I am a Jedi, like my father before me.

The word came down Thursday morning. Lucasfilm has announced the impending release of the entire Star Wars saga on BluRay this September. I want to be excited about this, I really do. Alas, Lucas has shit on my cereal too many times for me to become enthusiastic about his franchise anymore. There are concerns I have about this release and the information dropped on the press yesterday morning at the CES is woefully lacking.

Is it just me, or does it feel almost blasphemous for them to try to sell the prequel trilogy using the music and dialogue of the original trilogy?

Basically all we know is that the complete saga is coming out on BluRay and that George Lucas is “personally overseeing” this process. To what extent is entirely unclear. Given George’s track record of how he treats the saga I’m not exactly pissing my pants in anticipation. What follows will be a discussion of my concerns about this release and also my inner child’s wishes for what Lucas would deliver to us if he truly gave a flying fuck about the people that made him a multi-billionaire.

My first concern is, of course, Integrity. George has none. At least, if he does he’s not shown us so in many decades. We all know that George is going to be releasing not the originals, but rather his “improved” Special Editions of the original trilogy. You know what? I’m fine with that. They’re his movies, if he wants to shit on them that’s his business. What I object to is his insistence upon rewriting history by not providing the public with access to the films in their unaltered state. And lets be clear, I do not consider “restoration” to be the same as alteration.

BluRay is an amazing technology with a massive amount of storage capacity. Such being the case there is absolutely no reason in the world why George shouldn’t offer us a collection that contain both his “improved” versions of the films AND the unaltered trilogy. The last release of the original trilogy on DVD included an insultingly half-assed accommodation to the fans: He gave us the unaltered versions on a separate disc, but used an old laserdisc print for them. No restoration, no anamorphic image, and resolution far below the accepted standard of quality for the DVD format. That is just an unacceptable way to treat the people responsible for your prosperity.

It’s a truly baffling attitude from a man who in the early 80s argued against colourization of black and white films because those movies were not filmed in colour and should be seen as they originally were. Yet he argues that it’s okay for him to change his films because the reason he didn’t film it that way in the first place was because the technology wasn’t there. I think that’s probably true of most black and white films too George.

What I want from a complete collection of the saga is fully restored high definition transfers of the original unaltered trilogy as well as the special editions. Lucasfilm has claimed that master prints of these films no longer exist, which is an out and out lie. The truth is George won’t allow it, so his PR department has to come up with a spin that doesn’t appear to translate to “George says to go fuck yourself”.

My next concern with this release is Quality. The last time Lucas released the original trilogy he turned the restoration over to a company called Lowry Digital. It stands as one of the most notorious examples of a completely botched restoration in recent memory. Instead of a team of restoration artists going through each film frame by frame, Lowry Digital used an algorithm to automate the process. The result was spectacularly bad. Laser blasts and engine glows were especially hard hit by the process. Most notable were the explosions however. The iconic explosion of the Death Star in A New Hope now comes complete with a strange white and blue halo effect, the result of the algorithm being unable to process the slightly lighter shades of black between the debris sparks.

Original Death Star Explosion:

(Explosion at 3:44)

Lowry Digital “Restored” Death Star Explosion:

I sincerely hope that the High Definition prints of the saga are treated with considerably more care and patience than the last release. Further I hope someone fixes the incredibly bad sound restoration on the original trilogy, especially A New Hope. That is a truly bizarre case as only the English sound mix is effected, all the foreign language mixes were left unfucked with. For some reason though, Ben Burtt went in and totally remixed the audio on the original trilogy, pumping up his sound effects and turning down or outright muting John Williams score, not to mention numerous moments where voices become hollow and tinny for no apparent reason, or lines of dialogue changed to alternate audio takes, also for no discernible reason.

When questioned about the issue, Lucasfilm released a statement saying that this new sound mix reflected the way the movie was meant to be heard and that these weren’t mistakes, errors or misjudgments at all. A claim which falls totally flat considering the changes were only made to the English language track. I guess anyone who doesn’t speak English isn’t important enough to hear the trilogy the way it was meant to be heard :p

What I want is a definitive set. I don’t want to be buying the 35th anniversary definitive collectors edition in 2012 which contains all the things that should have been in this release. I want them to do this right, and I’m not at all hopeful that they have. In fact, if their track record is any indication, I fully expect Lucas to totally screw the pooch on this release, just as he has in the past. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what we’re getting. I’m not holding my breath though.

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~ by Pagz on January 7, 2011.

2 Responses to “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”

  1. “I think that’s probably true of most black and white films too George.”
    You took the words right out of my mouth. Excellent analysis!

  2. “I cannot watch Clone Wars the series before Clone Wars the movie. I want George Lucas to disappoint me in the order he intended.”

    Sheldon Cooper, “The Big Bang Theory”

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