In December of 2005, in conjunction with the release of "King Kong," Peter Jackson released a two-disc DVD set on nothing but the film's production. Over three and a half hours of behind the scenes footage was presented, chronicling everything from set design to special effects and everything in between. Packaged with the discs were four production art prints and a fifty-two page booklet, which contained many on- and off-set photos.
Wow. A two-disc set of production footage. This alone is proof that Jackson is a director who knows how to cater to his fans.
George Lucas could learn a thing or two from Peter Jackson. For his "Star Wars Trilogy" DVD boxed set, Lucas apparently decided against going the extra mile in terms of special features. This is a real shame, not only because they're such classic films, but also because this is their first release on the DVD format.
Nearly everything about this disappointing set is minimalist. Each film is given only one disc without any special features; all of those are reserved for a fourth disc, one that really doesn't go very far. The best we're given is a two and a half hour documentary on all three films, entitled "Empire of Dreams." Two and a half hours may seem like a decent length of time, but because it covers the entire trilogy, it was forced to simplify each of the films' productions into general, nonspecific analyses. It would have been better to devote a two and a half hour documentary to each film individually. Everything would be much more in depth and satisfying.
Of course, there are a host of other special features that were neglected. For one, only a handful of the Trilogy's many trailers were included. Furthermore, virtually no artwork is presented, and promotional material is sparse at best. Storyboards and test footage are nowhere to be found. (Wouldn't watching the original animatics be awesome, especially for the battle scenes?) And what about deleted scenes? Any "Star Wars" fan knows of Luke's conversation with Biggs on Tatooine in the first film or of the moment when C-3PO tears away the "Do Not Enter" sticker from a door in the second film. Shouldn't we be allowed to view these moments in digital clarity? It's a side of "Star Wars" history that so few have had the chance to see.
One of the biggest issues surrounding this set is the fact that only the digitally enhanced Special Edition versions are included (which, interestingly, have had more reworking since 1997). Lucas has remained quite adamant about this, claiming that the Special Editions represent what he wanted to see in the films originally. He's also said that the original versions will never again be released. As we all know, many fans are outraged about this; for them, only the unaltered Original Release versions are acceptable. I, for one, don't have a problem with the Special Editions. They are what they are, and in my opinion, they work just as well as the Original Releases. That being said, I still feel that Lucas was a fool to not release the original versions. He may not agree with the way the films were presented back in 1977, 1980, and 1983, but they are still a part of cinematic history. Denying them release is akin to denying the past.
I'm sure Lucas will never change his mind about this. But in the off chance he opens to suggestions, then mine would be to include BOTH versions of the films on the same set. That way, everyone comes away happy: Lucas gets his Special Editions released and fans are finally allowed to choose which version they'd prefer to see. Many DVD sets offer this option, anyway (such as the "Alien Quadrilogy" set, another great example of catering to fans). It's puzzling why Lucas would be so blind to such a win/win scenario.
Imagine someone trying to fill an empty swimming pool with a mere glassful of water. That's the way I see the "Star Wars Trilogy" DVD set. I suppose it would be fine for those who prefer DVDs without bonus material (and some do). But for the rest (and the majority) of us, this is not enough. I want to know everything about these incredible films, all the ins and outs, all the highs and lows. I want to see the details and hear the ideas that went into each film, even the ones that were rejected or changed. I want to see photos of set construction and footage of original interviews from the 1970s and '80s. I want to watch all the screen tests. I'd like to be able to read the first drafts of the scripts. I want to see model construction and hear some explanations as to their design.
In short, I want more.
If I were to describe the ideal DVD set for the "Star Wars" saga, it would be one that included all six films. Each would be given two discs, and they would all be packed with the special features I mentioned earlier, plus many more that I didn't mention. Episodes IV, V, and VI would have both the Original Release versions and the Special Edition versions available (as I said before). I'd probably include a booklet of some kind, something detailed and probing that wouldn't disappoint fans.
Unfortunately, I have no control over the format of the "Star Wars" DVDs. For now, I have to stick with what was offered. I can only hope that future releases will do a better job of presenting what the fans want to see. Mr. Lucas, you're going to have to try a little harder if you really want to impress us. Give us something that is truly a collector's item instead of a bare bones gathering of three movies. These films redefined the meaning of the word "blockbuster," and it's time they get recognized for that. A good start would be a decent DVD set.
Hi, for those interest in Star Wars and exploring the political and historical influences on the films, I have a new website, the Poli-Sci Jedi, where I explore those issues. You can check out the Facebook page as well.
Okay, so I know it's a well-worn cliche, but the original Star Wars film really did change my life. I had no idea about the film I was going to see and the opening scenes left me exhilarated and awestruck. People were actually paid to dream up, plan and make this stuff! I can trace so many of my decisions about the things I study and the work I do back to that moment.
While I like the original Star Wars Trilogy, I think it's massively overrated. I think it's overrated because when you get down to it, it's a pretty simple "good vs evil" tale merely told in an imaginative universe, though people still insist that it's the best creation in the sci-fi genre (though it's best to classify Star Wars as space-fantasy or high tech-fantasy). It's GOOD, though that's as far as I'll go with my praise. I honestly would have … more
I just got done talking about the man who was once the epitome of movie villany and coolness, Darth Vader and how his star took a hit after the prequels came out and I couldn't look at him the same way. Lets take a look at the series that started it all. The three movies all have different stories but come together under the similar thread of a small and unequpied rebellion facing a tyranical empire with a young man learning a magical power to assist the rebels … more
Although tackling the subject of star wars is difficult, it is important to keep in mind the way that it was made- the way that it was hyped, and how George Lucas came to fame. Lucas had only released THX 1138, a futuristic dystopic film starring Robert Duvall; and American Graffiti, about American life. Although both the movies received mild success (and are more recognized now, post-star wars), undertaking the making of a movie on such a scale as Star Wars was unheard of. The lack of funding … more
Why would anybody watch these movies on full screen rather than widescreen? There's a lot more image in the widescreen versions. If you don't have a widescreen TV, watch the widescreen version on your computer. Don't sacrifice your viewing experience. Also, the bonus disc is worth getting, which this set doesn't have.
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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One of the most exhilarating and influential trilogies in the history of motion pictures, George Lucas's sci-fi spectacular continues to capture the hearts and minds of individuals throughout the world. This release contains the STAR WARS trilogy (episodes IV-VI) in one glorious package.
First up is STAR WARS; George Lucas's stunning sci-fi masterpiece, and arguably one of the most inventive and entertaining films ever made. As the adventure begins, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), an impulsive but goodhearted young man who lives on the dusty planet of Tatooine with his aunt and uncle, longs for the exciting life of a Rebel soldier. The Rebels, led by the headstrong Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), are fighting against the evil Empire, which has set about destroying planets inhabited by innocent citizens with the Death Star, a fearsome planetlike craft commanded by Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) and the eternally frightful Darth Vader (David Prowse, with the voice of James Earl Jones). When Luke...