If you are living under a rock then you are probably unaware of the fact that this year marks the 40th anniversary of the release of Star Wars: A New Hope. The movie that created an unstoppable franchise and an endless universe. Perhaps the anniversary is why I am seeing a lot of talk about the “despecialized movies”. If you are unfamiliar with the “despecialized editions“, they are a version of the original trilogy before the Special Edition re-release in 1997. Obviously these were not created in an official capacity; it was Petr “Harmy” Harmáček, an English teacher in the Czech Republic that created them using a series of fan edits. He alleged that the altering of the movies for the Special Edition was “an act of cultural vandalism“. Whatever.
On Star Wars Day (May 4th) I celebrated in typical fashion by watching the original trilogy. I was asked on three occasions if I was watching the “despecialized” movies. My reply was simply “I own the Blu-ray editions”. Apparently that drew some sneers which was confusing. I own a big screen television with surround sound, of course I will watch the Blu-ray versions because that will provide the best viewing quality. It’s baffling that 20 years after the release of the Special Editions and people still whine about the changes to the films. The digital enhancements of the movies are necessary to accommodate the advancing technology.
The feeling of nostalgia is a product of the story, the music and the characters. As someone who embraces home theater technology, I want to watch the movies that also embraces that technology. I’m not so old-fashioned that I will seek out hacked together fan edits that some troglodyte English professor created. The color adjustments alone are pivotal (i.e. correcting magenta tones), especially if you are watching the movies on bigger screens. Darkening the tones of some scenes creates a more ominous scene thus adding to the drama.
I Don’t Support All the Changes
Most of the technical changes I fully support because I believe it adds cinematic value to the movies. However, I don’t fully support all of the changes; I’m just not butt-hurt by them. The one that everyone keeps going nuts about is the infamous “Han Shot First” controversy and I agree changing this scene is ridiculous. George Lucas’ reasons make sense but the man is labeled as a “scoundrel”. A scoundrel doesn’t politely wait for the other guy to shoot first. However, this little change does not ruin the special editions for me.
There are really only two other changes that slightly bother me and it’s actually on the DVD release of the movies, and they occur at the end of Return of the Jedi. I did not like that they removed the Ewok Celebration song and replaced it with the Victory Celebration track. I understand why it was done. The music wouldn’t match the victory montage but I still prefer the Ewok track. Second, why did they remove Sebastian Shaw as the Anakin Force Ghost and replace him with Hayden Christensen? I prefer the image of the man who found his way back to the light, as opposed to the man who lost his way.
Everything else is just too petty and minute for me to care let alone allocate approximately 25 gig of hard drive space to store them. I’ll stick to the ones that are professional edited and produced. I just don’t agree at the despecialized movies are special enough for me.
The Force. It calls to you. Just let it in.