Nearly 20 years after Empire first entered cinemas, Lucas decided that technology had finally caught up with his vision for Star Wars. In a controversial move, he decided to re-release his original trilogy with added CGI that cleaned up what he perceived as some of the trilogy’s clunkier moments.
Not everybody was happy with the changes. Fans cried out that George Lucas had ‘raped their childhood’, a fact compounded by Lucas’ refusal to release his original, tamper-free Star Wars movies on DVD.
It wasn’t just the fans who were disappointed with Lucas’ meddling, though. Mark Hamill also found the tinkering unnecessary.
“I haven't been reticent about saying, ‘Leave them alone,’” he nods. “Make the new ones, that's fine, but why would you go back and change film history? So much of the charm of those movies is that they're what George once called ‘the most expensive low-budget movie ever made’.
“And, indeed, there's so much invention in those films: using trucks to drive by the Death Star models and set off charges when the X-Wings would crash into it, cribbing shots from old WWII aerial battle films...
“We were forced on that movie to improvise a lot, to use our imaginations, and that's something that goes away with big budgets and limitless technology.”
Lucas, though, has stood his ground on the matter. "To me, the special edition ones are the films I wanted to make," he reasons.
"The other movie, it’s on VHS, if anybody wants it... I’m not going to spend the, we’re talking millions of dollars here, the money and the time to refurbish that, because to me, it doesn’t really exist anymore."
And Lucas still won't budge. Even with this month's release of the Complete Saga box set (comprising all six films plus oodles of extras), Lucas has withheld the original, CG-free films from public consumption...