Yesterday as I was delaying my inevitable chores and having a bit of bacon and eggs for breakfast, I was browsing reddit and saw another rumor article about Disney releasing the original Star Wars movies without all the George Lucas changes. I get excited to see this, because I’m looking forward to having a copy of the unadulterated version and would even (probably) pick up a copy of “The Empire Strikes Back”. In the comments I saw one in particular that caused me to put down my fork and make a quick response. Only the response grew as I started to type it to something beyond my usual two-sentence, flippant reply. Enough so that I thought I ought to put it here (and, perhaps in Lucasian fashion enhance it a bit).
The original post that caused me to respond was:
It’s ridic how people spend so much time talking so much shit about a guy for doing what he wants with his own creation…and the people who talk all the shit about him are the ones who worship his work.
And my reply: (Somewhat edited for clarity)
As an artist I’ve come to realize that you can work on a piece forever if you really care about what you are doing. Nothing is ever quite up to what you envision, so you rework and modify, bringing your project closer and closer to your concept. Depending on under what constraints you are working (getting paid, deadlines, etc) at some point you have to release it. Once it’s out there for others to experience, part of it ceases to be your creation and merges with those that are influenced by what you created. At that point it actually changes people, and their perception of things in their future will be colored by that change. Peoples lives are altered to a degree depending on how deeply they are moved by whatever you’ve created. It can be argued that Ronald Reagan was shot, in part, due to the influence of a film.
Now if an artist goes back and alters the creation to better fit some inner eye view of what the concept could have been, they’re able to do that, but the people who experienced a change in themselves may not like the result of the changed work. Look at popular songs that have been remade by artists years after their work made an impact on the music scene. Many people who loved the song won’t like the newer version and cling to the original, while those that were first exposed to the new version and had their perceptions altered by it might appreciate the original, but often still cling to the version that changed them as the best one.
Now if an artist wants to ‘destroy’ the original work so that his vision continues, and he still has the rights to the original, it is his prerogative to do so, but he risks alienating those who love the original work because of the impact it had on them. I’ve been known to destroy pieces I’ve made that I really dislike because I don’t want them out there, and I’ve also been persuaded to sell some of those I’ve hated because someone loved what I created. At this point I can’t go back and alter or replace that piece because I’ve created something better, because I no longer own the rights to that piece, but I can certainly understand Lucas’ drive in this.
It’s the depth of the effect of these movies on the people that first experienced Star Wars before there was A New Hope, who see the altered versions and their reaction is to tell all those around them, “This wasn’t in the original!” It feels disingenuous to see Jabba in a scene that wasn’t even there before to us and, I believe, that is what many people are reaching for. We want a chance to go back and see the version we fell in love with, the one that altered our lives and dreams, without the jarring breaks of “this isn’t right”.
I can’t fault Lucas for trying to improve his movies, he had the rights and means, but I don’t think it was wise. At some point I think you need to let your art be, especially if it has had the mega impact my art will never have. I’ve learned that it is sometimes better to create a new vision where you can try to hit the mark closer to home on a completely new try without the baggage of what came before.
I could have gone on and on (and I’ve been known to, just not on reddit)