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Since the first Star Wars film was re-released on VHS in 1981, director George Lucas has changed at least one element of every film with each new release, often causing a stir among the most loyal fans of the franchise. With the release of the 9-disc special edition Blu-Ray of episodes I-VI on September 16, Lucas has upset fans once again by making a number of changes to episodes IV, V, and VI.
Some of the most controversial changes are the addition of the word “NO!” two times to Darth Vader’s dialogue when he throws the Emperor over the edge in Return of the Jedi, the Ewoks’ eyes now blink, and Obi-Wan’s fake “Kryat Dragon” roar has been changed.
Not since Lucas decided to make Greedo shoot Han first in the Cantina in episode IV for the 1997 Special Edition have fans been so upset about the changes made to one of film history’s most popular series. Twitter has exploded with commentary on the subject, and there are even a number of Facebook pages dedicated to voicing their dissatisfaction with a number of Lucas’ decisions.
One of the most upsetting aspects of the changes is the fact that the original versions won’t be available on Blu-Ray. In 2006, after years of strong protest concerning the 1997 revisions, the original trilogy was released on DVD, but the quality of the picture was not improved.
Lucas has made it clear that he does not want the originals to be preserved. In a 1997 interview with American Cinematographer he stated that “[a] hundred years from now, the only version of the movie that anyone will remember will be the [Special Edition] version.” This view has left fans looking to purchase old copies of the original VHS tapes as a part of their protest against this mentality.
Despite the strong dissatisfaction with many of the content changes, there are still a number of additions and revisions that have been mostly accepted by fans. Notably, the decision to change the puppet version of Yoda in episode I into a CGI version that more closely resembles the original trilogy has met general approval, both for continuity and visual appeal.
George Lucas has been on a quest to make his films better than they were originally, and to include aspects of the film to help make his newer Star Wars films match more closely with the original trilogy. The problem with this mentality is the huge number of fans that liked things the way they were, even with all of the flaws and mistakes.
Who knows, perhaps t-shirts protesting Darth Vader’s comical “no!” will become just as popular in a few years as “Han shot first” t-shirts are today. But unless Lucas makes a sudden change of heart, or loses the creative rights to his films, fans will have to accept whatever creative decisions George Lucas makes.
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