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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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My response
By FITCamaro on 9/4/2011 1:00:12 PM , Rating: 2
I responded by going out and purchasing the 2008 Star Wars trilogy release that had the ORIGINAL films on "bonus" discs.

I am also with those who hope that Lucas' demise comes sooner than later so that hopefully someone down the road will give us the remastered ORIGINAL trilogy in a high definition format we all want. I'm even fine with leaving some of the cleanups they did in the special editions (fixing of black lines in the Battle of Hoth scenes, the cleanups in Mos Eisley, the better explosions of the Death Stars). Just leave the story the way it was for Christ's sake. Hell I didn't even mind the added Jabba scene in the first film because I thought it was well done.




RE: My response
By robinthakur on 9/5/2011 10:46:09 AM , Rating: 2
Both the Han shoots first and the Jobba scene were absolutely shambolic because it looks incredibly fake and jerky where they moved his head to dodge the laser blast or his whole body to tread over Jabba's tail. That and the fact that the Jabba CGI looks nothing like the puppet from ROTJ. IMO it's only a matter of time before the ROTJ puppet is replaced with the CGI one for continuity's sake along with Salacious Crumb, and that will be a sad day.


RE: My response
By deathwombat on 9/9/2011 2:42:35 PM , Rating: 3
The added Jabba scene makes no sense at all. Jabba has put a bounty on Han's head, Han kills one of his bounty hunters, and then Jabba lets him go after Han offers him more money???

Even I know that once the mob has decided to kill you, it's too late to negotiate with them! You can't even stop your bank from foreclosing on your house once they've signed off on it, let alone a murderous crime syndicate, and that's before you've killed one of their employees!

As for Greedo shooting first, it shows that George Lucas fundamentally misunderstands his own character and the moral of his own story. Star Wars is as much about Han Solo's transformation from a scoundrel into a hero as it is about Luke's transformation from a farm boy into a Jedi.


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