After a long, unbearably cruel embargo, Christmas came a week early for my four-year-old son, as we finally watched “Star Wars” together. It was kind of a big deal, because he has been obsessed with all things “Star Wars” for a couple of years now, and because it was the first movie we’ve watched with him on the wall — by which I mean the high-def projector in our basement, on which his mother and I have been secretly enjoying nine feet of Blu-ray movies and HD cable when he’s asleep and only when he’s asleep, while denying him the narcotic effects of any TV or movies until he’s older.
To mark the occasion, and to get as close as possible to the experience I had when I first saw the movie in the theater (I was almost exactly his age in the summer of 1977), I bought the Blu-ray of the latest version of the original trilogy. If there were a Blu-ray of the original versions of the movies — the versions I saw as a kid — I would have bought those, but that isn’t an option, so I had to settle for the “Special Editions,” which of course is the versions George Lucas re-released in the 90s with various digital “improvements” to the special effects.
These improvements caused quite an outcry at the time, and people are still bitching about it now — when these Blu-rays were released a few months ago there was a big kerfuffle because they voiceovered a comically bad “NOOOOOOO!!” into Darth Vader’s mouth in the climactic scene in “Return Of The Jedi” where he saves Luke from the Emperor, to match the comically bad moment in “Star Wars — Episode III” where Anakin/Darth Vader is told that his wife has died.
Anyway, I hadn’t seen any of the original “Star Wars” movies since the Special Edition of the first one came out in 1996. I never saw the other two Special Editions — I know they’re on Spike all the time but I can’t take that many Bud Light and Axe commercials at once. At some point, while flipping channels, I did happen across the “improved” band sequence at Jabba the Hutt’s palace, with an alien Tina Turner singing a terrible song with a terrible alien backing band, and a little part of me died inside. In any case, even though I lived and breathed “Star Wars” as a kid and into my 20s, I haven’t seen any of the first three movies in 15 years.
So it was a big occasion to show it to my kid, and he couldn’t have been more excited about it, but I was pretty excited to watch it myself. I know a lot of people didn’t buy the Blu-rays because we’re all fed up with George’s lame changes to the movies, but I do not have the luxury of such a principled stand, because I have a 4-year-old boy in my house. (My principled stand is that I will never acknowledge the existence of the prequels. If he wants to learn about that trash, he can pick it up on the streets, but not in my house.) Read More