The Original Theatrical Versions of the Star Wars Trilogy: A Cultural Heritage

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Gonzalo Xicarts
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As we enter the year 2020, we approach the 40th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, originally released on May 21, 1980.

Forty years have passed since the first time we all marvelled at a film that would change cinema for years to come. Ten years ago, the film was selected for preservation in the United States’ National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Nevertheless, this year we “celebrate” another anniversary: 23 years since the first Special Edition of the Star Wars original trilogy was released in 1997. From that moment forward, The Empire Strikes Back’s original theatrical release—just like Star Wars’ and Return of the Jedi’s original releases—have been lost in time, buried under a cloud of digital and editing alterations that completely changed the original cinematographic experience . . . basically, creating a different film.

People who alter or destroy works of art and our cultural heritage for profit or as an exercise of power are barbarians. And if the laws of the United States and the world continue to condone this behavior, history will surely classify us as a barbaric society.

Cultural works of art that are part of the lives of so many people around the world belong to the people; they are part of our global cultural history.

I want to protect films as they are, as they were and as they should be. I don’t want to see them modified, I don’t want to see their formats changed, I don’t want to see them re-edited, and I don’t want to see authoritarian filmmakers add more characters, storylines or CGI-enhancements and do all kinds of things that nobody contemplated before and didn’t even ask for.

I am very concerned about our cultural heritage, and I am very concerned that the films that I watched when I was young and the films that I watched throughout my life are preserved, so that my future children can see them.

And I know that George Lucas would agree with this.

As we enter the year 2020, one more time we ask the legal owners of Star Wars to release the remastered original theatrical versions of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi—known collectively as the Original Trilogy—for the public, so we can all embrace our cultural heritage and finally bury the hatchet and let bygones be bygones.

Star Wars fans and people around the world would surely appreciate it.

Lucasfilm, Disney . . . Do the right thing.

 

Gonzalo Xicarts.

Seville, Spain.

February 4, 2020.