Star Wars: The Unwanted Hero
Remember when George Lucas re-edited Star Wars? He had the right idea. Kind of.
I can't pretend I know everything about Star Wars.
I've seen all ELEVEN movies, plus some of the live-action shows. I've even poked around some of the games.
My overall feeling?
This is a rich world that has generated some messy stories.
There's no denying the place Star Wars holds in film history and pop culture. Find me someone who DOESN'T know Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, or Darth Vader.
That original trilogy of films kicked off DECADES of fandom...which is why its so strange that they remain unavailable to this day!
In the late 90's, George Lucas re-edited the original trilogy into a series of "Special Edition" releases. He changed some smaller plot details (Han shot first), added CGI characters into the backgrounds, and...smushed Jabba the Hutt into the first movie.
The list of changes is massive.
All of a sudden, the ALTERED versions of Star Wars were the ONLY way to watch the movies. Even TODAY, it's these "special editions" that they sell in 4K, and stream on Disney+.
The true ORIGINAL versions are stranded on DVD, VHS, and LaserDisc. Lower quality, analogue, inconvenient...
But still I'll say it...GEORGE LUCAS WAS RIGHT.
Today, Disney announced they will be "REMOVING certain content" from their streaming service.
As a media collector I don't like it. As a lover of entertainment, I hate it. As a writer...I'm afraid of it.
How can removing media ever be the answer?
It's time for entertainment to get weird.
The "Special Edition" of Star Wars SHOULD exist. Film makers SHOULD be able to tinker around with their old work.
Remember when Leia and Luke kissed each other, and then we found out they were siblings? It made sense before we knew the twist that Darth Vader is their father, so we all sort of lived with it.
And then in the prequels you literally see the moment of their birth, so any NEW viewers are instantly going to barf when that smooch happens. The opportunity for ignorance is gone.
It's time to get that shit OUT of there!
There's a better version of Star Wars yet to be seen.
I firmly believe in art and storytelling as living breathing worlds in a constant state of discovery. When George Lucas set out to create that first Star Wars movie, he likely had ideas of where it might lead...but it wasn't until the third movie concluded that the entire story came into focus.
He saw inconsistencies that nagged at him. He wanted to "fix" his mistakes.
So in the 90's, he got to work.
Unfortunately, he focused on bonkers shit like making the Ewoks blink.
Oh and he added some sort of beautiful lip monster that...sings songs?
Uh, also Darth Vader embarrassingly screams "NOOOOOO" as he kills the big villain, Emperor Palpatine...
Everyone hated it. And the notion of re-editing existing films became taboo.
I remember seeing Justice League when it first came out in 2017. It was terrible. Director Zack Snyder had been forced to walk away for personal reasons, leaving Joss Whedon to finish the film himself, reshooting and rewriting Snyder's "edgy" concept into some sort of tonally-uneven...smirky...sloppy...goop.
Then came years of fans begging for Zack Snyder to release his version of the film.
RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT.
Against all odds...it actually happened!!
Zack Snyder rolled up his sleeves, shot new material, re-edited, experimented, and tinkered with his footage from years prior, and it came out on HBO Max in a weird old aspect ratio with an optional black and white version...
Did I like it?
But I was there for it.
Just like I was there for the re-edited fourth season of Arrested Development, where series creator Mitchell Hurwitz recut the whole story into something that more closely resembled the earlier seasons!
Director's Cuts are nothing new.
George Lucas just made them flamboyantly weird, and made the huge mistake of burying the originals.
Modern franchises should take a lesson.
Look no further than the most recent Star Wars trilogy.
"The Force Awakens" is a simple reboot establishing Rey as the hero and some guy/thing named "Snoke" as the villain.
Whoa, the sequel "The Last Jedi" takes a bold swing! Rey KILLS Snoke??
What could possibly happen in the third and final movie??
"Somehow, Palpatine returned."
Wait, the original trilogy villain is back?
But...we literally watched Darth Vader kill him.
Remember? In the Special Edition, he screams NOOOOOO all goofy?
How will they explain Palpatine's survival?
THEY NEVER DO?!
"The Rise of Skywalker" retcons the first two movies of the trilogy. Snoke was some sort of clone/pawn of Palpatine's, messing with our main characters...
But I know something you don't know.
But there's a key plot beat most people don't know about.
...The video game FORTNITE featured a Star Wars crossover ahead of the last movie. You fight people around the Millenium Falcon or something, and then a voice booms out...the voice of Emperor Palpatine himself!
"At last the work of generations is complete. The great error is corrected. The day of victory is at hand. The day of revenge. The day of the Sith."
Wait, why is this in a video game instead of in a movie? Especially as a non-canon special event in an unrelated franchise?
Ironically, Star Wars needs a George-Lucas-ing now more than ever!
Disney+ features a RECUT sequel trilogy of Star Wars.
Just after Rey kills Snoke, the ominous voice of Emperor Palpatine echoes across the galaxy. The villain's revival is directly connected to the destruction of this pretender-to-the-throne.
CUT TO CREDITS.
I'm sure there are endless little tweaks you could make to the story to make the trilogy play as a more cohesive whole.
That's just ONE idea.
Here are some more:
Release the original trilogy UNCUT.
Release Topher Grace's fan-edit of the prequel trilogy as a SINGLE MOVIE.
Outside of Star Wars, this opens a world of alternate versions of events. A multiverse, to use the hot Hollywood buzzword.
Maybe a less visually disgusting Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull!
Movie theaters would also take on new importance. This is where fans can see the original cuts of films before edits are conceivably made prior to when the films hit streaming services. Going to the theater takes on a new urgency, potentially. (Still some changes needed)
My point is really this:
Companies need to use the immediacy of streaming services to generate conversation and community.
Play with expectations.
...Just make sure you offer the "real" movies, too!
I have severely re-edited and tinkered with this article since I first published it.
It's better now.
No, you may not see the original.