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George Lucas's latest changes to the Star Wars series may have fans crying that the Blu-Ray release is a trap.

The Yoda puppet is being replaced in all scenes, including the original series, with a CGI version. And Darth Vader now screams "NOOO!!!" when Emperor Palapatine is shocking Luke.  (Source: YouTube)

A recent South Park episode accused George Lucas of "raping" Indiana Jones and other classics.  (Source: South Park Studios/Comedy Central)

In 1988 George Lucas gave an impassioned speech that changing works for profit was barbarism. Today he says he only wants to keep 25 to 30 percent of the original theatrical content in the original Star Wars films.  (Source: The AV Club)
Yoda puppet replaced with CGI, Vader screams "Noo" in final scene, and more

People who alter or destroy works of art and our cultural heritage for profit or as an exercise of power are barbarians, and if the laws of the United States continue to condone this behavior, history will surely classify us as a barbaric society.

In the future it will become even easier for old negatives to become lost and be “replaced” by new altered negatives. This would be a great loss to our society. Our cultural history must not be allowed to be rewritten.

Attention should be paid to this question of our soul, and not simply to accounting procedures. Attention should be paid to the interest of those who are yet unborn, who should be able to see this generation as it saw itself, and the past generation as it saw itself.

-- George Lucas's 1988 speech to the U.S. Congress 
The year was 1988.  Only five years had passed since the release of Star Wars Episode IV: The Return of the Jedi, and the film's iconic director George Lucas was crafting another major hit -- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  In an impassioned speech Mr. Lucas urged Congress to commit to the Berne Convention for the issue of Moral Rights -- a European law that would force musicians and filmmakers to preserve works deemed classics, for the public's benefit.  Congress eventually did sign the Berne Treaty into law, but fortuitously it exempted the motion picture industry, complaining movie making was "too complex" for the provisions.

Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.

--Yoda Stars Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Fast-forward two decades and Mr. Lucas has fallen to the dark side -- transforming from preservationist to revisionist.  Since 1994 he hasn't published a single original movie, instead opting to create controversial sequels or prequels to his fans' favorite franchises.  The recent Indiana Jones sequel was so divisive South Park parodied [video] that Mr. Lucas and co-director Steven Spielberg were "raping" Indiana Jones.   

But as disturbing as those reimaginings are to some, a far worse fate has befallen the originals.

As video has evolved from VHS tapes to DVDs, Mr. Lucas has made a series of alterations (e.g. the famous "Greedo shoots first" change) that have outraged many fans.  But Mr. Lucas has saved his biggest revisions for the upcoming Blu-Ray nine-disc set, which will be released on Sept. 16.

Unlike the 2006 DVD release, original theatrical versions of the Star Wars series are not included.  There will be no theatrical cuts restored to beautiful Blu-Ray, says Mr. Lucas.  Instead fans get treated to a slew of new edits.

Among the biggest ones, reportedly:
  • The Yoda puppet is replaced in all scenes (including on Dagobah and Yoda's spirit on Endor) with the CGI Yoda scene in the latter two films of the prequel trilogy at least one of the prequel films, with some sources saying the replacement will be applied to the original trilogy as well (unconfirmed). [video]
  • Darth Vader is no longer silent when Emperor Palpatine is electrocuting Luke with force lightning. He gives what at first sounds like a quizzical "Noooo?" and then follows with a louder "NOOOOOO!!!" à la his response when he found out Padmé died in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (confirmed). [video]
  • Obi-Wan's Krayt Dragon howl, which scares off the sand people on Tatooine has been altered, which according to The Superficial "sounds like a pedophile getting his dick caught in a screen door" (unconfirmed). [video]
  • The Han Solo and Greedo shootout has been sped up (Greedo still shoots first, as with the previous edit) (unconfirmed). [video]
  • Wicket the Ewok's eyes are now CGI animated and blink with big "lucious" eyelashes (unconfirmed).
  • Han Solo now emits brilliant CGI lighting effects when he is unfrozen from his carbonite nap (unconfirmed).
  • Jabba the Hutt's palace has a fancy new rendered door (unconfirmed). [video]
  • Extra CGI TIE-Fighters and TIE-Interceptors appear out of nowhere (due to shoddy CGI) in the Death Star II battle (unconfirmed). [video]
  • Lightsaber colors have been fixed to correspond with the original theatrical versions (about the only change that reverts previous ones) (unconfirmed). [video]

    (All of these rumors have been widely reported in multiple sources, including the Associated Press, for a number of the unconfirmed rumors.)
The films also include four documentaries -- A Conversation with the Masters: The Empire Strikes Back 30 Years Later (2010), Star Wars Spoofs (2011) and The Making of Star Wars (1977) -- commentary by Mr. Lucas; concept art footage; costume design footage; deleted, extended, or alternate scenes; and archived interviews with the cast and film crew.

The new Blu-Ray edition has an MSRP of $140 USD and is on pre-order for $90 USD on Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN).  The box set is already off to a torrid start with an average 2/5 star rating on 656 reviews, at last count.

But Mr. Lucas still has yet another opportunity to reduce Star Wars' Amazon.com rating to 1/5 stars.  Rather than work on restoring the original theatrical footage to Blu-Ray, he's devoted his efforts to converting the series to 3-D.  Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace will be the first to sport the new format, with 3-D Gungans invading screens in 2012.  And Mr. Lucas is rumored to be planning more changes in the next versions.

After all, he told MSNBC in 2004, "Well, the [original theatrical releases] only came out to be 25 or 30 percent of what I wanted it to be."

Sounds like he has a few changes left to go, if he's going to cut the original content down to "25 or 30 percent".

Fans can only wait in dread for what changes might be next.  After all, if there's one thing more scary than the Sith for the Star Wars fan, its George Lucas and his increasing lust for revisions and lucrative re-releases.


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RE: Lost his mind
By Mitch101 on 9/3/2011 7:04:15 PM , Rating: 2
I prefer Han shoots first hes supposed to be dark but I wonder how people seeing it for the first time feel or is it only us who saw the originals that actually care about the changes made?

You have to say that the light sabre fights of the prequels are much more intense than the ones we see in the original trilogy.

But I guess its like watching snakes on a plane on cable you know its just wrong.


RE: Lost his mind
By Reclaimer77 on 9/3/2011 7:25:00 PM , Rating: 3
I like the original lightsaber fights better. Especially in Jedi because they are so charged with emotion and meaning. There aren't a bunch of pretty moves that waste energy. Luke becomes so enraged when he finally gives into his emotions that he basically just starts hacking away at Vader and you can really feel his fury and rage. The prequels were just so damn over-choreographed imo. Why would you waste so much energy with saber twirls and behind the back moves and stuff?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRY5dl_oxvo


RE: Lost his mind
By Reclaimer77 on 9/3/2011 7:32:48 PM , Rating: 3
And ok I confess the genius Williams score has much to do with that opinion. It's just so rousing during that battle, especially when Luke shouts "NOoooooo!" and starts physically dominating Vader with no concerned for the niceties of dueling or proper form. You cannot helped but be moved.


RE: Lost his mind
By Reflex on 9/4/2011 2:59:55 PM , Rating: 2
I had this complaint as well. After seeing the prequels my first reaction to the fights was that Lucas re-imagined them from Jedi Knights to Jedi Ninjas. The fighting style was so completely different and flashy as opposed to functional.


RE: Lost his mind
By Reclaimer77 on 9/4/2011 7:42:58 PM , Rating: 1
The prequels ruined the Jedi in all ways. We learn that Jedi aren't special enlightened people, they are chosen by simple random biology via blood "meda-chlorids". All main Jedi in the prequels were also equally adept at Force powers and also master swordsman. They were basically all supermen who were only vulnerable when the plot needed them to be. In other words, none of them were special if ALL of them are.

This made the "epic" fight scenes actually boring with far less meaning than the original. 10 minutes of highly choreographed fighting demonstrating that each opponent was a super space ninja doesn't tell a story and just feels like action for the sake of action.

In the original we got the feeling that Jedi was more important than fighting or Force powers. They they didn't need a Lightsaber to solve EVERY problem.


RE: Lost his mind
By adiposity on 9/7/2011 1:19:05 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, also...

The prequels tried to turn Jedi into a mix of biological freaks and religious zealots. They were basically combination celibate monks and samurai.

The original films allowed the characters to be complex and interesting. The prequels basically had them all following a strict monastic order, and the only one with any complexity was Anakin, who was only different in his arrogance, childishness, and inability to remain celibate.

While Anakin was extremely unlikeable in those films, the whole order was boring and unsympathetic. I came out of each of those films hating Jedi more than the last.

In many ways, the mere existence of those films retroactively ruins the originals.


RE: Lost his mind
By Some1ne on 9/4/2011 7:36:33 AM , Rating: 3
It only makes sense if Han shoots first. Or are we supposed to believe that Greedo shot first and missed from point-blank range?

Although considering the overall accuracy of storm-trooper fire, maybe it's just the case the Star Wars blasters are wildly inaccurate at any range.


RE: Lost his mind
By Steve1981 on 9/4/2011 8:17:01 AM , Rating: 2
Aside from the fact that it builds upon Han's character and that it would make sense for him to shoot first, watching that scene now looks really, really stupid inasmuch as it screams "UUUWHHOOOOOOOOOOOO, I'VE BEEN EDITED........REALLY REALLY BADLY". It's not like the scene got refilmed, where you wouldn't notice the change unless you knew what existed in the first place.


RE: Lost his mind
By Reclaimer77 on 9/4/2011 11:52:28 AM , Rating: 2
Yup and it doesn't even make sense the new way. He's clearly wanting to take Han back alive for the bounty. He has Han dead to rights and starts launching into his monologue, why would he suddenly try a point blank kill shot, and of all things miss?

I wish someone somewhere could explain to me why this was changed! Han isn't some cold blooded serial killer. But he's not about to be taken back to Jabba by a bounty hunter. If fits perfectly with the atmosphere of the place. Hell they barely even noticed or cared that Han shot a bounty hunter, the music only stops for a few seconds while people look, then everyone goes back to their drinks. It's self defense! I guess you might as well edit that and have someone freak out and yell "OH MY GOD, Han shot second and killed someone, call the space police!!!" while you're at it. Friggin Lucas!


RE: Lost his mind
By adiposity on 9/7/2011 1:23:04 PM , Rating: 2
I can only imagine Lucas going to bed at night, wondering whether any of his heroes had a single flaw that might indicate they weren't perfect...and dwelling incessantly on the fact that Han killed someone who didn't absolutely have to die.


RE: Lost his mind
By kyleb2112 on 9/5/2011 6:00:52 AM , Rating: 2
I remember Han Solo blowing that guy away (shooting first) had a huge impact on me at the young age I saw it in the theaters. It contradicted all my social programming up to that point, and introduced me to the concept of an antihero. I think YOUNG George Lucas GOT THAT.


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