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Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Frivolity: The Really George? Really? Edition...

So today George Lucas is celebrating the re-release of the beloved Star Wars franchise, in 3D, starting with...

Wait, this can’t be right...  Really?  The Phantom Menace?  He thinks that is the movie to start off with?  Not, say, Star Wars, which now we are all required to call Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope?

Um, okay.  And if that is not enough to annoy the crap out of the fanboys, well, he now is trying to deny history.  I mean this may be a generational thing, but remember when you were watching the original Star Wars and Greedo had the gun pointed at Han Solo and Solo keeps him distracted until he could pull out his gun and shoots the guy right then and there.

Well, sorry, you were wrong.  Greedo always shot first.  So says Lucas (via Hot Air):

THR: People can get fanatical about the movies — how does that make you feel? The puppet vs. CGI Yoda ruckus, and the who-shot-first, Han Solo or Greedo furor come to mind.

Lucas: Well, it’s not a religious event. I hate to tell people that. It’s a movie, just a movie. The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo [who seemed to be the one who shot first in the original] to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down.

It’s the same thing with Yoda. We tried to do Yoda in CGI in Episode I, but we just couldn’t get it done in time. We couldn’t get the technology to work, so we had to use the puppet, but the puppet really wasn’t as good as the CGI. So when we did the reissue, we had to put the CGI back in, which was what it was meant to be.

If you look at Blade Runner, it’s been cut sixteen ways from Sunday and there are all kinds of different versions of it. Star Wars, there’s basically one version — it just keeps getting improved a little bit as we move forward. … All art is technology and it improves every year. Whether it’s on the stage or in music or in painting, there are technological answers that happen, and because movies are so technological, the advances become more obvious.

Now, look I don’t get all worked up about the changes in the 1997 version.  It’s annoying, but I guess I can happily ignore the whole thing, but this is just insulting to our intelligence.  Yes, Han did shoot first, and we were not confused on this point, George.  Watch for yourself:

You changed it in the re-release, George.  Just admit that.  You didn’t like how things would look to kids, so you changed it.  Don’t insult our intelligence by saying it was this way all along.  Because it is the B.S. involved that annoys me this morning, not the change itself.

But I think the deeper problem here is simply this.  Lucas just has no idea how important this stuff is to the series fans.  I guess it is hard for the creator to understand that sort of thing, but there it is.  And for many fans, revising Star Wars is like revising the Bible or something.  Adding to it, is like adding to the Bible.  It can be done, but it takes a lot more finesse than Lucas has shown lately.

Myself, while I do think the Greedo shot first sequence is inferior to the original, I don’t get bent out of shape about it.  And yes, there is simply no way the prequels could have lived up to the expectations built up after 20+ years of loving the hell out of the originals so I am a little more forgiving.  They are still vastly inferior movies, but there are some ways in which the prequels do actually improve things with the originals.

Let me give you a concrete example.  Many people complain that in Return of the Jedi, Luke had become much less likeable.  Well, now when you watch the prequels, you realize that Lucas was trying to make him a little unlikeable.  The point was that Luke was getting arrogant.  The whole Jabbba’s palace sequence was Luke being arrogant about his power, because he really was falling into the dark side.  And another thing that comes out in the Prequels is how subtle the Emperor’s plans were in the prequels v. how clumsy they were in the original, suggesting that the Emperor had become arrogant himself.  The prequels made that clear to me.

But at the same time, I think IGN is offering a very feeble defense of the Phantom Menace, here.

I think the biggest problem with the prequels is this.  They did too much telling and not enough showing.  That is something they drill into fiction writers: show, don’t tell.  So you are told that Obi-wan Kenobi and Anakin are good friends in Attack of the Clones, but you really can’t tell because they spend most of the movie bickering.  It isn’t until Revenge that you get a scene where they actually show some warmth and friendship.  And they keep telling you that the Senate is corrupt and the republic is dysfunctional, but you never actually see it.  And it certainly doesn’t help that the droid troops are some of the least-inspiring enemies ever.  The Storm Troopers could never shoot straight, but at least they looked and sounded reasonably dangerous.

Meanwhile, Allah at Hot Air shows, I think, waaaaaay too much faith in Spielberg:

The difference between Lucas and Spielberg is how Lucas re-edited the Greedo scene and how Spielbergdidn’t re-edit the scene of Indiana Jones shooting the swordsman in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Spielberg fully understands why the latter is so cool. He wouldn’t change it if you chained him to the editing machine, I’d bet.

Well, except there is the gun => walkie talkie thing in the re-release of E.T.  I think what Spielberg understood in 1982 and briefly forgot in 2002, was that a good fairy tale needs a little darkness.  But in Allah’s defense, Spielberg is penitent:

For myself, I tried [changing a film] once and lived to regret it. Not because of fan outrage, but because I was disappointed in myself. I got overly sensitive to [some of the reaction] to E.T., and I thought if technology evolved, [I might go in and change some things]…it was OK for a while, but I realized what I had done was I had robbed people who loved E.T. of their memories of E.T. [...] If I put just one cut of E.T. on Blu-ray and it was the 1982, would anyone object to that? [The crowd yells "NO!" in unison.] OK, so be it.

See here.  He said similar things, here.


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1 comment:

  1. I guess it all depends on what your definition of shoot I can tell, Han's shot wasn't first, it was the only shot.
    what I don't get is the poor business sense, why not make a little extra scratch by releasing the original version as well?