STARRING: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, voice of James Earl Jones, Kenny Baker

1997, 125 Minutes, Directed by: George Lucas

Is it right to change a film in the way that George Lucas has done in Star Wars Special Edition?

Somehow this was never asked when Ridley Scott brought audiences his director's cut of Blade Runner. And the changes to Blade Runner were more radical than the ones made to Star Wars - even the ending was changed in that movie! Nothing as drastic was done to the Star Wars Special Edition. Yet what warrants the question is that unlike many other "special" re-releases of films (David Lean's restored Lawrence of Arabia springs to mind) none of them went so far as to re-do special effects sequences and even add an entirely new scene (Han Solo's meeting with Jabba the Hut outside the Millennium Falcon)!

But despite restoring the film and soundtrack and the added and re-touched special effect sequences, changes are kept to a minimal in Star Wars Special Edition. There is, after all, very little one can do to spruce up a film that has stood the test of time as well as Star Wars did (except for those typical 1970s haircuts!).

But with the hype regarding the movies one cannot help but think of that old record industry trick of bringing out a "greatest hits" collection with one or two new songs added so that dedicated fans feels obliged to buy the CD - even though they own every other piece of music the band in question has ever brought out! With the hype surrounding the film one would be excused for thinking that it is an entirely new film and not the 1977 classic simply being re-released . . .

However, that isn't the issue with Star Wars. Small gripes aside, the point behind this Special Edition of the film is that (like the trailers kept on reminding us) people who have never seen the Star Wars films when they originally came out now got the opportunity to see on cinema screens and not confined to TV screens.

If you're one of those people who always saying that you'll wait for it to appear on video then you're missing the point - not just with regard to Star Wars Special Edition, but with every single film ever made: movies are always better on the big screen.

People who whined endlessly about the shoot-out between Han Solo and the scene with Jabba the Hut aren't real Star Wars fans - real Star Wars fans are infinitely glad that they could see the film the way it is intended: big and loud . . .

Small gripes? Yeah. Some new scenes merely looks muddled in this new Special Edition. Also, at the risk of sounding like one of those incessantly griping people I griped about earlier, the scene between Han Solo and Jabba the Hut doesn't work as well. Although cleverly done, Jabba appears to be a push-over weakling. Han Solo even steps on his tail! Hardly the terrifying figure we got to knew during Return of the Jedi. Or the one Han Solo was so afraid of in Empire Strikes Back that he continually wanted to leave the Rebellion (although temporarily) to fix up matters between them.

But ultimately there's not much difference between Star Wars Special Edition and the director's cut of Blade Runner. Finally we get a clearer idea of what Lucas had in mind for his original classic.



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