Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Star Wars: The Original Trilogy

The Takeaway: All right - so a wookie, a droid, and whiny little farm boy walk into a cantina...

Format: Laserdisc/DVD

Yes - you read correctly - Laserdisc. I watched part of the holy trilogy on Laserdisc. Do you know why I did this? A funny thing happened in a little boy named George's mind a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. He decided to make this cool flick - a tribute to the space operas and serials of years past. It took the world by storm and rightfully so. No one had ever seen anything like it before. It had us standing up in theaters and cheering, then standing in line and buying stuff. Lots of stuff. Action figures, bedsheets, lunch boxes, cereal, halloween masks, more action figures, comic books, novels, video games, candy, bandaids, and every conceivable form of product known to man. I'm sure there's a lightsaber inspired vibrator out there in the galaxy to battle the Rancor in every woman you meet.

This became truly the greatest saga ever put on screen. Then the funny thing happened. Like most artists, George wasn't happy with his finished product. The rest of the world was - at least until the wookie battle at the end of Jedi turned into the muppet show. But that's for another paragraph. Still - the world had spoken. Star Wars was a spectacle that needed no changes. Except, George changed it. Some minor changes, some enormous, inexcusable, character-changing changes. HAN SHOT FIRST, DAMMIT!

So the artist George carried on with his "adjustments" much to the chagrin of his loyal servants (us, the multiple times over paying public). Still, we flocked to the theaters as he unveiled his Special Editions of the timeless classics and it was like seeing Casablanca in color - it just didn't work. And then came the big slap across the face. The artist George blasted from high above - the Special Editions were it. This was the past, present, and future of Star Wars. There would be no Original Trilogy as we fondly remembered it. The Special Editions were what we were stuck with - unless one possessed the ancient art of the Laserdisc. On Laserdisc - you are permitted to see the films that captured your imagination in the highest possible quality - surpassing that of the lowly VHS or Beta copy you may have owned. But nowhere near to beautiful DVD quality that was to be the latest release of the Original Trilogy (with multiple nagging modifications aka: the Special Edition) Yes - if you wanted to see a clear, stunning picture and glorious 5.1 audio - you would only do so by watching Jabba the Hutt get his tail stepped on in a repetitive exposition-filled sequence.

The artist George did eventually release his untouched OT on DVD - in a non-anamorphic, crappy quality, virtually useless set. And thus we come full circle - I watched most of the OT this time on my prized Laserdiscs. I was booted from the theater a few times by my wife who had a startling desire to watch that damn dance reality program, during which I was forced to switch to the special edition dvds - hence "mostly" watched on Laserdisc.

The films - well ya sure as hell know the story. But ya don't know what it did to me as a child. I first saw Star Wars: A New Hope when I was 3 years old in the back seat of my folks' car at a drive-in movie theater. I don't remember much from that first experience, but I do remember Obi-Wan saying "Damn Fool" and then me saying to my parents that Obi Wan had just said a bad word. But it was the start of a relationship with Star Wars that would eventually lead to the rebel symbol being tattooed on my back. And it also began my life as a writer - eventually writer/director. No other film influenced me, as it did millions of others, in such a way as to literally change my life. I wanted to do that! I didn't even know what "that" was at the time. But I knew I wanted it.

The story is simple - it's the hero journey - it's about figuring out who you are in the world, and then going after what is most important to you. And that's why it was so powerful to all of us. It's why it's probably the greatest of all "Summer Movies That Don't Suck".

Despite what the artist George has decided over the years about his masterpiece - I will always love Star Wars - the one that I saw first as a wide-eyed 3-year old in the back of a car, the pictures gleaming down to me from that giant screen in the drive in theater, showing me what can be done; and then on into my adulthood as it continues to be a beacon - inspiring me to push forward with all my projects - to work til I bleed - continuing to create, and hopefully inspiring others along the way to carry on as well.

Live long and prosper. Oh wait...

Paris in Fall.

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