Love for Raiders / Hypocrisy for Lucas
Here's two links to articles that are probably of interest to this forum.
First, Damon Lindelof wrote a love letter to Raiders of the Lost Arc, which I found to be a pretty good read. I never watched Lost, so I don't consider Lindelof a demi-god like some people do, but I respect him. And this is a pretty good/funny/passionately written obsession letter over a great movie:
And in quasi related news, here is an article about how George Lucas (producer of Raiders) gave a 1988 speech to congress about how film history should NOT be altered. Obviously, he has become the king of altering his own film history since then. (also, didn't The Critic kind of predict the same concept with Phillips-Vision?)
Here's but a small taste of Lucas' words:
"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."
Granted he does say that corporations are the problem and not the artists, but still... I know he claims all the changes he's done over the years were 'meant to be' in his mind, which might have been true at first, but at some point it feels like it just switched to some insane (and inane) power trip.
At the very least scroll down and read the white text, as that's his speech to congress (which has been cut down to only include the relevant subject matter):
Is anyone else really happy/surprised that he's never bothered to "improve" American Graffiti?
I'd love to see an improved version of THX-1138. I enjoyed the sci-fi part of it, but it will be a lot better with the kind of CGI Lucas added to the SW films.
I don't know if this is fake or what, but a friend just forwarded me a link to a you tube sample of what is purported to be a Lucas re-edit of the scene in "Jedi" where Vader decides to save Luke by throwing the Emperor down the air shaft. (hope that wasn't a spoiler for anyone by now).
The sample video, supposedly part of the new bluray release, has added dialog for Vader. In the orignal released version, Vader's decision and action are done in silence. Now the scene has Vader saying: "No. NOOOO!" then grabbing the Emperor to hurl him into the shaft. This is not the same sound bite from the scene where he is told Padme is dead. This sounds like a new track by James Earl Jones, specifically dubbed into this scene.
Hey, the whole thing may be a massive troll effort. I can't verify the veracity of the clip. However, the trolling would only be successful because we can believe from empirical evidence that Lucas would and has messed with the story before.
Please stop, George. Please. Let it go.
If you need a hobby, George, make new films!
If he was going to change anything in that scene it would be better to just remove the calm Vader breathe while he's carrying the Emperor (now I'm changing the films more than George).
I have to tell you that in Mexico many films come already changed. Distributors not only translate the title to sometimes horrible nonsense phrases, but family movies are almost certain to be projected with dialogs in Spanish.
Don't get me wrong, I love my language, but many times the dialogs are stretched to fit the lip-sync and the process is made in a hurry, so forget about the voice acting. Disney films are usually good, but all the others... not really. That, and the fact that distributors sometimes re-cut the film to get more screenings per day or to get a wider rating ends up in an experience very far away from the one the original movie was capable to bring.
That said, I enjoy Lucas messing with his films. I still have my original VHS trilogy and I don't really care too much to watch it.
Lucas' constant fiddling with Star Wars re-edits reminds me of Uncle Rico from "Napoleon Dynamite": he had a brief flash of greatness that he can't get past, and he only lives to re-live that one moment over and over, to try and recapture it.
Ha Ha, that's great. Uncle Rico was such a great character.
Utah Video Productions
Check out my Motion Training DVD
Check out my Motion Tutorials
[Scott Roberts] " I never watched Lost, so I don't consider Lindelof a demi-god like some people do, but I respect him."
Respect is good, but Scott, if you like television even half as much as you like movies, not seeing Lost is like not seeing Star Trek or something. It's the only show that came close to creating as full a universe, with fans as passionate -- I can argue that Lost went further.
Stop what you're doing, got to Netflix, and order the first disk. I consider the pilot the third best movie of 2004, behind LOTR: Return of the King (actually better in the longer DVD version, but still), and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Akaban (still amazing).
I can see why somebody might put Passion of the Christ, Cold Mountain or The Incredibles ahead of the Lost pilot - sorry, they're wrong. LOL
No kidding, man. This is bad.
And this is a pretty good/funny/passionately written obsession letter over a great movie
This in a nutshell is why Lost wasn't just a TV show. He and his partner Carlton Cuse labored over each episode with the intensity of fans. They did commentaries for every episode online. They had their own podcast, and actively supported fan sites. Before every new episode, they did a pop-up video style re-airing of the previous week's show to connect dots across the seasons and across the world of books and movies that inspired them.
I'll save the rest for another thread, but one reason why fans were so intense is that Lindeloff (and Cuse) is a fan of lots of things, an insanely intense fan. He treated fans of Lost the same way he wanted to be treated, and you know why? At the end of the day, he's a fan of FANS. As a fan himself, he feels a responsibility to deliver the goods, every single time. Anything less, and he would be doing himself a disservice as a fan.
Let's contrast that with George Lucas, a man who clearly has no use for fans. I'm sure he loves his kids and is nice to old people and pets, but I've otherwise lost an incalculable amount of respect for him. The hypocrisy of preserving the heritage of film is only part of it. Here's an example of what makes my blood boil.
George Lucas: “Releasing the originals is kind of an oxymoron because the quality of the original is not very good. You have to go through and do a whole restoration on it, and you have to do that digitally. It’s a very, very expensive process to do it. So when we did the transfer to digital, we only transferred really the upgraded version.”
Releasing the originals is not an oxymoron! That word has nothing to do with this issue, and I can't imagine why he used it. Does he not know what it means, or does he hope WE don't know, and is trying to intimidate us?
You have to go through and do a whole restoration on it, and you have to do that digitally. It’s a very, very expensive process to do it.
I'm going to pretend for a minute that George didn't become a gazillionare (in round numbers) from Star Wars. This is relevant because George is an indie filmmaker who pays for everything he does, with no studio money.
Let's say he doesn't want to spend any of his own money. Fine. The studio would fall over themselves to do it. Say I'm wrong, and the studio also plays like they're poor. He could float a bond and let you and me pay for it.
David Bowie did this in 1990, offering the rights to his first 25 albums to raise money to buy back his songs from the people who owned them. It was a 10 year bond at 7.9%, and Bowie earned an upfront payment of $55 million.
So maybe George doesn't want to surrender 10 years of royalties, and doesn't want to pay so much interest I get that. How about keeping all the money, paying us NO interest, maybe we just get a fake stock certificate with a fake signature. Wouldn't you kick in some dough for that? Sign me up for $100, minimum. Do it public TV style where bigger contributions get better stuff. A Boba Fett action figure with your contribution of $250. I'm in.
Too complicated? There are world class restoration artists in the COW, the very best of the very best, and every single one of them would do it for free. Wouldn't even ask for a credit on the DVD. They would do it because they are FANS.
you have to do that digitally.
Which is how that crappy extra stuff was added in the first place. The parts that weren't digital were just extra bits of film.
Take those out, and you've got a nice chunk of the restoration work done. For example, taking out the scene with the conversation between Han Solo and Jabba outside the Millenium Falcon is a straight edit -- cut it out, and you don't have to "undo" the parts with Jabba at all.
Because on the parts of the film he didn't mess up, the restoration has ALREADY BEEN DONE! Trying to make it sound like he has to go through the whole movie from scratch is ridiculous. It's insulting.
And as I mentioned, fixing the digitally added parts isn't rocket science. It's just a bunch of frames. People return frames to their original state all the time.
For the most stunning example you may ever have seen, check out this article from Debra Kaufman, on the restoration of Les Enfants du Paradis. The second example there is harder than anything that would need to be done on Star Wars.
Skipping ahead - he's going to redo the Star Wars saga in 3D. I won't watch the "first" three, but I'm going to be ALL OVER episodes IV and V.
Any guesses how he's going to do the 3D? Rotoscoping every major element in every single frame. There are very expensive machines that get this process underway, incredibly complex software, and artists who've gotten really good on movies like, say, Thor, or the last Harry Potter, both of which really popped.
In other words, expensive and time consuming. So enough with the nonsense that it's too hard are expensive to do the TWO-DEE restoration to the one we saw in theaters.
Leaving aside the hypocrisy, this all speaks to a fundamental disrespect of us as fans. I'm not even talking about the fans who stood in line through an entire showing, or even two, in order to get into one that had tickets left. I'm not talking about fans who skipped school to see it. My wife almost wouldn't marry me because I'd only seen it 9 times in theaters.
No, I'm even just talking about people who only saw it once. Or the Library of Congress, who, in preserving the work of American artists in every genre, should get to restore the one that millions of people saw tens of millions of times.
He has said he doesn't owe anyone anything. They're his movies, and he always felt they were incomplete. Again, nonsense. He gave it to us when he took our money.
But I still gets to change it every way he wants. Give Princess Leia antennae. Make Han speak with a French accent and wear a beret. I don't care. Just let me keep the one I fell in love with -- and charge me extra for it because of the extra work.
Let's contrast this with Steven Spielberg and Close Encounters. He felt rushed on the one that went into theaters, so asked for another turn. The studio asked for some compromises to get him to take 2...which he still didn't like. So once he became "Steven Spielberg," he released the cut he REALLY wanted.
And you can buy all three of them. No matter where you came in, you can choose to stay there, or go all the way forward or back.
This is how you eat your cake and share some cake with fans. Give them what they fell in love with, AND do what you want to do. Because, yeah, it's your movie. You paid for it, do what you want. But if you didn't want me to see it and love it the first time, you should have shown it to me, because now, it's mine too.
Well, I can't believe I've come to the end of my rant. You probably can't believe that I edited it to make it shorter.
The moral of the story for ALL of this is to ignore Lucas, and watch the first two hours of Lost.
PS. Yes, those changes are coming to Star Wars on Blu-ray. And yes, those are fan videos that show what the changes may look like. See? It's possible to have it both ways.
[Tim Wilson] "Let's contrast this with Steven Spielberg and Close Encounters. He felt rushed on the one that went into theaters, so asked for another turn. The studio asked for some compromises to get him to take 2...which he still didn't like. So once he became "Steven Spielberg," he released the cut he REALLY wanted.
And you can buy all three of them. No matter where you came in, you can choose to stay there, or go all the way forward or back."
That basically sums up the whole problem right there (for George Lucas). He can do whatever he wants, as long as he offers up the original (historical) version in addition. It would be fair to release the original version in the highest quality possible as well. I used to have the original version on VHS, and I will wholeheartedly admit that it didn't look that great (it was kind of blue wasn't it?).
On top of that, as Tim said, the restoration of the original cut wouldn't be that big of a deal at this point, as the biggest problems lay in the new crap he forcefully inserted in there. And again on top of THAT, Lucas is basically a retired billionaire, who does nothing with his time but tinker with things. If he wanted to get something done, I don't see what's stopping him, in terms of scheduling as such. He could start getting the wheels turning on an original cut release tomorrow if he wanted to I imagine. (I'm just assuming he's not that hands on at running Lucasfilm, but I may be wrong).
On another note, he didn't even direct Empire or Jedi, doesn't anyone care that he's kind of messing with other people's work in a way? Tarantino wrote the screenplay for Natural Born Killers, and he always thought Oliver Stone messed that up big time. Did he try and futz with it later? No, he just disowned himself from it. Like a normal crazy person would do. But that's probably because, ya know, Tarantino moved on to other UNRELATED projects after it. George, move on dude. I'm sure you have some other ideas floating around your big head, right?
[Tim Wilson] "Stop what you're doing, got to Netflix, and order the first disk."
In addition to all of the current TV I'm still sifting through on my DVR, I'm also trying to play catch up on Breaking Bad. I've still never watched The Sopranos. TV shows are a commitment!
George Lucas is admittedly not a people person. After Star Wars made him a bajillionaire he commented that he did not like directing 500 people, so he hired his USC professor Irv Kirshner to direct Empire, so Lucas could focus on building his company and, presumably, trying to save his marriage.
The late 60's early 70's saw Lucas and Copolla trying to build a place where filmmakers could work, and realizing they needed new technology to do the kind of work they wanted to do. American Zoetrope's short-lived Folsom St. facility in San Francisco was the predecessor to Skywalker Ranch and the Letterman Digital Arts Center. This is a guy who initiated work on the tools we all use today to do our jobs. So while I was playing with his toys, Lucas was busy creating the tools I would use once I grew up. Thanks George.
The COW did a story about restoring Taxi Driver in 4K. One could argue this is not the gritty original, but a technicolor digital version.
Whatever, filmmakers who own their work can do as they please. The studio cut American Graffiti down for release, and Lucas restored the missing bits as part of his deal for the sequel. If you like the theatrical release, keep your VHS player in working condition. I have the letterbox set from around 1992. Life is too short to get bent out of shape over people changing your childhood memories.
As for Lindeloff - I liked most of Lost - a few of the backstories got boring but it all came together in the last season. The Ode to Raiders is a nice piece of propaganda to help promote the 30th anniversary blu-ray or whatever, but he says what many of us who were in his age group agree upon - Spielberg and Lucas made the movies that we grew up with and we love them for it.
[Mike Cohen] "The COW did a story about restoring Taxi Driver in 4K. One could argue this is not the gritty original, but a technicolor digital version."
The restored Taxi Driver is EXACTLY the gritty original.
Scorsese and his cinematographer Chapman spent time thinking about the last reel in particular. To keep his R rating, Scorcese desaturated those scenes, enough to leave the blood an orange-y tone that may even have enhanced the ghostly aspect of the climax.
Still, Chapman in particular had been very vocal about his disapproval at the time, and now he and Scorsese had a chance to "fix" the color. No, they decided, the goal was never to fix it. The goal was to restore it to the best possible version of the original that they possibly could. They left the color as it was, because that's how the audience first saw it, and even if aspects of the final print were forced on them, the filmmakers chose to release it the way they did then, and now, they wanted to release the best possible prints of THAT.
You can find the print on the Blu-ray edition of Taxi Driver, which I highly encourage you to check out. I actually found myself a little taken aback at how gritty it still was post-restoration, if by gritty you mean grain the size of your fist. I expected it to be polished to a high sheen, but it's all there, in the glorious malaise of mid-70s New York.
Especially because of how dark and stylized the original was, with its choices made within the technological and social limitations of the time, the respect those choices were shown this time makes for what may be the most exemplary restoration yet mounted.
I can't say enough good things about it. THIS is how you do it.