I wrote yesterday about the 3D releases of Star Wars and I have been buried in responses by people whose biggest complaint about this seems to be that we won’t be seeing the original theatrical releases in theatres or in a hi-definition format any time soon. Granted, no special features have been announced for the Blu-ray save the deleted scenes, it won’t be too unexpected if the “Ultimate Saga Edition” came with these versions.
I’m not holding my breath though, and I don’t think the guys behind Original Trilogy are either. (Quite a lot of the traffic and comments on the site have been from their forum members.)
For quite a few years now, they’ve been working hard to petition Lucasfilm to restore and release the original theatrical versions of the Star Wars movies. I prefer 95% of the Special Editions now, but I think this is an admirable goal. I have the 1995 THX release of the Star Wars trilogy on Laserdisc and still pop it in now and again. The films are excellent the way they were. And for people who hate the prequels, I can understand why the changes would be grating. I prefer the special editions, despite a few things I hate about them, because it folds all six movies together and makes them much more consistent with each other. My kids wouldn’t know who the hell the ghost of Sebastian Shaw is, but seeing a ghost of Hayden Christensen hits them in the gut. It hits me a lot harder, too. It creates a better sense of continuity for those of us who watch these six films as a whole instead of separate entities.
There are different kinds of Star Wars fans and since so many different versions have been released, there are no right answers to what the best and the favorite should be. It’s all a matter of personal taste.
Now, Lucasfilm has said pretty bluntly that they won’t be restoring or preserving the original theatrical releases of the films any further. The time and money investment is simply too much for something they see as looking backwards.
But there are hundreds of thousands of motivated fans, I’m sure, that would be interested in taking on this task themselves. There are plenty of film preservation societies that could be partnered with to locate and preserve the best possible hi-def versions of the classic trilogy as it was released. Financing could be done through donations and programs like Kickstarter and it could be paid for that way. Volunteers can clean up frames on their own. It can be done.
This preserved digital version can then be presented to Lucasfilm as a gift. It’s obvious that people who are upset about this issue care about Star Wars and historic preservation.
When it’s there and done and in their hands, there would be no excuse for them not to release it. The DVD release previous proves they aren’t opposed to releasing the best possible copy they have on hand, so make sure this is the copy they have on hand.
Some might see this as a step too far. Some might say, “Why should I have to pay to have this preservation done?” I say, put your money where your mouth is. Lucasfilm is obviously not going to do this on their own and if you want it that bad, this is a small investment and it would preserve it for future generations and art historians. Then art houses COULD show the original versions.
If such a movement were to begin, you can put me down right now for the first $20 contribution. But in the meantime, I’m going to continue enjoying the versions I have of the film. And I’m going to enjoy the Blu-ray and the 3D release. And there’s nothing you’ll be able to do to stop me.