The worst of the Star Wars prequels – The Phantom Menace [IMDB] – has been re-released in 3D. George Lucas is still trying to convince people that Han didn’t shoot first. Lucas has doubled down with each subsequent edit making it appear that Greedo shot first, despite it being entirely within Han’s character and the context of the scene, universe, and character arc to blast Greedo.
I have to wonder why Lucas insists on meddling with his masterpieces (the films released in 1977-1983). His numerous changes - like the multitude of changes with the Han and Greedo confrontation in the Mos Eisley cantina – add little to enhance the story and serve more as distractions. Maybe a downside of this great new digital world of ours is the temptation to ‘improve’ and disappear that which we dislike.
My take on Lucas editing is that he is unsatisfied with his work as it stands. But then I saw this in the IMDB trivia page for the Phantom Menace:
George Lucas made a similar deal as he did in the original Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Both Lucas and Fox Studios agreed that he would forego his salary as a director provided he owns the entire negative of the final cut of the film as well as ancillary rights of all toys and commercial tie-ins.
Every few years he makes some trivial edits and re-releases the films in theaters and then purchasable media, allowing for additional purchases of merchandise and promotional items. Brilliant, although it disappears a piece of my childhood down the memory hole.