If anyone has spent any time with some of Star Wars fan community you’ll know two things, the diverse hatred and debate of the prequels and the anger towards the “Special Editions” of the original “Star Wars” trilogy. For those of you that don’t know the “Special Editions” of the “Star Wars” trilogy were first released into theatres in 1997 (two years before the release of the first prequel “The Phantom Menace”). This wasn’t just a matter of releasing the original trilogy back into theatres, George Lucas went back to the original films and redid a lot of the effects shots and added new footage to certain sections of the movies. This was met with great enthusiasm and left with mixed reactions. Many filmmakers will go back and re-cut a film later after the original release (god knows how many versions of “Blade Runner” there are). Yet why is the hatred for “The Special Editions” so extreme amongst fans?
I wouldn’t say it’s just the redux of the effects work it’s some of the unnecessary changes. Of course there is the infamous Greedo shooting first scene, and Jabba the Huts scenes in “A New Hope”. That is part of the hatred of these editions. I myself find the Greedo scene more perplexing than feeling actual anger towards it, because it’s just such a bizarre change (any of you reader s that don’t know what I am referring to all you need to do is a quick Google search and you’ll get the full picture). Some of the changes of the Special Editions I actually like. The extra Wampa shots in “Empire Strikes Back”, some of the updated visual effects still look very good. So where is the hatred actually coming from? I don’t believe it’s just the changes (although that’s part of it), it’s actually a very simple explanation. These are the only versions available.
Before the release of the Special Editions the original cuts of the film were available to purchase and own on VHS (I still have my own copy from that era). Yet after the special editions were released into theatres and then on home video (which I also still have a copy of) it became increasingly clear that Lucas was about to change some things. Lucas claimed that this was he was his artistic vision and the only version of Star Wars that he wanted people to see. Then came the DVD release and the original versions were nowhere to be found.
This is where the uproar really started that Lucas won’t make available the original cuts of the film updated and re-mastered. I myself find this to be the most troubling. I actually don’t have an issue with the Special Editions, it’s more-so not being able to be given the choice to have the originals available. Lucas is well within his rights to make the edits to the film but it does feel a bit hypocritical especially when he fought Ted Turner against the colorization of black and white films. Then again what are the original editions anyways? Lucas was making changes to the sound system of the original film upon the first couple days of its release. It’s hard to tell which versions we want to have.
The originals were made available on a bonus disk of another DVD set (not re-mastered and updated sound quality) but now are hard to get for a fair price. The Blu-Ray sets have even more changes made to them. So, now we’re even passed the original “special editions”. The “Return of the Jedi” Blu-ray made a significant change to the ending of the film (one that bothers me more than anything) and even some changes made to “The Phantom Menace”. Now with the Digital HD collection release, it is once again the special editions that are there for purchase (which also is more expensive than physical Blu-Ray copies, which makes sense?) You can purchase both versions of “Lord of the Rings”, all versions of “Blade Runner” and “E.T.” why not “Star Wars”? It’s not that I hate the special editions, I just believe both should be available in some form. That’s where I believe the hatred stems from, not being able to view the originals. This yet another article complaining about not having the original editions but with the new Digital collection released it brought this much fought topic of debate back o he forefront yet again. Quite honestly it’s free money for Disney if they ever work out a deal to release them. The hype that would surround that release would spread fast and wild through the internet.