September 09, 2004

For crying out loud, George . . .

Apparently Lucas has fiddled with the original Star Wars trilogy yet again, according to Sci Fi Wire:

[Attack of the Clones/Revenge of the Sith star Hayden] Christensen now appears at the end of Return of the Jedi in a scene where Luke sees the spirits of Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and his father, Anakin Skywalker. The role was originally played by Sebastian Shaw, who still appears as the human face behind the Darth Vader mask in another scene in the film.

Pointless tampering. Absolutely pointless. If Shaw remains on screen for Darth Vader's death scene, why bother replacing him with Christensen as the spirit of Anakin? It doesn't correct any plot holes or continuity errors, and it seems more likely to alienate fans of the original trilogy than impress them. (In fact, unless he intends to replace Sir Alec Guinness with Ewan McGregor as the spirit of Obi-wan Kenobi, it arguably causes continuity difficulties.) This is nothing but gratuitous revisionism just because Lucas can.

Other minor updates made to the 1997 special editions include the uncredited appearance of Ian McDiarmid as a holographic Emperor in The Empire Strikes Back (McDiarmid played the role of the Emperor in Return of the Jedi, as well as that of Senator Palpatine in the recent trilogy) . . .

Well, OK, this corrects a continuity error brought on by a change in casting between two movies. Still, you have to wonder how Clive Revill, who played the original Emperor, feels about being erased. (The same would go for Jeremy Bulloch, the original Boba Fett; according to IMDb, he is now to be voiced by Temuera Morrison, Jango Fett in Clones.)

. . . and a compromise to the infamous Star Wars cantina shooting, in which Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Greedo now shoot at each other at the same time, the paper said.

[Full Story]

Diehard fans just hated this change, intended to make Han Solo into a kinder, gentler criminal who shoots only in self-defense. So, for those keeping score, it's now Solo 1, Greedo 1, and 1 tie. (Want to go for the best of five, George?)

While I didn't mind most of the alterations made to the original trilogy, I tend to be of the camp that says film ought to be preserved "as is" so we can appreciate and study the filmmaker's original work - not pulled out and retooled every few years because the producer sees something he could have done better if only he'd had the ability twenty years earlier. To make matters worse, the original unadulterated Star Wars is no longer commercially available and probably never will be. When Stephen Spielberg retooled E.T. for its 20th anniversary, he had the wisdom to include the 1982 version in the DVD package. It's too bad George Lucas can't follow suit instead of revising film history.

(Thanks to white noise for seeing this before me.)