Lately I feel like it’s been all Star Wars, all the time. First, of course, there was the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic and the latest version of all six films on Blu-Ray; then there’s the theater re-release in 3D, so that there will be yet another version floating around out there.
I recently bought the original trilogy on Blu-Ray myself. I’d grown up on the films, a VHS with copies recorded from HBO sometime in the 80s, but I hadn’t sat down and watched them, start to finish, since I’d seen the Special Edition release in theaters back in high school. I vaguely remembered being horrified by some of the changes, but I figured those would pale in light of the Anakin switcheroo at the end of Jedi that I knew would be there.
As it turns out, most of the changes were tolerable, til Jedi. Weirdly, the thing that offended me the most? The Sarlacc Pit. What a weird thing to mess with – or care about, really – but I yelled at the screen for a good five minutes about that one.
And it got me thinking. Everyone seems to love the Star Wars films, right? At least, mostly. Well, at least some of them. Okay, fine, it would amazing if only…
How do we add and change the Star Wars universe? Let me count the ways…
I’ll be honest, I can’t tell you exactly what’s canon and what’s not. Back when my sister took a class on Star Wars in 1992 or so, novelizations of the three original films were required reading, as well as a fourth (Heir to the Empire). I remember being told, “It counts as a real sequel because it’s been approved!” and that was my introduction into the concept of canon. If you can believe it, I assumed that was the only other Star Wars novel until I got to high school. Foolish mortal.
There are books – many books. Comics. The aforementioned video games. The Clone Wars series. So, so much more. All of these bring added depth to the universe as well as the actual events of the films.
If you became a fan of Star Wars, you didn’t have to move on and find a new passion – your imagination could run wild, going deeper and deeper, until maybe the films themselves begin to look a little shallow. No problem! Surely they could be improved – with just a few tweaks…
A Twirl Here, a Yank There
For years, it seemed the original trilogy was pretty much left alone. Then, as we waited eagerly for the long-awaited prequels, we got the Special Edition. The Special Edition probably happened because the filmmakers wanted a more seamless transition from the new to the old films – and a lot had happened in the last 20 years of special effects, much of it by Industrial Light & Magic themselves. Sure, there would be screaming from fans, but at the time it probably seemed like a good way to improve the overall viewing experience.
Episode I introduced something new: the most-hated character in the galaxy, the one that many would like to literally blot from existence – Jar Jar Binks. Soon it wasn’t hard to find a “specially-edited” copy of Episode I (like, say, The Phantom Edit) at your neighborhood friendly convention that removed Jar Jar as much as humanly possible. This, coupled with the age-old question of “When we show this to the kids, what order do we go in?” had led us to think of Stars Wars as a series of components that are okay as they are now, but undoubtedly could be reconfigured into something better.
Two fantastic examples are fairly recent. If you’re a Star Wars fan and you haven’t read about the Machete Order, do yourself a favor and do so as soon as possible. The author makes a compelling case for inserting the prequels right before Return of the Jedi – and actually omitting Phantom Menace altogether. Perhaps a bit radical for some, but should I ever get around to watching the prequels again it will be like this – I’m especially intrigued by how it affects the viewing of Jedi.
Last week the internet was abuzz with news that Topher Grace edited the prequels into one movie. Thanks to obvious reasons of legality we’ll probably never get to see it ourselves, but that won’t stop a new wave of budding filmmakers (or those who want to sell bootleg “Topher” copies at conventions) from trying their own hand at it. Because the reviews of Grace’s edit prove what fans have been thinking and saying for years: the source material is great, but it might benefit from a more objective perspective.
The Logical Conclusion
So we’ve got some source material that is beloved, but not perfect. It’s a little dated, a little bloated. Most of original actors will probably never be involved with the franchise again (in an acting capacity). But it’s got some solid elements of good storytelling and a universe that seems to light a fire in everyone’s imagination.
…You know where I’m going with this, right?
So see where it goes with someone else’s vision. Breathe new life and new writing into it. Make a film where you’re not worried about it mixing, aesthetically, with the others. Write an entire plot out all at once.
…Do a reboot.
What about you? Would you watch a rebooted Star Wars or are you yelling “Blasphemy!” at the screen even as you read? Share your thoughts!