Last night, one of the cable movie channels ran a marathon of the original Star Wars trilogy.
I watched the end of Return of the Jedi, the third and final film in the marathon. In this film, after learning that Darth Vader is his father, Luke Skywalker is nearly killed by the evil Emperor until Vader steps in and kills the Emporer. Vader, dying from his injuries, asks Luke to remove his mask so that the father can look upon his son with his own eyes.
When the mask is removed, we see the late Sebastian Shaw in the role of the dying Jedi-turned-villian. (It was James Earl Jones’ voice whenever the mask was on for the entire run.)
At the very end of the movie, after the rebels have won the war, Luke joins Princess Leia and Han Solo on the planet Endor for a celebration. What I remembered from the original 1983 movie — yes, it came out that long ago — was that there was this catchy little tune being played by the Ewoks, a race that looks like walking teddy bears. At one point, Luke looks off into the distance, and sees the ghosts of Yoda, Obi-Won Kenobi, and his father watching over the festivities with smiles on their faces.
Director George Lucas, who has taken some criticism for tinkering with his movies after the fact, apparently wasn’t happy with this scene as originally executed.
But when I watched the movie, that silly, catchy little tune the Ewoks played had been replaced with something more orchestral, shots at other locations showing celebrations seem to have been added, and when Luke looks off into the distance, he sees the three, but Shaw is replaced with Hayden Christensen, who ported Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith. Yet Alec Guinness, who played Kenobi, was not replaced by Ewan McGregor.
There really ought to be a statute of limitations when it comes to directors going in and tinkering with their movies after they’re released. It’s hard to watch a movie when those little things that added to its charm when you first saw it are all replaced with more fancy “do-overs.”
Come on, George: leave it one.