By now you’ve no doubt heard that the upcoming Blu-ray release of the Star Wars movies will feature a few alterations to the original trilogy, including blinking Ewoks, a new door to Jabba’s lair, and worst of all, Darth Vader shouting “NO!” as he throws Emperor Palpatine to his death in Return of the Jedi, instead of being all silent and Vader-like. (*takes deep breath, puffs inhaler*)
Now, the site SaveStarWars has dug up an old speech George Lucas made before congress in 1988 arguing for cinematic preservation. In it, the old George Lucas basically calls 2011 George Lucas a barbarian. It’s an impassioned speech, but sadly, 2011 George Lucas just laughed and stuffed handfuls of money into his slavering neck pouch, ordering his boy servants to bring him more cats for breakfast. “CHOMF CHOMF CHOMF!” he belched, poking at a bikini-clad boy with his slimy tentacle.
[Quoth the Lucas, circa 1988]
American works of art belong to the American public; they are part of our cultural history.
People who alter or destroy works of art and our cultural heritage for profit or as an exercise of power are barbarians, and if the laws of the United States continue to condone this behavior, history will surely classify us as a barbaric society.
These current defacements are just the beginning. Today, engineers with their computers can add color to black-and-white movies, change the soundtrack, speed up the pace, and add or subtract material to the philosophical tastes of the copyright holder. Tomorrow, more advanced technology will be able to replace actors with “fresher faces,” or alter dialogue and change the movement of the actor’s lips to match. It will soon be possible to create a new “original” negative with whatever changes or alterations the copyright holder of the moment desires. The copyright holders, so far, have not been completely diligent in preserving the original negatives of films they control. In order to reconstruct old negatives, many archivists have had to go to Eastern bloc countries where American films have been better preserved.
In the future it will become even easier for old negatives to become lost and be “replaced” by new altered negatives. This would be a great loss to our society. Our cultural history must not be allowed to be rewritten.
There is nothing to stop American films, records, books, and paintings from being sold to a foreign entity or egotistical gangsters and having them change our cultural heritage to suit their personal taste.
I accuse the companies and groups, who say that American law is sufficient, of misleading the Congress and the People for their own economic self-interest.
I accuse the corporations, who oppose the moral rights of the artist, of being dishonest and insensitive to American cultural heritage and of being interested only in their quarterly bottom line, and not in the long-term interest of the Nation.
The public’s interest is ultimately dominant over all other interests. And the proof of that is that even a copyright law only permits the creators and their estate a limited amount of time to enjoy the economic fruits of that work.
There are those who say American law is sufficient. That’s an outrage! It’s not sufficient! If it were sufficient, why would I be here? Why would John Houston have been so studiously ignored when he protested the colorization of “The Maltese Falcon?” Why are films cut up and butchered?
I hope you have the courage to lead America in acknowledging the importance of American art to the human race, and accord the proper protection for the creators of that art–as it is accorded them in much of the rest of the world communities.”
Well said. Unfortunately, Lucas owns the Star Wars copyright (even though, technically, he only directed the first film in the original trilogy) and can alter his films as he sees fit. Knowing what we know now, it seems like a lot of what people loved about the original Star Wars were created out of decisions made over Lucas’s head that he fought the whole way. It’d be like if a group of guys were trying to build a house, and one of them kept saying stuff like, “No, we should put the foundation on the roof!” And the other guys ignored him but still let him put his name on it. And then thirty years later the guy was like, “Well it’s my house now, and I’m going to put the foundation on the roof. And windows in the basement, and a big playhouse in the living room for my kitties… And rabbits, millions of ’em! Purple ones, yellow ones, pink ones! And we’ll all live off the fatta the land…”