krpalmer: (mimas)
[personal profile] krpalmer
When I heard that the "pre-Special" versions of the three old Star Wars movies would indeed be released on DVD, my mood was almost amused, in a "how about that!" sort of way. As frustrated as I've become with the unceasing efforts of some to make a scandal of the movies' history over the past decade (extended into efforts to make the release itself a scandal), I was still interested in seeing this official release of what I was starting to call the "Vintage Edition"... if, in part, to test a theory or two that I've formed. With the thought that at least one person buying them ought to have motives other than the desperate desire to "downgrade" (among many other excuses), I went out and bought the release.

One thing I was impressed by right away was the new covers of the DVDs, photo-composite echos of some of the classic poster art (the art itself is on the back of the covers as if for purposes of comparison)... but, of course, that's just one small part of the package. To view the Vintage Edition, I decided to make a day of it. There was a nostalgic kick to the old 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm logos, and the opening shot of Star Wars did seem more impressive than I'd ever remembered it being in my family's assorted panned-and-scanned videos... although I happened to notice white flecks against the fixed starfields. They didn't seem to be there in the shots on board the blockade runner, though, and that made me start wondering if these imperfections in the print had been composited in back in 1977. Without being able to make a direct comparison against the standard DVD releases, the movies did look acceptable... but as time went on, something started to tell on me: the matte lines, and in particular some of the shots looking out on space from inside the ships, began to look very obvious. It had been easy enough for me to keep believing what I'd started to suspect before, that great swaths of the Vintage Editions were still identical to the latest DVD-editions. I had been just a little incredulous of people who let shots that had to last for only seconds overpower all the rest of the movies... but for me, long minutes were starting to have something of an effect. Was I in a fix somewhat like theirs? Maybe.

They might have interfered with my half-joking efforts to do what I could imagine to be a desperate need for others, to view this Vintage Edition marathon as if casting off the past decade, although that effort may not have lasted very long anyway. It was easy enough for me, on Darth Vader's first appearance, to think just "The villian!"... but, when it got to scenes like Obi-Wan remembering Luke's father, memories of Revenge of the Sith and before returned without prompting. Later, in The Empire Strikes Back, I had the strange feeling that the original version of the Emperor was just an interloper. Some people had once attempted to dismiss the Special Edition additions as meaningless detail, back before the party line turned into proclaiming computer-generated effects crimes against nature. As if in reaction to that, I'd found myself much more interested in the modifications to the 2004 DVD-editions... and this might tie into my second suspicion.

Some people are bold enough to proclaim that the new Star Wars movies do measure up to the old. I've grown compelled to go one step further: for me, the new movies are essential to view the old movies as a part of a satisfying whole...

[livejournal.com profile] lazypadawan has suggested before that the gap is between people who view the movies as nostalgia and those who suggest there's some other intrinsic quality. When it comes to nostalgia and declarations of quality, though, I never seem to notice very much about how much better Luke Skywalker's hero's journey was than Anakin Skywalker's tragic hero's journey... in fact, insulting Luke sometimes seems to be a staple. The nostalgia instead takes in things like Imperial machinery and Vader choking his officers and Slave Girl Leia and Admiral Ackbar... amusing enough, perhaps, but dwarfing all recent attempts to contribute? To me, that nostalgia, which just might be summed up as viewing the movies as a tale of "space insurgency," seems unsatisfying... and given the way some people complain about Return of the Jedi as a conclusion, it seems they find it unsatisfying without quite realising it too. There's an alternative for me, though, and it involves seeing Darth Vader's redemption as something significant, not something that just happens to have happened in between grooving on the space battle and complaining about the Ewoks. I once found an effort to point out signs that Vader could change, and was changing, throughout the three movies, and it was an eye-opener... but in some ways, I still need to be told about things before I can work them out for myself.

Being offended with the Special Editions and being offended with the new movies seemed to feed off each other after a while. I might have escaped it through no more complicated a means than thinking getting upset seemed pointlessly depressing... but through it, the new movies were able to tell me something. In accepting Anakin Skywalker the way he was, I accepted that he had come from somewhere he could return to. What was more, the Emperor was established as a looming presence and not just somebody who showed up towards the end... and Darth Vader was freed to become a tragic figure.

Of course, buying the "Vintage Editions" may have been a pricy way to confirm this all over again. I'm not quite sure if even one other person will watch them and have an idea even somewhat like mine from scratch. Still, I think I came out of it all right.

Date: 2006-09-19 03:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lazypadawan.livejournal.com
Hee hee, the best $100 you ever spent! Or however much it costs to get all three movies ;).

I agree 100% that the PT is essential to view the OT as part of a satisfying whole. It's impossible now to watch the OT without thinking of the PT and vice versa.

Date: 2006-09-19 10:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] krpalmer.livejournal.com
Actually, after factoring in the Best Buy exclusive can (I'm going to give these DVDs to my brother, who doesn't have his own set of the movies yet) and the sales tax and the price being in Canadian dollars... you're just about right. I'm sure certain people are just enthralled at having to spend more than the original box set costs to get the versions they "have to see," but also wondering if some inventive person is going to try and get their discs swapped for free with an argument like "they're defective--they've got computer generated effects in them!"

To be fair, the original trilogy did stand on its own for a decade and a half, and not everybody seemed to interpret it in a way that left them somewhat unfulfilled. Even so, I feel sorry for the people who got so offended by TPM's comedy relief that their ability to accept anything afterwards just shut down.

Date: 2006-09-20 02:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lazypadawan.livejournal.com
Yeah, I agree.

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