A week or so ago I wrote a piece on the set when I mentioned that there were potentially a few changes in their air to the six Star Wars movies, there was just a bit of apprehension as nothing had been announced. However, a few clips which are supposedly from the Chinese version of the saga have appeared on YouTube, and it's these that have driven everyone crazy. They are:
- Digital eyes added to close-ups of Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi
- Digital rocks added to the scene where Artoo hides from the sand people in Star Wars
- A digital extension to the already pretty big door to Jabba's Palace in Return of the Jedi
- The insertion of a Sebulba-type creature in Jabba's Palace in Return of the Jedi
- A new sound effect for Ben Kenobi scaring off the sand people in Star Wars
- The infamous 'Nooo!' added to the scene where Vader kills the Emperor in Return of the Jedi
I'm sure there are more, but these are what people have picked up on, and it's the last one that people are complaining most about. For the record, I'm more disturbed about the weird additions like the digital rocks and Selbulba than I am about dialogue changes. This is the third version of the Kenobi call, and while the original version is certainly iconic, I don't hate the new one. Same with the Vader scene, I actually think it works quite well based on the clip (and I'm not convinced it's the same 'Nooo!' from Revenge of the Sith either), although from the other side it's a bit irritating that John Williams' music in that scene now has that overlaid on top.
What's really annoying is that I'm having to write about this again. But seriously, some people have mentioned that this has almost become a kind of clinical obsession with Mr. Lucas, and I tend to agree on this evidence. I've defended him a few times throughout my career as a keyboard warrior, and even though I didn't like many of the changes, I defended his right to change the films. And I still will, it's his right, whether we like it or not. But it's no longer jiving with his "vision".
When the 1997 Special Editions came out, he said it was all about making sure the films matched up to his original vision that wasn't possible at the time due to the technology. I guess he also hated the Ewok song as well (he's certainly not alone in that) but some of the changes were justifiable to a degree. But this has gone way beyond this, now. Adding digital rocks and characters to scenes for the sake of it just seems real kind of OCD. I'd have no problem if he released this as "The Saga Edition" for his expanded vision together with the prequels or whatever, if he put the original theatrical editions alongside it. I think George does have a duty to the millions of fans out there that have been lining his pockets since 1977 and he should provide those movies in better condition than he has previously.
That said, I think a boycott is a bit of a waste of time. It's not that I don't think it has merit - taking away revenue is usually the best way to get someone's attention regarding your opinion - but with something like Star Wars, I'm not sure it has any real chance of success. And that's not to say 'Oh, the nerds will buy anything' because that's not a helpful attitude at all, although it's sadly one some people take. It's more that Star Wars is such a massive thing that, even with the difference between Blu-ray and DVD in terms of early adoption, there is probably still a massive audience out there who will buy these discs at Best Buy or HMV or Tesco or wherever and not care about the changes.
I'm not sure I'll be one of them, to be honest. As much as I'd love to check out not only the films in high-definition but also the deleted scenes, I'm at least going to wait until after people have them in their hands and can confirm every change and the proper state of these discs. Although I find it amusing and slightly ironic that so many people who hate Return of the Jedi are kicking off because of changes to Return of the Jedi. But, like before, we'll find out on September 12.
Unless Fox wants to send me a review copy, that is. You can watch the Vader clip here.