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Star Wars Episode 4.6.0: A New New New Hope

Stop changing our favorite movies! By Stephen Schleicher
Star Wars Episode Four: A New Hope was probably the reason why many of us got into the industry - motion pictures, special effects, animation, graphics, etc. In 1977 the movie was something that blew audiences away and became one of those films that redefined the industry. In 1997 technology had improved greatly; Starship Troopers came out that year that had animated special effects that made the effects from the 77 flick pale in comparison. So what does Lucas do? He changes his film. Not only did he enhance the effects and clean it up, but in a couple of scenes he changed the whole tone of the film.

When I first heard that there were going to be new special effects and a cleaner print, I lined up like everyone else to see the Lucas 4.1 version. Yes, the effects were good. Yes, the movie looked so much better than the VHS wide screen version I had been watching. Cool! Mos Eisley was populated. Look how big it looks! Dewbacks and Jawas everywhere. Then the shocker that even today has Star Wars fans up in arms. Greedo shoots first. What the F!?!? Han Solo was supposed to be one of these tough as nails, shoot first, cocky guys, and Lucas reduced him to a guy who was reacting instead of taking charge.


The new opening to the DVD release of Star Wars?
Needless to say when the "Special Edition" came out on video, I didnt buy it. I of course was waiting for it to come out on DVD, but at the time Lucas refused saying he wanted to wait until all the films were done.

A few weeks ago I found out that yes, Star Wars Episode Four is indeed coming to DVD. When asked if the DVD would include the original 77 release in addition to the 4.1 version, Lucas said no, he doesnt like that version. Come to find out, the DVD wont even include the 97 release. Instead Lucas is still tweaking and modifying his film yet again. He has even shot or is in the process of shooting additional material that he will include as part of the DVD release. This new new version will be the "Special Special Edition". Dont throw out your original VHS collectors editions yet kiddies.

Im not just angry with Lucas, my other childhood hero Steven Spielberg has also crossed over to the dark side and modified some of his best work for the worst. Lets look at E.T. for example. A very memorable moment in the film is when the alien causes Elliot and all of his friends to soar through the skies to evade capture. The reason they needed to fly away on their bikes in the first place? A police roadblock where officers were standing by with shotguns drawn. Definitely motivation enough to take flight and get as far away from these people as possible. What do we see in the new version? A police roadblock where officers are standing by with walkie-talkies drawn. Ooooo...scary. Makes me want to fly away. Fly away to the bathroom and throw up.

There are many more examples out there. Take what Disney did to the animated classic Melody Time. In the Pecos Bill sequence, executives decided to delete the scene where Pecos Bill lights up a cigarette because it wasnt politically correct and gave off "the wrong message". What wrong message? Didnt a large majority of cowboys of the old west light up (among other things)?

Maybe it is age catching up with these masterminds, or maybe it is the fact that they have children, and want to make their projects more "kid friendly".

If this kind of thing continues whats next? Tweaking Jaws so that Quint doesnt get eaten? Replacing the mechanical shark with an all CG one? I watched Jaws again over the weekend, and that big rubber hunk o junk still has the power to bring me near panic.

If this type of thing becomes fashionable perhaps well see things we never expected from our favorite films. Perhaps Charles Foster Kanes last words will be "Try AOL" when execs decide they need more advertising. Or maybe theyll reedit some of the earlier James Bond films so he doesnt always get the girl. Wouldnt want to give people the wrong impression now would we?

Maybe we can change Batman so the Joker doesnt die. That way Jack can reprise is role and the franchise can thrive again. Instead of Ash telling us the story of how he defeated the Army of Darkness, perhaps a new version will have our hero taking too much of the sleeping potion and waking up in the far future. Oh wait...that did happen in the Sam Rami Directors cut.

My examples sound a bit absurd dont they? Probably just as absurd as Greedo shooting first. This reworking of films is eventually going to backfire on the creators.

Look at what happened when Ted Turner decided people didnt want to watch black and white movies anymore and started colorizing them. People were in uproar because Turner was changing the classics. In the end colorization failed because it messed with peoples memories and messed with the overall intent of motion picture.

I realize that in this digital world we live in it becomes very tempting refine our work after it has been released to the public. Add a little color here, clean up the image there, add some CGI in that spot, wrap it up and repackage it to the drooling masses as the new improved movie. It worked for the ten different versions of Blade Runner didnt it?

So my plea is this - stop it. Stop taking the movies and films we grew up with and loved and changing them to make them (in your view) "better". These "new" versions are not the films I originally saw, and are not the films that made me want to get in the industry. In the end well end up doing more harm than good.

Stephen Schleicher is the producer for www.digitalanimators.com and www.digitalwebcast.com. When not working deep in the labs of the DMN Central Division testing the latest and greatest software/hardware products he can be found at the local university teaching a few courses on video and web production. He can be reached at stephens@digitalmedianet.com

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Stephen Schleicher has crossed the country several times over the last couple of years going from Kansas to Atlanta , Georgia, and Southern California. In his time traveling, he has worked as an editor, graphic designer, videographer, director, and producer on a variety of video productions ranging from small internal pieces, to large multimedia
corporate events.

Currently, Stephen shares his knowledge with students at Fort Hays State University who are studying media and web development in the Information Networking and Telecommunications department. When he is not shaping the minds of university students, Stephen continues to work on video and independent projects for State and local agencies and organizations as well as his own ongoing works.

He is also a regular contributor to Digital Producer, Creative Mac, Digital Webcast, Digital Animators, and the DV Format websites, part of the Digital Media Online network of communities (www.digitalmedianet.com), where he writes about the latest technologies, and gives tips and tricks on everything from Adobe After Effects, to Appleā??s Final Cut Pro, LightWave 3D, to shooting and lighting video.

He has a Masters Degree in Communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. As a forward thinker, he wrote his Thesis on how Information Islands and e-commerce would play a major role in keeping smaller communities alive. This of course was when 28.8 dialup was king and people hadnā??t even invented the word e-commerce.

And, he spends what little free time he has biking, reading, traveling around the country, and contemplating the future of digital video and its impact on our culture. You can reach him at schleicher@mindspring.com

Related Keywords:Star Wars, Spielberg, Lucas, Stephen Schleicher, movies, digital, animation, graphics, editing, film

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