Lucas: People Who Destroy Works Of Art Are “Barbarians.”

Thanks to Nikki Finke of Deadline Hollywood, who discovered this gem. It adds a new wrinkle to the roiling debate over the changes incorporated into the pending Blu-ray reissues of all six “Star Wars” films.

In 1988, “Star Wars” creator George Lucas appeared before Congress to testify against the dangers of altering old works of art. Apparently, that only applies to other people.

Here’s what he said:

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 continue to condone this behavior, history will surely classify us as a barbaric society.

In the future it will become even easier for old negatives to become lost and be “replaced” by new altered negatives. This would be a great loss to our society. Our cultural history must not be allowed to be rewritten.

Attention should be paid to this question of our soul, and not simply to accounting procedures. Attention should be paid to the interest of those who are yet unborn, who should be able to see this generation as it saw itself, and the past generation as it saw itself.”

Take particular note of that middle bit:

In the future it will become even easier for old negatives to become lost and be “replaced” by new altered negatives. This would be a great loss to our society. Our cultural history must not be allowed to be rewritten.

And now consider the sad reality that, as I recently noted in this space, the only people who will remember what the original, unaltered “Star Wars” films looked like will be those of us who saw them in the theaters the first time or were lucky enough to own them on VHS before they were altered forever in 1997.

As one fan tells Finke, the debate over the changes included in the new Blu-ray reissues is “.. about film preservation and our cultural heritage. Lucas has every right to make as many new versions of his films as he wants – fine, go crazy, George – but he has no right to replace the original versions of his films.”

Click through to read the full text of Lucas’ testimony on a site called “Saving Star Wars.”

Want to send a message to Lucas about how irked you are? Don’t buy the reissues.

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