krpalmer: (mst3k)
It so happened that when the MSTing of "The Misery Senshi Neo-Zero Double Blitzkrieg Debacle" was being released on an unsuspecting world, I was making the final touches on a first MSTing of my very own. The juxtaposition in time does seem to make looking back at both works just a little awkward, though; I wouldn't want to claim my own is on the same level as a strong candidate for "the greatest ever"... but if I can draw a distinction between "appreciating the accomplishment of others" and "remembering my own work," I might yet be able to manage it as I return to the MSTing of the first part of "Undocumented Features." (My old "MSTing guide," I suppose, means I don't have to summarise the story right now...)
'And what rough beast, its hour come at last, slouches out of CSLANtronix not to be bored?' )
'It's like the Algonquin Round Table, only with more ego.' )
'Hey, the injokes are out of the way. What more do you want--dramatic structure?' )
'You can abuse yourself--but don't hurt the building!' )
'And if I never hear the word 'context' again, it'll be too soon.' )
krpalmer: (mst3k)
As much as I can wish there was still a genuine MSTing community as a subset of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans (although, of course, I could be doing something more about that myself than just wishing), many MSTings still remain. For some peculiar reason, I'm more able to ponder which of them is "the greatest MSTing ever"; I often try not to pick favourites elsewhere... I have the feeling many people would point to Adam Cadre's "The Eye of Argon" as, if nothing else, the greatest MSTing written by just one person. Thinking back to "Does God Love You?", I can wonder if it's "the first great group MSTing." There's also the feeling that people would point to the MSTings of the stories by Stephen Ratliff, who took some child characters who had appeared in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," contrived a way to put them in charge of the Enterprise, and wound up not only lifting one of them to ridiculous levels but also developing a peculiar symbiotic relationship with the MSTing community over years of writing... (For some reason, though, I'm not quite as fond of the one single story in that series everyone else seemed to point to as the really memorable one; instead, I can think of my personal favourites as including "A Royal Wedding," also tackled by Adam Cadre, and the "group MSTing" version of "Winning Love by Daylight.") It's also sort of tempting to look at the "for adult audiences only" "Stolen Memories," a Star Trek story so far as it has a young Julian Bashir becoming a sex slave on a planet of "furries"... After all of that, though, I find myself thinking of a very long MSTing, rounding through its tenth anniversary now, of a crossover between the American animated show "Daria" and the anime "Sailor Moon" that just happens to be a "technothriller," "The Misery Senshi Neo-Zero Double Blitzkrieg Debacle"...
*Wrongness* just sort of boils off the story... )
krpalmer: (europa)
I was very aware that as May approached so did the tenth anniversary of The Phantom Menance, but when the 19th arrived I was off at sea on my vacation. I had contemplated tossing the DVD into my suitcase, but it seemed just too crowded in the end, to say nothing of my perpetual thought that if I'm going to watch one Star Wars movie I might as well get around to watching the other five, not playing favourites... (I suppose I do have to admit now that trying to "rip" the DVD to my portable computer's not quite full hard drive never occurred to me at the time.) I was able to see the commemorative posts of others as they were made, but in seeing them without a commemorative viewing of my own there was a trace of melancholy, remembering how my own positive first reaction seemed somehow very alone and how I wound up for long, arid years not quite ready to watch any of the Star Wars movies for fear that I might at last flip out the way it seemed everyone else had, my reactions to too many other things also coloured in troubling ways by the random sidelong swipes discussions about them seemed too often to make...

Eventually, I was lucky to discover some other positive people, and at last I worked up the courage to return to the Star Wars movies, the experience somehow distinctive and energising. Eventually, too, I had what seemed the time to make that belated "ten years later" viewing, and decided that I could put the whole weekend into seeing all six movies. I had done that before, not going quite so far as to try and see them all in one day; still, having a good break in between each movie doesn't seem that bad to me. However, it just so happened that once again I seem to have experienced something new in the process...
Just what that was is within... )
krpalmer: (Default)
"Amid all the excitement and hyperbole, what was the real significance of Apollo 11?

"In a minor sense, perhaps, it was the coming of age of the space program, for it was the 21st manned space flight for the United States, as well as the 21st launch in the Saturn series. And if life begins at 40, that too is symbolic, for the day after the flight began marked the 40th anniversary of Robert Goddard's first launching of an instrumented rocket, complete with thermometer, barometer, and camera."

-from the article "The Flight of Apollo 11: 'One giant leap for mankind'" by Kenneth F. Weaver, National Geographic, December 1969 (p. 782)

(And, since just finding a quote in a period magazine seems a little less significant than putting my own thoughts together, I was also quite interested to see that the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has taken its first pictures of the lunar module descent stages. I'm reminded in an oblique way of how one of the early targets of the Mars Global Surveyor was the "face...")
krpalmer: (Default)

Amidst a certain amount of contemplation towards an approaching tenth anniversary, I happened to notice on [ profile] incisivis's journal that today, the 8th of May, appears to be the date in 1984 that the first issue of the Transformers comic went on sale, and started trying to figure out if I could say anything about a twenty-fifth anniversary before the day ran out...
And here it is )
krpalmer: (Default)
(...and Mr. Lincoln.)

"It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

(from The Origin of Species, first edition.)
krpalmer: (Default)
Last year, I got nostalgic enough to mark anniversaries for both the TRS-80 Model 100 and the first iMac. This year, another computing anniversary has arrived, that of the introduction of the very first Macintosh twenty-five years ago... and perhaps I'm contemplating it because in the twists and turns of its history, there were times when it seemed uncertain this particular anniversary would be part of a still-unfolding experience, or whether that computer would wind up seeming as "historical" as the Model 100. In looking ahead to the anniversary, I did find myself trying to reconstruct the five-year intervals leading up to it...
1984 )
1989 )
1994 )
1999 )
2004 )
2009 )
krpalmer: (europa)
The twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Wars didn't seem to get as much attention from Lucasfilm as the twentieth or even the thirtieth... or maybe, just perhaps, it got attention in the biggest way possible through the release of a new Star Wars movie. Likewise, Revenge of the Sith followed twenty-five years after The Empire Strikes Back... and right when I was thinking that it might matter just a little bit for me to set down my thoughts about the twenty-fifth anniversary of Return of the Jedi, news that some of the new Clone Wars series would bring Star Wars back to the movies cropped up. (For that matter too, there's an Indiana Jones movie out right now...) I still want to set down my thoughts, though, for all that I've managed to do something similar twice already.
I suppose Return of the Jedi was the first Star Wars movie I... )
Some final 'new order' thoughts )
krpalmer: (europa)
For some reason, I've found myself thinking for the last little while that it would be significant that today would mark three years since Revenge of the Sith opened. Three years, after all, is how long separated Star Wars movies "within a trilogy"... although it may perhaps indicate how long I've been thinking about this particular anniversary that the theatrical release to lead off the new Clone Wars series was a particular surprise to me; it just may have shaken up previous thoughts that "by now, the saga is well and truly complete."
With that said... )
krpalmer: (Default)
As if to show a smidgen of range to my interests, I'm not just keeping track of what Star Wars movies have significant anniversaries this year. I also know that this is the tenth year since the first iMac was introduced, and on seeing a note that today marks the anniversary of its announcement, I soon had my thoughts in order.

I can remember being at home on break from university when my brother returned from high school telling me in a pleased way that there was a big announcement on the Apple web site. I checked it out, and was interested to see a blue and white gumdrop-like computer pictured. There were, of course, people who dismissed the whole thing as just "style over substance," but I suppose we Macintosh users were still hungry for good news, and the iMac's specifications weren't all that low-end either. Over the summer, I made some money on a shingling job and intended to spend it getting a better computer than my Performa 5200, and I suppose that was as close as I came to buying one of the original iMacs... but in the end, I decided that I could make use of the "legacy ports" on the bulkier and heavier Power Macintosh G3 All-in-one. Things might have been different all the same on hearing that my university's computer store had sold out of those models... except for their "demonstration model," which I got a slight discount on. In any case, I suppose I did wonder about the original iMac's CD-ROM drive, which popped the lens out along with its loading tray. Some years later, after Apple had run through all the colours of the rainbow and was moving on to white plastic (itself now replaced by aluminum), I did get the refined version of the gumdrop-like iMac, in grey and white. I didn't stop there, of course.
krpalmer: (Default)
During the Easter long weekend, I started looking through one of my family's old encyclopedia yearbooks. (I always had the impression, though, that Grolier more stopped sending them to us than we stopped ordering them...) I was looking at the events of 1983 with one particular anniversary in mind, but in a serendipitous discovery, I realised that 1983 also marked the introduction of the TRS-80 Model 100 Portable Computer... which makes it twenty-five years old this year. (March may even be its anniversary month...)

Growing up, I suppose, I was part of a "Radio Shack" family... I barely knew you could get computers anywhere else until "plain" PCs started showing up in the homes of friends around the "EGA" era or so. When Radio Shack introduced a portable computer, my dad got one to take to work, and a while later it became about as close as I've ever got to a "portable of my own..." As some still take pleasure in pointing out, as a one-hundred percent solid-state device, it was fast to switch on and ran for a good long time on ordinary AA batteries. Still, with a screen that only displayed eight lines of forty characters each (the title of this post won't quite fit on one of those lines), it could get kind of hard to follow the flow of a large document. As hard as it may be to believe, I could start feeling lost in thirty-two kilobytes of onboard memory... To go beyond that, though, over the years we found a variety of solutions to interface it with desktop systems to store files and then move them into different programs... and all of those desktop systems themselves are more or less obsolete these days.

On realising the anniversary, I found my family's Model 100... the internal battery had at last gone dead after long years in storage and the memory had blanked, but once plugged in it still worked. I remembered how noisy the keyboard got and how I had once tried to use it to take notes in the university library at least as much for that "retro" feel as anything, only to get everyone around me upset. One thing that did strike me, though, was how thick it seemed (5 cm thick according to this reference)... when a principal selling point of modern portable systems like the MacBook Air is how thin they are (1.94 cm thick at its thickest), it may have carried some extra significance for me. I also did some nostalgic searching and discovered that there's an emulator program... and wrote a draft of this post in it, just for the strangeness of getting used to that eight by forty screen again.
krpalmer: (mst3k)
A vague thought began creeping up on me over the past few days, and I checked some of my own sources to discover that we're now a full fifteen years and change from the posting of some responses to brief "trolling" messages on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Usenet newsgroup, responses that were cast in the voices of Joel Robinson, Crow T. Robot, and Tom Servo to create the earliest identified MSTings. From those small beginnings would grow lengthy multi-author works poking fun at endless, infamously wrong fanfics like "Stolen Memories" and "The Misery Senshi Neo-Zero Double Blitzkrieg Debacle"...

Fifteenth anniversaries, I suppose, are not really that special compared to tenth, twentieth, and even twenty-fifth, but I suppose I'm thinking of this one in part because of the melancholy awareness that just five years ago, I was able to mention this point to the people on a mailing list and a message board devoted to that form of Mystery Science Theater fanworks. In a few months from that date, though, the one person in charge of the central MSTing archive would take his site down to move and never put it back up again, and the message board would just sort of dwindle away... No doubt, it had something to do with the show itself having gone off the air a few years before, and yet interest in the show itself remains to this date. One thing that I've wondered about is if fans of Mystery Science Theater are more "satisfied" with the "official" body of work than other fans are of other properties, and don't need to "create their own perfect realities." I've also wondered about the possible difference between "riffing" on a movie, a sort of "group product," and "riffing" on a mere fanfic written by someone who just might not have been able to help themselves in the way filmmakers are "supposed" to. Of course, having written a few of them myself, I can also wonder if MSTings were finally just too much work.
krpalmer: (Default)
For the past few days I was keeping careful track of the date, "counting down" (as it were) to the fiftieth anniversary of the launch of the first artificial Earth satellite... remembering along the way things like the "Space Age Electrical" sign I can pass on the way to work and the old book I read at my grandmother's many years ago laying out in careful detail for young readers how the first man-made satellite (generically named) would be launched by a rocket we now recognise as Vanguard. (Which did eventually work, and made some interesting discoveries with a satellite still "up there.")

In what may have been preparation of sorts for today, I read another, more recent book, "Sputnik: The Launch of the Space Race" by Paul Dickson, remembering my surprise when I found out that its original American edition cover had been titled "Sputnik: The Shock of the Century." The book outlines the spreading public, press, and political reaction and counter-reaction that followed, while pointing out that the Soviet Union had indeed publicised plans to launch an Earth satellite if not the precise date; the surprise of fifty years ago was, in a sense, the product of both sides. It's even tempting for me to see a satellite as one of the more reasonable and even invigorating ways to startle the world. (And as far as a lasting influence goes, an appendix to the book mentions how the word "beatnik," as opposed to just "Beat Generation," was directly inspired by the name "Sputnik.")

In thinking of a fiftieth anniversary, I did indulge in a bit of thinking back as to how the Space Age could have been perceived ten, twenty, thirty, and forty years ago, and how those perceptions might reflect on things right now. There's a variety of things ahead, and yet uncertainty as to how they might turn out if at all... which, in a way, may just show that things don't change all that much and it's best to just stay hopeful.
krpalmer: (mimas)
As it turns out, I was able to come up with a somewhat more interesting "anniversary" post. A while back, I had posted about going to a small exhibition of Star Wars memorabilia, and wound up receiving a comment that in the end left me wondering about going back to it, but this time with my digital camera. I made the return visit last weekend. Unfortunately, a lot of the display lights were turned off and I wasn't allowed to take flash pictures, which meant I couldn't record the case of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader action figures or the "Early Bird" set, but I did manage to capture a few things for posterity, and got around to uploading them online.

The placard explaining the exhibit.
A somewhat understated "Star Wars: The First Ten Years" T-shirt and a "Celebration I" T-shirt.
An early announcement of the movie shows an early version of the Star Wars logo.
A handbill announcing the local premiere of the movie shows a more familiar version of the logo.
A comparison of a flash holder and the lightsabre handle it was turned into.
Action figures in the Death Star playset...
...and as I mentioned before, Han had an insecure grip on his blaster.

The full set of pictures is here.
krpalmer: (Default)
I'm sure there has to be something inelegant about someone posting to his online journal about the process of posting to his journal, and yet the temptation to do just that crept up on me as I realised I was approaching one full year of managing to keep up the habit. Once I had started commenting on the journals of a few other people, I had thought for a while about sharing whatever thoughts I could manage to put down, and yet never found the motivation to get started... until the unexpected surprise of just how the reclassification of the solar system had wound up, and I found myself lamenting it. I've tried since then to reconcile myself to it, wondering if not liking it is somehow akin to being an evolution denier or something equally reprehensible, and in some ways I do understand the hard logic... I suppose the problem is one of perception, of a sense of mean-spiritedness and exclusion so as to not to have to count too high.

Of course, once I had done that, I couldn't just leave one complaint on my journal, and so I tried to keep posting to it. Putting together a few thoughts on just-viewed Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes is an easy way to generate content, and I can usually think of something else to provide around two posts a week. At times, I can look back at what I've written with quiet interest; at other times, I worry that I'm one of those lowest-common-denominator assemblages of incoherent, uncritical ramblings that serve at best to make the weblogs of others look good. I would like to make more comments on the books that I read, but it seems harder to bestir myself to that. I suppose it's also tempting to think that it would be nice to tag my posts and fill out my interest lists, reach out more and start commenting on the journals of people I knew from MSTing days who still touch on other topics, perhaps start posting to a community or two... and then I wonder if those new readers (and there's a little surprise like that every now and then anyway) would just run into the positive comments about Star Wars that the friends list I do have seems to help encourage (and sometimes I work them into posts on other topics in the faint hope that this will make them more "acceptable" to that list), and freak out.
krpalmer: (mimas)
So: it really has been three decades since a certain science fiction film opened on a limited number of screens and just went on from there. I never got started on the preparations that would have brought me to the big anniversary convention, and can hardly say that setting these thoughts down is "the next best thing"... but it doesn't seem pointless to contemplate thirty years of Star Wars, either.

One thought that occurred to me early on was to wonder just what, if anything, from 1947 was remembered quite as well in 1977 as Star Wars is remembered now even amongst special-effects spectaculars aplenty, and if that said anything. Then, I decided that might not be quite fair. There were those who remembered the science fiction movies of the early 1950s with great fondness thirty years later, right in the midst of the first "boom of the fantastic" that Star Wars sparked, and that fondness endures to this day... and yet, it's still not quite the same thing. The difference, though, might well be simply that an industry was built around Star Wars, one that even The Day The Earth Stood Still or The War of the Worlds or Forbidden Planet couldn't quite (or didn't need to) support... which does lead to somewhat more ambiguous thoughts. It might well be one thing to have got the kids of the late 1970s and early 1980s to pester their parents to buy merchandising for them, another thing altogether for at least some of those now grown-up kids to spend their disposable income on pretty much the same stuff...

No matter what that might say, though, I'd like to at least think that Star Wars has continued to find new audiences, that it's not in the fix some "nostalgia properties" seem to be in to me. And yet... mixed in with that hopeful thought, I do seem to have a grim expectation that there are people from an old audience out there making sanctimonious comments about how the "Star Wars industry" should have just stopped while it was ahead a good ten years ago now, and that obviously nobody can form cherished childhood memories about it now when there are so many other things to get interested in. Of course, given that they've made those comments right where I wasn't expecting them for ten years now, I can at least hope their dire warnings were intended to become reality through repetition... but to no avail. Beyond that too, as much as I worry that it might somehow be "blaming the victim," I can wonder if the complaints have clarified my personal interest in the saga. If trying to see the movies as just "the good guys versus the supercool bad guys" leads only to dissatisfaction, then I would be sure to choose an interpretation that focuses more on all of the actual main characters... and for all I know, it also helps that nobody ever quite seems to even realise there are other interpretations and attaches an "I can see the point trying to be made, but..." to the front of their complaints.

I suppose one odd temptation with the anniversary is to wonder if there will ever be a "Star Wars: The Remake." I can suppose it won't happen so long as George Lucas is still with us, though, and that would seem to put it decades out... and after those additional decades, I'm willing to hope that even the noisy demands to "fix" everything will have faded. Of course, that might mean remakes won't prove that the demands for a "grim and gritty" or "one hundred percent supercool" Star Wars might, in the end, not satisfy even those who make them after all.

In any case, it's easy enough to say that Star Wars, by being set "a long time ago" and "far, far away," hasn't dated the way other movies, even other science fiction movies starting off from the same time, may have. The sideburns on some people may catch a few eyes (and I suppose I've also wondered if Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor's hairstyles in The Phantom Menace might one day shout "1999"), but that really seems about it. (To indulge myself with a moment's obscurity, I've seen some anime series from the late 1970s and early 1980s that don't seem "linked to a time" either... the only problem is that for all of the "classic" interest of those titles, once you're used to the changing visual style of anime, it can seem to date like clockwork all by itself.) Of course, even while some complain that computer-generated imagery dates very quickly, I did find some of the optical compositing of the Vintage Editions to be getting creaky when I saw them last year.
krpalmer: (mimas)
Even with the thirtieth anniversary of the original Star Wars almost upon us, I've been trying to keep remembering that the fifth anniversary of Attack of the Clones is going to precede it. (At the time though, I suppose, there wasn't much made of the possibility of AotC being a "twenty-fifth anniversary" movie.)

I suppose I've already posted to some extent about my first viewing of the movie: I went in on a rainy day with an advance ticket but not a little apprehension, but wound up caught up in it. The crowd was enthusiastic; I remember there being applause when Mace Windu chopped off Jango Fett's head, when Yoda sprang into action, and at the end itself. I then overheard somebody commenting "George Lucas has redeemed himself," which did annoy me a little: even after three years of almost unrelieved hostility elbowing me at unexpected moments, I hadn't given up on The Phantom Menace yet... and yet, one of my more aggravating recurring moments is when someone forgets that comment altogether and dismisses TPM and AotC in the same breath. I suppose I have to admit that my first reaction to TPM was pleased relief, but in a "positive but not profound" way; with AotC, my reactions seemed that much more heightened. (That may be a product, though, of having been that much more careful to avoid potential spoilers.) Some odd dialogue just didn't seem enough to me to nail the movie to. Too, I can notice how Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman are excused with "Nobody could handle that dialogue" or "Anyone would be lost in front of that much bluescreen," but when it comes to Hayden Christensen, who doesn't have as much of a body of work, all of a sudden everyone is casually proclaiming "Oh, he just can't act..." (I suppose that applies for me to Jake Lloyd too.)

Still, I can suppose that in some ways that misleading balance between TPM and AotC has helped keep me from wishing that "Episode II should have been Episode I". Of course, it's true enough that AotC made where everything was going that much more definite. In any case, for me AotC has swashbuckling action and imperfect heroes and narrow escapes and dastardly villians and worlds never seen before... in a way, it just might be an underappreciated template for Star Wars movies themselves.
krpalmer: (mimas)
After the tenth anniversaries of the Star Wars Special Edition and the Empire Strikes Back Special Edition, the anniversary of the Return of the Jedi Special Edition has rolled around in turn. At the time, I was at least as interested in going to see it as I'd been for The Empire Strikes Back: it would also mark the first time I'd seen it on the wide screen in a movie theatre. I've come to wonder just how I missed it in 1983: back then, I was certainly aware of and interested in the approach of the next Star Wars movie, but for all that I read the movie's magazines, collected the bubble gum cards, waited to be able to get "The Art of" book and signed the "Sketchbook" out of the freshly equipped library of the new local elementary school again and again the autumn after, I did all of it without the slightest thought of going to the theatre too... but the explanation for that may be nothing more sinister than that my family wasn't (and never has been) big moviegoers; the specific thought, unconnected to reading, may just have eluded all of us. The year before, I'd collected the E.T. bubblegum cards, but I'd never asked go see it either and my parents hadn't brought the subject up...

(In mentioning E.T., though, I do find myself wondering about its own twentieth-anniversary rerelease, which I heard about on a morning radio show at the time, but which honestly didn't seem to make much of an impression on anyone... except for those tossing out sour, sniggering comments about how Steven Spielberg had "wimped out" just like George Lucas. It's troubling to wonder if the movie was sideswiped by those who had spent five years already working themselves into a lather over the Special Editions... just as it's troubling to wonder if the appeal E.T. had for so many in 1982 couldn't adapt over time in even the way many people seemed to wind up summing up Star Wars as an "interstellar insurgency.")

Still, while I was interested enough in seeing the Return of the Jedi Special Edition, it took me just a little longer to get around to it. We weren't that close to final exams, it now seems, but there was no large residence college trip on the Saturday after opening night this time; I went instead on discount Tuesday with a smaller group of acquaintances from the church group I attended at the time. Nor were there articles in the student newspaper this time around, cheerful and chatty as before or otherwise... but, I can suppose, the late 1990s were a dark time for the movie. Founded on a sturdy core of Ewok-loathing (and I did find myself wondering if the trailers skipped lightly over them), the opinion that Return of the Jedi was a damp squib inexplicably trailing the postmodern yet unfulfilled darkness of The Empire Strikes Back held a heavy sway in the circles I was aware of. The novels and comics of the Expanded Universe may not have helped either, declaring the movie as they did to mark nothing more than a shift in the galactic power balance, one small step on the long decline of the Empire and its beautiful machines. With the Emperor able to resurrect himself in the "Dark Empire" comics, Darth Vader had done nothing more than rescue his son, and not many people seemed to quite get a reason for that anyway.

Every once in a while, I wondered myself about what an alternative conclusion could be... and yet, in struggling with trying to think of something that would have action and excitement too, the feeling that Return of the Jedi was the conclusion kept sticking with me. The movie went well enough for me and the group at the time, although my quest to find some unannounced change that surprised me only went so far as the Bantha herd on Tatooine. Nowadays, mind you, all the controversy is manufactured around the DVD edition and the appearance of the young Anakin in it, which annoys me because it seems to hold clear anti-new movie and anti-Hayden Christensen sentiments. I keep resorting to asking myself, in an annoyed way, why it's clear that Hayden is "unfit to stand alongside Sir Alec Guinness" when everyone else gets the pass of saying they just weren't directed...

Still, I think I've at least sorted things out for myself, if starting most of all through reading a really excellent essay by [ profile] fernwithy. The thought that the new movies were an elaborate effort to clarify things about Return of the Jedi has tickled me at times, although that does leave me wondering if some hypothetical remake in the future will end up clarifying them for the others who don't seem so much disagreeable to the thought as just altogether unaware of it.
krpalmer: (mimas)
Just as with the anniversary of the Star Wars Special Edition, I've spent a little time thinking back to the tenth anniversary of the Empire Strikes Back Special Edition. I even found my old university day planner from then and checked it out. We were getting close to midterm exams by then, but my residence college organised another big trip to the downtown movie theatre, and I was part of it again. This time, I was interested in my first chance to see The Empire Strikes Back at the movies ever. I'm in a narrow yet somehow intriguing bracket where TESB was pretty much part of an incomplete saga from the start for me, but I had managed to "pre-experience" the movie through the storybooks and comic book adaptation and novelisation before I finally saw it on videotape (to be convinced, for a brief instant in between the main title flashing on screen and the episode title appearing, that my family had somehow rented the wrong movie).

The trailer for the Return of the Jedi Special Edition was, again, a perfect lead-in to the experience, although I got a slight kick out of how it still used the old release date; it seemed perfect proof of just how well the Special Editions were doing for themselves. (However, that extra week of release did let TESB drop from the number one spot in box-office receipts...) I can suppose, though, that I was somehow a little ambiguous at all the connotations packed into the usual proclamations about how TESB was "the best Star Wars movie ever!", and spent time contemplating whether the movie slowed down in the middle. After having been surprised by the Biggs scene cut back into the Star Wars Special Edition, I was also watching for comparable revisions that I hadn't heard about before. Darth Vader returning to his Star Destroyer seemed to fit there, although in some ways that scene still throws me off somehow. However, I can at least suspect that this comes more from listening to the soundtrack than from any deep-rooted memory of watching the previous version on videotape.

Beyond decade-old memories, I've also been wondering in recent days if we'll somehow be surprised this year with a "thirtieth anniversary" set that includes all the movies in one box. I can suppose, of course, that there may be plans to wait for one high-definition format or another to gain a greater foothold... but I have to admit that, whenever and however a new release shows up, I'll be waiting with just a little anxiety for what it'll be like. A disc full of "deleted scenes" fixed up with new special effects interests me. The thought of those very same scenes being cut into a new "standard version" of the movies leaves me worried that somehow I finally won't agree with things in the end, and I'll wind up just like those people who toss out grousing everywhere they can... Of course, maybe I worry too much. During the leadup to the DVD release, I heard a rumour that there would be a scene added to The Empire Strikes Back showing the Rebel cold-weather soldiers battling snowtroopers on foot. I was interested enough to believe it, thinking that it came from a reputable source, but then I started worrying about whether I'd like whatever music could be found to go over top of it, and whether it would somehow interfere with the drive of the whole battle... and as it turned out, I made a special effort to watch the beginning of TESB the very day I got the DVDs, to find there was no such scene at all. Nor do I think I'm incapable of accepting any changes whatsoever from "the way I remember things"; I can imagine further rotoscope work on the lightsabre effects in the original Star Wars and replacing the somewhat "off-model" puppet of Yoda in The Phantom Menace with a new computer-generated version, as in the extras of the Revenge of the Sith DVD, if with the awareness that this might amount to creating some "personal" vision to outweigh and overwhelm anything that actually results. With all of that, though, I can think that an interesting extra would be the "theatrical version" of TPM. It would "preserve the puppetry" for those who care... and, just perhaps, demonstrate to a few that there could have been motives to releasing the Vintage Editions other than giving people the only version of Star Wars they could bring themselves to watch.
krpalmer: (mimas)
In pondering why I'm as interested in this year (and this day for Star Wars itself) being the tenth anniversary of the Special Editions as I am in it being the thirtieth anniversary of Star Wars itself, I've come up with the idea that it might be in part because I can remember seeing them in the movie theatre much better than I can remember my first viewing. (I'm pretty sure now that it was in 1981, and it obviously had some sort of effect on me, but most of the details now seem vague.) People at my university residence college organised a group trip, and we travelled to downtown Waterloo the Saturday evening after Friday opening night to a big theatre, not classically antique in any sense of design but not subdivided into multiple screens either. (I think it closed a few years later.) There was a considerable lineup outside to get in, and a packed house inside (although I recall only two people noticeable in costume in the entire crowd). The trailer for the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi Special Editions was a perfect lead-in, just seeing the opening crawl in full frame was interesting and somehow rewarding in itself, and it was entertaining to see both the changes I was expecting and the ones that surprised me (among them the new establishing shot of Ben's hut and Biggs's appearance on Yavin IV, even if that's left me wondering over the years if it somehow required knowledge of the novelisations to grasp at once, whereas it might have been possible before to ignore a line or two of dialogue and see Biggs as just one more generic Rebel pilot)... and yet, the obvious shared good feelings of that evening can seem to me in retrospect to be a last moment of tranquility. As with Attack of the Clones, I want to scream at people, "You liked it!..."
Cut to spare the uninterested some fuming and strange opinions... )

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