When Star Wars IV was re-released in 1997, I went to the midnight showing at the Cheri Theater in Boston—by myself, and with a slight fever. My fondest memory is the fans who shouted and whooped at the first appearance of every major character on screen. When Harrison Ford slid into his seat at the Mos Eisley cantina and said, “Han Solo…,” the theater-goers went berserk. Han Solo is the man. Sure, the movie’s journey is all about Luke but Han was more fun.
So you can imagine my dismay when I saw Greedo shoot first at Han.
What? What’s up with that CGI head-bob?
Eventually I grew up, got married, and forgot my outrage…only to be reminded of it when I let my 9-year-old and 7-year-old sons watch Star Wars for the first time. To my horror, I found myself explaining, “Okay, boys, see that’s not how it happened when they first made the movie…”
Then we heard this fantastic song on XM Radio called “Why is Dad So Mad?” by the Board of Education. It’s all about a son lamenting his father’s outrage about all the changes made to Star Wars since the original trilogy’s advent. The son likes the prequels, the special editions, but his father is a purist and will have none of it.
I laughed aloud when they sang, “And I wonder why it is so bad/that Greedo shoots first at Han…”
The refrain sums it up: “Why Does Dad get so mad about Star wars? / Mr. Lucas, What did you do?”
Yes, indeed, Mr. Lucas, what hast thou wrought?
I read recently (well, it’s an old article) that Lucas is retiring from filmmaking because “he feels his ability to re-imagine the Star Wars films into what he originally wanted them to be is being restricted by the criticism he’s heard over the Star Wars films.”
“Why would I make any more when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?” Lucas says.
It got me comparing myself to Mr. Lucas–I mean, not that my work is on par with his by a long shot, but you know, as one writer/creator compared to another. Why shouldn’t he be allowed to change his creation? He obviously wasn’t satisfied with the original trilogy, however loved it was by fans. As a perfectionist of sorts, I can commiserate.
Why do we get so mad about Star Wars? Why do we foam at our collective mouths when a filmmaker revises his movies? They are his, after all, in fact and copyright.
Maybe it has to do with the fond memories we associate with the original three–memories of staring starry-eyed at the Millennium Falcon as it blasts into hyperspace, of our hearts sinking as the Empire routs the Rebels at Hoth, of our breaths catching in out throats as Luke duels mercilessly with his father before a cackling Emperor.
It is a strange thing, that a story would move us to such emotion that when the man who gave birth to that story decides to alter it, we come unhinged. And trust me, from some of the comments I’ve read out there, people do come unhinged.
So I’d like to hear your thoughts. Does George Lucas’s alleged tampering with his own work enrage/disappoint/vex you?
Bonus question: Pick your favorite Star Wars work outside the original trilogy, be it some aspect of the prequels, the animated series like “Clone Wars,” books or even video games.
As for me, I’d like to wholeheartedly embrace George Lucas’s revisions, but as the father in the song laments (thus channeling Darth Vader), “It’s too late for me, son…”