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The Star Wars Movies Continue to Change

Unless you’ve been living under a rock I’m sure you’ve heard that the entire Star Wars series is set to be released on blu-ray.  It had been rumored that some additional special effects changes were being made to the films in preparation for their release in High Definition (HD).  People have started receiving their review copies of the movies and denoted changes.  Additionally, there are rumors that pirated versions of the HD cut out of the movie have been obtained out of China.  Because of this, there are multiple rumors circulating about the changes to the movies.

Rob over at Topless Robot was the first I saw detailing some of the rumored changes so all credit goes to him.  Here are some of the minor changes they noted:

  • CG Yoda has replaced puppet Yoda in The Phantom Menace.  I have no issue with this as the puppet was awful looking in TPM.
  • Obi-Wan’s Kryat dragon call in A New Hope has been tweaked and supposedly been made pretty awesome.  Really this change doesn’t matter to me; I think it’s fairly minor.
  • The door at Jabba’s palace has been increased to near ridiculous size.  Again, a minor tweak to make Jabba’s palace seem larger.  I’m cool with this.
  • Ewoks will now blink.  I really doubt anyone will notice this unless they are staring directly at the Ewok faces.  Even if they do I think it’s a good change as it makes the Ewoks seem more lifelike.

All of those changes are minor, but there is one change that I am vehemently opposed to.  This change takes place in the final confrontation between Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and the Emperor.  After Luke has defeated (spoiler warning :p) his father, Darth Vader, he throws his lightsaber away, proclaims himself a Jedi,  and refuses to fight anymore.  Palpatine then begins using his Sith lightning to kill off Luke.

In the original cut Vader is seen looking between his son and Master, and despite having a mask covered face his conflict over what to do can be clearly seen by the audience.  We are unsure whether he will choose his flesh and blood over the monster that had controlled him for years.  When Vader finally makes his choice to save Luke it is an iconic moment, one that sticks with the viewer.  The fact that a viewer can see his silent conflict just makes that moment even more powerful.

In the updated version of Return of the Jedi, Lucas has changed it so that Vader is speaking during what had originally been his silent conflict.  As he looks between Luke and Palpatine, Vader can be heard quietly saying “No” and then once he make the decision to save his son Vader is clearly heard yelling “Nooooo” as he throws the Emperor to his death.  Some intrepid fan film makers have created a version of what this scene might be like in the blu-ray release.  It’s not authentic but it will give you an idea of how this scene will be changed.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a purist when it comes to the Star Wars movies.  Han shot first in my book, and Hayden Christensen is not the force ghost of Anakin at the end of ROTJ.  I don’t like these changes that change the movie.  Aesthetic changes such as improving the CGI or making Ewoks blink I have no problem with.  But changes that alter the fundamental story really do annoy me.

That being said, the argument can be made that the Star Wars movies are George Lucas’ movies and he can do whatever he wants to them.  And the fact of the matter is that this is true and I imagine the Lucas will continue to tweak the movies to fit in with how he believes they should work.  My fear is that one day if I do have kids and introduce them to the Star Wars saga the experience will have changed so much that they cannot connect with the films.  For that reason I’m still holding on to my old VHS copies of the Original Trilogy.  They might be old, but it’s the version of the film I grew up with.

I understand that some people might think I am complaining too much over minor changes to the Star Wars movies and you are welcome to that opinion.  I grew up watching these movies with my family and to this day they are still some of my favorite film experiences.  Maybe I’m just too attached to what I grew up with.  As a fan it’s a combination of disappointing and sad to see the movies I have loved so much begin to change and become less recognizable.


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