Dear Mr. Lucas,
First of all, let me say, thank you for Star Wars. I can't even begin to catalog the number of hours I have spent -- as a child, teenager, and now adult -- with Star Wars. Watching the movies. Driving from Walmart to Toys"R"Us to Target to comic shops and beyond with my brothers looking for hard-to-find Star Wars action figures. Camping out at the movie theater and missing school -- when I was in danging of failing more than one class -- for tickets to see Episode I at the first moment possible. Missing even more school and work to see Episode I and Episode III (I was serving a mission for my church and unable to see movies when Episode II came out). Updating my Facebook status at least hourly -- perhaps to the chagrin of many of my Facebook friends -- with a Star Wars quote on May 4, the unofficial International Star Wars Day. Talking Star Wars, reading Star Wars, engaging in lightsaber battles with my brothers and cousins, finding new ways to arrange our family collection of Star Wars action figures. As they say, the list goes on and on.
Suffice it to say, I am a Star Wars fan. I know I'm not the biggest Star Wars, but apart from my brothers and my buddy Chip, I'm the biggest Star Wars fan I know.
As a teenager, and as a young adult, I came across people who had never seen a single Star Wars movie. I found this so hard to understand. For me, having not seen Star Wars as a kid was tantamount to having missed out on childhood altogether, that's how important Star Wars was for me growing up.
In 1997, you released the Special Edition versions of the original three Star Wars films, and I couldn't have been more excited. As I was either unborn or much too young to have seen them in a theatrical setting, I was now finally able to. I enjoyed and welcomed the changes you made (with the exception of replacing the Sy Snootles scene with the tacky CGI "Jedi Rocks" number). However, I'd like to make one thing clear: had these changes come about or not, I would still love these films. (Incidentally, my favorite of the series, The Empire Strikes Back -- possibly my favorite movie ever -- was the least changed by the Special Edition makeovers.)
As a filmmaker, how fortunate you were to have the resources, technology, and fan base to go back and effectuate these changes to make these films closer to the films you imagined.
When you released the original Star Wars Trilogy on DVD in 2004 another significant change was made at the end of Return of the Jedi. The final scene of the movie shows the ghostly figures of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Anakin Skywalker during the Rebel Alliance's celebration of their defeat over the evil Galatic Empire. The DVD release shows not Sebastian Shaw, the original actor who played Darth Vader sans mask, or Anakin Skywalker, but the prequel version of Anakin Skywalker, played by Hayden Christiansen. Justifiably, this change upset many fans, myself included. Eventually though, I grew into this change because it made Return of the Jedi work on an additional level, it gave needed poignancy to the prequel trilogy, and it occurred during less consequential, post-climactic part of the movie.
Like most Star Wars fans, I have eagerly been awaiting the release of all six Star Wars films on Blu-ray. And now we're two weeks away. But today I read a disturbing piece of news that has made me rethink my willingness to shell out another $100 in addition to the hundreds (thousands factoring in opportunity cost?) I've already spent on Star Wars-centric pursuits. Today I learned that the new Star Wars Blu-ray release will include even more changes.
The most grotesque of which, as you know, occurs during the end of the throne room scene of Return of the Jedi -- the true climax of the movie, of the entire series even. As the evil Emperor Palpatine tortures Darth Vader's son Luke Skywalker with the intent to kill him, Vader looks on at his suffering son, then at the Emperor, then to back his son. It's at this point where you decided to add some extra audio. In the new Blu-ray version, at this point Vader mutters, "No," and then yelling, "NOOOOOOOOO!" he hoists the evil Emperor Palpatine over his head and throws him down the nearest reactor shaft, thus rescuing his son Luke from imminent death. It's one of my favorite scenes of any movie, not just Star Wars, and Mr. Lucas, you've effectively ruined it.
With the creation of Star Wars, unquestionably you became one of greatest filmmakers of all time. And not only have you created a universe in which so many people have found enjoyment and pleasure, but you have created stories that have inspired hope and meaning in so many people. Most importantly you've created a medium through which friendships and family bonds have been made and strengthened. And yet, you risk cheapening all that with these willy-nilly changes to these films that have meant so much to so many.
On September 16, you won't see me in any line waiting to purchase a copy of Star Wars on Blu-ray.