Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Come On, George

So it turns out all the ugly rumors are true. The original unaltered versions of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi scheduled for release on DVD this September will not be presented in anamorphic widescreen. Several sources on the Internet have confirmed it, including DigitalBits.com and HomeTheaterForum.com.

Lucasfilm is just slapping the prints from the 1993 laserdiscs on these DVDs, claiming that's the best source they have. Those '93 prints are letterboxed, so you'll still get the widescreen experience, but it will only look okay on a regular T.V. On one of those fancy HD widescreen sets, it'll look like a postage stamp in the middle of an envelope (granted, one of those fancy, rectangular postage stamps that generally come from foreign countries, but a postage stamp nonetheless). This would be somewhat forgivable if they were doing a little restoration work to the movies, but they're not. What you saw in '93 is what you're gonna get in '06.

I wouldn't be so bothered by all of this if the original unaltered films weren't the main selling point of these DVDs. Why make such a big stink about finally releasing the original cuts if they aren't going to be up to industry standards? Do they realize just about every DVD release is anamorphic these days? All the other Star Wars DVDs are anamorphic, including the bonus features (which, technically, is what the OUT will be on these new DVDs - bonus features in a repackaging of the 2004 versions).

Look Who's Talking is available anamorphic. Look Who's Talking, the movie where Kirstie Alley has a baby that talks like Bruce Willis. Actually, all three Look Who's Talking movies you can get anamorphic. That includes the one with the baby who talks like Roseanne and the one with the dog who talks like Danny DeVito.

Basically what Lucasfilm is saying with their lazy gesture is that the original unaltered Star Wars trilogy is less important than the Look Who's Talking trilogy. In fact, they're saying the original unaltered Star Wars trilogy is less important than the following movies, all of which have anamorphic DVD releases:

Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
The Apple Dumpling Gang
Cruel Intentions 2
Dunston Checks In
Fear of a Black Hat
Kangaroo Jack
Little Giants
Rugrats in Paris
Rugrats! Go Wild
Space Jam

Oh, and all three Naked Gun movies, because the "Weird Al" cameos really lose their punch at the 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the Star Wars films were around for two decades before the Special Editions. Those are the versions that garnered the critical acclaim, the Academy Awards, and won over the hearts of millions. If Lucas and his cronies are going to bother to release them on DVD, they should do it right. Make 'em so anybody with any ol' kind of T.V. set can enjoy them. Clean 'em up a touch, too. Do the damn films that hundreds of people worked on together and made you who you are today some justice.

Film restorer Robert Harris has offered Lucasfilm his services in the wake of this controversy, saying that if they push the DVD release date back, he could clean all three original films up and make them anamorphic in time for Christmas. He even said he'd piece the movies together from old release prints if he had to, based on the questionable claim that Lucasfilm had all the original prints destroyed after the Special Editions came out.

So far, Lucasfilm hasn't said anything publicly about this whole backlash and the Robert Harris offer, but from what I understand, they are listening intently to fan feedback as of late. I'd highly suggest, if you agree with any or all of the things I just typed, contacting Lucasfilm's PR department (publicity@lucasfilm.com) or their VP Jim Ward directly:

Jim Ward, Senior Vice President
Lucasfilm Ltd.
5858 Lucas Valley Rd.
Nicasio, CA 94946
Phone: 415-662-1800
Fax: 415-448-2495

Ask 'em to hire Harris. Tell 'em you want a version of the OUT that's up to snuff. Make some noise and they just might change their ridiculous ways. The bullshit has got to stop, the sooner the better. I, for one, do not want to have to wait any longer for acceptable versions of these three very enjoyable and important films to debut on a format invented after the Reagan Administration.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

the funny thing is, anamorphic is how a film is originally filmed. so its actually more of an effort to make something non-anamorphic. which supports my theory that lucas is fucking with you star wars fans. i will endorse any type of revolution.


8:45 PM  

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