Has George Lucas ‘tinkered’ one time too many?


Case for the defence: George Lucas.

Now you may have read my review of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace 3D recently, well George Lucas has been interviewed this week giving reasons and explanations for his modifying of the Star Wars saga.

Lucas is no stranger to tinkering now ever since ‘improving on’ the original trilogy with re-released special editions in 1997.

This tinkering has upset many, thinking that this is just Lucas developing some obsessive, compulsive control of the trilogy; is he within his rights to meddle all he wants with his creation or should the fans decide?  Looking back on the timing of the tinkering it can often be seen to coincide with new media technology like the advent of DVD and Blu Ray, where demand and an updating of our movie library is often dictated by the natural progression of technology.

For me, most of the changes made have benefited or improved the movies and undoubtedly created a refreshed sense of excitement with every new release or update. The main changes to ‘A New Hope’ made back in 1997 for my eyes improved and updated a slightly aging classic with extra CG shots and sequences adding more dynamism to many of the scenes, particularly within the assault on the Death Star sequence.

The latest update of Episode 1 in 3D has still managed to add something new and will give many their first opportunity to enjoy Star Wars on the big screen.

One thing Lucas has done masterfully is always move Star Wars on with the times; he has still managed to keep it fresh and relevant to new generations. Star Wars is now 35 years old, but with updates of the original trilogy and the completion and continuation of the story through episodes 1-3  he has managed to create a saga that has spanned over three decades and is still as popular as ever.

What Lucas may have lacked at times as a filmmaker, his vision and genius cannot be denied and for Star Wars to be as popular as ever with both new and old is a tremendous success.

We could cynically argue that Lucas has lined his pockets even more with his tinkering; not to mention “merchandising, merchandising, merchandising!” but it is his creation and if technology has not previously been advanced enough to fulfil his vision, he is free to do with it what he likes, we choose whether to keep coming back time and again with our coin.

Star Wars has not been the only movie to have been tinkered with; Blade Runner has had many versions and brought about an age of ‘Directors cuts’. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy too has major extended updates.

When we watch all of these anew, it would not be unfair to suggest that all this ‘tinkering’ may well have just improved on what went before. In the case of Star Wars, for me this is certainly so.


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