LUCAS GOES HOLLYWOOD

I’m a geek and proud of it. My teenage years of never getting a date, being heckled about my extensive Lobot knowledge, and most importantly, never getting laid strengthened me for the future of adulthood. Now that I bagged a babe, have a life, and a lucrative career where my Lobot knowledge DOES come in handy, I do reminisce for the good old days where a geek could be a geek without the rapid onslaughts of Indian burns and atomic wedgies. This was all present at the corner of Hollywood and Highland last week.

Geeks gathered last Thursday at the Egyptian Theatre for the opening night of a weeklong tribute to ILM and Skywalker Sound by the American Cinematheque. Naturally with any event being Star Wars related, lines started forming at least four hours before doors opened. An even more astonishing sight was the ten-minute wait to take a leak in the men’s room, a true observation that most events of this nature are over 80% males. George himself even came out for a couple of quick snap shots for press and fans. It’s what happened during this meeting of the Sci-Fi minds that could be best described as a body blow to both sci-fi fans and film enthusiasts alike.

As the lights went down, original clips from the “Star Wars Trilogy” were shown for all Star Wars fans to behold. Yes, the ORIGINAL “Star Wars Trilogy,” not the so-called “New and Improved” versions released in 1997. Watching these clips was like traveling back in time to a childhood of Pop Rocks, Pac Man, and using the last of your paper route money to see The Empire Strikes Back twice in one day. The craftsmanship of every X-Wing model, the exotic creature costumes, and the history making achievement in special effects was there for everyone to witness in its 35mm glory.

A question and answer session with king Starwoid himself, George Lucas, happened soon after. Unfortunately, this is always a painful experience. Instead of asking enlightening questions about the pros and cons of new advancements in filmmaking or what the hell he’s going to make once the last “Star Wars” film is completed, we get questions like:

Are you going to make more “Star Wars” movies after Episode III?

Can I play a (Insert favorite “Star Wars” character here) in the next “Star Wars” movie?

Are you SURE you’re not going to make more “Star Wars” movies?

I beg all geeks, be it big or small, never ask these questions. You are making a mockery (not to mention a good SNL skit) of geekdom and giving us a bad name. I know it’s hard. He’s there, he’s in your sight, and if he had a dime for every fan that asked these dim-witted questions, he’d have another couple of million dollars to sleep on every day. One interesting question a fan DID ask was if the original Trilogy would be on DVD with the Special Editions coming out in 2005.

In an answer that almost made, “A million voices suddenly cry out in terror and were suddenly silenced,” Lucas confirmed that the original theatrical versions of the “Star Wars” movies would never appear on DVD. They’re lost in time, replaced by these new special editions that will now be the only way we look at the classic trilogy. If this becomes reality, the original three that changed the way we watch movies would become a tall tale told to your great grandchildren.

The bottom line is that it’s still his creation. He can do whatever the hell he wants with them. Put in a rapping song and dance number with the Sand People for all I care, just leave me the original versions to view at my leisure. Spielberg did. As a matter of fact, he demanded it. When Universal was ready to release E.T., he discovered that the only way consumers would be able to watch the original version was to purchase the over priced $70.00 box set. Spielberg quickly made Universal add the original version WITH the Special Edition for a much lower retail price. Consumers won that battle, but the war is far from over.

If Lucas won’t keep the original versions intact for his own personal reasons, at least let them be sold in the retail market for the sake of historical reference. “Star Wars” was a breakthrough in special effects and computer technology for the film industry. It raised the standards of what great movie making once was and still can be today. Wouldn’t this knowledge of Hollywood history be valuable for future generations of filmmakers, not to mention filmgoers as well? To give the consumer the alternative versions are fine. To give them the choice is fair.

There is hope for Star Wars fans. There are at least twenty to thirty different formats of the original “Star Wars Trilogy” for auction on Ebay. VHS, Laserdisc, Beta, take your pick (Laser Disc players are dirt cheap, have quality sound and picture, and still have extras that some DVDs don’t have). There are even petitions being done on various websites to let Lucasfilm know that the consumer wants the original trilogy on DVD. Your vote might not of mattered in the last presidential election, but it will matter now. Just go to www.originaltrilogy.com or www.theforce.net and let your voice be heard. Let’s hope we all go back to that “Galaxy Far, Far Away,” where Yoda was still just a puppet, spaceships were models rather than CG, and most importantly, where Han always shot first.




Posted on February 13, 2003 in Features by
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