Just forget the words and sing along

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

All the Times I've Bought Star Wars: Episode VI -- Episode I Twice

Here we are again with another installment of All the Times I've Bought Star Wars, my epic series of blog entries taking a look at all the times I've bought Star Wars.  I'm trying to figure out why I've bought it so much.  We continue with Episode VI: Episode I Twice.  

Understandably, my relationship with the prequels is different than that with original trilogy.  As I’ve reiterated time and again in this series of blog entries, I was raised with the original trilogy.  It’s just always been there as part of my life.  The prequels, on the other hand, arrived 22 years into my life.  It was something new and exciting that came along at an exciting time in my life.  If the original trilogy were the girl next door, then the prequels would be your college girlfriend...you know, the one with the tattoos and the piercings and all about experimentation.  Exciting, exotic, different, but eventually you grow up and move on.  The original trilogy has been a lifetime companion, but the prequels...it was just a phase I was going though, baby.  

What makes this analogy all the sweeter is the fact that that Episode I came along during my final year in college.  I’ve already blogged about how it was big event among me and my circle of friends at Augustana...how we pretty much treated standing in line for hours on end to get our tickets as our grad party.  And then, when it hit home video, it came along at that time when you’re done with college, and just kind of drifting, trying to find yourself, and figure out what to do next.

As comes along with that time in your life, me and most of my friends were working our minimum wage shift jobs, as we drifted.  Mine was as a cashier in a grocery store.  And my best friend...well, he worked in a video store.  He would always tell me stories, and working in a video store seemed just amazing to a movie geek.  For example, even though new movies don’t officially come out until Tuesdays, most video stores actually get them on Thursday, and then they just sit in the back room until Tuesday morning.  My best friend would tell me how he’d frequently rent new releases during the weekend and watch them before anyone else did. 
So, of course, when he called me up one weekend and said, “Episode I hits VHS on Tuesday.  Want to come down to my place and see it on video before anyone else does?” I said, “Hell, yeah.”  That Sunday, I was off to his place in Camrose.

But when I arrived, he broke the news to me.  With big ticket releases like Episode I, sometimes they don’t arrive at the store until Sunday, or maybe even Monday night.  So what transpired was a Sunday of sitting by the phone, occasionally calling his buddies at work to see if Episode I had arrived yet.  It never did.  But it was a good day.  We hung out, played video games, and compared notes on how our journeys to find ourselves were going.  

It hit video on Tuesday, and on my next day off from work, which was Thursday, I was off to the city to buy it!  Widescreen, of course.  And I’ve got to hand it to Lucasfilm.  As the backlash towards none of the Star Wars films being on DVD was starting, the widescreen VHS was released in a pretty handsome boxed set in order to counter some of the criticism. 

Inside the box, you find a special abridged version of the book The Art of Star Wars: Episode I, and even a snippet of the actual film negative as a nice little collectable.

The VHS itself, besides being in widescreen and THX and all Special Editioned with 2 minutes of footage left on the cutting room floor, even contained a nice little featurette on the making of the film.  It was nice.  But nowhere near as nice as it could be on DVD.

So, of course, the DVD backlash starting to grow, at this point, Lucas decided to meet the people halfway.  He at least relented on the prequels, announcing that each one would be released on DVD shortly after their theatrical release, much like regular movies of the day.  And so, it was announced that Episode I would be hitting DVD in the summer of 2001.  As I had just bought my first DVD player in the spring of 2001, there was absolutely no doubt that I would be upgrading it to DVD right away.

Needless to say, the DVD was a significant improvement over the VHS.  Surround sound, running commentary with George Lucas and other members of the crew, deleted scenes (with the special effects all added in), a feature-length documentary on the making of the film, five featurettes focusing on various aspects of the film, the made-for-the-Internet documentary that was produced during the making of the film, a music video, the posters, the trailers, behind-the-scenes photos, and, the favourite bonus feature, the blooper reel.  I think I wound up watching the VHS only three times because this DVD came along.  

The rest of the prequels, Episode II and III, I only ever bought on DVD.  I mean, there was no point in buying them on VHS.  In fact, I’ve been told that Episode III was NEVER released on VHS – the only Star Wars movie that can boast that.  And each DVD in the rest of the prequel trilogy has similar features to Episode I.  There’s the running commentary, the feature-length documentary, music videos, featurettes, trailers, and such forth.  All in all, as 2-disc special editions go, they’re fairly typical of most of the 2-disc special editions out there.

And that kind of sums up the relationship between the original trilogy and the prequels.  The originals are considered to be landmarks in filmmaking that their very release on home video is regarded as an event.  But the prequels...well, they’re just seen as being typical of the other blockbusters out there today.  The originals are your first love...something special that you’ll never forget.  And the prequels...well, they were fun, but nothing lasting.  

Wow.  This whole “Star Wars as my girlfriend” analogy is starting to depress even me.  So, if the original trilogy was the girl next door and the prequels were my kinky college girlfriend, that would mean the next entry would chronicle the string of meaningless flings. 

Next issue:  Miscellany

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