Print 94 comment(s) - last by overlandpark4m.. on Sep 9 at 11:04 PM

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, 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' 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: Ehh,
By MrBlastman on 9/3/2011 10:15:43 PM , Rating: 5
What do I think? I saw the Original Episode IV (Star Wars) in a Drive-in movie theater in 1977 when it was first released. I'm that old. Sure, I had to sit on a phone book to see over the dash, but, I was there! :)

I think the first Death Star battle was perfect. Totally perfect. I couldn't have been done any better. Why? Millions--hundreds of millions in dollars in ticket sales and this massive franchise that exists today (even though Lucas is trying to implode it) are because of that movie. That scene is still amazing when you watch it to this day. I for one prefer the models over CGI. I hate CGI. It _always_ looks so fake.

Yoda in Empire, he was perfect. He couldn't have been done any better. Once again, I prefer the real, physical puppet over the CGI. The CGI isn't tangible, it is bits and bytes... it is... fake. Empire was a masterpiece. That movie should live on for centuries as one of the greatest sci-fi films ever made.

Jaba's whole chapter was amazing. I loved it. I was on the edge of my seat when I saw it in the theater when it first was released.

Nothing, I repeat, nothing at all should ever be changed. Especially Han Solo! DO NOT MESS WITH HAN. He shot Greedo first. Rightly so, might I add. It was in Han's personality. The fact that he shot Greedo first is what made Han so special. He was a mercenary. He was filthy. He was a freelancer that went where the coin took him and he had a rotten past. It all added to his character.

It really pisses me off when Lucas messes around with those first three films. Sure, I might be sentimental, but I was there watching them all when they first came out in the 70's and 80's.

RE: Ehh,
By Steve1981 on 9/4/2011 8:33:19 AM , Rating: 2

Not bad for a movie that cost $13 million at the time to make, and was hardly expected at the time of production to be a major blockbuster.

RE: Ehh,
By cmdrdredd on 9/4/11, Rating: 0
RE: Ehh,
By Reclaimer77 on 9/4/2011 12:03:42 PM , Rating: 3
Not always. For example the CGI in District 9 is amazingly well done. Hell those 'prawns' could have been guys in really expensive costumes it looked so real. But it also helps tell the story. The problem is CGI is often used in lieu of good story telling and plot development.

RE: Ehh,
By robinthakur on 9/5/2011 10:09:42 AM , Rating: 2
I disagree, I thought the prawns looked pretty cheap and obviously CGI. The spaceships looked very nice though. Neither altered my appreciation of he overall movie though.

RE: Ehh,
By theapparition on 9/6/2011 3:39:13 PM , Rating: 2
CGI isn't the problem, and I don't think many here would argue that. Good CGI (think what WetaDigital did with Lord of the Rings) should be indistinguishable and not detract from the storytelling.

The issue here is going back and changing what was already released. Changing the storyline, dialog, and characters. That's what people are getting riled up over, with good cause.

This isn't about coloring old B&W movies. This is about changing the story, and not giving the people the option for a HD version of the original. That is unforgivable in my book.

RE: Ehh,
By Dug on 9/9/2011 2:44:09 PM , Rating: 2
That's funny. I saw it in a drive in too for the first time. I don't think most people here know what a drive in is.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher

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