Whose 'Star Wars' is it, anyway?
The story is over when Lucas says it is
By Todd Leopold
ON CNN TV
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(CNN) -- A colleague here at work refuses to buy the DVD of "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" when it goes on sale Tuesday. He's convinced tinkering with "Star Wars" won't end until George Lucas is dead.
That's too bad. He'll miss the new shock ending, in which Luke wakes up on Tatooine and it turns out that the whole six-movie series was a dream.
No! Stop throwing things! I'm kidding! Kidding!
But Lucas could do that, couldn't he? With the ever-leaping bounds technology makes, if the master of the "Star Wars" universe decides his tale needs a new scene, or a change here or there, he could tweak "Sith" and the other movies until he's finally satisfied -- until the next time.
Lucas won't do that, of course -- not anymore, anyway. He's said the story is told and he's made the movies he wanted to make -- and he's already altered the videos of the first trilogy to his satisfaction.
Indeed, that's why some fans are worried. Lucas changed "Star Wars" to show that Greedo shot first -- not Han Solo -- and added Hayden Christensen, the Darth Vader of the most recently produced episodes, to the pantheon at the end of 1983's "Return of the Jedi." Christensen the person was 2 years old at the time.
Lucas isn't the only one. Steven Spielberg tweaked "E.T.'s" DVD to change the police officers' guns to walkie-talkies; he thought the moment too violent. And then there are the countless "special edition" DVDs that include footage that didn't make it to the big screen -- footage that may not change any major plot points, but still shows sides of characters not available to the theater-going audience.
Movies aren't the only art that may be changed by the artist -- or somebody else, without the artist's consent.
Brian Wilson, working with a co-producer, put out the Beach Boys' classic "Pet Sounds" (originally in mono) in stereo a few years ago. Dozens of Jimi Hendrix tracks, some no more than extended doodling, have been released in his name since his death.
A "new" Truman Capote novel, "Summer Crossing," came out Tuesday. It actually dates from the 1940s. Who knows if Capote would have released it, or if he would have wanted to make wholesale changes in it? For that matter, Capote's post-"In Cold Blood" opus, "Answered Prayers," was finally released -- unfinished -- in the early '90s.
And on and on.
When does it end? When the author/creator says it does, when the public is sated, or when the contract is up?
Eye on Entertainment looks at "Revenge."
The DVD of "Sith" does come with a host of extras, all Lucas-approved.
There are a number of deleted scenes, introduced by Lucas and producer Rick McCallum. There are Web documentaries, trailers, promos for video games and a music video.
Lucas has a commentary track, as does McCallum, animation director Rob Coleman and Industrial Light and Magic visual effects supervisors John Knoll and Roger Guyett.
But, apparently, the movie will be the one seen in theaters last May, the film that remains the No. 1 grossing film of 2005.
Lucas really doesn't have to worry about the films anymore. There's a whole "Star Wars" empire out there now -- books, video games, action figures -- and he'll have his hands full devising storylines for all that, if he so desires.
In fact, some of those stories may not be his, anyway. One of the charms of video games is that the player becomes a character in the story, and technology being what it is, the permutations are becoming endless.
So, perhaps, "Star Wars" has become a classic sci-fi multiverse conundrum, with alternate histories and varied points of view. Maybe, in one version, Darth Vader didn't even exist. Or Luke died in a tragic hovercraft accident.
Though Han Solo really did shoot first.
"Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" comes out on DVD Tuesday.
On the tube
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