19 August 2010

Once Again With The George Lucas


Once again I find trapped myself between George Lucas, who often makes it hard to do right by him, and his fanboy former fans, who... well, they're fanboys.  The mice under your sink are more likable.

If only fanboys loved cheese as much as Japanese animated tentacle porn.




Let's get some obvious stuff out of the way: Lucas has put out some shoddy DVDs in the past.  The Special Editions are a mixture of technical laziness and bizarre aesthetics: there's the inverted sound placements,  the newly added slapstick, all the things they didn't correct, like the poorly rotoscoped light sabers, the still piss-poor CGI in a few spots and the weak-ass color work on Star Wars and Empire.

Then there were the theatrical release discs which were just old laser disc transfers.  More about that later.

I understand that a lot of fanboys are impatient and frustrated with George trotting out the "doing this costs a lot of money" shtick again.  He hauled it out last time too to excuse the glitches.  And it's ultimately unnecessary. For several reasons.

George is right to only release special editions on blu-ray.  Not generous, not warm, not very "Uncle George", but essentially right.

To be sure, the "costs a lot of money" thing is BS.  I don't know what fix-ups like this cost, but I'm sure George has got the money that's needed.  But it does cost some money, and it's his money and these are his films and there are always going to be more formats, so where exactly does his obligation to "do right by the originals" start and where does it end? 

More importantly, in porting twentieth century films to twenty first century digital formats, there is no one clear mandate, no matter how much fanboys would like to argue the point to the contrary.  To begin with, there is no such thing as faithfully transferring a celluloid film to a digital disc.  And that's the starting wedge (no pun intended) for a legitimate argument about where a "proper" transfer might begin and end. 

When the laser disc transfers came out, fanboys bitched because of the stereo sound.  Of course, Star Wars didn't get released is 5.1 sound because 5.1 sound didn't exist in 1977.  This begs the question: do fanboys want faithful transfers or not?  The answer is no, they don't.  They want everything they think the discs should have--all the technical benefits of the last thirty years (which are largely thanks to who again?)--minus the stuff they don't like.

Well, yeah, I have my wish list for Star Wars blu-rays, too, and it sure wouldn't jibe with theirs, and it sure wouldn't jibe with George's.  I want the digital add-on special effect-s, with the exception of the Greedo shooting thing and the slapstick humour.  I want a cleaned-up print and a little colour correction, but not what we got last time. 

I'm okay with not getting these things because Star Wars is a film I saw in 1977 (and again in 1980) and I've come to grips with that.  So go ahead, George, screw these up, too.  As maddening as it is that you can't summon the soul to do this properly, I do love how it drives them crazy.

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