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The Star Wars Special Editions added a lot of great tweaks to the beloved trilogy but they also made some undeniable mistakes. Here’s our top five.

2017 marks the fortieth anniversary of Star Wars hitting screens for the very first time. But it also marks the twentieth anniversary of the original trilogy’s, hotly debated, remasters. There’s a lot to like about the Star Wars Special Editions and there’s a lot to not like too. Some alterations you can shrug off, others cut you a little deeper and then there’s a few where you wonder why nobody stopped this madness. But all in all, I think it’s safe to say that most fans are grateful for them. Bad and all. So let’s celebrate some of that bad with our top five picks for most egregious Special Edition sins.

 

Giving the Sarlacc a mouth

Over the decades, Return of the Jedi has become, probably, the most altered of all the Star Wars films; adding and subtracting material that’s both subtle and not so subtle. One of the lesser changes, that still feels a little irritatingly superfluous, was the CG additions of not just extra tentacles but a beaked mouth to the dreaded Sarlacc.

One of Jabba the Hutt’s favourite pets, the Sarlacc dwells in The Great Pit of Carkoon on Tatooine and slowly digests its prey over the course of a thousand years. Making this still, and waiting, gateway into hell, with added teeth, all the more terrifying a prospect to a child.

The extra mouth only serves to put a face on the Sarlacc that it never needed and, if anything, makes it significantly less intimidating. When it’s just a pit you’re not really sure what you could do to kill it, it’s just a pit, but the additions make it seem more exposed and vulnerable.

 

The Haunting of Hayden Christensen

You can’t help but feel a little sorry for Hayden Christensen. If you’ve seen some of his other work then you’ll know that he’s actually not a bad actor, it’s just that directing performances is not one of George Lucas’ strong suits. He did as best a job as he could, under Lucas’ direction and clunky dialogue, but it wasn’t quite enough to stem the tide of hate directed towards him and the interpretation of Anakin Skywalker.

Nevertheless, it’s been a bugbear of many a Star Wars fan how Lucas retroactively added him to the final shot of Return of the Jedi, removing original actor Sebastian Shaw in the process.

Shaw was featured in the final moments of the film up to, and including, the first Special Edition release in 1997 but was subsequently replaced in all other versions by Christensen in an effort to bring the original trilogy in line with the prequels. Regardless of how you feel about Christensen’s portrayal of the character, it’s a little crass to remove an actor from such a crucial shot in the film. Especially after they’ve died.

 

“Jedi Rocks”

In the original cut of Return of the Jedi, the band in Jabba the Hutt’s palace performs a rendition of a song titled “Lapti Nek” which was replaced in the 1997 Special Edition, and all subsequent versions, by a new song called “Jedi Rocks”; which is, fittingly, sung in a Star Wars style of music known as “jizz”. (No, I am not making that up.)

Aside from that, however, it’s not that bad of a song. It’s not good enough to warrant a replacement of an already perfectly good song but the song itself isn’t what bothers people so much, it’s the, completely unnecessary, CG animations that were added to the singers: Joh Yowza and Sy Snootles. (Bad effects but, still, great names.)

Their designs are fine, and they worked great as practical puppets in the original cut, but Lucas insists on extreme close-ups of them singing and the technology just wasn’t ready. It dates the, previously timeless, film in an unavoidable way and kills the, meticulously detailed, atmosphere of the palace right off the bat.   

 

Han shot first

Yes, it’s that famous argument; back once again. When will people stop complaining about this? Probably never. If you’ve lived, blissfully, unaware of this travesty, somehow, then allow me to briefly explain. In the original cut of Star Wars, at the end of the cantina scene, where bounty hunter Greedo corners Han Solo over the price on his head put out by Jabba the Hutt, Han shoots Greedo from underneath the table in order to escape.

But, in the Special Edition re-release, Lucas added a gunshot from Greedo in the millisecond before Han’s shot goes off to make it appear as if he was provoked. (As if having your life threatened isn’t provocation enough.)

It’s one of the most pointlessly stupid things you could add to your film in a re-release. Not just because it ruins a legendary character development moment, akin to the similar swordsman shooting in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it’s just so moronic. Greedo misses Han, by about a foot, at point blank range after having his gun aimed at him for over a minute.

 

Yub Nub

Everything on this list is something that I, personally, consider to be forgivable. Dumb, but forgivable. But the one thing that I cannot forgive, the one injustice that I will carry in my heart to my grave, is the replacement of “Yub Nub”.

“Yub Nub”, if you are not already aware, is the nickname given by fans to the song which the Ewoks sing in the closing minutes of Return of the Jedi to celebrate victory over the evil Empire.

The music is officially called “Ewok Celebration” and it’s one of the catchiest, silliest and best parts of Return of the Jedi. The Ewoks have always been given a bad rap and blamed for the slightly underwhelming nature of the original trilogy’s finale. But “Yub Nub” is just so joyously ridiculous that you can’t help but feel the sensation that Star Wars should always inspire – fun. It’s all absurd make-believe in space with magic laser swords, and Lucas figuratively ripped that feeling out of the film by replacing “Yub Nub” with a new piece of music written by John Williams called “Victory Celebration”.

Like most of Williams’ work on Star Wars, or anything else, it’s a fine arrangement. But it seems to try and add a sense of emotional weight to the ending that fans may have wanted but just doesn’t work as well. It’s bad enough that fans still can’t see the original cuts of the films remastered on Blu-ray but the fact that there’s an entire generation of kids out there who may never get the chance to hear that wonderfully ridiculous song is just too much. For shame Mr Lucas, for shame.

 

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Posted on May 22, 2017

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