If you are a halfway decent Star Wars fan - and given that you are reading this at all that sort of goes without saying - then you must be aware that yesterday Star Wars came out on blu ray. I'll be honest and say that until that announcement, whenever it was, I didn't care that much about owning a blu ray player, but got one last Christmas in preparation. At least switching from DVD to blu ray is less painful than from VHS to DVD, as DVD's still work just fine on a blu ray player.
Push and I had discussed how we might be buying the blu rays. We often get our books from Amazon only to wind up annoyed that sometimes the books seem to take like two weeks to get to us. Are they being rowed here over the ocean by a young boy from Japan? Do we strap them to the backs of cats who then saunter at a leisurely pace across the country until the book finally gets to you? Then our standard joke is that in some third world country small children are forced to hand-weave and then hand-print each of the pages to put them together, and we get annoyed that they aren't working 24 hours a day. I guess that is the price you pay for free shipping. I guess I should say though that aside from the shipping, I really do like Amazon and they have great customer service and great prices.
Anyway, the days wound down and I scoured the internet for where the best prices were. It seemed everyone was offering them for $89.99 and then only a week ago they dropped to $79.99. I was looking at Walmart, Target and Best Buy. Best Buy had the free t-shirt. Walmart opens at 7am here, and Target had the advantage of me having a $30 gift card my sister gave me for my birthday, though it didn't open until 8. I decided waiting another hour was worth $30 and I didn't need a Darth Vader shirt that badly, nor did I want to have to wait until 10.
I don't live in the most bustling of areas, so Target at 8:30 in the morning is a pretty quiet place. Although it is under a lot of construction and lately every time I go in there everything is all moved around. So I got a little concerned when I went back to the movie section and the saga was nowhere to be found. I wandered around a bit and picked up a few other items so it didn't look like that was the only reason I had gone to Target that morning, and then decided that maybe they had set it up right up front. Ah, there it was! A nice display case with plenty of blu rays just waiting for me, along with my free lithographs. I didn't really know what lithographs were until much later when I finally opened them up, but they're kind of cool little paintings.
Apparently on the surface I must not appear to be the huge nerd that I am because the check-out lady asked me if I needed a gift receipt as she scanned my movies. I shook my head all nonchalant, like maybe I was getting them for my non-existent kids or something. Anyway, not long later, I was home and ready for some watching.
So, what do you suppose was the first thing I looked for? If you said, "Alternate Bespin kiss," you're right! I popped in the Original Trilogy bonus disc, straight for Episode V, Pursued by the Empire, Deleted/Extended scenes and there I was. It's in black and white and a lot of the scene is pretty much the same as what's in the movie, which includes the initial kiss which is pretty much just like it wound up in the movie. But instead of Threepio interrupting, they pull away and Leia looks at him and says, "Okay, Hotshot," and then pulls him in for another kiss. And I mean a real kiss. A kiss between two adults rather than a kiss between two actors who have to press their lips together in a kissing fashion for a kids' movie. It is great. Funny how two of their best kisses never made it to the movies, this one and the deleted one from Bespin.
That said, I have to admit that I believe that they made the right choice by sticking with what is in the movie. I mean, of course I loved the kiss, but I felt like what is in the movie was more appropriate for the story and the character. But, as I told Push earlier when we were talking about this, there's no reason we can't just use that as visual reference for when we are thinking of them kissing later in their relationship ;) And the beauty is that we don't have to choose. The movie remains as it is, as it should, but we can still go back and look at this whenever we want.
So if you have not done so, go check it out on youtube or get yourself some blu rays.
There are plenty of other deleted scenes as well. The next one I went for was the sandstorm scene. You really can't hear a thing (there are sub titles) and the picture quality isn't great, though this one is in color. It's kind of cute to see Leia holding Han's arm and leading him since he still can't really see. He's got his blaster tucked into the waist band of his pants, although it sort of seems unclear to me how he got his blaster back and not his holster considering the fact that we should probably assume he lost both at the same time on Bespin. But whatever. Han and Luke exchange basically the same dialogue that winds up in the movie but is spoken over radio, and it's kind of a nice moment for them, as is Han appreciating seeing the Falcon for the first time in a while. Another fun little addition, with a minorly cute Han and Leia moment (and feeling a bit bad for Leia as you can tell that under that cloak she's wrapped in she still has her slave costume on) but once again, for pacing reasons, the way they put it in the movie works much better. But this is why we have fan fiction.
There is a cute deleted scene between Han and Leia on the asteroid while they're working on the ship and are noticing more explosions. I don't know if maybe this would've been an alternative to the "..being held by you isn't quite enough to get me excited," part of the movie because they both sort of wind up saying the exact same thing, except in the deleted version there isn't really any flirting. So, cute scene, but no need for it really in the movie.
There is more to the scene when Luke is recovering in the bacta tank. This one is in black and white as well. Luke is supposedly mumbling something about Degobah and Han doesn't know what he's talking about. He and Leia exchange a sort of silent look that would've been a nice moment if it were in the movie.
There was apparently more to the scene before Leia kissed Luke. She is in the room talking to him about his recovery and how worried she is, and you start to feel icky with the way she keeps stroking his hair. And then he starts to fumble with trying to tell her how he feels about her. Then they lean in like they're about to kiss, get really close and... Artoo makes an incredibly well-timed entrance. Actually, it would've been better if he'd come in a minute or two earlier. Finally, a droid interruption that works in our favor. The scene then basically picks up from when Han comes in as it is in the real movie.
All right, that scene bothered me of course for the near kiss, but also the Luke confessing his feelings thing. They've supposedly been together for three years. I could explain away Han and Leia's relationship not getting anywhere by saying maybe he was away a lot and she was probably still not entirely comfortable with him. But it would seem that Luke and Leia would've spent more time together between movies and she would of course consider him the "safer" one of the two, and probably be more at ease with him. Wouldn't he have already said something if he was going to? I know he's a whiny wimp a lot of times in the earlier parts of the trilogy, but even he can't really be that bad, right? I do like the second part of the scene though when Leia gets all mad that Luke says he's leaving and she says that Han is leaving too and she can't count on anyone. That seemed much more "Leia" to me.
The extended cantina scene at the beginning didn't add a whole lot. I had been concerned about this scene because it now included Han kissing another woman! Well, when I saw it, he kisses her for about half a second. It might have even been less of a kiss than either of the pecks he gives Leia when they are reunited on Endor. As I said to Push, it is almost scary how much that relieved me. There was also some different dialogue when Greedo comes in.
There is some added stuff with Han, Chewie and the Rebels breaking into the bunker on Endor. Again, it is obvious why this was cut, because it didn't really add anything and would've messed with the pacing. But of course it's fun to watch anyway. They make their way through the corridors and take out Stormtroopers and stuff. And there are several short scenes of this, and in every single one Han for some reason yells at Chewie. The end of the scene has Leia with them as well as they break into the control room, shown from the opposite angle of what's in the movie. And when the guy calls them Rebel scum, Han looks at him in disbelief and replies, "Scum?!?" It was funny, but I think it was a good choice not to include that, either.
Oh, the Wampas coming into Echo Base. Well, much of this just looked.... silly. It sort of reminded me of the Yeti from the Everest rollercoaster at Animal Kingdom in Disney World, only far less convincing. At one point early on it shows Han and Leia walking out to have their argument and then cuts to these claws trying to break through the ice on the other side of the wall. And the creature who walks through the corridors just looks.... ridiculous. Plus, the whole thing, once again, really makes no difference to the plot, so aside from the fact that the effects were terrible, it didn't belong in the movie anyway.
One other deleted "scene" I watched were a bunch of random cuts of "lost Rebels" at the end of ROTJ during the space battle. It was random shots of pilots in their ships, maybe about to die, I don't know. I just know that I was incredibly bored watching this section and had to wonder if there was maybe some other stuff that would've been a better choice to add as a deleted scene.
I think those are all of the deleted scenes I watched, but I am also pretty sure that is not all of them. I did have other stuff to do yesterday, you know. Okay, not a lot. I watched some of ESB with the commentary on, skipping around to what I consider to be the most important parts. The picture is, as you can imagine, incredibly clear. I mean, every time they come out with a new technology you wonder how it can be clearer, and yet they keep improving it.
That said, I actually hope that we've reached the limit on picture clarity and sharpness. There is nothing I would consider bad about this, definitely not. But I will say that suddenly there are times where the makeup on people's faces starts to be really obvious. The background matte paintings maybe start to look a bit out of place in contrast to the clarity of the reality superimposed in front of them. These are incredibly minor things to mention, and definitely what you gain from the clarity far outweighs suddenly being really aware that Han Solo is wearing makeup. But I did think they were worth mentioning. That said, I find it absolutely incredible that we can take a movie that is over thirty years old and enhance it so it can be seen as though we were in the room looking at them.
All right, so that's what I have for now. Unfortunately I'm not sure I'll actually get to sit down and watch the movies themselves over the next few days, but really, those were the least of my concerns. It was all about the special features! I'll get to the movies hopefully before George releases them in another format.
Oh, and I haven't actually seen any of the latest "changes," but I will say that I find it rather telling that over the years Empire is the one that has been the least tinkered with. It was pretty much perfect from the moment it came out.