Thursday, May 25, 2006

Then The Emperor Has Already Won...

Did I mention that I was skeptical about the forthcoming DVD release of Star Wars? Well, pessimists of the world, rejoice! George Lucas is sticking it to his fans again!

According to The Digital Bits and a linked article from Home Media Retailing, the September DVD release will, in fact, feature the original unaltered films, but they will be transfers of the non-anamorphic (click here if you don't know what that means, but want to) laserdisc releases from the early 90s. This probably means little to those of us who are still using standard definition, analog televisions, but for those with HD sets or plans to upgrade, this means that the unaltered films on these DVDs will have vastly inferior video quality than current standards. The truth is that video transfers created nearly 15 years ago, are ancient. The DVD format hadn't even gotten off the ground when these transfers were created and the technology used to create video transfers from film sources has advanced significantly in the meantime. For a film that in many ways set a new standard for the use of technology, it is sad to see the same film so far behind what is possible.

Here's a quote from the response some fans have been getting to their letters and e-mails:

So many fans have requested the original movies, we wanted to find a way to bring them to you. But since these movies do not represent George's artistic vision, we could not put the extraordinary time and resources into this project as we did with the Special Editions. The 1993 Laserdisc masters represented the best source for providing the original versions as DVD bonus material. Although these are non-anamorphic versions, they do preserve the original widescreen composition of the movies.

We want you to be aware that we have no plans -- now or in the future -- to restore the earlier versions.

That's the nail in the coffin, folks. We will never see the original, unaltered trilogy with technology beyond 1993. Sad news, indeed, on the 29th anniversary of the premier of Star Wars in theaters.

Films Recently Watched:

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) dir. by Peter Jackson
After finding the extended motion picture soundtrack at the library and enjoying it, I wanted to give this a viewing. And once you pop . . . you can't stop!
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) dir. by Peter Jackson
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) dir. by Peter Jackson

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) dir. by Stanley Kubrick
I'd seen bits and pieces but never the entire film. An amazing piece of science fiction. Not full of action, but definitely thought-provoking. For those who have seen the film, here is one interesting explanation of the film in Shockwave Flash format.

Howl's Moving Castle (2004) dir. by Hayao Miyazaki
Full of imagination and wonders. Miyazaki's attention to detail shines again here, as it did in 'Spirited Away.' Miyazaki is a filmmaker who takes full advantage of the animated medium. He would likely be crippled by the confines of live-action. It's kind of like being in a dream -- I don't know what it all means, but -- you just go with it. The Region 1 DVD has an English dub (which I only sampled) featuring the voice talent of Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall, Billy Crystal, and Jean Simmons. The English dialogue was directed by Pixar's Pete Doctor, who directed Monsters, Inc. Those folks at Pixar are all huge Miyazaki fans, led by John Lasseter, the chief creative executive who may just be the biggest Miyazaki fan in the world.

Bruce Almighty (2003) dir. by Tom Shadyac
Somewhere deep in msubconsciousus, I must have been needing a silly comedy, because this had me laughing out loud. I still have to compose myself when I think about the scene where Jim Carrey's titular character uses his powers to "possess" Steve Carell's character, Evan Baxter, during the evening news. Of course, I think Steve Carell would be funny reading the phonebook, so your mileage may vary. I'll be looking for the follow-up to this, Evan Almighty, scheduled for release in 2007.

Serenity (2005) dir. by Joss Whedon
I went into this knowing nothing about the characters nor story of the cult television series, Firefly on which this is based. I think that fans of the TV show would appreciate this more. It was OK, and I do like the way Whedon instills moments of comedy into otherwise tense dialogue. I won't be running out to buy Firefly on DVD, though.

Brokeback Mountain (2005) dir. by Ang Lee
This wasn't all I hoped it would be. I love the other Ang Lee films I've seen (Sense and Sensibility / Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon / Hulk), and I wanted to like this one, but it just didn't grab me. There were moments during the film that were reminiscent of Lee's other excellent camerawork, lighting and ingenuity, but much of the film just felt flat to me. I did like the use of music.

Oh, and since we're talking about Star Wars anyway -- for those that found Anakin's "turn" in Revenge of the Sith to be sudden and unbelievable, just wait until you see this!! I knew it was coming and I still didn't believe it!

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