Friday, May 19, 2006

Star Wars Fans Continue to Get Fleeced

There was much excitment recently when Lucasfilm announced they would be releasing the ORIGINAL Star Wars trilogy, unaltered, as they were first shown in cinemas. Yes, the version in which Star Wars was just Star Wars and not Episode 4. The one where Han shoots FIRST! Where there are no stupid CGI additions and dance numbers, and where Han doesn't step on the tail of one of the galaxy's most feared crime lords.

Lucas initially claimed that it would never be released on DVD, forcing everyone to buy the special editions that came out a couple of years ago. Now that everyone's bought it and that well has run dry, Lucas shouts "SUCKAS!" and proceeds to release it anyway. And to add insult to injury, the DVDs will be a limited run that includes the 2004 special editions as well - that means, if you bought those back in 2004, you'll have to buy them AGAIN to get the original version of the movie! Woo hoo! Despite the underhandedness of it all, fans still rejoiced because they would finally be getting their preciousss original Holy Trilogy (TM) on everyone's favourite optical media format, as the Gods intended.

But wait! The saga is still not complete! In a big "fuck you" to the fans, it seems that Lucasfilm have decided not to bother presenting a quality release for the originals. They're taking the transfer from the Laserdisc release from the early 90s and porting it to DVD! Which means the image will be lousy compared to the cleaned up, remastered 2004 release, and it will be presented in non-anamorphic letterboxed format. The Digital Bits article has more details. In another rant on their site, they conclude:

Bottom line: This notion that Lucasfilm is doing the fans a favor by finally giving them the original versions on DVD in 2006... but in 1993 laserdisc quality... is baloney. In fact, it's unacceptable. Even though most of them probably don't even know what anamorphic means on DVD, or why they should care about it, the fact remains that the fans are getting bilked. We hate to say it, because we've known many of the folks at Lucasfilm for years now. But someone HAS to say it. It needs to be said. Lucasfilm can and should do better. Who knows? Maybe they're already planning to do better for the 30th Anniversary of the original Star Wars next year... and this is just one more bite at the pie in the meantime.

So, a crappy presentation bundled together with the 2004 releases that most people either don't want or already own. And there's always the possibility that these wankers will do a better release down the line. But, if they don't, this 'limited' edition will be the only chance fans have to own the originals on DVD. And the odds are, if fans believe that and scoop it up and it proves popular, Lucasfilm will smell the $$$ and invest in spiffier editions. What a dilemma for the fans.

Personally, every new bitch slap from Lucas dampens my fondness for Star Wars just a little more. There was a time when something with the Star Wars name elicited excitement and anticipation. Now, it only elicits a cynical "who gives a shit" from this jaded geek.

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