Elen sila lumenn omentielvo!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Trust your feelings!

I've been enjoying AICN's "Behind the Scenes Picture of the Day" series, and for obvious reasons, I really dug this one:

I also see that the official release date for the Star Wars films on Blu-ray has been announced. I won't be acquiring these right off the bat, unless the current DVD player at Casa Jaquandor goes belly-up between this day and that. I'm not upgrading to Blu-ray until I absolutely have to; I still don't see any compelling need whatsoever for this new format other than Sony saying, "Holy crap, we need one last physical format to soak everybody with before everything is all-digital-download!"

And I'm amused, of course, by the huge chorus of people shouting "I'm not giving George Lucas any more of my money!", as if he's the one and only filmmaker releasing films successively in one format and then the next and then the next.


Jason said...

I personally won't be giving George any more money for video releases until he applies all his high-minded talk about film preservation to his own work and gives us a decent-quality transfer (if not a full-out restoration) of the more historically significant pre-1997 editions of the original trilogy. But then I'm a purist.

And no, I don't count the versions that were released as "bonus features" a few years ago, as they were simply ports from an old laserdisc transfer, with no restoration or anamorphic encoding (i.e., they don't look so great on an HDTV).

Jaquandor said...

I dunno. I sort of understand that viewpoint, but then, I don't personally care if I ever see the originals again. I fell in love with the story more than the exact sequence of a certain set of visuals, and even so, in the SEs, 99 percent of the visuals that did play a part in my love for the films are still there.

Doug said...

I'd call George Lucas someone with a good eye for making money. Why get off the gravy train before you have to?

As for Blu-ray, I feel the digital download model will overtake it much faster than I previously thought. We got a Blu-ray player not all that long ago and we mostly use it for it's Netflix function.

Jason said...

I have a couple friends who feel the same way you do, and I'm sure the vast majority of "civilians" (i.e., non-fanboy people who just happen to enjoy SW) probably don't even realize how much (or exactly what) has been changed, or would care if they did know.

I'll grant that the story remains essentially unaltered (I say "essentially" because, IMO, Han Solo's character arc is drastically affected by the "shooting first" thing), but for me there's a principle involved -- don't fix what ain't broken, you know? Lucas himself testified before Congress in 1988 about the importance of leaving movies the way they were originally presented for the sake of our shared cultural history; I just don't understand why he elevates his own work above that principle.

Honestly, though, I wouldn't care about the edits and additions if only the originals were available in a sanctioned, current-standard presentation. Fans and collectors can get five separate versions of Blade Runner; three versions of Close Encounters; two of ET; and so on. And none of those other movies are as significant or beloved as the original trilogy.

I'll defend Lucas on a lot of issues, but I think he's flat-out wrong in his position on this one.

Jaquandor said...

Well, we'll probably disagree forever on this...but I do find the idea that Han's character arc is "drastically affected" by the Greedo scene to be a pretty large overreaction. At best, it neuters one of the original film's best laughs, but Han's shooting first really doesn't reveal nearly as much about Han as many people seem to think it does -- in fact, what his shooting first reveals is later revealed anyway in a lot of moments.

I'm not certain about the particulars of Lucas's testimony before Congress, but given the timeframe, I assume he was testifying about third-party colorization of movies. To me, the key phrase here is one you used yourself: "his own work". I don't see any great inconsistency here, especially since we're talking a matter of degree. If Lucas was testifying about colorization, that's a far greater alteration of an original film than is replacing/changing a total of a few minutes of runtime.

Jason said...

You're correct, George was speaking of colorizing old movies in that testimony, and he would no doubt argue that there's a big difference between an evil corporate studio altering movies decades after its creators are in the ground -- which was the problem back in '88 -- and an individual artist such as himself tinkering with his own work. I disagree with that line of thinking, though; I think you either believe in a shared cultural heritage or you don't, and George has amply demonstrated (in my opinion) that he has a double-standard when it comes to the movies he grew up with versus the ones our generation did. Personally, I see no difference in principle between colorization and adding CG creatures to the background of Mos Eisley. It doesn't matter to me who is making the changes. They're still changing something that ought not be changed.

But all of this cultural heritage stuff is academic, really. It wouldn't matter to me one bit if George brought out a new edition every year from now until all of Gen X had rejoined the Force, as long as the original editions were still available in a sanctioned and up-to-current-standards form. My real frustration is that he wants to bury the "earlier drafts" when there really isn't any reason to do so. Spielberg and Coppola have also created multiple versions of their signature works, but they've never gone so far as to suppress the originals or to try and convince fans of the originals to, essentially, "get a life." Instead, they've respected the legacy of their earlier work enough to be democratic about it and let us choose which versions we add to our personal libraries. That's all I ask of GL, too.