Tuesday, December 13, 2016

It’ll Always Be STAR WARS, Not A NEW HOPE To Me

s the new STAR WARS movie, ROGUE ONE, which opens this week (read my review), is based on a bit of the crawl at the beginning of the classic original 1977 film that started it all, I feel like I should address something that I always mention in my blogging about the series. It’s also something that I’ve gotten in arguments about – that I can never call the first movie A NEW HOPE, and especially not EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE.

Now younger folks who grew up later know it by these titles because that’s what it was branded with four years after its release and was inserted into every released edition of the film from VHS to DVD to Blu ray.

But when I was a kid, aged 7 in 1977, it was just STAR WARS. It started like this:

You see? Just STAR WARS then the crawl.

I remember hearing talk of it being one in a series of nine or something (I think I may have gotten that from the sci-fi magazine Starlog, I dunno), but the whole idea that it was the fourth film in the series was unknown until THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK was released in the summer of 1980, and it was denoted EPISODE V.

Then when STAR WARS was re-released on April 10, 1981, after that exciting flourish of John William’s “Main Theme/Overture” bursts onscreen to accompany the yellow-outlined title STAR WARS in all its iconic logo glory as it disappears into space, the subtitle, EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE appeared for the first time.

So for four years of seeing the movie over and over, my friends and I, as well as the public at large, only knew the movie as STAR WARS. People are right to gripe about all the changes that George Lucas made to the original trilogy – I mean I agree with whoever it was in the doc THE PEOPLE VS. GEORGE LUCAS that thought it was absurd that that the original version of the film that won the Best Editing Oscar in 1978 isn’t readily available - but the title change is the one that irks me the most.

And it's super annoying that you have to search online, or pony up for a bootleg DVD, to find a copy of the unaltered original as Lucas had it replaced by “The Special Edition” as he considers that the final cut and all previous versions of the film were unfinished.

This is stupid because so many people have a strong connection to that first cut that played in theaters for years - no joke, it was released in 1977, then re-released in 1978, and 1979. The 1981 re-release that was christened with the new title, was its third theatrical re-release. They seriously milked that cash cow.

I don’t currently own a copy of the movie, but if they put out that original cut from when it was just called STAR WARS I would definitely consider that purchase.

I don’t care if this is a silly issue that mainly calls attention to my ever advancing age, I will always think of the movie as I first saw it –with Han Solo shooting first, Jabba the Hutt being mentioned but not seen, Obi Wan Kenobi’s weird Kryat Dragon call, without all the unnecessary additions to Mos Eisley, etc.

But most importantly, without a number or subtitle.

The 40th Anniversary of the original film is next summer, so that’d be a great time to put out a Un-Special Edition of the original cut, doncha think?

I’m not counting on it, but at least this week we got a stand-alone STAR WARS with no Episode number (and no crawl). That’s something, because these new stand alone STAR WARS STORIES should really do more to embrace different packaging.

So you NEW HOPE kids, get outta my yard!

More later...

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