This week it was announced that both the original Star Wars trilogy and those miserable prequels would finally make the high-def jump to Blu-ray. Some of you may be stymied by the disconnect between the title of this column and the fact that I am covering Star Wars this week. If there is one movie franchise that registers a mighty, moon/space-station-sized blip on every radar screen across countless cultures, it’s Star Wars. Furthermore, the only people who didn’t catch wind of the announcement that Star Wars was coming to Blu-ray were those who thought it already existed on Blu-ray.
But the question going conspicuously, if expectantly, unanswered is whether or not the new Star Wars Blu-ray set will feature the original theatrical releases for Episodes IV-VI, or whether or not we will be subjected to those atrocious “special” editions from the 1990s. If you aren’t familiar with what I’m talking about—because you aren’t a fellow complete and total nerd—George Lucas decided that the limitations he faced when creating the original trilogy inhibited the amount of stupidity he had initially intended to include. Ergo, he released an edition with a slew of dopey, nonsensical scenes featuring bad CG and content antithetical to the greatness of the films we knew and loved. Because who needs understated allegory and old-world storytelling set against a futuristic sci-fi backdrop (a glorious juxtaposition) when you can add computer-generated muppet musical numbers and completely muddy character compositions by switching the order of gunfire in a seminal scene?
So enamored with his bastardization—and setting himself as the ultimate cinematic history revisionist—Lucas began doing everything he could to banish the real versions of the films to oblivion and convince younger generations that his moronic modifications were Star Wars doctrine. He even went so far as to destroy prints of the original versions, something akin to a war crime in certain eyes. And now, in an effort to further elicit vitriol from fans, Lucas seems to be on the cusp of shining the high-def spotlight and tendering preservation solely to these abhorrent pretenders to the Star Wars legacy. But as much as I obviously, like many, bear a wookie-sized chip on my shoulder in this regard, I must swallow every ounce of remaining pride I have and urge everyone to purchase these Blu-rays.
I feel traitorous to my brethren even uttering these words, and my original intention was to champion a boycott of preorders on this Blu-ray set until someone finally came out and guaranteed that the untarnished versions would be available. But then my memory shifted to the DVD releases from just a few years ago. When we were finally treated to Star Wars on DVD after a long format silence (Lucas still bitter after his Betamax misstep), all that was available were the aforementioned “special” editions. But after those DVDs sold through the roof, Lucas finally relented and made available the untainted theatrical releases, though his decision to release them letterboxed instead of anamorphic stung just a tad.
My point in all this geek-fueled rambling is that the only chance we may have to see the theatrical releases of Star Wars on Blu-ray five years hence is if the Blu-rays of these less-than-favorable rerelease versions put up massive numbers now. If you are a casual Star Wars fan who cares little about Lucas’ meddling and enjoys the goofy scene featuring Jabba and Han’s conversation, please buy these Blu-rays. If you find yourself on the verge of spitting on the ground at the idea of a digitally inserted Hayden Christensen at the end of Return of the Jedi, surely you know someone with less discerning Star Wars proclivities for whom you could buy this as a gift. As long as these insipid defacements of some of the greatest films ever made make enough money to sate a certain filmmaker’s greed, if precedent is to be trusted, we will get our beloved, unblemished saga on Blu-ray before we die.