The Star Wars trilogy has to be the most contested set of films ever made. On one side, you have the stoic creator that has tinkered with them since their initial release. On the other, you have fans that would like to see them as they were when their lives were changed. This leads into a conversation, in which, both sides are completely right. Disney needs to re-release the original Star Wars movies. Both sides have dominion over these movies. Not just these movies, but any movie that is released.
CBR posted a comment from director Peyton Reed, who is currently directing Ant-Man and the Wasp. He, like many people, reached out on Twitter and asked Disney to re-release the original, un-Lucasfied versions of the original trilogy.
Please release a Blu-ray of the original, unmessed-with version of STAR WARS I loved when I was 13.
— Peyton Reed (@MrPeytonReed) September 22, 2017
His tweet is not without its supporters. I would consider myself a supporter of that tweet. So much so that I have a special edition tin set that has the original, unaltered (yet un-modified for widescreen television) versions of the films. The films were presented in their original theatrical version and in letterbox.
Does this give me solace to know that I, at least, have these unaltered copies? Yes, absolutely. Does it bother me that no one else can get them? Not really, but that is the kind of society we live in now, right? As long as we have them, screw everyone else in the world. We have evolved so much as a society, haven’t we? I am running off on a tangent here, so let me get back on point.
As I said, there is validity to both sides of the argument and here is why:
The Creator’s Side
A filmmaker is entitled to their vision. It has been widely reported that when the original films were released, George Lucas was not satisfied with them. Much of the animated graphics were not completed due to time, money constraints or just haven’t been invented yet. When the technology was available, Lucas was able to go in and change it to his liking.
There is nothing wrong with that. A filmmaker has a vision. Regardless of how complete it is, they should be able to release a version of the film that meets their goals. We have so many director’s cuts of movies nowadays, that many times studios go triple and quadruple dipping in DVD releases. We have four versions of Blade Runner and now three versions of Superman: The Movie.
Even after a movie is released in theaters, studios release a theatrical cut and a random director’s cut of the movie. Many times, we see a director’s cut of a movie if the critical reception of it is poor. This gives the illusion that the movie was better but was shorten for some reason.
Directors have always felt that the final release of the film is their decision alone. That is correct. They would be the final authority to decide how their vision is presented. If they wish to continue tinkering with a project that is so ingrained in pop culture, they should. Regardless of the outcry, they have every right to release a final version as they see fit.
The Fan’s Side
Fans have a choice on how they wish to spend their money. If they decide to spend it to see your movie, they have that right. However, if they love that movie and it changes the course of pop culture, they have every right to purchase the movie they enjoyed. While directors have their creative license, fans have the option to purchase it or not. With format changes from VHS to DVDs to Blu-rays and now to 4K, fans are ever forced to re-purchase movies that they love. Shouldn’t they have access to purchase the films they love?
As a fan, when a director returns to a film to make “their” cut, the tone, subtext or pacing of the film is changed. You can see that in movies like Empire Records, Alien and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Particularly in Star Wars, the modified special effects take you right out of the original films. The super clean computer graphics are noticeably different from the original film that is loses you. Adding the Jabba and Han Solo scene is ridiculous. Han stepping over Jabba’s tail looks ridiculously amateurish but Han shooting first is a no-go.
In The Empire Strikes Back, you have changes to the escape from Bespin to show Vader in multiple shots returning to the Star Destroyer. Even recycling his arrival from Return of the Jedi. We didn’t need to see him recall for his shuttle. Board his shuttle. Arrive on the Star Destroyer. All of this intercut with the Falcon racing away. For what purpose?
Let there be both. While many movies released today do supply both copies of their films, there is a growing number of directors that are forcing studios to only have one. Their complete vision. The pretentiousness is there for directors to say, “I approve this version” but it is a middle finger to the fans.
Directors need to understand that while they may have a vision, it was the version released that was successful. It is saying to fans that grew up watching those films, I know you love them but I don’t care. This is my movie and I can do it no matter what you say. We, as fans, have every right to not buy them. Directors, sometimes, need a reminder that fans can make or break them.
Disney has a chance to make things right. Yes, they may want Lucas’ blessing but they own it now. Think of all the millions they would make to release the original films, as we originally saw them. With the last Blu-ray edition, that was my final re-purchase of the set. I will not buy another one again. However, if they re-release the original versions…