Last night, I fought past the throngs of geeks, nerds and dweebs to pick up a copy of the original Star Wars Trilogy DVD collection. I was hesitant to pick up a copy (but obviously not too hesitant since I purchased it on the day of release) but did so anyway and watched the first in the series, A New Hope.
One thing you may or may not be aware of it is the changes that George Lucas made to the film. One of the major accomplishments was a complete restoration of the film, which is amazing. Believe me, you’ve never seen the film look this good, even back in 1979 on the big screen. Lucasarts commissioned a company specializing in film recovery and restoration to clean the movie and bring out the vibrant colors that were lost from years of copying and storage. No odd film grains or other elements like before. It looks brand new. There is also an improvement in sound. The background music sounds like it was rerecorded and reapplied to the film. To be honest, it sounds odd in a way because the voices have a slight grainy quality to them, as if they were recorded with old equipment while the music has a crisp clarity to it. Naturally, I noticed this while I was fiddling with my pocket protector and slide rule.
Anyway, instead of restoring the film to its original lustre and stopping there, George Lucas shot past propriety and added elements to the movie that were not in the original and were more reminiscent of his later, clumsier attempts at character development.
The advent of CGI was the best and the worst thing to happen to George Lucas. Instead of the old adage “less equals more”, he seems to thing “more equals not enough”. It was documented that he filmed certain scenes with the understanding that technology might allow him to add elements to his film at a later date. Well, the later date arrived and his excitement took over. Whenever a new CGI element was added to an already pre-existing scene, it would try and take over. It’s as if he was trying to justify the money spent. In the Tatooine city scenes, native creatures who would (or should) be just walking by do everything but hold up a Looney Tunes “Ain’t I A Stinker” sign.
To me, restoring a movie classic like this is like art restoration. You bring back colors that were already there. You don’t add new elements. What if Michelangelo has put the classic “David” on display, only to come back later and change it because he wanted to give him bigger quads? Or if da Vinci went back and changed Mona Lisa’s smirk? Shameful.
Anyway, it’s still Star Wars, so I give it 4 stars out of five. Damn you, Lucas!