Monday, October 10, 2011

Remastering Masterpieces

Star Wars, the original trilogy, was just rereleased on DVD once again. And once again, it was remastered/changed/ruined/whatever you want to call it. George Lucas changed things. Oh, the horror. Again.

Listen, I get the outrage. I really do. I like the original original trilogy the best. I like the Ewok song at the end. I know that Gredo didn't shoot. I think the computer generated creatures look dumber than the puppets. Trust me, I'm a geek, I get it. But also, I don't understand all the outrage. I mean, it is just a movie.

Ok, I hear you yelling at me. "It isn't just a movie, it is a piece of art!" "It is historic and shouldn't be changed. Ever!" But let me counter your outrage with something that is by many respects more outrageous. The Last Judgement, painted by Michelangelo, on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel.

Michelangelo painted the Last Judgement after he painted the ceiling (3 decades after if you want to be specific). And he painted a lot of the people naked. And by a lot of, I mean most of them have their junk out. 24 years after he finished, the Council of Trent said that nudity in religious art was bad and Daniele da Volterra got the job of painting loinclothes and fig leaves over all the naughty bits. When restoration occured in the 1990s, there was great debate about if the fig leaves should be removed. In the end, they ended up removing some of them.

The big debate was if the art work should reflect the original intention of the artist. It was argued that althought Michelangelo did not paint the fig leaves, the addition of them became part of the history of the work. Hence, removing them would remove some of the history.

Now, to relate that to Star Wars. If Michael Bay decided that he wanted to remaster Star Wars and add bigger explosions and slutty girls into it, I would be opposed to that. But it is George Lucas who is changing the movie. It would be like if Michelangelo decided that The Last Judgement wasn't quite right and painted fig leave on himself. Would it be the best choice? Probably not. Would some people be mad that he was changing one of his masterpieces? Definitely. Would it be in his right to alter his own work? Yes. That is what copyright is all about. You can mess with your own stuff as many times as you want.

So while I definitely think the original original trilogy is the best version, I also think that now, you can't go back to it. You can keep both, but you can never destroy the remastered versions. They have become part of the history of the work. Plus, it is always nice to have a default topic to whine about.

No comments:

Post a Comment