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My Star Wars War

Susan Arendt | 3 Jul 2008 21:00
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Sadly, I underestimated Lucas's disdain for his own legacy. Millions may have grown up committing every moment of Star Wars to loving memory, but Lucas himself was never really happy with the movie. Limited time and resources kept him from fully realizing his artistic vision, a frustration that the Special Edition revamps were created to correct. Back in the '70s, when he was still a relative nobody, he had to live with the dissatisfaction of a movie he couldn't help but see as hopelessly flawed; but after 20 years of success, he figured he didn't have to settle any longer, and decided that the original, untouched versions of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi would not be coming to DVD. If you wanted to watch the Star Wars trilogy on DVD, it was the Special Edition or nothing.

I was furious.

You may think I'm overreacting, and you're probably right. If I'm being completely honest, I must recognize that my burning hatred of the Special Edition achieves temperatures that only the most hotheaded fanboys can generate. Does it really matter how the Death Star blows up, so long as it does blow up?

I wasn't really reacting to the digital alterations, of course, but rather to a sudden and overwhelming sense of loss that I had never experienced before. The house in which I grew up not only still stands, but my mother still lives there. My childhood haunts, from my elementary school, to the park, to the mall, have all remained remarkably unchanged since my age was a single digit. My mental snapshots of that perfect, happy, innocent time in my life are still largely intact, right down to the gold shag carpeting that still adorned my bedroom floor.

Star Wars, which served as the backbone for so many of my childhood adventures and interests, was therefore the first of my childhood landmarks to be taken from me. Even worse, it was being taken from me by the very man who had given it to me in the first place. George Lucas, who I considered a personal hero, who I admired so deeply, was breaking my heart for no other reason than to serve his own vanity. I understood his desire to stay true to his original intentions for the movie, but the way he turned his back on the theatrical release - and those of us who loved it - felt to me like the cruelest of betrayals.

Finding the original movies on VHS rapidly became incredibly difficult, as box sets disappeared from shelves and prices on eBay shot skyward. The set of videos I had cavalierly left behind when I split up with my ex became harder and harder to replace. After finally deciding that I had no other choice but to cough up the jacked-up fee being asked by heartless hucksters, I began to browse eBay looking for a box set of tapes that hopefully hadn't seen too much use. Instead, I found the temptation to join the Dark Side.

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