Wednesday, September 27, 2006

An Open Letter to George Lucas

Dear Mr. Lucas,

Last night I watched my roommate’s brand-new copy of Episode IV on DVD. Not the Special Edition one, the bonus disc that has the original version we saw in the theaters.

I have to say, I’m pretty bummed.

I’m writing to you because I feel very conflicted over the way you’ve handled the Star Wars franchise over the last few years, and I want you to know my feelings on the matter. Sure, my feelings may not matter more than the other 500 million Star Wars fans in the world, nor may they matter more than the 500 billion dollars you’ve made off your pet project in the last thirty years. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention.

Just so you know, I’m a lifelong fan of your work. “Star Wars” came out six months after I was born, and I can’t even remember seeing it in the theater, though my parents maintain I was scared of the Jawas. Darth Vader apparently was no problem.

For the first ten years of my life, I spent a good portion of my free time pretending to be Han Solo, as evidenced by the enclosed photograph. I consider my second grade Han Solo costume to be my second-greatest Halloween costume achievement, next to last year’s pimp outfit, but that’s only because you can’t deny the power of a big fuzzy white coat.

My point is this: “Star Wars” is your creation, and you have all the rights and privileges associated with that ownership. But millions of your fans consider the films to be a part of our childhood, and in a sense, that makes it our movie, too. In the sense that we paid for your multi-billion dollar fortune, that makes it our movie also.

We know you don’t like the original versions of the movies. We know you cut out certain scenes—like the ones where Luke talks to Biggs—because they didn’t fit. (They actually give “Star Wars” an “American Graffiti” feel, which is kind of interesting). But would it betray your sense of artistic ownership to offer up a decent version of what we knew growing up? The versions on the new DVD’s suck. They’re all grainy, and they look like they’re being broadcast on TV. Why not restore the originals and throw in some deleted scenes as a bonus? Don’t you think we’d shell out the money for them? I used to have Han Solo underwear, for Pete’s sake. Making a concession to a devoted fan base isn’t selling out; it’s making an investment.

If you keep moving in the direction you’re headed, people are going to start saying “George Lucas is the best and worst thing to ever happen to ‘Star Wars’.” Actually, they are saying that on My worry is that you’re going to become the film version of Al Davis. Both of you are headquartered in the Bay Area. Both of you have strange affections to clothing styles (you to flannel, Al to jump suits). And both of you are cultivating the image of an aging maverick rebel who refuses to listen to those around him.

We know you fought the studios to win your autonomy, George. Don’t become a studio yourself.



PS: Han shot Greedo first.