By now I’m sure that everyone knows that Lucas has, once again, decided to mangle The Original Trilogy for its September 16 Blu-Ray release. We have this scene:
described as “Krayt Dragon Call” but sounds more like a hair metal rock scream. Maybe that’s why Sir Alec hated being in the film, though I doubt that’s him performing the yell (or that the yell was even recorded circa 1977). Though if it is, bravo old man.
There are rumors of CGI’ed blinking eyes on the Ewoks, which I can’t imagine being anything but ridiculously creepy. And then there’s this…
This is the Greedo shoots first of the Blu-Rays. This is the Hayden Christensen instead of Sebastian Shaw at the end of Jedi. This is…
I’m not going to go into an entire spiel about Lucas or go on an extensive discussion about how his changes ruined the trilogy. People like Trey Parker and Matt Stone (in South Park‘s Free Hat) and Mr. Harry S. Plinkett have said more than I can say and better than I can say it.
Nevertheless, what’s particularly fascinating about this change is that it directly relates to one of the biggest complaints about The Prequels. Of course, I’m talking about
While Revenge of the Sith has its supporters, I never considered it to be a particularly good film. It was plagued with the same problems as the rest of trilogy- over emphasis on effects, poor characters, senseless plot, lack of an emotional connection- and thus I thought it hovered around the same quality as The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, which were both terrible films.
But ROTS had its fans, and people still seem to enjoy it. However, I have yet to hear anyone defend the “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” It’s difficult to even think of a way to begin to argue on behalf of that moment. Maybe if Hayden had expressed that emotion it might have come across better (I know, that is first time that has ever been said anywhere), but in James Earl Jones’ distinctive voice with Vader Voice Box Enhancement, it was pure silliness. Throw in exploding tubes of liquid and collapsible robots, and it’s hard to read the scene as anything but funny. In the six years since ROTS came out, Lucas should have learned that it ruined the impact of the rest of the film, including the funeral of the girl who died of a broken heart despite the ridiculous technology and robotic midwives.
To be fair, the “NOOOOOO(s)!!!” in this sequence are not nearly as over-the-top or goofy as in ROTS, but they are equally pointless, if not more so. It’s been 28 years since Return of the Jedi was released. Nobody has complained about not understanding Darth Vader’s motives or intentions throwing the Emperor down the tube, nor can I imagine people wanting to know his thoughts immediately prior. Original Trilogy Darth Vader was a stoic figure, not one to succumb to emotions. When he said “let me look on you with my own eyes,” that was the first time through dialogue we received a sense that some humanity still existed behind the mask. We didn’t need another moment before that one, and, like so many of the changes and so many of the elements of the prequels, it cheapens what came before/came after. Also, sometimes silence just works better, and can lead to a more shocking and powerful moment in a film, like when a Number Two finally rebels against his leader at the expense of his own life.
So why did Lucas include this, probably knowing all too well the disgusted connection the audience already has with Darth Vader saying “NOOOOOOOOOOO”? Is it because, as he said during the filming of The Phantom Menace, “it’s like poetry”? To bookend the series by having “NO!!!!!” be Darth Vader’s first and (among his) final words?
Obviously I don’t know Lucas personally, but I think by now it’s clear that he has something of a disdain for his biggest fans. Many of his changes, despite being unnecessary, seem tailored just to piss off the people who most like his product. Instead of trying to update, protect, or improve his films, he purposely includes things that anyone with even the mildest conception of Star Wars fandom knows will get the Internet riled up. Average viewers probably wouldn’t care either way, some might not even realize that the “no” was new, but it’s doubtful that anyone would consider the “NOOOO!!” making the scene any more memorable or poignant.
Furthermore, it’s been nearly 15 years since the original Special Editions came out; it’s not as if Lucas needed modern computers to throw in a Jones voiceover of “NO!” into Jedi. He cannot even use the “you know, for kids!” excuse like he conceivably could to explain away the comic relief, horribly animated Jabba in the Jabba/Han scene in the new versions.
Lucas’ tinkering isn’t the work of an obsessive mind, it’s the work of a fiendish one. A person trying to see just how far he can destroy a beloved film, to see just how far he can push his loyal followers until they finally stand up and refuse to buy his product. Of course, he knows, as we all do, that people, even complainers, will happily pay for the next release, which will feature every character speaking their emotions aloud.
The one thing that I am curious about, however, is seeing what scenes from what other movies Final Cut Wizards are going to put the “No? No!” into. Time for a new meme.