On Tuesday of next week, the 21st of September 2004, you will be releasing the boxed set of the “Original” Star Wars trilogy. While I wish you the best of luck, and do truly hope you have millions of sales, I wish to inform you that I will in all likelihood not be purchasing this set. Additionally, I will be encouraging everyone I know to refrain from purchasing the set, as well.
I just read your interview with AP, and was completely floored by these statements you made:
AP: Why not release both the originals and special editions on DVD?
Lucas: The special edition, that’s the one I wanted out there. The other movie, it’s on VHS, if anybody wants it. … I’m not going to spend the, we’re talking millions of dollars here, the money and the time to refurbish that, because to me, it doesn’t really exist anymore. It’s like this is the movie I wanted it to be, and I’m sorry you saw half a completed film and fell in love with it. But I want it to be the way I want it to be. I’m the one who has to take responsibility for it. I’m the one who has to have everybody throw rocks at me all the time, so at least if they’re going to throw rocks at me, they’re going to throw rocks at me for something I love rather than something I think is not very good, or at least something I think is not finished.
AP: Do you pay much attention to fan reactions to your choices?
Lucas: Not really. The movies are what the movies are. … The thing about science-fiction fans and “Star Wars” fans is they’re very independent-thinking people. They all think outside the box, but they all have very strong ideas about what should happen, and they think it should be their way. Which is fine, except I’m making the movies, so I should have it my way.
You, of course, are entitled to your opinion. And so am I. My opinion can be summed up thusly: I am one of those unfortunates who fell in love with the original movies, and that is what I want to buy.
Did you hear that, Mr. Lucas? I have money in my hand, ready to give to you. All I want in return is a DVD edition of the theatrical release of the original trilogy. I already have the special edition. On VHS, no less, since you seem to think this is still an acceptable format these days. When I get my DVDs that I want, you get your money. No DVD, no money.
I know you have a cleaned-up print of the theatrical release available, because one of your special edition documentaries went on at great length about how happy you were to find the print in a vault, and how much time and effort (and money) you spent cleaning it up so you could use it to create the special edition. So your argument about refurbishing it prior to release goes out the window.
I do not hold anything against you for releasing the special editions. For the most part, without getting into the tired “Han shoots first” argument, the changes you made were good or, at worst, not detrimental to the movie. After all, I went to see them in the theatre and bought the VHS set. But now, I want the originals. There is no other movie or series of movies out there that I know of where you can only buy the “Director’s Cut” or “Special Edition” versions. Many of them include both the original and remake versions in the same box.
But that’s not good enough for you, evidently. Because you want your new version of the movie to be the only one. Well, I want my version of the movie, and I don’t want it to be the only one. Frankly, I think you’re scared that if you released the theatrical releases on DVD that they would outsell the special editions, and you’d learn what most people really think of the special edition.
In closing, I leave you with two thoughts:
1) I will shortly be enjoying the DVD version of the LaserDisc theatrical release of Star Wars that someone thoughtfully posted on BitTorrent. Please keep in mind that this means that I have what I want, while you have gained nothing out of it.
2) In the foreword to a re-release of “Brave New World” Aldous Huxley wrote:
Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.
Art also has its morality, and many of the rules of this morality are the same as, or at least analogous to, the rules of ordinary ethics. Remorse, for example, is as undesirable in relation to our bad art as it is in relation to our bad behavior. The badness should be hunted out, acknowledged and, if possible, avoided in the future. To pore over the literary shortcomings of twenty years ago, to attempt to patch a faulty work into the perfection it missed at its first execution, to spend one’s middle age in trying to mend the artistic sins committed and bequeathed by that different person who was oneself in youth—all this is surely vain and futile. And that is why this new Brave New World is the same as the old one. Its defects as a work of art are considerable; but in order to correct them I should have to rewrite the book—and in the process of rewriting, as an older, other person, I should probably get rid not only of some of the faults of the story, but also of such merits as it originally possessed. And so, resisting the temptation to wallow in artistic remorse, I prefer to leave both well and ill alone and to think about something else.
Leave it alone, George.