During Star Wars Celebration V George Lucas officially announced that Star Wars will bow on Blu-ray disc in 2011!
"Blu-ray is the absolute best way to experience Star Wars at home – in pristine high definition," said George Lucas. "The films have never looked or sounded better."
"We've been wanting to do it as soon as we possibly could, but we just wanted to do it when enough people would be able to buy it and see it," Would it be disingenuous to suggest that Lucas would release Star Wars on a packet of crisps if it meant more money could be made from the franchise?
The original trilogy will be based on the Special Editions released in 1997 and on DVD in 2004; not the beloved first run theatrical releases.
"You have to go through and do a whole restoration on it, and you have to do that digitally," "It's a very, very expensive process to do it. So when we did the transfer to digital, we only transferred really the upgraded version." George Lucas explains without a trace of irony. The billionaire creator of Star Wars is also the founder of THX: a cottage industry dedicated to the preservation and monetization of audiovisual properties. However, the boxset will include unreleased deleted scenes.
Lucasfilm has pulled a deleted scene from Return of the Jedi showing Luke Skywalker constructing a new lightsabre, in a cave on Tatooine, and ignoring Darth Vader's summon, from within his meditation chamber aboard a Super Star Destroyer, to join the dark side of the Force. Notable for its dramatic discordance, symbolising Luke's conflict and typifies the uneven tone of Jedi!
Don't be surprised to see Star Wars in 3D too; if only to shift a boatload of THX-badged consumer products. After all Star Wars became a toy story...
In an interview with the LA Times Gary Kurtz, the producer of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, sheds light on a darker Return of the Jedi, which was drastically altered due to Lucas' shift towards merchandise-driven creative decisions. "The original idea was that they would recover Han Solo in the early part of the story and that he would then die in the middle part of the film in a raid on an Imperial base,"
"George then decided he didn't want any of the principals killed. By that time there were really big toy sales and that was a reason." What's more, the film would have shown Princess Leia struggling to cope with her new-found responsibilities, and would have ended with Luke Skywalker walking off into the distance as an embittered, Clint Eastwood-style loner.
Kurtz left Lucasfilm during pre-production on Revenge of the Jedi (altered to Return late in production), citing creative differences with George Lucas, and the saga suffered. He produced Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal and you'll note the obvious similarities with Return of the Jedi a year later.
At the age of 11, and a fully paid-up member of Generation Star Wars, I was savvy enough to note the increased emphasis on merchandise (not that I was complaining at the time) and lamented the inclusion of a second Death Star, the Emperor (diluting the conflict between Luke and Vader) and those teddy bears!
The Ewok celebration always struck me as an uneasy denouement given the loss and deception Luke had experienced. But what do you think? Did you like how the saga ended, or would you have savoured a few more flies in the ointment?