Yes, Star Wars has changed again [archive.org].

Looking at the comparisons, it seems most of the changes really have just been cleanup. They finally fixed the compositing in the Rancor pit, for instance. And some of the Special Edition bits that didn’t work quite right, like the Jabba scene in A New Hope, have been redone. (He now looks closer to the Return of the Jedi and Phantom Menace versions.) They’ve also cleared up some continuity glitches. Nothing wrong with that — I’m all for fixing things that are genuinely broken.

Then there’s the annoying stuff:

  • Han and Greedo shooting simultaneously is better than the Special Edition… but really, there was no reason to change it in the first place. Han’s a smuggler, and he was in an obvious shoot-or-be-shot situation. Why not just restore it?
  • Inserting Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker. Again, not necessary. First of all, under the helmet he’s so smashed up you can’t even tell it’s him in the new version. (Edit: Oops — it turns out it isn’t him in that first scene. They just erased the original actor’s eyebrows.) Secondly, what was wrong with the shot of his ghost? I suppose they appealed to continuity, but if they really cared that much they’d have waited until Jake Lloyd grew up so they could use him in Episode II. (It also doesn’t help that he looks younger than Mark Hamill.)
  • Since the Hayden Christensen rumor turned out to be true, I really hope they haven’t decided to insert a gratuitous Natalie Portman flashback to the “Do you remember your mother?” scene (as has also been rumored). Nothing against Natalie Portman, I just don’t see how it will add anything. More likely it would break the scene up.

Anyway, for those who want to skip the commentary, here’s the USA Today article and here’s the side-by-side comparisons.

Update 9/10: Here’s another writeup that goes into more detail on the changes and reviews the DVD set as a whole.

2 thoughts on “Revise and Rewrite

  1. Well, it’s not actually out yet, so I couldn’t say. I do generally prefer DVD to VHS just for the image and sound quality, though, which is the main reason I plan to get these.

    As for the originals… there’s an old saying that films are never finished, only abandoned. Lucas seems to agree with it completely. Despite incredible fan interest in getting the originals again, he’s stated that these new editions are the films as they’re meant to be, and he has no plans to release the original versions again. Over here they haven’t even been available on tape since the Special Edition came out.

    And then there’s the question of just what the “original” films are. Lucas has been altering Star Wars: A New Hope practically since it was first released (adding the subtitle and making minor changes to a few scenes), and some of the changes really are clean-up, not, well, changes. So the “original” films shouldn’t be the originals, precisely, but the original cuts plus the recompositing and corrections. But are they really the originals at that point?

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