1988 George Lucas Would Totally Hate 2011 George Lucas

george_lucas_1988.jpgBack in 1988, in testimony before Congress, one of Hollywood's most successful, beloved and influential filmmaker-moguls expressed deep concern for a disturbing trend sweeping the movie industry. "People who alter or destroy works of art and our cultural heritage for profit or as an exercise of power are barbarians," this filmmaker said, "and if the laws of the United States continue to condone this behavior, history will surely classify us as a barbaric society." Damn straight, George Lucas.

Yes, that George Lucas: The man who has spent the last decade and a half altering, pillaging, plundering, reengineering, reimagining, and altogether exploiting every last cent of his Star Wars franchise -- for profit, last time I checked -- and whose latest promised tweak has prompted an outrage not seen or heard since, well, last week. At the time Lucas was going to bat against the colorization and other manipulation of classic films; today it reads like it could have been a comment on any number of Web sites decrying his current dabbling in digital perversions.

Speaking of which, the site Saving Star Wars dug up Lucas's remarks to Congress:

The preservation of our cultural heritage may not seem to be as politically sensitive an issue as "when life begins" or "when it should be appropriately terminated," but it is important because it goes to the heart of what sets mankind apart. Creative expression is at the core of our humanness. Art is a distinctly human endeavor. We must have respect for it if we are to have any respect for the human race.

These current defacements are just the beginning. Today, engineers with their computers can add color to black-and-white movies, change the soundtrack, speed up the pace, and add or subtract material to the philosophical tastes of the copyright holder. Tomorrow, more advanced technology will be able to replace actors with "fresher faces," or alter dialogue and change the movement of the actor's lips to match. It will soon be possible to create a new "original" negative with whatever changes or alterations the copyright holder of the moment desires. The copyright holders, so far, have not been completely diligent in preserving the original negatives of films they control. In order to reconstruct old negatives, many archivists have had to go to Eastern bloc countries where American films have been better preserved.

In the future it will become even easier for old negatives to become lost and be "replaced" by new altered negatives. This would be a great loss to our society. Our cultural history must not be allowed to be rewritten.

There is nothing to stop American films, records, books, and paintings from being sold to a foreign entity or egotistical gangsters and having them change our cultural heritage to suit their personal taste.

Visit Saving Star Wars for the rest. And call 911 -- someone needs to put out the flaming hypocrite.

· The Greatest Speech Against the Special Edition was from George Lucas [Saving Star Wars via /film]


  • Those jowls are actually alien parasites injecting him with a constant stream of hypocrisy and hackery. You don't think he came up with Jar Jar all on his own, did you?

  • Patrick McEvoy-Halston says:

    I imagine he doesn't see his alterations as an exercise of power or profit, but somehow more as a matter of artistic expression. (I personally think he should keep the originals in their original form, but leave it as sort of an "alphabet" from which he himself and [why not?] his fan base and other admirers can reassess in whatever way they like.)
    As sort of an aside, Has anyone ever read a version/edition of say, Frankenstein, and only later come to grips with the fact that Shelley, over a span of time, created several versions, each with its own merits, claim on posterity? It's a weird and I think profitable experience: what you'd reified as Art was for a time very plastic, uncongealed. In retrospect you sort of give it to the lifetime of the writer to maybe figure out which one's the one that will settle out for all time.

  • Edward Wilson says:

    Star Wars is the Michael Jackson of movies.

  • J K says:

    I am pretty sure the way to solve this cognitive dissonance is to realize that George doesn't see Star Wars as art.

  • J K says:

    Hey! I said this yesterday. Oh, wait. I said it all purple-y in turgid prose... Good revision 🙂

  • Titte Twister says:

    Hey man, you write really great stuff (really weird for a blog comments section,) but I can't read anything more than three sentences long 🙂

  • J K says:

    Yes. Frankenstein is a great example. Speak to any Romantics scholar in your local English department and they will tell you that the earlier version is the definitive, and the final, author-approved edition is vastly inferior, fretted over, and interfered with-- "clarified" in a detrimental way.
    You see, authors are insecure. Given enough time they will lose their courage and try to destroy any great work because they can not forgive it for the reflection of their own imperfect humanity that it ultimately is.
    Works of art are never finished only abandoned, to paraphrase DaVinci.
    And they have ALWAYS required protection from the artists who created them.
    The same obsession that enables creation is the same anxious source that drives the need to find the never-finished work faulty.
    Michelangelo tried to ruin the Sistine Chapel many times. And others painted over the nudie bits. Controversy erupted when it took years to painstakingly recover an earlier version. Suddenly the dirty, rough hewn surfaces gave way to cartoon candy colors and everyone was outraged. Was this really the initial artist's intent? Did the grimy version belong to the world?
    Leaves Of Grass was updated every year until Whitman was in the ground.
    Poets have always screwed with their work, since it costs them little. But there is a difference between the painstaking work of the revision process and a failure to properly acknowledge the mystery of creation.
    In very few cases have the ensuing generations found the later revisions to be an improvement. Very few. (NAME SOME. I can't think of any off the top of my head.)
    The reality is identity is a fluid and ever changing coordinate. A work of art is not. It has to have a period to close the sentence. To be a complete statement.
    Art is not possible without humility. The ego has to be subsumed in order to access the absolute-- art is initially generated by the unconscious-- the artist's most primal skill is to get his conscious mind out of the way to generate from the raw source. He then returns with his conscious mind to revise what has been generated.
    That is creation.
    Non-creative people who are fans of creative work and long for what they perceive to be the "creative lifestyle," believe that someone sits down like an engineer and sets out to encode their theme in the formal structures they believe an audience can "get."
    That is hack-work.
    "George Lucas" is no longer George Lucas. And unfortunately, "Star Wars" is no longer Star Wars.
    George came to believe his own hype, and so became a hack (arguably, he was never anything else) It has been the death of many a great artist. And in this case, it's simply a revelation that George's true art is the creation of commerce.

  • Patrick McEvoy-Halston says:

    Re: You see, authors are insecure. Given enough time they will lose their courage and try to destroy any great work because they can not forgive it for the reflection of their own imperfect humanity that it ultimately is.
    There is a lot to this, and is the primary point to made here, though sometimes we know it can be about putting back things they never should have been cowed away from keeping in in the first place -- sort of an "Atonement" address. Still, to me it is just as valid to be arguing that readers and viewers can be clingy to be arguing that people like Lucas have fully lost their souls or are sell-outs; the new "improved" Star Wars will just be George Lucas as he is now, which, like a lot of aging, great, humanity-benefacting boomers, certainly isn't their '60s and '70s selves but cannot be their opposite. If you don't see this, it may well be because your own darker, less permissive spirit has too much determined your own judgment: George may still be growing, while you're in mind to keep in place and clamp down.
    I'm reading late John Updike and Gene Wolfe right now; it doesn't have the magic of the earlier, but right now I'm more for the kind of sedentary, contented stuff it affords. If, assuming a pretend still-alive Updike, both were to make alterations to their earliest works now, I would very much like to read it; though if they tried to make it standard I would aim to remind them that the wonderful presumption and ego that made them greats sometimes has drawbacks, and keep their vibrant youthful selves, born out of stretching youth and MUCH more romantic, permissive times, the standard we all want them to be. We'll all, at some point -- though under the influence of their accumulated impact upon us -- have the final say. The originals would stand.

  • Hell's Yeah! says:

    Exactly. "Billy Corgan" isn't Billy Corgan any more either, but he has the wherewithall not to fuck with Siamese Dream.
    I like my Pet Sounds mono. My George Lucas skinny. And my Yoda puppet.

  • Sam R. says:

    Unreal... what a tool.

  • J K says:

    Human beings change but a work of art must be finalized.
    That's what makes it a work of art and not a being.
    (And human beings as they are describable in language don't really change. They ARE change.
    Identity is an illusion created by the convergence of symbolic selves/others. It is a co-ordinate among the flux. And the co-ordinates that make up the converging selves and others are of a similar nature. Attempt to locate any co-ordinate definitively and it is already gone.)
    That's why art keeps us sane. Because it stays.
    George Lucas will be finalized when he hits the ground (or,more likely, whacky new age cryogenic freeze-tube) for better or worse.
    But of course, "George Lucas" will always be open for revision.

  • Patrick McEvoy-Halston says:

    And on message.

  • Anonymous says:

    What a coincidence, I hate 2011 George Lucas also.

  • Dimo says:

    I hope you guys made a copy of his statement, because I just heard that he's going back to make a few changes.

  • HELL'S YEAH! says:

    Well, thanks, guys. I was just trying to dumb down & hipster up J K's above essay.
    Bastard got me to read that whole thing 🙂 I like "art stays."
    The thought of jowelly Georgie boy in that cryogenic chamber wigs me out already.

  • J K says:

    Arts Stays. George strays.
    Thanks for the labor (I need an editor.)

  • HELL'S YEAH! says:

    You meant "Art stays. George Strays," right? 🙂

  • J K says:

    Yup. See what happens when I boil it down. I screw up the subject verb agreement in a two-word sentence 🙂
    But seriously, somewhere in one of Skywalker Ranch's laboratories is a carbonite chamber that Lucas will one day use to freeze himself, Brian Wilson, and a lone genetically engineered real-life ewok.
    I heard that he produced a series of robots back in the 90's that have become A-list Hollywood actors in recent years. REAL STEEL, anyone?

  • Business Partner says:

    Hugh Jacked-in-man. Evangeline Lilly-tron. You must not expose their secret circuits!

  • Dean says:

    People are still whining about this shit? Grow up.

  • KevyB says:

    I'm sorry but the title to this article is wrong. It should say 1988 George Lucas Would Totally Hate 2004 George Lucas! It logically follows that 1988 George Lucas would continue hating him after that point in time.
    Seriously, though, if he's so damn desperate to change his movies, he should change Episodes I-III. COMPLETELY.

  • J K says:

    You know, all philosophical argument aside-- He just needs to put all cuts selectable on the disc like Cameron. That way the obsessive director gets to over-clarify his work and include all the unnecessary scenes to suit his fancy, and those of us who just want the tightly edited, original presentation intact can own our accurate reproduction.
    Problem solved.
    The douche-baggery comes with trying to revoke access to previous versions in lieu of the most recent revision.
    And I truly can't decide whether it's egomania or just a calculated long-term cash grab, driving up demand for older versions like the "Disney Vault."

  • a glance on a constant

  • TVDIVA says:

    Back then it was about people like Ted Turner defacing beautiful black and white films by colorizing them and making them look like someone poured an old bottle of calamine lotion on them. Lucas owns the Star Wars films and apparently is not happy with his work. Why else would he still be tinkering with them? Most people do one director's cut and leave the original intact. If Lucas would do that, people would probably buy the original set of the movies and the new set. But since that is not the plan, I think Lucas just needs a time out. And some therapy to understand when a project is complete you stop and walk away.