Warning: Illegal string offset 'single_post_style' in /home/stolendr/public_html/wp-content/themes/top-news/single.php on line 17

My Star Wars nerd rage is still burning brightly today.  If you aren’t sure why, check out my post from yesterday regarding the Blu-Ray versions of the Star Wars movies.

I was either completely unaware of this fact, or had forgotten it over the years, but George Lucas actually testified before the United States Congress in 1988 regarding the manipulation of classic films.  At the time, he made a passionate plea asking Congress to prevent people from changing films because “People who alter or destroy works of art and our cultural heritage for profit or as an exercise of power are barbarians, and if the laws of the United States continue to condone this behavior, history will surely classify us as a barbaric society.”

So those who alter works of art for profit or as an exercise of power are barbarians?  I think that many would consider the Star Wars films works of art.  I also think that there are also those who would say that George Lucas altered these films for profit and because he had the power to do so.  There are so many things that I could say here, but I think that the best response to this is “it takes one to know one.”

Granted, George Lucas was specifically before Congress to discuss the colorization of classic films, but he also said that “Tomorrow, more advanced technology will be able to replace actors with ‘fresher faces,’ or alter dialogue and change the movement of the actor’s lips to match.”  Um… I could be wrong here but does this image look like it has been altered from the original?  When I look at these two images, I get the impression that somebody has used more advanced technology to replace an actor with a “fresher face”.

I could go on and on about the changes that this man has made to the original Star Wars trilogy but, let’s be honest, we don’t have all day.  If you want to see some of them though, check out the four part series that the guys over at dvdactive.com put together.  It’ll blow your mind to see how many substantial changes have been made to these films by a man who said that those who change films are barbarians.

I better end this rant before my brain explodes but I think though that George Lucas said it best when he said “Attention should be paid to the interest of those who are yet unborn, who should be able to see this generation as it saw itself, and the past generation as it saw itself.”  My kids don’t know Star Wars as I knew Star Wars and I’m sure that my grandchildren will not know Star Wars as my kids do.  This is exactly what he was talking about!  Changing films because you can is wrong.  Cleaning them up? Fixing techincal mistakes? I’m cool with that.  Adding new characters, replacing old characters, and adding dialogue where there was only silence are all, according to Lucas, barbaric.  I happen to agree.

For those who want to get a good nerd rage going, here is his full statement from 1988:

My name is George Lucas. I am a writer, director, and producer of motion pictures and Chairman of the Board ofLucasfilm Ltd., a multi-faceted entertainment corporation.

I am not here today as a writer-director, or as a producer, or as the chairman of a corporation. I’ve come as a citizen of what I believe to be a great society that is in need of a moral anchor to help define and protect its intellectual and cultural heritage. It is not being protected.

The destruction of our film heritage, which is the focus of concern today, is only the tip of the iceberg. American law does not protect our painters, sculptors, recording artists, authors, or filmmakers from having their lifework distorted, and their reputation ruined. If something is not done now to clearly state the moral rights of artists, current and future technologies will alter, mutilate, and destroy for future generations the subtle human truths and highest human feeling that talented individuals within our society have created.

A copyright is held in trust by its owner until it ultimately reverts to public domain. American works of art belong to the American public; they are part of our cultural history.

People who alter or destroy works of art and our cultural heritage for profit or as an exercise of power are barbarians, and if the laws of the United States continue to condone this behavior, history will surely classify us as a barbaric society. The preservation of our cultural heritage may not seem to be as politically sensitive an issue as “when life begins” or “when it should be appropriately terminated,” but it is important because it goes to the heart of what sets mankind apart. Creative expression is at the core of our humanness. Art is a distinctly human endeavor. We must have respect for it if we are to have any respect for the human race.

These current defacements are just the beginning. Today, engineers with their computers can add color to black-and-white movies, change the soundtrack, speed up the pace, and add or subtract material to the philosophical tastes of the copyright holder. Tomorrow, more advanced technology will be able to replace actors with “fresher faces,” or alter dialogue and change the movement of the actor’s lips to match. It will soon be possible to create a new “original” negative with whatever changes or alterations the copyright holder of the moment desires. The copyright holders, so far, have not been completely diligent in preserving the original negatives of films they control. In order to reconstruct old negatives, many archivists have had to go to Eastern bloc countries where American films have been better preserved.

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.

There is nothing to stop American films, records, books, and paintings from being sold to a foreign entity or egotistical gangsters and having them change our cultural heritage to suit their personal taste.

I accuse the companies and groups, who say that American law is sufficient, of misleading the Congress and the People for their own economic self-interest.

I accuse the corporations, who oppose the moral rights of the artist, of being dishonest and insensitive to American cultural heritage and of being interested only in their quarterly bottom line, and not in the long-term interest of the Nation.

The public’s interest is ultimately dominant over all other interests. And the proof of that is that even a copyright law only permits the creators and their estate a limited amount of time to enjoy the economic fruits of that work.

There are those who say American law is sufficient. That’s an outrage! It’s not sufficient! If it were sufficient, why would I be here? Why would John Houston have been so studiously ignored when he protested the colorization of “The MalteseFalcon?” Why are films cut up and butchered?

Attention should be paid to this question of our soul, and not simply to accounting procedures. Attention should be paid to the interest of those who are yet unborn, who should be able to see this generation as it saw itself, and the past generation as it saw itself.

I hope you have the courage to lead America in acknowledging the importance of American art to the human race, and accord the proper protection for the creators of that art–as it is accorded them in much of the rest of the world communities.

[via GeekTyrant]

Zohner

Co-founder/show host/producer of Stolendroids. If you've listened to our shows, you know that I'm a geek. Anyone who says differently doesn't know me very well. If it has anything to do with computers, video games, toys, comic books, or sci-fi, you can count me in. Also, I aim to misbehave.
  • Well said! When I saw the changes being made, I was all like “NNNoooooOOOOOoOOOOooOOO”

    :-/

%d bloggers like this: