By now you’ve probably heard of the changes made to the original Star Wars Trilogy in the recent Blu-ray release. Another thing you may have heard of is the fact that a lot of fans aren’t too happy about these changes. I’m here to tell you that it’s not such a bid deal. True, some of the changes aren’t necessary, but are they detrimental to the series? With one exception, I don’t think so. Let me show you the reasons why I don’t think they’re such a big deal, though I will explain the change I don’t like.
Reason one: It’s not the first time Star Wars has been altered.
I’m not trying to sound like a know-it-all, and I’m sure many of you know that Star Wars has been altered before. What I’m saying is that by now we should expect this. Besides, none of the changes are really that big. A few CGI monsters added? So what? The biggest change I can think of is putting Hayden Christensen at the end of Return of the Jedi instead of the original actor. While I think this is unnecessary I understand the reasoning behind it. It’s the same reason they replaced a human Jabba the Hut with a CGI version before adding that scene back into A New Hope; Continuity. In the case of ghost Vader it wasn’t entirely necessary, but I understand why it was done. In any case, if you think about it, the changes aren’t that big, and even though we can expect more I doubt the core movie will change that much. Obi-Wan may have a new sound, but in the end it does the same thing, and that’s scare off the sand people.
Reason Two: The power of CGI.
I heard somewhere that, originally, stormtroopers rode on camels while searching for R2-D2 and C-3PO in the desert. I’m not certain how true that it is, but I know they weren’t riding on those awesome CGI monsters in the original cut. The CGI tech that made this possible wasn’t available when Star Wars first came out, but you can’t deny that its inclusion has made galaxy far far away come alive, more so than before. I count the imagination more important than the technology, but the tech certainly helps. Much in the same way Jurrassic Park benefited from CGI instead of stop animation to bring dinosours to life, the CGI in Star Wars has been a blessing, especially with that replacement of a puppet Yoda with a CGI character in The Phantom Menace. Compared to the lively and expressive puppet from the original (which they should keep a puppet if you ask me) the one from that first prequel was still and emotionless. That’s one case where the change is for the better.
Reason Three: No movie is perfect.
This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. No movie is perfect. Even the original trilogy, as good as it is, has some flaws. Return of the Jedi opens with a scene to resolve the ending to the previous movie, and then goes on to tell the real third story, which is a little awkward. A New Hope has that rather tedius lightsaber duel between Vader and Obi-Wan (who was a little old for that sort of thing) and a few shots of X-Wing and Tie fighters reused. A slight distraction if you ask me. Then The Empire Strikes Back has that famous scene. Don’t get me wrong, finding out that Vader was really Luke’s father was a shocking revelation and really effective, but thinking back on it, I’m surprised Vader didn’t react to Luke saying that Vader, who was really Luke’s father, killed Luke’s father. Vader wouldn’t have known that Obi-Wan told him that. Why wasn’t he surprised, or even amused by this information? It didn’t seem to phase him at all. Like I said, it was a great revelation, and the movies were all great, but they weren’t perfect. If George Lucas wants to make some changes, I say he’s perfectly within his rights to do so.
To a point.
I’ll admit, even I don’t like the idea of Darth Vader crying out: “No. NOOOOO!!!” But I have a reason for it. Part of the tension and mystery of that final movie came from what was going on behind Vader’s mask. Was there some good in him? Was Luke fooling himself? You didn’t know a clue what Vader was thinking right up until that last moment. Sure, ‘No!’ might have been what Vader was thinking, but people who have never seen Star Wars (and I know there are some) wouldn’t know that, until you spoil it for them. For that reason let Vader’s thoughts remain thoughts, and keep us in the dark until Vader makes up his mind. Actions speak louder than words after all. Let him throwing the emperor into the reactor finally give us the truth, not the word ‘no.’
In the end the alterations are a double-edged sword. Some can enhance the movies, others don’t matter, and some make things less effective. Even if a change makes things better, there will be people who don’t like it. All things considered there is one thing that validates changes to Star Wars for me. At the end of Return of the Jedi, once the good guys have won, it cuts to three different planets all celebrating the defeat of the Empire before settling down on Endor where our heroes are. It’s as if, while they celebrate their victory, the entire galaxy celebrates with them. I mean come on, it’s the party across the galaxy! How awesome is that?! And you know something? To my knowledge it wasn’t in the original version of the movie. If anything that scene proves that something good can come from changes, but then again, maybe that’s just me.