Throughout the history of television and film the question, “Whodunit?” has been the subject of more than a few friendly debates, discussions, and arguments amongst fans. Eventually the arguments and debates became pop-culture catch phrases shared with a wink between fans with common knowledge of the subject, some of which spawned an industry of slogans distributed through licensed merchandise in the form of t-shirts, bumper stickers, and coffee mugs. But as more and more time passed, and the decades of TV and film history accumulated, a few of those phrases themselves became their own pop-culture memes. The original debates became secondary to the associations of the phrases themselves. It didn’t matter whether you’d seen the television show or film where the phrase originated. You either got it, or you pretended to get it.
In the ‘80’s people collectively wondered, “Who shot J.R.?” Similarly, in the early 1990’s David Lynch’s Twin Peaks left people even more dumbfounded and asking the question, “Who killed Laura Palmer?”
But no on-screen gunfight, murder, suicide, or mysterious accidental death has caused as much controversy as the one that spawned the fan declaration, “Han shot first!”
Unless you spent the cold war tucked away in a fallout shelter, you’re probably all too aware of the furiously contested change made by George Lucas to a scene from his 1977 film Star Wars, in which the rough and tumble smuggler Han Solo shoots the alien bounty hunter Greedo in cold blood. The change (among many others) to a more kid-friendly, morally centered outcome with the 1997 Special Edition re-release left fans of the original theatrical releases feeling bitter and a not a little betrayed.
To make matters worse, in addition to the changes to scenes, whole additions of new scenes, and revisionist alterations of the names of the original movies themselves, Lucas further alienated the original fan base by refusing to release the cleaned up, THX versions of the theatrical releases on DVD.
Well, it seems old Uncle George (as he is affectionately called) is at it again. On the heels of news of a possible 3D conversion of all six films and a theatrical re-re-release, 20th Century Fox announced late this week that the entire Star Wars saga (including the universally panned prequels) will be released to Blu Ray in September. The news caused a small stir on movie blogs and message boards amongst fans when the press release failed to mention a possible inclusion of the theatrical releases of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.
Every angle of this debate has been covered and fans have shouted their disdain from the rooftops, but it seems that Uncle George is no longer listening. But Star Wars isn’t going away. It’s popularity seems to grow everyday with some new piece of tribute art or viral video popping up on the internet every other day.
And though it’s been discussed to death from here to Tatooine (yeah, I did just do that), I want to know how you feel about it. Will you buy these Blu Ray versions, even with rumor of more changes and additions of new SFX? How do you view the ever changing canon of the Star Wars universe? When you watch the films, do you drag out the VCR or Laserdisc player, scrape off the dust, and settle back into your recliner with the old THX versions and a sigh of familiar satisfaction? Or do you prefer the Special Editions from 1997? Are you for further changes to the Star Wars saga? Would you like to see newer filmmakers get the chance to play in the galaxy far, far away? Perhaps you’d like to see the originals remade with today’s SFX and new actors in place of the old ones.
In the comments section below you get to play writer, director, producer, distributor, and critic all at the same time. Tell us what you’d do with the future of Star Wars.
The Star Wars Saga on Blu Ray is available for pre-order on Amazon.com and other on line retailers.