BLOG George Lucas: The Neverending Tinkerer

SFX blogger and massive Star Wars fan finds himself curiously nonplussed about the Blu-ray alterations Steven Ellis tries to

You may have heard – the Star Wars saga is coming to Blu-ray. As you’d expect, with the way George Lucas has used similar “new-format” releases of the Saga in the past to “update” his creations, reaction to the news has been varied, and near unavoidable on the internet. I wasn’t going to get involved, I really wasn’t, but the whole thing kept swirling round in my head as I read what other people had to say about the subject. This huge melting pot of opinion and criticism and rumour – I felt that whatever I said on the subject would be like kicking a hornet’s nest and I had no clue where to start. I didn’t really know what my opinion was – this is my third attempt to write about it; a very strange feeling for someone who has been so very vocal and clear about his opinion of the prequel films.

There seem to be so many camps, with so many different stances and opinions and most seem to have some degree of validity, or at least the passion to make their point heard. I found myself agreeing with some people’s points, disagreeing with others. The fans who love Star Wars no matter what. The tech lovers who are just happy to see any version of Star Wars on Blu-ray because they want the high definition widescreen and the 6.1 DTS surround sound. Then there are the tired fans who just don’t want to see any more alterations to the films they loved before the CGI was added. People who think Lucas and the fans are all as mad as each other. Now, they might have a point… Of course there are the haters who need very little encouragement to have a go at all things Lucas; this I don’t understand. If you hate the very idea of these Blu-rays but you’re going to buy them anyway and blame Lucas for it, then seriously what are you thinking? Just keep your money.

I realised that the reason I couldn’t put my thoughts into words was that I just didn’t care anymore. I have no interest in the Blu-ray releases. I have no intention of buying them, so my opinions on the subject just aren’t that strong because it doesn’t really affect me.

The problem is that George Lucas is a tinkerer. He’s constantly revising and updating his films and we’re all moaning about them but then buying them anyway. It’s a perennial debate; round and round we go on the Star Wars merry-go-round.

So Mr Lucas has yet again tinkered with the films before this Blu-Ray edition is released. Is anyone really surprised? Did you really expect he wouldn’t? George Lucas has made it clear that he prefers the 1997 Special Editions or later DVD versions and is loath to release the unaltered originals. It’s not like he doesn’t have form on this. He seems only to look forward to what he can change, what new piece of technology he can incorporate into the films; but he never seems happy with the results and just has to tinker again and again. He doesn’t seem to know when or how to stop. After these versions we have the 3D cinema releases to look forward to and God knows what else after that. I honestly think that even if people stopped buying the films he’d still go on tinkering away with them up at his ranch.

Some fans complain about this constant tinkering. They don’t care about blinking Ewoks or bigger doors on Jabba’s palace. They want the films as they were, just cleaned up for modern home entertainment systems. I was one of these fans and I think I’ve reached the point were I realise we’re probably never going to get them, so I’m settling for what I’ve got. I’m not going to buy something I don’t want.

I’m still a huge Star Wars fan. It’s the main reason I’m a sci-fi geek and that’s a huge part of my life. Ask any of my friends who the biggest Star Wars fan they know is and they’ll probably think of me. This isn’t me pulling a Tim Bisley and burning everything in a big bonfire in the back garden. And I’m not going to rant on about the “rape of my childhood”; my childhood is safe. I can close my eyes and see my Star Wars -filled childhood just fine. No added CGI or “Noooooooooo!”-ing is going to take away those mornings in front of my parent’s old telly watching the videos, my happiness on Christmas Day when I got a Millennium Falcon or the endless summers playing with my Star Wars figures in the garden. George Lucas has done nothing to alter any of my childhood memories and anyone who says he has is full of crap. I have plenty of issues with the prequel films. I think all three are bad (just look at my rants) and I have plenty of issues with the Expanded Universe, but none of my complaints about either of these things alter my memories. None of the prequel films or Special Editions or Blu-ray changes retroactively makes the originals films bad. I love them just the same as always.

This is just me saying I’m done buying the films. I have two sets of Star Wars films I’m happy with. The DVD Special Edition versions have been around long enough that I can watch them without complaining too much and if not them then I have the 2006 DVD bonus material unaltered versions, they might not be the most perfect transfers of the films ever, but they’re the original cinema versions and those are the ones I like. And they’re a damn sight better than the old VHS tapes I used to own and I watched those for twenty odd years without complaining, so did everybody else. They’ll do for me.

I’m just not interested in more tinkering thank you George, and I’m not bothered about waiting for a perfect set of films that will probably never come. You haven’t lost a fan but you ain’t getting any more of my money.