A preview of the 2016 re-release of Jedi when Vader is compelled to say “Yes!”
Since the debut of home video releases of theatrical films Star Wars has been one of the ‘must-have’ films to be in everyone’s collection, often touting an impressive entertainment experience for your home. On VHS they offered stereo sound, later on the LaserDisc and VHS releases were properly letterboxed and offered a THX quality experience. In 1997 George Lucas released the ‘Special Editions’ of the films in the theaters, later making it to VHS & LaserDisc for home video viewing. Although the changes and alterations didn’t sit so well with some fans, the films were cleaned up and never had looked better. In 2004 the original Star Wars trilogy finally made its way to DVD. The picture quality was both good and bad (colors were off, some scenes could use work), the bonus features were nice, but a bit lacking. But finally we had Star Wars digitally on DVD, and it was better than nothing. George Lucas would eventually cave to the pressure and release the un-altered versions of the classic Trilogy on DVD as “bonus discs” in 2006, they were just ported LaserDisc versions of the film, but at least they were now on DVD . Fast forward to last year, the Star Wars Saga is announced to be released on Blu-Ray before the year ends, the High Definition format that would let the film shine like never before and included hours and hours of never before seen deleted scenes & bonus features.
This spurs months of discussions and debates from fans. Did they fix the color issues from the DVD release? What will be improved or changed? Are the Blu-Rays getting a new picture transfer? Will George Lucas add anything new? Well with about 2 more weeks to go leaks of the Blu-Rays start appearing online, before this most of what we saw was positive and enticing. Suddenly a great disturbance is felt on the internet, as thousands of fans cry out and refuse to be silenced! So what’s all the fuss about? Well George Lucas has decided to alter a critical moment in the Saga’s final film, ‘Return of the Jedi’. In the famous scene where Darth Vader redeems himself and saves his son by (literally) overthrowing the evil Emporer Palpatine, there has been an audio change. Where Darth Vader used to perform his sacrificing act in silence he now crys “No” twice before doing so. It’s not as bad as the howling “Nooooooooooo!” scene from Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, but it’s still cringe-worthy. For those who haven’t seen the clip he looks at Luke and says “No…” then he lunges at the Emperor calling “Noooooooo!” once more. You can see it on YouTube here.
Now some people ask my why I’m upset about this, well I have two bones to pick with this. Number 1, the scene works perfectly with Darth Vader silent. The visuals tell you what you need to know, the camera work and subtle movements of the masked dark lord express perfectly what’s going on. The music carries the emotion of the scene and it works great. If the scene was filmed differently it wouldn’t work as well, but it does here, and it’s a great part of the film. There’s a sense of surprise for first-time viewers, and the dramatic element of the scene works perfectly. But now, instead of having the audience enjoy the mood and the thrill of the scene in silence (like it always was for the past 28 years) Vader has to open his big mouth and say what he’s feeling. I feel like it ruins the mood and emotion of the scene. I’ve watched the leaked clip online again and again, and while repeating the clip for the 5th time or so it’s not that bad to hear as it was the first time. (Almost like a punch in the arm isn’t that bad the 5th or 6th time around.) But it still stands out horribly, and it’s 100% unnecessary. I’m just thankful Vader doesn’t break out into song and sings about his emotions for 8 minutes while Luke and Palpatine pause to politely listen before joining him as backup singers.
My second issue is this. Palpatine is shocking the hell out of Luke, he’s going to kill him with his evil lightening powers. Palpatine can easily sense Vader’s thoughts. Sure Vader could be working hard to “keep it to himself”, but blurting it out loud for everyone to hear should have obviously given Palpatine more of a clue of what was about to happen to him. Giving him plenty of time to think “Wait… what, you want some lightening too?” *BAM!*. Vader’s body is mostly machine, a spark from an electrical outlet could take him out of commission for a few minutes, a shock from the Emperor would kill him (and eventually does). This is explained in depth in the novel ‘Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader’, which explains why Vader must always obey his master the Emperor. Palpatine can read his thoughts and can kill him at anytime he pleases and replace him with other goon just as easily. But it didn’t need to be explained in a novel, it’s common sense. This goes along with everything the movie tells you. Vader says it clearly a few scenes before. “You don’t know the power of the Dark Side, I must obey my Master.” Which basically means if Vader thinks bad thoughts and trys to kill of Palpatine he’ll see it coming and zap him full of 1.21 gigawatts of regret.
So will I be canceling my pre-order of the Star Wars Complete Saga on Blu-ray like others are? — No. Will continue to cherish my 2004/2006 DVDs and my VHS & LaserDisc collection of the films? — You’re damn right I will! Because the scene with Vader screaming “No” ruins it for me. I’ll still watch it on Blu-Ray, but I won’t enjoy the change they’ve made. I’ll happily wait for a fan-edit of the Blu-Ray excluding just that audio clip. The rest of the changes (assuming they aren’t as horrible) are easier to stomach.
The force was strong with this one, and now George’s tinkering have gone too far yet again. I can’t wait until the 3D versions to be released where Luke challenges Darth Vader to a lightscycle match to save the lives of Chewie’s extended family on the Eve of Life Day.