Star Wars has been on my mind a lot lately. It started this summer when a friend noticed my beard and said I looked like Ben Kenobi.
That got me thinking about Halloween. I skipped the holiday of holidays last year out of apathy when I looked at costumes in the store and nothing inspired me. I dressed as a bargain basement zombie for the two years before that. But I looked like old Ben, huh?
Inspiration struck. I found a pattern online after discovering the legion of costume-obsessed freaks that invent their own Jedi names and lurk on costuming forums with flashing banner ads featuring photos of themselves mugging in character with animated colorful lightsabers, eager to dispute the authenticity of Stormtrooper injection molds and Sith Lord robe thread counts. How far was I willing to take this?
My recently retired mom (who loves to sew) was happy to enlist in my efforts to make a solid try at an authentic Obi-Wan costume. I cobbled together a couple of old belts and a couple of pouches and buckles that I cut, filed, scraped, stained and coated to arrive at the appropriate weathered look. I got a nice pair of brown boots that I might actually wear again if I ever get another motorcycle, and a relatively authentic lightsaber with light and sound effects, plus one for the belt.
My next job was to convince my wife to dress as a Star Wars character. She had only seen the original trilogy once, at my insistence a few years ago, when she was in her mid-twenties. Let's just say her enthusiasm after having her first go at the trilogy didn't quite match mine.
But to be fair, how could I really imagine seeing it for the first time as an adult? As a 34-year-old man who grew up loving those movies, I really couldn't. So I asked my wife to watch them with me again, and she begrudgingly agreed. She liked them all much better the second time around (Yes!) but couldn't get excited about the Princess Leia The Slut or Frumpy Leia The Choir Member costumes we were able to find online.
As I was pondering these costumes and enjoying my old VHS-to-DVD transfers of the original (pre-special-edition) trilogy again, I came across this fantastic Gary Kurtz article in the L.A. Times, which finally confirms things that many of us 30-something fans have long suspected.
Kurtz produced Star Wars (IV) and Empire (V) and thus worked very closely with George Lucas until they parted ways for Jedi (VI). Kurtz says Lucas wanted to sell plastic toys, and thus sold us all out, starting down a path to the dark side that began with the Ewoks and Kurtz's departure and continued through the next three prequel films that don't really deserve any discussion here at all because in my mind they do not exist.
But the greatest injustice does not relate to Return of the Jedi, which I still manage to love despite the Ewoks, and it is not even the embarrassing cringe-fest that the next three films became.
The real tragedy is the fact that the original trilogy has been stolen from us. What have we done, Mr. Lucas, other than love your first three kick-ass movies for most of our lives? The latest news that your original trilogy will be released yet again in theatres, this time following the prequels, not only with all the crap you added in decades later, but this time in 3D, presumably with even more crap added in? There is a great disturbance in the force.
In the 90s, Mr. Lucas, you re-released your original trilogy in theatres and on DVD. You added a bunch of garbage, like making Greedo shoot at Han and miss terribly from two feet away, so that Han appears to kill the bounty hunter in self-defense. Well it was self-defense when he shot first, man.
You went on to add a lot of cartoon animated crap, like a truly terrible, digital Jabba The Hutt scene in IV, a cartoon dance number in Jabba's palace in VI that could have been a commercial for Mr. Potato Head, a fancy new Ewok song and some crappy actors from the newer movies who were pasted on the sidelines to replace original players. WHY?
Again, why? Much has been written about the tragedy of these decisions, but I--like so many young men and women of my generation--just want my godddamn trilogy back.
Why steal it from us? Why finally release the movies on blu-ray but omit the untouched originals? Have you ever even looked at Amazon? Thousands of us plead with you to do just this, including one Jonathan Mankuta, who argues that you should
"take the original three films . . . do NOT change the story at all...don't add in new footage, cut old footage, change any story elements...don't make Greedo shoot first, Luke scream, Yoda dress in drag, Threepio with a gold metal boner, Jawas dancing around a campfire as they cook s'mores, Wampa enhancements, CGI-ing a Colt-45 bottle into Lando's hand, putting Jabbas' fat sister in the same sexy outfit as Slave Leia, or ANYTHING other than what folks actually saw in the theatres the first time the films were released."
Why is it that in order to see these movies the way we like them (untouched) we have to watch them on VHS tape or with crappy DVD transfers from our VCRs? You officially license and sell every other piece of shit that possibly comes to mind, don't you? Why not sell us the untouched originals on blu-ray with great sound and picture but without all the fucking crap you added in later? WHY?
Well I'm glad I'm not the only one who is angry, and I can't wait to see The People Versus George Lucas. But yeah, I'm still dressing like old Ben Kenobi for Halloween this year, George, and my homemade costume is totally freaking awesome. You'd probably be impressed. Thanks Mom.
I'll always love you for the old trilogy, George, even if it's a grainy VHS transfer and you don't think I deserve better. It hurts, but you still own a chunk of my childhood. I hope one day you figure this out, man.