Friday, September 22, 2006

My Verdict on Star Wars - original 1977 version

Well, like the Coca-Cola company and Kentucky Fried Chicken should have learned but didn't: Don't fuck with the original. It was magic. Changing it has no possibility of making it better, only worse.

I'll bet George Lucas - and let me say this before I say that: bless the man for releasing the original version of the flicks - anyway, I'll bet he included the new version hoping that folks would compare them to see how much he upgraded them. And, boy howdy (as a redneck girlfriend of mine used to say), did he ever upgrade them.

But the final result was really a diminishing of the original grandeur.

The best why I can describe it is the original looked "real." Most of the principle photography was done on location and on actual completed sets, and it looks like that.


Lemme just show you.

Here's a new, upgraded scene.


Here's the old one.


Note how in the old one the sunlight and the shadows have the look of actual sunlight and shadows BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE! (The difference in shape is due to one being optimized for 16x9 TVs, and my software isn't clever enough to compensate - it doesn't look like that during viewing, in other words.) And the darkness of the new version is consistent throughout.

There are some scenes that are welded into every Stars Wars fan's mind, like the whole binary sunset scene here:

New:


Old:


Now, not much difference here except for the thing I mention above; the older version looks more organic and real to me.

But, check this out...

New:


Old:


They completely changed it! The old one is vastly superior. The mountains lend perspective. What the hell?

And in case you're wondering if only the external scenes have this more realistic feel, here's an example of an interior/set shot. I think the old one still is slightly better.

New:


Old:


So, the new one has its charms, but the old one looks like it should.

And that's all I have to say about that.

4 comments:

Peter L. Winkler said...

The revised version looks consistently worse in every scene you chose.

This is just a marketing ploy. I suspect that it will be tried with some other, similar films, then it'll be dropped. Remember colorized black and white films?

I read that Paramount is doing the same thing to the original Star Trek TV show.

Yahmdallah said...

Yup, they're upgrading the special effects so that they'll look better in HDTV. Since Star Trek was filmed and not taped, the quality of the source materials for the acting parts is good, but I guess the special effects look bad when blown up. They certainly look a little creaky (but still cool) on the current DVDs.

I just hope that they don't darken and change the contrast so much like they did in Star Wars.

Whisky Prajer said...

Hm. After seeing this, I might yet part with those extra Lucas-bucks (bastard!). I remember hauling out the old VHS letterboxed tape I had of SW after I'd seen Crapisode 1. The first few scenes were a fond bit of business as usual. But then, when Artoo first encountered the Jawas in the canyon, I realized "Hey - he's using a hand-held camera to film this!" He was also taking his time to frame the situation, build up tension, slowly reveal the spectacle of these little creatures... yes, the mighty have fallen quite a distance, alright.

LEGO Star Wars rocks, BTW (not that you were asking).

Yahmdallah said...

Whisky, I do think this is one of the few re-releases worth the money if it's a flick near and dear to ya. I'll be interested to hear how your viewing of the original version made you feel. I got that wonderful nostalgic rush you get when you re-visit an old favorite - something I never got from the upgraded versions.