what I compared to my time in North Texas, during my parents divorce. Working on cars, tractors, irrigation, fertilizing fields… Having to drive 30 minutes to get anywhere. Through all of it I heard John Williams’ score, believed in my own Hero’s Journey and lived happily through things I didn’t want to have to live through. I wanted to learn the ways of the force like Luke… My father equated it to BOY SCOUTS, so I became an Eagle Scout.
I collected ALL the toys in a pre-Ebay world. As they came out. My Uncle sent me foreign releases of STAR WARS toys, like from Germany & Italy. I sold them in the early 90s and paid for my College Education with them, and other collectibles. Since then, I haven’t really collected much STAR WARS stuff, simply because it was actually painful letting go of it later in life. There’s a few pieces around here. I’ve got a EMPIRE STRIKES BACK poster that has gathered autographs from pretty much everyone hanging in the hallway to the bedroom, there is a robotic R2 unit that hangs out with WALLE,
So excuse me if I can’t quite HATE George Lucas. Reading about what he loved and appreciated has led me on a journey to discover what PULP fiction was as a kid. So I read THE SHADOW, DOC SAVAGE, Alex Raymond FLASH GORDON stories, I’d met Buster Crabbe and seen those serials. But reading John Williams interviews got me to appreciate and love movie scores. Reading about Ben Burtt made me pay attention and collect SOUND EFFECTS albums.
These films taught me a pathology with which I look at film. Created an unquenchable thirst for movie knowledge, appreciation and history. STAR WARS was so cool, that everyone I ever knew as a kid agreed. We all loved STAR WARS. We had all seen it.
I wouldn’t know how to stop being fascinated with the goings ons of the Galaxy Far Far Away. Listening to George over the years. Hearing how his divorce affected him and the franchise. The long years of nothing new. The wasteland where my friends dreamed of the Prequels and the still legendary 3rd trilogy. We collect and share this information like kids used to with the great old Baseball teams. This shit has had me addicted to NASA forever.
Hearing that George was continuing to play with HIS films, I just can’t get pissed all over again. I did that 15 years ago. But I still was able to enjoy it. More than anything, I was fascinated by the demo of CG. It began to prepare me for what his visual aesthetic for the Prequels would go nuts on. BUT… I know STAR WARS. We old school STAR WARS fans have heard about changes in different prints of STAR WARS that played around the country. Slight deviations. Deleted scenes. Radio plays. Marvel Comic series drawn by Al Williamson – who was a friend of my parents… and then Dad handed me EC COMICS…
You see, STAR WARS just connects to it all.
The CHESS SET, reading it was done with Stop Motion animation, but just knowing it was supposed to be HOLOGRAPHIC displays… well, it’s made me always love Holograms and 3D imagery. It was a film that had a COMPUTER CONTROLLED CAMERA. This was the future.
So yeah, while the world has been bitching, I’ve been mostly ignoring it. When folks would bring it up, I would simply say… Of course George is changing it… he thinks he’s a cinematic painter – and everytime a painter would display an old painting, they sometimes tweaked it. This belief has made me think that George Lucas is like Salvador Dali for me. I love his original works most. As he got older & more eccentric, I appreciated his original classic designs, and was amused by his later cluttered work, incorporating old ideas with later life obsessions. Lucas is making all this stuff not for you or me, but for himself. So when he looked at putting this film on Blu Ray – it was after filming the Prequels and he decided to make Jedi have an Echo to the 3rd film of the Prequel… Because… he can. He owns his negatives. He controls His Movies absolutely. He’s pretty much the only guy out there that can do that. He convinced Spielberg he was right, until Spielberg realized that it wasn’t for him.
But honestly – I don’t want George to change. STAR WARS is the story of George Lucas. It is the great work of his life. My generation has been entertained by it for our entire conscious lives. Do I prefer the original cuts? Absolutely. Just like I prefer the original cut of BLADE RUNNER – with the narration. Is it absolute bullshit that we don’t get EVERY ITERATION of STAR WARS? Yes.
Is this BLU RAY the be all end all?
No. I want the original Test Print of Star Wars that had all the WWII footage in. I’d like to have every edit of Star Wars from now till Lucas dies. For me… STAR WARS is the great passion of my generation. Changing entertainment forever and singlehandedly defining WHY MOVIES ARE IMPORTANT for multiple generations. I don’t dedicate it to memory, I only own a Chewbacca costume, bought for last Halloween, it ruled! But for me, the question of buying the Trilogy or the Saga was taken away from me. No, I didn’t get sent them free. But at 5:30 am this morning, Yoko snuck out of bed, went to WalMart and bought the whole Saga for $80. And when I woke up this morning, sitting upon my computer was the Complete Saga… and a C3PO in his Ewok mobile throne. She loves the Ewoks. Nobody’s perfect. Giggle.
So, now I have the BLU RAYS… what do I do first? Well, on my Facebook wall a fella said the STAR WARS CHRISTMAS SPECIAL was featured on the Boba Fett Costume page of the Supplementals for the original trilogy. SO… 2nd Special Features disc… Chapter V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, Imperial Chase – Boba Fett Costume… There’s a Video… Click… Could Lucas really put the whole STAR WARS CHRISTMAS SPECIAL out where we can watch it? No, of course not. But he does put the whole CARTOON from the Xmas Special – which made me first think of Boba Fett, a toy I had sent off proof of purchases for… he had a real firing rocket… ahem… You see, Lucas has trained me to be disappointed. FROM THE BEGINNING. How is this new? It’d be like if all my relatives acted rationally on Christmas… it just wouldn’t be Christmas. At this point, STAR WARS is that thing I love to occasionally gripe about, but that I love.
At the premiere of the COMIC CON doc up in Toronto, I found myself in a Green Room surrounded by Storm Troopers, Vader, Jedi Luke and Orig Leia. And I was totally at peace with an event that I had every right to be nervous at. The Force was with me. If that makes me sound like Rick Perry talking about God giving him Supernatural Rain signs… Whatever, it keeps me going through the motions. Keeps me happy. And that’s something we can never begrudge another… their happiness.
SO – after checking out the cartoon, I backed all the way out to the main screen and started diving into the Deleted Scenes.
Just, smile so big the tears roll. Now sure… George could have spent money to fix up the negatives… maybe get John Williams to score the Tosche Station scenes… but ya know. I’ll take it in the rough. And my god I love it. The extra Star Wars chicks? Han smooching on some Cantina Hussy. That whole extended Cantina scene is in high contrast black and white, making it kind of look like Kubrick’s THE KILLING… but, ya know… with aliens from a 1000 worlds and what not. While I was going through this, a fella on Twitter said, “Just wait for the Wampa Attacks!” And my eyes rolled over into the back of my head and the taste of Quint’s blood was in my mouth as he softly itched my nose with his toothpick.
Just… This shit. This is my DEAD SEA SCROLLS. Lost chapters of the Bible. Things only ever half seen, lost in the memory of time. This is my MISSING SPIDER SCENES from KING KONG. Except here they really are. He didn’t have to go shoot them again. Watching Phil Tippet in a RANCOR MONSTER costume… ya know, MAN IN SUIT style… HOLY SHIT man! I never thought I’d actually see that shit. I mean. I just saw that shit.
So… “NOOOOOOO!” – yeah, fucking Lucas man... It’s hard out here for a Geek.
But really. It’s an eye roll. One of many. I mean. When we just had STAR WARS… we still made fun of Luke’s Power Converters. My Dad has always dislike 3PO – and he’s fucking crazy. Crazy is a part of STAR WARS. I mean – seriously… we get crazy about this shit. We go nuts obsessive compulsive.
You may be ready for that relationship to end. You may be rushing to grow up. But the Force is strong with me. So strong, that I can endure the Emperor’s taxes that he heaps upon me. For one day, these films will be available in dozens of iterations that we can all individually pay for and stream. So we can fully understand just how fucking indecisive and incomplete George has felt these films to be. George is not the only filmmaker to change his films. The only time it has ever been done that I feel has been done completely successfully, was with ALIENS, ABYSS & TOUCH OF EVIL. But so long as we remember how it is suppose to be, we share that with each other. We tell new friends. We keep the memory alive. That’s good.
The physical transfers are gorgeous. EMPIRE is breathtaking. It’s the special edition, but I’m really fond of the EMPIRE SE. The changes are less blasphemous, not that anything was needed in EMPIRE… but personally it is by far my favorite of the SPECIAL EDITIONS. I really hate the added effects to the Death Star explosion which was just a magical, simple shot originally, and now has an outdated shockwave effect that isn’t even right or aesthetically pleasing today.
I think what it really comes down to is this. The vast majority of these films are exactly the films I fell in love with. The additions remind me that this is not yet MY STAR WARS, but GEORGE’s. Mine will come in time. Just as I long for the Moroder METROPOLIS, because that’s the version I first fell in love with.
Watching the Blus of the original trilogy, you notice things… mainly with Leia… How damn good she looks. STAR WARS – trash compactor scene… it’s almost distracting how clingy her outfit is, and it looks amazing. The aging of all the props and locations… the detail is just amazing. I’ve just begun going through this stuff today, but already 11 hours have gone by, with complete good times. The deleted scenes alone made me look at the scene in wonder. When I showed my friend Flesh Gordon the SAND STORM in Jedi… a legendary scene I’ve wanted to see since I first read the script years ago. Like… when I was 16. That’s 23 years. CHECK!
Ultimately the decision is yours. The only way to get the awesome Extras is to get the whole SAGA – and yeah, that’s a bit of a jackass move… But I’m really curious to see that better animated Yoda in Phantom Menace… and curious to revisit that trilogy. It’s been a while.
Hell, I’d have paid $80 at a convention just to briefly watch the Jedi SANDSTORM sequence. This isn’t all that I want, but honestly… I’m fine with bitching for years about just wanting pristine original versions of all the films. Of rough cuts, of every edition at every stage of production. Cuz I would watch that shit. I’d watch Animatic versions of the triogy.
If you’ve been following me on twitter, you’ve probably been getting a lion share of tweets throughout the Original Trilogy screening. And then, I can’t wait to go through with the commentaries. There’s a whole lot to watch left, and I get the feeling I’ll never see all there is to see. I just hope I will. And most of all, I love that I get to talk with fellow fans about it. Discuss the rights of ART versus the ARTIST. To discuss memories of enjoying the series, the toys, the games, a bedroom set, a waffle iron, a Disney ride, John Williams, B movies, Serials, Pulp story telling, Joseph Conrad, Akira Kurosawa, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, that day in 2nd grade with Josh Burnham stood up when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, and he stated loudly and proudly, “I want to be Darth Vader and cut your big tits with a lightsaber” and how Josh ran – and 5 boys including myself ran after him. I went to head him off and caught him. It was an awesome young memory. Saving pennies for Action Figures at Safeway and the exasperated clerks that gave me coin rolls and begged me not to bring in a sack of pennies.
Ya know, just there… All those memories of STAR WARS. The times I’ve been to Skywalker Ranch. The parties at Convergence with Chewie and just watching that man walk is like the best thing ever. Buying Lego sets for my Nephew. How Mark Hamill is like one of my favorite people that I’ve never met ever. Meeting John Williams while watching NAKED UNDER LEATHER. I’ve talked STAR WARS with fans on every continent save Africa and that really cold melting one.
I’m a fan of a lot of things. There’s very few I love like I love STAR WARS. But I have to say… Blinking Wicket is some eerie shit! Nightmares! In kind of a good creepy way.
That’s all I’ve got for now. If anything leaps out at me in the prequels I’ll update below. But I’m really enjoying this!