While a bit pop-culture and light hearted, it's an indelible part of every geek's soul, so perhaps it's worthy of a front page discussion:
Over at Movie Pilot, Alex Rosenhiem puts forth a compelling argument for preservation of art and of shared cultural experience and why that matters. He couches it in the context of revisionism as applied to the Han/Greedo Cantina scene, long a source of nerd rage, countless arguments and is even it's own meme. The moment is a pivotal one for the development of the Han Solo character, but more importantly Rosenhiem argues that Art, Star Wars included, gives us access to the past and where we were at a certain point in time when we first experienced it.
I have the original on laser disc and watch it from time to time... I've also heard they re-released the original on DVD some time back (2005?) is that right?
Yes, there was a DVD set made of the original 3 films. Each came with a "bonus disc," which was supposedly the theatrical version. In fact they were just ripped from the Laserdisc. They look good enough -- way better than the VHS copies I watched 100+ times as a kid.
That set is out of print and goes for a fortune online. I bought it at Walmart like 7 or 8 years ago from the clearance bin. *shrugs*
Laserdisc can and does exceed the vast majority of DVD videos produced.
It was the Cadillac of home entertainment, and only well produced Bluray is even capable of beating it today.
They could pull those rips from Laserdisc because the quality was so good, and you won't see artifacts from digital compression on a Laserdisc. Sound wasn't half bad either, but nothing compared to the digital sound you have on DVDs and Blurays. That was probably remastered.
If anyone has the Laserdiscs today you could play it with a high end Laserdisc (my family still has the best one ever produced) and watch Star Wars as it was meant to be seen.
Not that abomination Lucas produced with new CGI to make some more money.
P.S - I hate digital video because the content producers are too damn cheap to make a quality encode, and the average consumer player is crap and can't handle a good encode anyways.
You're completely wrong. LaserDisc has, at best, about 2/3rds the resolution of a DVD. Add to that DVDs typically being anamorphic, while laser discs were letter-boxed, and you're losing even more picture.
I've seen good transfers from Laser disc, and they're a significant step below the quality of any DVD you can buy.
My too, my wife actually found a copy of the Definitive Collection [wikia.com] a couple years ago. It's like 3 discs per movie, all in CAV format. It's the cleanest audio I've ever heard. It's way crisper than the compressed remastered DVD editions. For that alone it's completely worth it.
I need to hack my laserdisc player to output something besides composite output -- the comb filter just isn't up to the task on the 40 inch widescreen.
They did release some Original cut DVD's a few years ago, though I don't own them. In the middle of writing this reply, I came across this: http://savestarwars.com/gout.html [savestarwars.com] It's basically a 20 page manifesto about why those DVD's suck. :)
The quality of my laser discs is pretty poor. Not sure if its the disc or the player. Would love input on it
Seems there are different laserdisc editions out there. There are some Bog standard Laserdisc (in widescreen and fullscreen), the THX release and the Definitive Collection. If I had to guess, I'd say that quality gets a bit better as you progress through that list.
Quality of the output from the player though, I think really comes down to the output of the player. If the player only outputs a coax, it's going to suck no matter what you do. If you have a composite video out, it's dependent on the quality of the comb filter in the player and your tv, which combines/separates out the various color/brightness/picture signals you get with a composite, 3-wire signal.
Where are my mod points today? +1 to you, sir.
I also have a laserdisc copy. As others responded, the Definitive Collection is outstanding quality. CAV, excellent audio.I purchased this new, when it came out, for about $250. As I understand the history of the production, as they were readying the "new" versions of the films (re-release at theatre with updates such as CGI Jabba & other f/x added), they went through a thorough process of cleaning up original prints (grain/noise), re-processed/re-created the multi-channel audio, to make a *perfect* copy (print) of the original film, including digital form. Those new "masters" were used for producing the source for the updated films.However, fortunately for us (who have/have watched the Definitive version) the best release of the original film was created.According to Lucas, the story goes that after those original edit masters were made, used for the laserdisc production, some were inadvertently destroyed during the process...so only the "new edition" masters exist now? Sounded like a made-up story to give an excuse why they won't re-produce the original edits, used for the laserdisc Definitive production.
Regarding new master copies -Being a Star Wars buff, I even purchased a laserdisc copy (Japanese import, as it came out in Japan long before US release) of The Phantom Menace. I'd edited together the (best, imho) fight scene with Darth Maul - just the fight, editing out the other scenes occurring concurrently, and was able to make an outstanding digital copy. I used a old digital-8 camera which allowed me to input from the laserdisc & stream over firewire to my PC.
Anyhow...I'm only mentioning the "new master copy" idea, as I've been able to get fantastic quality from my Pioneer laserdisc player, using component out (no s-video, not composite-ugh), directly into a projector with a video processing (component analog-to-dvi/hdmi, processing onboard cleans up further).
If Disney/Lucas never give us a clean original release, I might just have to hook-up the video editing PC again & make a clean 5-channel digital copy from those laserdiscs.
I just popped the Pioneer laserdisc (best audio&video chip version, last release), after 6yrs in storage, to watch another film I'd not seen released on DVD/digital download yet...so the equipment still works great. Here's hoping there's no laser-rot on the Star Wars discs.
Excellent post.I have just, to my complete and total dismay, discovered my laser disc is in fact not a laser disc at all. It is a CED disc [wikipedia.org]. How sad. It does however explain the incredibly POOR video quality. Oh well I'll just wait for the re-re-re-release of the original film ripped from laser to bluray :p
You know it's funny (not "haha"...but "odd/sad way"), when the CED discs came out MANY people purchased them after seeing great press on laserdisc quality. My uncle, a tech+audio+video buff picked one up. Later he purchased a laserdisc and of course we immediately compared/contrasted the tech.It's interesting to see how companies do the "knock off"/"ride coattails" and succeed to some degree, often to the extreme detriment of the consumers.Thanks for reminding me of that competing large disc format.
In 1976, as an un-established franchise, Han was written to be the badass to appeal to that market.
Fast forward however many years to the re-release, now you've got a mega-hit on your hands with moms objecting to the little ones seeing bad stuff, etc. It's simple commercial pandering, and the fact that it generated nerd-rage was also probably pre-calculated and hit the positive side of the balance sheet too, because anybody who cares enough to be outraged is probably incapable of not buying the new movies within one month of release plus the six volume box set when it became available.
"It's simple commercial pandering, and the fact that it generated nerd-rage was also probably pre-calculated and hit the positive side of the balance sheet too"
*Sigh* Sadly, you're right. But you know what really causes ache about that decision? They didn't have to do that. When he shoots Greedo first, it firmly establishes that he's a loner that only worries about himself. It is a genuine surprise that he turns up at the Death Star at the end and fires on Darth Vader. It didn't make his decision to lead the battle on Endor inconsistent for the simple reason that he got to see how important what the rebellion was doing was. And.. I'm about to fall into the nerd-trap of over-explaining my point on a web forum. Sorry.
There is some value in what George is doing. It's teaching us not only the value of good storytelling, but also the value the audience places on a piece. He crapped on a great trilogy but hopefully future filmmakers are learning from it. Afterall, the guns are back in ET!
Not that any of the writing in Star Wars is anything other than campy space opera, but the thing that grates on me worst in EpIV is the constant reinforcing of Han's character that way, Leia does it, then Luke really goes over the top with his "Take care of yourself, Han, I guess that's what you're best at" line.
I suppose by the time of the re-release, there's precious few people on the planet that don't know that Han comes back to save the day during the Death Star raid, so a little watering down of the character doesn't really matter all that much, at least for the surprise factor.
To me, Star Wars was the first big "cash out" movie, ever. I was born in the late 1960s, and seeing "C3POs" cereal on the grocery store shelves hit me as crass, even at age 12. Trading cards, action figures, bed sheets, and on and on - I don't think my parents or I ever bought any of it, though, I have to admit, I am looking for an excuse to buy the Tauntaun sleeping bag....
It is a genuine surprise that he turns up at the Death Star at the end and fires on Darth Vader. It didn't make his decision to lead the battle on Endor inconsistent for the simple reason that he got to see how important what the rebellion was doing was.
Helloo! spoiler alert!, I was hoping to watch Star Wars this weekend, and now you've ruined it. Thanks for nothing man!
Um... Not so sure about that. I saw the original release something like 8 times... most of those at a large theater on Wilshire Boulevard in Westwood [west L.A.] after Star Wars was released. I own a copy of the first edition paperbacks... but I haven't bought the DVDs. Why? Because the Marketing Gurus have turned what was "novel" at the time into a marketing juggernaut of make ca$h and more ca$h... With each new product and each new novel [and soon new movies] the plastic peals off the trope. I imagine this will also be the fate of the "Avatar" sequels...
There is [was?] a similar scene in the original Indiana Jones movie where the Arab swordsman/thug/mook makes "threatening motions" at Indy with his giant gleaming sword... and Indy replies by pulling out a .44 Smith & Wesson HE2 and shooting him.
Does it make a difference that unequal force was used? Hmmmm... you choose between getting sliced and diced or shot up... Han and Indy both seem to believe it is better to be a live rascal than a dead skunk.
I'm definitely a fan, but I've never gone further than renting the DVDs...
I suppose I "care" that they watered Han down, but really can't get all that worked up about it - the stepping on Jabba's tail scene was a much worse atrocity, IMO.
> because anybody who cares enough to be outraged is probably incapable of not buying the new movies within one month of release plus the six volume box set when it became available.
Speak for yourself. Can't say I was "outraged", but I do despise what Lucas did in the "re-dos".
I've never bought one Star-Wars movie (tape or disk) ever.
I've got the trilogy on VHS, thankfully not one of the special editions as I like to pretend the prequels don't exist.
As far as I understand, there's only one release that's widescreen and not a special edition, and it's on VHS.
I've got a working VHS player now, but I'm sure I won't in ten years time. If I want to watch Star Wars as it was originally released, it means either ripping them myself or downloading from TPB. You simply can't get them legitimately in a modern format.
At what point does it stop being simply Make-George-Lucas-Money entertainment and become something society deserves to preserve in its original form as part of cultural history? Greedo shooting first changes the entire tone of Han's introduction.
Maybe it's just a show and I should really just relax.
Wondering how they eat and breathe, and other science facts? (La la la!)
Given that Disney is now the IP owner, the Hans-shoots-first versions will never hit the market.
Well, not unless Disney sees it would be more profitable than maintaining the current, Greedo shoots first and look!-inappropriate-shiny-CGI-shit-everywhere-caus e-I-need-to-justify-re-releasing-the-films version.
Maybe during the 50 anniversary addition, Disney will re-release the Hans-shoots-first remastered edition.
I'm pretty sure I rented the original release versions from Netflix a few years back... worth a look to see if they still have them. TPB surely does.
"The DVDs used non-anamorphic video sourced from the 1993 LaserDisc releases"
http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Original_unaltered_ trilogy_(DVD) [wikia.com]
Might as well just look for the laserdisc version.
Throw away your VCR. The Laser Disc version, converted to DVD, is available at several locations around the internet.
And now that Lucas sold control of the company, he can't stop Disney releasing the remastered originals, to a waiting market. Knowing Disney, then they'll take it off the market for years, and r re re release it from the "vault" periodically.
I read TFA, and I have to agree. The way you experience the art is the important thing. Creators like George Lucas set something free to be interpreted, reinterpreted, debated, etc. by the audience. They can never recapture their art and turn it into something else, as Lucas has tried with Star Wars.
I first watched Star Wars in the infancy of the internet. There were web rings, quotes, and many many artists' impressions of the movies. What must someone think if they search on Star Wars today? I have to accept that fandom changes, but my original experience of watching the movies never will.
This is only one more piece of information that starts to make sense to me:
George Lucas did not write the original Star Wars story nor did he write the script.
George Lucas spoke before congress in 1988 [savestarwars.com] about preserving movies in their original form, to insure the public would still have access to unaltered media if someone came along years later and revised them. I can't have much respect for a man that would make such a passionate plea for preservation, then do the exact opposite less than ten years later. I think this is more about making another buck than it is about "artistic vision".
It is entirely possible that George Lucas "the man" wants one thing, but George Lucas "the corporation" does another.
I think the OP still has a valid point.
Try it like this:
If George Lucas cannot lead the direction his corp. is going, then he has sold/given up control for the advancement of the corp.(make money), and it was a money decision.
So, in my opinion, Lucas sold out, and went against his stated principles for money and/or fame.
Google it. I'm not going to post a link, sorry. This guy took the best visuals out there and from what I can tell painstakingly removed all of the "special" from Star Wars, tESB and RotJ, leaving the fixed mattes and such. A pretty good job. I'm having a viewing for my buddy's boys here soon. All they've seen is Han shooting first and disco Jabba.
Yeah. I meant Greedo shoots first and the Muppet show at Jabba's palace.
Another issue that I haven't seen discussed is that art in unaltered form teaches future viewers about the time the art was created in. What were the issues of the day, what was the hot topic, what was taboo and what that is taboo today was a non-issue then. It lends perspective.
All of that is lost if it keeps getting updated and the old version locked away or destroyed.
Your point resonates with me as I was listening to the current cartoon editor of the New Yorker [npr.org] yesterday talk about how humor in the New Yorker has changed. A couple years ago I flipped through a New Yorker cartoon book broken out by decades. It was an interesting way to see how humor has changed, and to think about how I reacted to the humor of the various decades.
Good point! For example, some of the old Looney Tunes [wikipedia.org] and Merry Melodies [wikipedia.org] cartoons were very racist. To "update" them would be to deny history and our cultural progress.
I believe that they chose to not release rather then change them.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Golden_Age_of_L ooney_Tunes [wikipedia.org]
It is better than changing them. However, I think they SHOULD be released, carefully labeled as being primarily of historical interest and not at all suitable for children (note, they were never actually targeted for children).
I am old enough to have seen them on television. They are racist, but somehow, viewed from a modern perspective, they are very nearly a parody of racists as much as anything else (original intent notwithstanding).
I agree completely. The same might be said of "Song of the South" I did see it as a child. But, I'm not really interested because I remember it being silly with catchy songs.
I have a copy just to defy Disney.
The funny thing about it is that it was one of the things I saw as a child that lead me to question the racism I grew up around.
The besst movie review, ever:
He may sound like an idiot, but he does and in-depth analysis of Ep1 in a way anybody can understand. Under scrutiny, the film comes out the other side looking like it was written by a 5-year old child. Easily worth the time...