head
headheadhead
HomeContactRSS Feed
COMICS   •   MOVIES   •   MUSIC   •   TELEVISION   •   GAMES   •   BOOKS
George Lucas Argued Against Film Alteration Yet Continues To Change ‘Star Wars’ Saga
The Movie God   |  

Star Wars Ghosts

Many of us won’t remember this, but back in the ’80s, Ted Turner purchased the rights to libraries of old classic movies with intent to add color to the black and white films and re–release them to the masses.

This was considered an outrage by many, including some of the still–living directors of the films, but nothing could be done about it. So a group of spokesmen for Hollywood including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, James Stewart, Woody Allen, and John Huston took it to Congress in hopes on instilling laws against the alteration of films in order to preserve their heritage.

But it was Lucas who took the floor and made the speech that’s more relevant today than anyone would have thought it would be. A speech in 1988 that stood strong for the preservation of original films that he himself has broken many times over since that time by changing numerous parts of his classic Star Wars trilogy, including most recently on the Blu–ray release.

Continue on to read the full speech from Lucas.

“My name is George Lucas. I am a writer, director, and producer of motion pictures and Chairman of the Board of Lucasfilm 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. Tommorrow, 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 Maltese Falcon?” 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.”

Also speaking on the issue, Spielberg said, “Let generations yet unborn see the films produced by our film artists as they were released.”

Screenwriter Bo Goldman also had a strong view, saying “I do know this, I want my children and their children to see my movies the way they were written. When the Indian finally speaks in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, I want him to say “Juicy Fruit” and not “diet bubble gum.” On the long shot of the ward, I want to see the old hallucinator dancing in the back, and on the pan I don’t want it to stop before it reaches the poor, lobotomized soul behind the cage. Remember the first time you went with your parents to Snow White, with your girl to Singing in the Rain, with your children to E.T. You have the right to see it that way and only that way forever.”

What are your thoughts on Lucas’s speech from 1988 and the things he does with his films today?

[Source: Saving Star Wars via /Film]


  • Meb1982

    I never understood why Anakin Skywalker is the only one who is young again.

  • PAUL

    Tough call and lots of grey area here. Lucas does speak out in favor of maintaining works of art according to the creators origin vision and not according to those to “people” who would alter said work. Additionally, he clearly started his speech with the disclaimer that he was “not here today as a writer-director, or as a producer, or as the chairman of a corporation. I’ve come as a citizen…” On the other hand, as creator of Star Sars and sole owner of the copyright, he can do what he wants and I’m sure his speech would’ve been different from that perspective. There are no faceless people, no corporations opposing the rights of the artist…George Lucas IS the person, the creator, the corporation and he modifying his own works. Maybe we don’t like it as an audience but Star Wars is his baby and he can do with it as he wants. The flip side is that nobody has to support his changes and sadly, it’s the fans who oppose Lucas’ changes who will be first in line to buy the collections on Blu-Ray. Bottom line though, Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back are already archived by the National Film Registry.

  • PAUL

    Tough call and lots of grey area here. Lucas does speak out in favor of maintaining works of art according to the creators origin vision and not according to those to “people” who would alter said work. Additionally, he clearly started his speech with the disclaimer that he was “not here today as a writer-director, or as a producer, or as the chairman of a corporation. I’ve come as a citizen…” On the other hand, as creator of Star Sars and sole owner of the copyright, he can do what he wants and I’m sure his speech would’ve been different from that perspective. There are no faceless people, no corporations opposing the rights of the artist…George Lucas IS the person, the creator, the corporation and he modifying his own works. Maybe we don’t like it as an audience but Star Wars is his baby and he can do with it as he wants. The flip side is that nobody has to support his changes and sadly, it’s the fans who oppose Lucas’ changes who will be first in line to buy the collections on Blu-Ray. Bottom line though, Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back are already archived by the National Film Registry.

  • Percy

    Here are my thoughts: The points that Lucas makes in this speech do not apply to the changes he’s made to the Star Wars films, and I’ll explain why.

    Lucas protested changes being made to films by “the copyright holder of the moment,” or in other words, people who have simply purchased the rights to films that they themselves had no part in creating. That is very different from the living creator of said films making changes or edits to their own work for future releases. Lucas is the creator of Star Wars, having solely directed four out of the six films in the series. While he did not direct TESB, he did write the story and was a strong creative influence on the film. While he is not credited as such in ROTJ, he essentially co-directed that film and was responsible for the story and universe depicted therein. He hired Kershner and Marquand to help bring his story to life on the screen, no different from anybody else who worked on the films, from the artists at ILM to John Williams.

    Star Wars is the product of George Lucas’s imagination, and he can do with it what he wishes without contradicting the points made in the speech provided above. In fact, there were changes made to subsequent releases of the films prior to the 1997 special editions, the most famous of which is the addition of “Episode IV: A New Hope” to the 1981 rerelease of the first film. I see no problem with a living artist making changes to their own works. Older versions of the films continue to be available in one form or another, and I’m fairly certain that the original prints in their original forms have been preserved for historical value as well.

    Lucas isn’t the only famous artist who has modified his existing creative work to better mesh with later works, by the way. J.R.R. Tolkien famously rewrote parts of “The Hobbit” (particularly the “Riddles in the Dark” chapter) for future editions to better mesh with “The Lord of the Rings.” He even considered rewriting the book entirely at one point. Seems very similar to what Lucas has done with Star Wars. I suppose if Tolkien were alive and writing today, fans would be up in arms about that too.

  • Cerealmonster1

    cash trumps integerity.

  • http://twitter.com/RagingR2 Hans B.

    “… and I’m sure his speech would’ve been different from that
    perspective.”

    Yeah, I’m sure it would, and there’s a name for that, that’s called “double standards”. Sure, you can reason he *owns* Star Wars, so who does anyone else think he is to say what G.Lucas can or can’t do with his films. But in the end, what does it matter *who* changes the films after the fact? The fact remains the same: in the long run it’s much more relevant to anyone to see the piece of art (whether it be a film, a painting, or whatever) in it’s original form, the way it was when it came out because at that time, that was the way it had to be in the eyes of the artist who made it; otherwise they wouldn’t have
    released it. I think every artist, or everyone who has ever done anything creative at all, suffers from the fact that after you’ve made something, you will always keep wondering “couldn’t I have done better” or “shouldn’t I have changed this or that details”. It’s just a damn shame that George Lucas, unlike many other artists on the planet, doesn’t know how to resist that urge, and move on to the next project and focus your creative energy on that… By which I don’t mean, let that be clear, that he should give the whole Star Wars
    universe a rest, because I can’t get enough of it, but please just don’t keep tempering with pieces of art that were released years ago… Because nobody really wants these changes. The only thing it does is quench George’s obsessive habit to keep tampering with them, and give thousands of obsessive fans another reason to spend money on yet another version that they didn’t ask for in the first place… but we all know in the end they will still buy it. Don’t George, just don’t. For anyone’s sake.

  • http://twitter.com/RagingR2 Hans B.

    “… and I’m sure his speech would’ve been different from that
    perspective.”

    Yeah, I’m sure it would, and there’s a name for that, that’s called “double standards”. Sure, you can reason he *owns* Star Wars, so who does anyone else think he is to say what G.Lucas can or can’t do with his films. But in the end, what does it matter *who* changes the films after the fact? The fact remains the same: in the long run it’s much more relevant to anyone to see the piece of art (whether it be a film, a painting, or whatever) in it’s original form, the way it was when it came out because at that time, that was the way it had to be in the eyes of the artist who made it; otherwise they wouldn’t have
    released it. I think every artist, or everyone who has ever done anything creative at all, suffers from the fact that after you’ve made something, you will always keep wondering “couldn’t I have done better” or “shouldn’t I have changed this or that details”. It’s just a damn shame that George Lucas, unlike many other artists on the planet, doesn’t know how to resist that urge, and move on to the next project and focus your creative energy on that… By which I don’t mean, let that be clear, that he should give the whole Star Wars
    universe a rest, because I can’t get enough of it, but please just don’t keep tempering with pieces of art that were released years ago… Because nobody really wants these changes. The only thing it does is quench George’s obsessive habit to keep tampering with them, and give thousands of obsessive fans another reason to spend money on yet another version that they didn’t ask for in the first place… but we all know in the end they will still buy it. Don’t George, just don’t. For anyone’s sake.

  • BitLooter

    Two words: Blade Runner.

  • Unnamedgeek

    Uhhhh, Thank God for Firefly/Serenity

  • Pingback: Social Blend » Blog Archive » Social Blend 170: Don’t Stop Me Now!

  • Pingback: Social Blend » Blog Archive » Social Blend 171: Get Off My Lawn

  • Pingback: Odeon Review

  • Pingback: odeonreview

Topics: Movies, News
Previous Article
Next Article
«
»
Geeks of Doom on InstagramFollow Geeks of Doom on Tumblr
Geeks of Doom on YouTubeGeeks of Doom on Pinterest
Geeks of Doom Email DigestGeeks of Doom RSS Feed
Holiday Gift Guides
Amazon.com
space
The Drill Down PodcastTARDISblend PodcastBlendoveR Podcast
2520 Clothing Company
2014  ·   2013  ·   2012  ·   2011  ·   2010  ·   2009  ·   2008  ·   2007  ·   2006  ·   2005
Geeks of Doom is proudly powered by WordPress.

Students of the Unusual™ comic cover used with permission of 3BoysProductions
The Mercuri Bros.™ comic cover used with permission of Prodigal Son Press

Geeks of Doom is designed and maintained by our geeky webmaster
All original content copyright ©2005-2014 Geeks of Doom
All external content copyright of its respective owner, except where noted
Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under
a Creative Commons License.
About | Privacy Policy | Contact