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Why Star Wars Should be Left o the Fans

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the don't-make-us-shoot-first dept.

Star Wars Prequels 425

Aguazul writes "The BBC has an interesting take on George Lucas's meddling with our memories: 'Fans of Star Wars are not happy. Someone has been tampering with their movie history.' They speculate on who really owns a piece of art. Even the artist doesn't really know what he's created, and a work doesn't become 'something' until given value by an audience: 'the artist is merely the medium for his or her work.' Many people contributed to the Star Wars trilogy. Is Lucas' over-inflated idea of his own importance in the process the reason he is stopping people seeing the unmodified originals?"

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All I can say is... (4, Funny)

Crookdotter (1297179) | more than 2 years ago | (#37435876)

Noooooooo!!!!!!!

Re:All I can say is... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436016)

DO NOT WANT!!!

Re:All I can say is... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436074)

I dont mind him messing with it. In fact the tweaks are somewhat interesting.

However, why does he just not release the originals? I mean a directors cut thrown in with the originals and *NO* one would have bitched at all. Instead we just see the tweaked versions.

I honestly like the way they did Raiders. That was decently done. I guess he wanted people to remember some commercial he did in the 90s and not call him a liar I guess.

Re:All I can say is... (1, Redundant)

Truekaiser (724672) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436122)

Because as soon as he edits it he throws out the older version considering the edited one the 'canon' and the older one his imperfect vision due to technology limitations at the time.

Re:All I can say is... (1)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436252)

Which is something akin to creating a new version of Casablanca with an ending that has better appreciation by current sample audiences. Brrrr...

Update Manager (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436262)

But how is it any different from a new version of a computer program that has more efficient algorithms and fewer security vulnerabilities?

UGH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37435890)

ok I am not a fan of the changes made to star wars, but if a thing in the background is really pissing you off THAT MUCH then you might want to evaluate your life

besides, if you want the originals I am sure there is a nice VHS collection at your local thrift store ... the originals were not in freaking THX surround and HD quality either. I have a set of the originals and converted them to DVD, they look original and do not suffer from physical damage due to playback.

Re:UGH (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#37435930)

The originals could be released in THX and HD. That's the point. He keeps changing the editing too though. I'm not that bothered overall. Some of the changes have been good, some bad.

Re:UGH (2)

gomiam (587421) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436010)

I suspect changing character defining moments isn't "a thing in the background". I don't care much about Star Wars any more, though, so he can change whatever he wants: he's already crashed it into the ground as far as I am concerned.

Re:UGH (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436148)

really? does it fucking matter who shot first, its a gd fictional character not a historical figure, and it was not a defining moment, it was an introduction, the defining moment is when he overcame his greed and helped the greater cause, but your too tied up on a 100millisecond special effect to notice anything else are you

Re:UGH (5, Insightful)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436290)

Uhm, most films are about fictional characters. Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Harry Potter, Avatar, to name a few.

But it IS a defining moment, because hey, this guy is going to deliver our heroes to someplace safe. But he just shot someone. In cold blood. Can we trust this guy to bring our heroes safely to their destination? Who knows. We're excited and tense.

And now we have this new version. Where he politely follows the Geneva convention and Rules of Engagement of civilized people everywhere. No ambiguity - we can trust him. We wait for the inevitable discovery of his golden heart. Meh.

There is a huge difference there that changes the whole movie up to where he overcomes his greed. It's open heart surgery on a living movie. And I hate it.

Re:UGH (3, Insightful)

GarretSidzaka (1417217) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436192)

Yeah I was a die hard jedi wannabe, up until about season2 of clone wars crappy cartoon. When I realized the stupid clone wars was gonna be ridiculously long like the afghanistan war

READ TIMOTHY ZHAN BOOKS

Re:UGH (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436014)

ok I am not a fan of the changes made to star wars, but if a thing in the background is really pissing you off THAT MUCH then you might want to evaluate your life

besides, if you want the originals I am sure there is a nice VHS collection at your local thrift store ... the originals were not in freaking THX surround and HD quality either. I have a set of the originals and converted them to DVD, they look original and do not suffer from physical damage due to playback.

The originals were not freaking THX, but the 35mm and 70mm theatrical versions destroy the dvd version (trasfered from the laserdisc masters) all the days of the week, and twice on sunday. So yes, people aspire to having an excellent version of Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi on blu-ray. And by excellent I mean a transfer from a 4k or even 8k master (or even Mr Lucas' own personal Technicolor print). That we have to cope with "bootlegs" editions is just depressing. I'll finish by saying that films are not software. They are not designed to be enhanced over the course of decades. You can't take a film made in the seventies, and 2 decades later add cgi and think that it will mesh together without problem. How many people would be up in arms if some stupid studio "creative" executive started adding cgi to Forbidden Planet, War of the Worlds, or The Day the Earth Stood Still just to please a modern audience ? This is what George Lucas has done to Star Wars and is continuing to do until the day he passes away. A film is a product of its time. Nor more no less. Some films attain classic status and they become part of our cultural heritage 2,3,4 even 7 decades later. Beh Hur is a classic, why doesn't Warner add cgi to make it more in ? There are hundreds of classic films that are as important today as they were in their day, and yet nobody claims that adding, or updating them with stupid cgi is necessary (and yes this includes also science fiction films).

Re:UGH (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436076)

I think that's called "turnerizing" and it is a pejorative.

Re:UGH (1)

jmauro (32523) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436216)

ow many people would be up in arms if some stupid studio "creative" executive started adding cgi to Forbidden Planet, War of the Worlds, or The Day the Earth Stood Still just to please a modern audience ?

They redid the "The Day the Earth Stood Still's" CGI not too long ago [imdb.com] . But for some reason they made Michael Rennie look like Keanu Reeves. I wasn't up in arms, but was a definite why did they waste money on this? Seemed like a lot of work for very little benefit. They should of just left it like it was.

Looks terrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37435898)

How does this qualify as HD? Who buys this shit?

who's over-inflated idea of his own importance? (2, Insightful)

convolvatron (176505) | more than 2 years ago | (#37435900)

>> Even the artist doesn't really know what he's created, and a work doesn't become 'something' until given value by an audience: 'the artist is merely the medium for his or her work.'

the writers, producers, costume designers, actors, etc are really irrelevant in the creative process. no, its the
talentless consumer thats really the creative wellspring of artistic work

Re:who's over-inflated idea of his own importance? (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436002)

Well, at the end of the day, yes. Whether it's one guy sitting in his apartment with an easel or a piano, or a team of hundreds, at the end of the day art's intention is to be consumed by, well, the talentless consumer (if you wish to take that extreme a position).

A similar thing happened in the late 1980s when Frank Zappa went to remix a lot of the old Mothers of Invention records, and due to deterioration in the original masters, he re-recorded those takes, and the differences were sufficient that a lot of fans were angered. Did they have a right to be? I guess from Zappa's point of view, since he was the artist, they didn't, but from they're point of view, and whether this is rational or not, they viewed it as tampering with music that held a great deal of emotional impact.

Honestly I'm of two minds. Some changes in the Star Wars films seem to be for the better. Cleaning up the Hoth sequences in The Empire Strikes Back definitely was an improvement, fixing technical limitations of the time. The whole Han-shooting-Greedo sequence was not, mainly because it seemed an extremely post-hoc change.

At some point Lucas is going to die. At that point he's going to lose control anyways. You can be sure his heirs will carve things up, make new sequels, do as they please, so his strange idea that he can maintain perpetual control on his creations is ultimately as pointless as Canute's holding back the tide.

Re:who's over-inflated idea of his own importance? (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436168)

As many have pointed out, if someone is so strongly partial to the original Zappa recordings, they can find those records. No one is forcing them to destroy their originals and replace them with the new and allegedly inferior mix.

As a (crappy) musician, I've experienced that myself, where I collaborated with a good friend on a track, and after a few more (dozen) listens, decided his contribution sucked, so I created an alternate version that was more in line with my tastes. I didn't delete the old one, in fact I still give it top billing on the album, with my remix as a "b-side". There is no technical, legal or financian reason to withdraw the old release.

Now, if only Lucas could put the crack pipe down and see the light. He could realistically sell two versions side-by-side, same format! The original theatrical release, and his latest rehash. Some will buy the unmarred version, some will prefer the new, and some will buy both just because they drink the goddamned kool-aid. Either way, everyone gets what they want. Why they don't do this is a testament to Lucas' bizarre vanity.

Re:who's over-inflated idea of his own importance? (3, Insightful)

jmauro (32523) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436234)

No one is forcing them to destroy their originals and replace them with the new and allegedly inferior mix.

This is what I don't understand about the Star Wars complainers. If they stop buying the new copies and just keep watching the old ones, he'll stop making changes. He's only releasing a new edition every year or two because everyone and their cousin goes out and buys it.

Re:who's over-inflated idea of his own importance? (1)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436296)

Two things:

- (minor) the copyright on the old Star Wars movies will run out before the copyright on the new ones. He may want to play it safe there.
- (major) I guess he feels no-one in their right mind would buy the new versions, given a choice.

Re:who's over-inflated idea of his own importance? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436200)

As a writer, I agree that the consumer matters most. Changing stuff is just wrong, when I write a novel I keep in mind that I'm writing for other people to read my story and I just can't go on and change it all the time, people need to know what the official story is.

With that said, I'm fine with adding stuff to the original story, provided it is not a change.
For example, Star Wars video games, comics and novels have greatly expanded the Star Wars universe. Some of these things "collide" with the movies, for example the game Shadows of the Empire tells the story of a character named Dash Rendar who was on Hoth, delivering supplies to the Rebels, when the Empire attacked their base during the events of The Empire Strikes Back. You don't see Rendar in the movie, but according to the game he was there. If Lucas feels like adding a scene where we see Rendar, I have no problem with it, I just see it as the movie telling more "Star Wars Universe story". The events in the game are considered canon, so it doesn't hurt to feature them in the movie.

On the other hand, when Lucas changed whether Han shot Greedo first, that was a big mistake. Han originally shot first, making him look badass (not sure Greedo even shot at him). Then Lucas changed that, making Greedo shoot first and Han retaliating (I heard Lucas was concerned Han would set a bad example for children if he shot unprovoked). That changed a character-defining moment of the film and therefore it changed how Han looked to the viewer. Han now looks less tough to the viewer than he originally did. It's a minor change but it has important consequences on the viewer.

There's also the scene where Han meets Jabba in the hangar in Mos Eisley in episode IV.
It's something that's been added, so normally I'd be fine with that. However, it was poorly implemented - in Return of the Jedi, Jabba looks merciless and cruel. In this added scene, he lets Han walk all over him (literally at one point). It doesn't fit and changes how the viewer sees Jabba. So while it's an addition and not a change, it does change a few things and therefor I don't like it.

Another example: changing Anakin's ghost in Return of the Jedi to the actor that played Anakin in episodes II and III.
I don't mind changing the actor retroactively so it fits with the prequels. Unfortunately, the ghost should have been the ghost of an older Anakin (and in case some die-hard fans are going to tell me Anakin 'died' when he became Vader, I will point out that in this case Vader turned back into Anakin when he saved Luke and killed the Emperor; or at least that's how I would see it).
While changing the ghost could have been a good thing to do, it wasn't done well and it looks cheap. Many fans hated the prequels and don't want to even consider them official movies. I quite agree - the prequels just don't feel "Star Wars" enough. So this ghost-changing feels like Lucas is forcing the prequels into the original trilogy, and it doesn't sit well with many fans. Had Lucas changed the ghost to an actor that looked like an older Episode-II-and-III-Anakin, it would have been much better.

You can always make your movies or novels tell more story, but you can't change them. Lucas doesn't seem to get this and the fans pay the price. It isn't respectful to the fans, and I say this as an author. I imagine Lucas sitting alone in his mansion, writing changes to his movies, and believing the whole world is impatiently waiting just outside his property for him to give them these changes, when in fact everyone is actually ignoring him, nobody even remembers he lives there, and the only time people hear of him is when he releases another change that causes people to hate him more.
He's either out of touch with the reality of what his fans want, or he's really just making Star Wars for his own enjoyment and doesn't care about what his viewers want. Either way, this is terrible for an author of any kind.

Well, I've heard of people who enjoy their jobs or hobbies speak of what a good death would be for them. Mountain climbers often say they hope to die climbing, etc.
Now I finally know what a good death is for a writer: dying as soon as you've added the last letter to your last good novel and before you start damaging what you've spent all these years creating. I think no death would be better to me. Thanks for teaching me this lesson, mister Lucas.

Re:who's over-inflated idea of his own importance? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436024)

the writers, producers, costume designers, actors, etc are really irrelevant in the creative process. no, its the
talentless consumer thats really the creative wellspring of artistic work

It's not hard to find sci-fi with better writing, better costumes, better acting, better music, etc.
Without the support of the fanbase the movie falls into obscurity and everyone invovled becomes unimportant.
The fans paid for it to be what it is today and George Lucas gladly took their money and shat in their faces.

Re:who's over-inflated idea of his own importance? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436034)

The ultimate goal of a creative person should be to let others engage in the same creative process he/she is in. Creating is not just showing that something can be done (or written down in a certain way), but also showing how something can be done, so that others can improve upon it. If this aspect is missing, the artist has failed, and has just created a dead piece of work.

Re:who's over-inflated idea of his own importance? (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436092)

Actually, the thing there is that it's only been in the last few hundred years that artists were willing to start taking credit for work they produced. Prior to about the 19th century, it was God or a muse that did the work, the artist just put down on paper or however else the results.

The consumer is where the works ultimately go, if they're not able to soak into the consumer then there isn't really much art going on. Personally, I find it annoying, but ultimately have to accept that it's not what I make of my work that ultimately matters, it's what the viewer makes of it. Sometimes it's pretty amazing and other times it's pretty depressing.

As far as Star Wars goes, I've been saying for years that George needs to recognize that at this point the fans own the work, and that he really needs to rerelease the original versions, perhaps rescan and remastered, but from the original materials with the highest fidelity in mind. It's arrogant of him to not recognize that he managed to bottle lightning and to leave it as is.

Re:who's over-inflated idea of his own importance? (1)

matunos (1587263) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436208)

I don't know if they took credit or not, but they sure took money for their works.

Re:who's over-inflated idea of his own importance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436250)

Prior to about the 19th century, it was God or a muse that did the work, the artist just put down on paper or however else the results.
 
This certainly isn't the same thing and if anyone attributed just about anything else to being "God's work" you would have been modded troll and got a ton of posts bitching about the flying spaghetti monster... The only reason you got anything out of this is because there is an illogical trend of trying to force media from the hands of the creators to the hands of the fanbois. If fanbois want to have a story they control then they should start producing works instead of stealing them.

Re:who's over-inflated idea of his own importance? (1)

sackvillian (1476885) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436144)

Maybe you or the average geek can't be expected to know this, but this idea is not at at all new. The concept that an author is not the authority on his/her own work has been common, even accepted, in literary analysis for decades. It's sometimes called the 'intentional fallacy'. Calling the author a 'medium' is just the article's way of making an old idea seem new and sexy.

But even if you wouldn't go as far as saying that the interpretor sets the meaning, maybe we could all agree that going back and modifying a work that you've made is a shitty thing to do if that work already holds meaning for millions of people. As is pointed out in TFA, this is exactly what Lucas did that started this debate

Side note - literary analysis can have practical ramifications after all! Who knew?

Re:who's over-inflated idea of his own importance? (1)

convolvatron (176505) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436224)

that may be true, but that doesn't necessarily imply that every random reader/listener/watcher is
more* authoritative

Re:who's over-inflated idea of his own importance? (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436248)

But even if you wouldn't go as far as saying that the interpretor sets the meaning, maybe we could all agree that going back and modifying a work that you've made is a shitty thing to do if that work already holds meaning for millions of people. As is pointed out in TFA, this is exactly what Lucas did that started this debate

The problem isn't that Lucas keeps going back and re-imagining / revising things. The public has no problem with a directors cut, director's recut, special edition directors re-re-cut...ad nauseum. Its lucas' ip and he's free and welcome to remaster it as much and as often as he likes.

The public however strongly objects to arrogantly being denied what they want.

Me, i want the the THX edition in HD. That is all. No extra scenes. Just a remaster of the original. There is a big market for that. People would be happy to tolerate Lucas indulging in as many editions and remakes and recuts alternate endings, inserted scenes, cgi replacing actors as he likes, if only he'd satisfy the demand for this ONE thing.

From literary circles to legal ones (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436276)

The concept that an author is not the authority on his/her own work has been common, even accepted, in literary analysis for decades.

So how many more decades will it take for legal analysis to warm up to this concept?

Re:who's over-inflated idea of his own importance? (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436274)

the writers, producers, costume designers, actors, etc are really irrelevant in the creative process. no, its the
talentless consumer thats really the creative wellspring of artistic work

Well, consumers do drive what is put out there. They are the source of demand, and much of the reason companies supply anything is to feed perceived demand. But that's rather like saying the professor owns the problem (he assigned you) and you own the solution (you handed in). If the professor never gave you the problem, you would never have worked it out to begin with, but the professor did not make the solution either.

But if you really want to go back, as an artist, everything around you affects what you put out. I'm only writing in a latin alphabet because that's what I learned in school, and if I learned another alphabet or writing system, I'd likely use that. So society and nature can be regarded as highly relevant as well. In that sense, art isn't so much different from science, people standing on the shoulders of giants and all that.

That's not to say the artist isn't important, but just to temper all the artist's life + billion years nonsense we see from corporations. As some point, there has to be giving back to the same society that freely gave so much to them. And if giving back means relinquishing an iron grip 20,30, or 50 years after you created a work and society protected it for you, then so be it.

I have seen the Blu-ray releases (1)

Dee Ann_1 (1731324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37435904)

and they are really botched up! Lucas has done the world and SW fans a great disservice by injecting all the digital CRAP into what were once great movies.
Leave it the hell alone! Give us back the ORIGINAL, theatrical releases, as they were in the day, on Blu-ray without screwing with them!

Thanks.

Re:I have seen the Blu-ray releases (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37435960)

really? on blu ray? without digitally enhancing them?

My cellphone produces better quality video than the cameras they used in the 70's to film the original movies.
If they were to keep the original image quality I wouldn't be surprised if they fit the entire first trilogy on a single dvd

Re:I have seen the Blu-ray releases (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37435992)

no it doesn't. eat shit you stupid fuck.

Re:I have seen the Blu-ray releases (4, Insightful)

penguinstorm (575341) | more than 2 years ago | (#37435994)

Uh, no. Your cell phone does not produce better footage than a 335mm film camera.

The film stock might have aged badly due to poor preservation, but that is not the same thing at all.

Re:I have seen the Blu-ray releases (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436108)

Uh, no. Your cell phone does not produce better footage than a 335mm film camera.

Whoa. That sucker must've been a bitch to pan with. "Enough with the running scenes already!" -pant pant-

Re:I have seen the Blu-ray releases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436004)

My cellphone produces better quality video than the cameras they used in the 70's to film the original movies.

Citations needed.

Re:I have seen the Blu-ray releases (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436230)

Wow, stupid kids. How about a lesson in technology you stupid fuck.

Not art (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37435912)

It's not art it's commercial art. There's a difference. You might as well have fans claiming control of the Pillsbury Doughboy. Just because it was an important part of your childhood doesn't make it your property. It's a movie for Godsake get on with your lives! Or as William Shatner would put it, "Move out of your parent's basement, date a girl". I hate all the tinkering but it's his movie and he can do whatever he wants with it. I just wish he's release versions that hadn't been screwed with as well.

Re:Not art (2)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436132)

There is no difference between "commercial" art and any other kind of art, except style and perhaps meaning.

Re:Not art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436260)

There is no such thing as 'commercial art'. It's either art or trade goods.
If you sell art, you're covered on many things, mainly freedom of speech, but there's a price to it, such as having to share art with the public.
If you sell goods, you're not covered by freedom of speech (e.g. you can't print racist comments in a television manual) but you don't owe the public anything they don't pay for.

You can't have the best of both worlds while the public gets the worse of both. It doesn't work this way.
And if anyone has been dumb enough to include such a thing as "commercial art" into law, they should be jailed for crimes against humanity. I'm not kidding.

Prediction (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37435914)

I predict that in a few years we'll see a new movie. Star Wars Episode VII: The Overcritical Fanboy Assholes Who Just Wouldn't Shut the Hell Up All Get Thrown into the Sarlacc.

Han Shot First! (1)

Tamran (1424955) | more than 2 years ago | (#37435928)

We all know the truth!

Luckily some of us remember. Perhaps the law of diminishing returns is lost on some ....

Re:Han Shot First! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37435968)

Actually he shot third. First was Lee Harvey Oswald. Then it was Professor Farnsworth. Then Han.

The Professor was actually aiming for the mass murdering one-armed architect in the Cantina, but he hit Greedo by accident.

Re:Han Shot First! (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436046)

Maggie got off at least one round.

Re:Han Shot First! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436180)

Yeah, but she wasn't shooting at Greedo, she was aiming for R2-D2

Artists rule, but there's a limit (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37435940)

The artist rules, not a bunch of crowdsourced nonsense. That's my first feeling.

Like a lot of things, it's not etched in stone and it's not an absolute. The artist shouldn't be allowed to rule to the point where he can "yank back" something that's been released. After a proper term, he shouldn't be allowed to restrict copying. Parody is actually protected of course, and should remain so. Fan art is fine; but it certainly doesn't trump the artist. Nowhere near it.

Now quit trying to suppress those originals, Lucas. You're just being a jackass. It's OK if you want to clean up the matte outlines that came through in VHS transfers (did anybody else notice that back when episode IV was on VHS?). Otherwise, no CGI dinos and rings around explosions. WTF? That's not a value-add. If you think it is, great; but make both versions available. You might think the smoke rings are closer to your vision; but a lot of us don't want 'em.

I recently downloaded the laserdisk versions (4, Insightful)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436022)

off of bittorent. My childhood memories are now restored. No more CGI blinking Ewoks, no more yelling darth, no more han shoots last. So to all the fans out there, relax and just download the originals (besides, I already paid for them decades ago on VHS).

Re:Artists rule, but there's a limit (5, Informative)

fyonn (115426) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436052)

I think an interesting parallel is the BBC TV series Red Dwarf. It was originally was made on a shoestring budget where you could see the 100W light bulb in the back of the model ship in shots. later, after the show had been well received and the budget had gone up considerably, they went back and "remastered" the first three seasons. They cleaned up the footage nicely, but then they also went and CGI'd it, edited some of the dialogue and generally messed about with it.

the reaction to this version was generally pretty negative and fans weren't happy with the changes made. Now if you go and buy the show on DVD, it's the original version you'll find. The remastered is pretty hard to find. The BBC took in board the criticism and gave the fans (you know, the ones paying) what they wanted, which was the original show they fell in love with.

david

Re:Artists rule, but there's a limit (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436120)

It's unfortunate that that is considered laudable. Ultimately, people like George need to be grateful for the fan support. Star Wars was great, in its way, but screwing around with people's memories is a great way to piss people off. Especially if you go in and muck around with something that has become such a substantial piece of the culture.

Re:Artists rule, but there's a limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436072)

. It's OK if you want to clean up the matte outlines that came through in VHS transfers (did anybody else notice that back when episode IV was on VHS?). Otherwise, no CGI dinos and rings around explosions.

I disagree. He's the film maker and if he wants to do that, that's his business.

On the other hand, I get the impression that Lucas is just making these modifications to keep the revenue stream going. Of course, he's able to do that because people keep buying the disks. I'd do the exact same thing in a heartbeat! That's capitalism! And if people are willing to buy it - oh well! He's not being dishonest. He's upfront and says he does such and such per release and people run out and buy them.p/What's the problem?

To Promote Progress (4, Insightful)

dcollins (135727) | more than 2 years ago | (#37435942)

Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, known as the Copyright Clause: "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

I think that's a reasonable and praiseworthy understanding of what art, and copyright ownership, should be for. The time of creator-control should be "limited" to something like 14 or 28 years (one generation), as was originally intended. Afterward, it belongs to the world.

Re:To Promote Progress (4, Interesting)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436172)

I think in our modern age 14 years is unreasonable and even 28 years is downright insane.

Let's say we never changed it from the maximum 28 years. This year we would see the following films entering the public domain (examples are the top ten grossing films in 1983 [wikipedia.org] ): Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Terms of Endearment, Flashdance, Trading Places, Wargames, Octopussy, Sudden Impact, Staying Alive, Mr. Mom, Risky Business.

Nostalgia factors aside, I wouldn't exactly call those "culturally relevant" to the modern age - things move way, way faster now. Sure, in the late 1700s a book written 28 years prior would probably still be quite popular and very relevant to the times.. but the times changed faster and faster.

Something like 1 year would be more fair to all parties in my opinion, at least on an item-by-item basis. Don't most movies, games, music albums, etc. make the vast majority of their money in the first few months? Sequels wouldn't be affected because they would be filed under a new copyright.

Meh (1)

thecrotch (2464404) | more than 2 years ago | (#37435946)

I don't think he's preventing anyone from seeing anything, he's not dedicating money towards distributing something he considers an inferior product, and as the owner of the IP he's in a position to make those kinds of decisions. If you want the 80's incarnation of star wars buy the VHS on ebay.

Noooooooooo! (-1, Troll)

johnwbyrd (251699) | more than 2 years ago | (#37435948)

"And by denying the public access to a work of art that they helped create is not within his rights, even though he owns the rights."

I'd like to mark the quoted article, this Slashdot post, and all follow-up messages as "Troll," please. The article was written specifically to be controversial and generate discussion; the article was reposted on Slashdot for the same reason; and there will be plenty of post activity on here for that reason as well.

But the honest to Jebus bottom line is that nobody gives a crap which version has Darth saying NOOOO and which one does not.

Let's get Slashdot back to reviewing Linux distros and making spurious legal arguments. Thanks very much.

Re:Noooooooooo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436026)

Actually, I would like very much to be able to see the movie as it was in the theater. Back when we counted how many times we had seen it, like counting coup.

Leaders ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37435950)

There are many leaders in history where they think they are above the people ... most of them are not that nice ...

Someone else who agrees (5, Informative)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#37435952)

Rob Bricken of Topless Robot found someone else who agrees that artists should stop trying to meddle with their art after releasing it... George Lucas from 1988. [toplessrobot.com] He gave a speech to Congress about the issue in which he said, among other things,

"The public's interest is ultimately dominant over all other interests."

and

"Attention should be paid to the interest of those who are yet unborn, who should be able to see this generation as it saw itself, and the past generation as it saw itself."

Re:Someone else who agrees (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 2 years ago | (#37435970)

You just blew my mind.

Re:Someone else who agrees (1)

matunos (1587263) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436204)

Damn right... if our children grow up thinking that Greedo shot first, then the terrorists have already won.

Re:Someone else who agrees (1)

BlakJak-ZL1VMF (256320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436284)

Zing! The world loves hypocrytes, right?

Mod parent up.

The Creator has complete Control (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37435954)

It is morally right that the creator of a work should have complete control over it for all time immemorial. You don't see people messing with The Iliad -- it exists today in exactly the same format that Homer wrote it down, and the changes that he penciled in to later editions have been faithfully reproduced. The same is true with the plays of Shakespeare, which are always performed with exactly the same script and stage directions that the Bard himself took to the copyright office before the original performances. And music also has never been altered after composition -- the composers intent is always honored by the performer, and the audience would demand no less.

I don't see any reason we should give Lucas any less than the complete and total control over his creations enjoyed by Homer, Shakespeare, and Bach. To afford him anything else would be tragic.

Re:The Creator has complete Control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436084)

The same is true with the plays of Shakespeare, which are always performed with exactly the same script and stage directions that the Bard himself took to the copyright office before the original performances.

ROFL! Nice one.

Shakespeare's plays have been torn apart and put together by many many people. Directors and actors have been free to interpret his work as they see fit for centuries now.

The Comedy of Errors: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0215517/combined
Romeo and Juliet: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117509/combined
The Taming of the Shrew: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0147800/combined
Hamlet: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0171359/combined
Macbeth: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0379370/combined
Othello: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0184791/combined
Othello: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0488414/combined

Re:The Creator has complete Control (0)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436146)

"You don't see people messing with The Iliad -- it exists today in exactly the same format that Homer wrote it down, and the changes that he penciled in to later editions"

Homer didn't 'write down' anything - he was a blind orator storyteller.
and I don't think ancient greeks had pencils either.

Missing tag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436210)

In defense of the fellow anonymous Parent, I think you're missing the sarcasm dripping from his post. Everybody knows there wasn't any copyright office during the Bard's time and every classical music fan knows that there's no such thing as a canonical performance of a piece.

We do not have shakespeare as he wrote it. (1)

robbak (775424) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436246)

All the copies of shakespeare existing were heavily messed with by early theater owners. Scene order was messed with until scenes didn't make sense - characters saying things that the learn about in a later scene, scenes added to use a theatre's special effects -all sorts of changes, leading to arguments in scholarly circles to this day.

Re:The Creator has complete Control (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436258)

I don't see any reason we should give Lucas any less than the complete and total control over his creations enjoyed by Homer, Shakespeare, and Bach. To afford him anything else would be tragic.

Lucas was ONE of the artists, and it's clear from his later tinkering that his vision of characters such as Han Solo is NOT what ended up on film. So that sad douchey fatsack is wiping out the beloved movies (the combined vision of Lucas, co-writers, actors, etc...) to replace them with his vision, loved seemingly only by himself and his sycophants. It is not one mans creation so why should he get to destroy it? He could release his vision and a clean copy of the original edit but he would rather destroy cultural icons (sort of like the Taliban, come to think of it). Fuck him bloody.

BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37435956)

Even the artist doesn't really know what he's created, and a work doesn't become 'something' until given value by an audience: 'the artist is merely the medium for his or her work.'

That sounds like something someone non-creative person would say. Perhaps an art critic.

Who cares (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37435976)

I'm gonna post this anonymously for fear of retribution. But seriously, who cares?
The damn movies weren't that good to begin with. There is way better science fiction
out there and more of it gets made all the time.

Firefly getting cancelled, that's a real crime!

Fans can be... (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 2 years ago | (#37435996)

... even worse then the author. Most people are mediocre, there are all stars among the fans but knowing who they are isn't something you know until after they've produced something and there's been a reaction.

Re:Fans can be... (2)

Ironchew (1069966) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436044)

Indeed, you touched on an important catch-22 of trusting the fanbase.

The Star Wars prequels were written and filmed long after much of the "Star Wars expanded universe" had been established. This in itself didn't contribute to the terribleness of the prequels; Lucas had fan expectations in mind when he wrote the prequels, though. Darth Vader and the Jedi in general were given way too much importance, the dialogue scenes were sloppy and only served to connect the different settings to the plot, and the trilogy in general was a vehicle to sell merchandise and fan works. One of the things that made the original trilogy well-rounded (or at least the first two films) was that the writers weren't too influenced by the fanbase; they focused on writing characters as parts of a self-contained film rather than letting the most popular characters hog the limelight. Listening to the fans can sometimes take a series in a much-needed direction, but it can also be a huge mistake.

When will Lucas fix "American Graffiti"? (2)

ZipK (1051658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436020)

The music was in MONO for God's sake. And the cars run on gasoline and tires - they should fly! And that part where the cops in Jerry's Cherry get the transmission pulled out of their car, it should be a great deal more AWESOME with fireballs and stuff! There is so much that Lucas could fix in his own childhood by reworking American Graffiti, why does he keep tinkering with Star Wars?

Re:When will Lucas fix "American Graffiti"? (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436136)

There is so much that Lucas could fix in his own childhood by reworking American Graffiti, why does he keep tinkering with Star Wars?

That's because people don't have American Graffiti conventions, and don't make as much fuss about it, thus generating him even more money. If people just stopped buying his new versions of Star Wars he'd have to stop reworking them, and likely eventually have to release the originals.

Thus, it's pretty easy to get him to stop doing this. Just stop buying anything but the original versions. He'll get the message eventually -- or Fox execs will, at least.

God only knows why anyone ever bought the prequels in any form.

who owns our collective memories? (2)

droptop (558616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436028)

I think the real question isn't what someone is allowed to do to their own art, but what happens to our collective memories? I wold love to share my childhood memories with my grand kids, and for the most part I can... But thanks to Mr. Lucas one of the biggest influences of my childhood has been lost forever. Out of respect for all of us who have made him rich beyond any of our individual dreams he should allow the theatrical releases to issued on BluRay as well. It isn't my place to tell someone how to make their own art - As an artist myself I know that an artist doesn't ever really finish a work they abandon it, but at the point that art becomes a part of our collective conscience we should be able to revisit that memory. My two cents.

Say what? (1)

deweyhewson (1323623) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436030)

Even the artist doesn't really know what he's created, and a work doesn't become 'something' until given value by an audience: 'the artist is merely the medium for his or her work.'

Uh, say what? A work of art is entirely the work and creation of the artist creating it. Whether or not society deems it to have "value" is entirely irrelevant to it still being a creative expression by the artist. Indeed, one could create something and hide it away, never to have it seen by anyone other than themselves, and it still would not change the fact that it is a work of art. There would be no work of art without that artist, so the idea that someone is merely the "medium" for it is beyond ridiculous.

If that were true, anybody at any time at any place could, and indeed would, create any work of art that ever has been. Clearly that is not the case.

I personally feel that Lucas has lost touch with the artistic core that made Star Wars great in the first place, but that still doesn't change the fact that it is his (and everyone else involved in its production) work of art. It may be insane for an artist to decide to burn down or defecate on any work of art they have ever created, but that does not mean the art no longer belongs to them, or that it somehow belongs to those who can "appreciate it more".

This article's entire premise falls flat on its face.

It's his movie (-1)

MDMurphy (208495) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436032)

They're his movies and it's for Lucas to do with them what he wants. Anyone enamored with a particular iteration should snag a copy of that vintage ( and recording quality) and just live with it

If Lucas, the "owner" of Star Wars can't make tweaks then others shouldn't be performing Shakespeare except in Olde English and never anything in prose if it was written in poetry. (No women performers either ) Wagner should never be re-arranged and only performed acoustically, no mics, no amps. No stereo releases of Beatles songs that weren't recorded that way. Homer should only be printed in the original Greek. Disney shouldn't have made the version of Cinderella that didn't include a sister cutting off toes to fit in the shoe.
I would probably be amused if James Cameron made "Titanic: The Happy Ending Edition" where the boat steams into NY Harbor, scratched but not sunk, but not likely I'd pay to see it. The quickest way to get Lucas to stop tweaking things is not not buy any of the next variant, that would stop the process. But if people do purchase each new one, then I guess the fans have spoken. ( The paying fans, not the whiny ones )

I'll always know that Han shot first, new versions won't change that.

Re:It's his movie (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436058)

It's Lucas' right, but he's an ass for not letting us have the restoration without additions as it's something that had to happen whether he was going to crap it up again or not. So you're right, and everyone who wants his head on a pike is right, too.

Re:It's his movie (2)

Shoe Puppet (1557239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436080)

There's nothing wrong with making new editions. The problem is that he is trying to eradicate the originals from history.

Re:It's his movie (4, Funny)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436086)

The problem isn't so much that George is perpetrating a fraud. He is suppressing the originals. Part of his "ownership" is a social contract with the rest of us. It's part of the deal he made when he got to publish the originals and get a monopoly on their copying and distribution.

George owes us a usable copy of the original. That's a 35mm print BTW.

Also, his attempt to create derivative works and call them Star Wars are fraud and should be pointed out as such and perhaps even prosecuted as such.

Quite often whining about "following the rules" when it comes to copyright tends to be entirely one sided and in favor of publishers.

Re:It's his movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436162)

They're his movies and it's for Lucas to do with them what he wants.
  cut

I'll always know that Han shot first, new versions won't change that.

And yet that is exactly what happened. Since 1997 Han doesn't shoot first.
Then new versions changed this scene, as many other scenes. And therefore changed the films.

People think that becasue Lucas changed what 3 minutes in the whole original trilogy then its acceptable. It is not, and the reason for this is that a film has a number of defining moments. Change those moments and you will by definition be changing the film. Doesn't matter at all wether the change is 10 seconds or 2 minutes.
Can you imagine changing the last 10 seconds of the duel in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly ?
Hey its only 10 seconds in a 3 hours film. Who cares right ?

Saving Star Wars: The Special Edition Restoration (5, Informative)

farnsworth (558449) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436040)

There is an exellent [secrethist...arwars.com] article outlining what Lucas has done to the original negative. tl;dr: in the 90's Lucas restored the negative of the original release, and then subsequently nearly completely butchered it while at the same time destroying all copies of the theatrical release (except privately owned vhs and laserdisks, of course). At this point the only thing that exists is a 1080p scan of the film. All of the restored negative does still exist, though. It's just not assembled into something that could produce anything. It is possible to re-assemble that restoration, which by all accounts is stunning.

Shot first. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436050)

The Mona Lisa smiled first! Don't try to change the story!

No. bad. stop it now. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436062)

leaving something to fans is a worse idea than letting lucas shit all over his creation.

This is typical fanboy tripe, why is this even news?

Also realize that Lucas may not be doing this to add new artistic vision to his films, this is to fuck with copyright.

He's essentially updating his films to extend their copyright. He can now claim that these are new movies in their own right.

That and one day, lucasfilm, likely without him around (he will be dead), will re-release the original trilogy, untouched, and remastered as it was in the 1970's and make them really collectable, as by that point, no one will likely have an original trilogy set on modern media that hasnt been degraded.

Lucasfilm and his estate, or whoever holds the copyright (likely disney) will make millions.

Who owns the movie? (-1, Offtopic)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436070)

    I think it's ridiculous when ever I hear someone saying like this.

    The owner of the movie is whoever it says in the contracts. Primarily, there are writers, directors, producers, and investors. Somewhere in contracts that you and I will never see, it shown who owns which parts of it.

    Say I was the guy in charge of special effects for a huge movie that was primarily chroma key and CGI. My staff made greater than 50% of the movie, as in this theoretical project the actual actors and directors didn't have much to do with it. At the end of the day, I, nor my staff, would "own" the movie. Nope, it's the person who had the most leverage when writing up the contracts does.

    Viewers in the theater own nothing more than their ticket stub, and the right to watch the movie once at that venue.

    People who purchased the VHS tape or DVD own the perpetual rights to watch their copy of the movie as much as they'd like.

    So back to the specific topic, the Star Wars movies. I'm not a huge Star Wars fan, so maybe I have an outside perspective here. I'm not emotionally invested in it, so I can see it from the viewpoint of the rest of the rational world.

    If the actual legal owner (the guy with the stack of contracts and bank account full from the proceeds) decides to make his directors cut, remake, revisioning, or rehashing of it, that's completely up to him. If he wanted to make a sequel "Star Wars 15 - Care Bears vs The Empire" (assuming he also owns or has licensed the Care Bears), as a claymation 12 hour epic movie, done exclusively in brown and gray clay, that's really up to him. Would I say it's a mistake? Sure. What if he decided that it should be redone in grainy black and white silent movie style, in polarized 3d, and that's the only version that will be sold in retail outlets from now on? Well, that'd be a horrible combination, and I could laugh at it in every way possible, but he's the owner. And I probably wouldn't buy it.

Do I, a fan of "Star Wars 14 - The Wrath Of Luke" have any say to what he can or can't do? No.

What if I own a copy of every movie he ever made, and own every piece of merchandising every licensed or sold relating to the movies, in their original boxes, still in mint condition? No.

What if I set up the worlds largest fan site, and everyone who's ever heard of the movie talks about it on my fan site, and it has a bazillion daily viewers? No.

What if I organize reenactments of it around the world, and bring thousands of nerds together in fully licensed costumes to perform in them, and we've even built our own licensed replica of the death star in geosynchronous orbit to perform them on? No.

Nope, it still belongs to the owner. He can use it, abuse it, and destroy it as he sees fit. If he decided to stop production of all releases of his movies, and burn the originals, so be it. He owns them, not you, I, or any fan on the planet.

Re:Who owns the movie? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436094)

That whooshing sound you hear is the point flying over your head.

No one argues that Lucas isn't the legal owner. Of course he is, and of course he has the legal right to do whatever he wants. "Own" is metaphorical in this article, and your entire comment is irrelevant.

Re:Who owns the movie? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436188)

Never invite a lawyer to a philosophical discussion.

Even Dr. House knows... (1)

majesticmerc (1353125) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436082)

It's never lucus.

Han shoots first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436110)

I've come to terms with Greedo shooting first in the Cantina. Yoda has been seen to dodge a laser shot in Ep.3. Chewbacca's close connection with the Jedis via Yoda would have allowed him to find a star pilot unconsciously strong with the Force, i.e. Han Solo. (Although I do prefer the narrative in which Han begins as a self-serving opportunist who later is willing to sacrifice himself by being frozen in carbonite.)

However, in the re-releases, when Ben and Luke are being questioned by Stormtroopers in Mos Eisley, a giant digital bantha walks in front of the camera during crucial dialogue. Why a director would add such a pointless camera obstruction in post-production I doubt I'll come to negotiate.

No agreement (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436114)

There's a problem here: you won't even get agreement from people in answering the question, "What is art?" If you can't get people to agree on what it is, then you won't get agreement from people on the question of "Who owns art?"

It's such a complicated topic where people won't even agree on the basics, so it's hard to come to complex conclusions. One general point that I hope we can reach a consensus on: there's value in preserving art in the original form, even if only as an artifact or cultural snapshot. For example, I don't think it should bother us that Lucas wants to continually mess around with Star Wars. It bothers me, though, in as much as he's trying to force the new versions to be the authoritative versions and trying to make it difficult/unappealing to access the original edits.

Yes, scream at your television. (2)

amanicdroid (1822516) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436116)

If the IT world put as much effort into reforming the system as they have bitching about Star Wars we'd get regular raises periodically instead of having to re-interview every 2 years to keep our old jobs.

The whole thing reeks of settling old arguments (1)

timon (46050) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436118)

A lot of the changes seem to be the type that he and his collaborators (he did have them) could have argued about during the original filming. Now that he has complete control over the property, he can "re-win" all of these.

Cooperative Art (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436128)

It's a vast overstatement that "artists are merely a medium for his or her work". But it's true that artwork is a medium of communication between people, only one of whom is the artist. Without someone to perceive the art, the art might as well not exist. The art's effect is created by the beholder in their own mind. More educated and sensitive minds make more of the art they experience. More cultivated audiences recognize better art and give it more value. The most popular art, especially after generations as folk art, is mostly made of the experience of the audience that perpetuates the artwork.

This essential dynamic is key to all creation. That's one reason why copyright was created in the US Constitution only on the basis that it would control copying works for only limited times. After a while the audience is the main source of value in the art, with the original creator's contribution necessary but insufficient to give it the value it obtained in the culture.

Artists have the natural right to endlessly change their created works. Just as everyone has the right to be wrong creatively. The problem is the monopoly on controlling the work that our current legal regimes grant to artists and to their agents. Lucas is free to ruin Star Wars as much as he likes, and as long as his money holds out for budgets. But 34 years after releasing Star Wars it's as much the property of the generations of audiences who've perpetuated it as it is its original creators'. There should be no limit on anyone reediting what's released, or creating their own versions from scratch.

Only the power of business to capture government-protected monopolies trumps our free speech rights, and ignores the value of the people in the market in creating value in what we consume.

More Discussion (2)

wanzeo (1800058) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436134)

This topic has been getting a lot of attention recently. The guys at Red Letter Media [redlettermedia.com] just interviewed the director of the movie The People vs. George Lucas [wikipedia.org] which examines the question in detail.

Reboot/Remake (0)

Laserfuzz (157714) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436268)

I hope any of you who are against Lucas have never seen a remake/reboot or whatever you call them. If he wants to redo parts fine. It's his prerogative.Don't buy/see it. Sometimes the reboot/remake works (Battlestar Galatica) and sometimes they bomb (Day the Earth Stood Still). And those weren't made by the people who made the originals.

Yeah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37436278)

Yeah, when is he gonna release the Christmas Special on Blu-Ray(TM)?

The originals did get a release on DVD (1)

ausrob (864993) | more than 2 years ago | (#37436282)

Well, despite Lucas' stand on not honoring the originals, they were bundled as part of a DVD release not that long ago. Apparently they were referred to as "bonus content" (they appeared on the "Disc 2"/extras, bundled with releases of the Special Editions) but there they are - in unrestored glory. They looked very similar to the Laser Disc copies that went floating around about ten years ago. It's a real pity that the original theatrical releases couldn't be cleaned up and released though (unmolested). As to his right to mess with his art.. it's a strong case for reducing copyright term instead of increasing it in perpetuity!
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