The WORST changes made by GEORGE LUCAS to the original STAR WARS Trilogy
Not long ago, I wrote about the best changes. Now it’s time for the worst ones. There aren’t many of them, which means that George Lucas and his team even after years have a sense of what needs to be changed and what should endure, and what to leave untouched. However, he didn’t hit the mark with everything, as he clearly lacked distance from his life’s work. Below are a few examples of revisions introduced in 1997 and 2004 that turned out to be either unnecessary in terms of the plot or should have been technically re-edited. Maybe the result would finally be better today?
Max Rebo Band and Sy Snootles
Max Rebo is the blue Ortolan with a trumpet, playing on intergalactic keyboards. He remained unchanged, however, drastic modifications primarily affected the two vocalists of the band, namely Joh Yowza and Sy Snootles. In the theatrical version of Return of the Jedi from 1983, the former was actually not present. He appeared, quite literally, emerging from the screen when George Lucas realized that he could finally fulfill his dreams from the late 70s and 80s using CGI. So, in 1997, we received a special edition with a new band and singing aliens, including the hyperactive Yowza and the loudly singing Sy Snootles, an exceptionally dimensionless extraterrestrial creature with big mouth resembling a megaphone.
Previously, Sy was an exceptionally grotesque puppet, and now she is a computer animation that clearly stands out from the costumed and made-up dancers and the rest of the band members. It’s hard to choose which version is worse.
Parts IV, V, and VI are undoubtedly theatrical, which is very noticeable from today’s perspective. Often, minor techniques are what enhance the sensational presentation of events related to the fight against the Empire. A small yet powerful technique incorporated was the echo of Darth Vader’s words when he revealed to Luke during their battle that he is his father. The sound could have been cleaned up, but not to the point of precisely isolating the “I’m your father” sequence, as it sounded distinctly in the original version. Now, it gives the impression that Vader had a microphone literally at his lips, rather than being in a vast, empty space as the scene showed.
Did Greedo shoot first?
Let’s reframe the issue. Greedo should have never shot first to preserve Han Solo’s character, and our hero was never meant to be a goody two-shoes. In the original version, he didn’t wait for the inevitable from Greedo’s side, he simply shot and killed. Unfortunately, the idea to change this character interpretation emerged in 1997. The alteration involves the bounty hunter shooting first, but missing Han Solo. Then, almost in self-defense, Han shoots and kills Greedo. In subsequent versions on DVD in 2004 and BD in 2011, Lucas further edited the pacing and tempo of the scene to make it look smoother, more sensational, but still, Han Solo doesn’t shoot first, and he should have.
What if Jabba were a human? And he actually was at first. The initial conversation scene between Han and Jabba in A New Hope was shot with an actor. It was the late Declan Mulholland, born in Belfast. However, he was more suited in appearance for an adventure movie like Robin Hood, rather than a science fiction film, even one classified more as space fantasy, as is the case with Star Wars. He was later replaced by the challenging, formal presentation of an alien species called the Hutts.
Initially, Jabba was portrayed as a human, but Lucas intended to replace him with a stop-motion animated puppet. Financial and technical issues arose, leading to the removal of the scene. However, Jabba was added in the 1997 edition, but his appearance was rather poor, especially when Han Solo steps on his tail. Then, a revision was released in the 2004 DVD edition, improving textures and animation, but it’s still far from today’s expected quality.
There are sometimes revisions that are neither good nor bad. They simply don’t change anything. They aren’t even impressive. This is one of them. It was added quite late – probably in the 2011 DVD or BD edition. Correct me on which one exactly. When R2-D2 hides among the rocks on Tatooine, someone decided to add a few more rocks to give the droid some cover. However, they added so many that it’s really unclear how he got in there. Furthermore, in the next scene when he exits the cave, those rocks behind him are gone. A minor slip-up in a completely pointless overall revision.
Sarlacc in CGI
After the CGI corrections, yes, the Sarlacc does look more intuitive and friendly, mainly for younger viewers. Indeed, we can see something concrete, like the tongue and beak, capable of catching its prey and pulling them in, rather than just wrapping its tentacles around them. Previously, it was just a mysterious hole in the ground, concealing an enigmatic entity. I have no doubt that it was insufficient, but this CGI-rendered beak and tongue now resemble more of a plant, like a mutated tulip, rather than a deadly desert creature.
The Gungans celebrating on Naboo.
I understand that if extensive celebration sequences were added throughout the galaxy due to the defeat of the Empire, the Gungans had to be present on Naboo. However, would viewers really miss them if they weren’t there? Specifically, the scene of the aerial view of the Royal Palace in Theed, perhaps added for the DVD edition in 2004. On one of the domes, the Gungans are celebrating – jumping, waving red flags.
A change among many improvements to the appearance of Mos Eisley, made in 1997 for the 20th anniversary of A New Hope. Does it still hold up today? Unfortunately not. It would be fitting to update the appearance of the scurriers. The texture of their skin lacks sharpness due to the lack of details. The shadows appear unnatural, and realistic contact with the ground is essentially non-existent. Perhaps this is one of the less significant details, but its appearance even against the well-crafted rontos looks unprofessional. These small desert creatures, capable of standing on two legs, could still be a whimsical addition to the inaccessible world of Tatooine.
Scurriers are noisy, live in small herds, move quickly, and probably steal all possible food from human settlements around where they dwell. They possess 4 nostrils and the ability to dig quickly in the sand. It’s a shame that George Lucas didn’t plan for a more intricate interaction between them and the humans in the original saga.