Now that Disney has purchased LucasFilm, with the intent of churning out additional sequels or prequels to the “Star Wars” franchise as well as holding all rights to use the familiar characters for Saturday morning cartoons or whatever else it pleases, die-hard fans are clearly afraid that the universe of Naboo and Tatooine has gone over to the dark side.
This is the company that tweaked the Hans Christian Andersen story “The Little Mermaid” to have a happily-ever-after ending. (In the original version, the mermaid doesn’t get the guy, but as she dissolves into sea foam, she gets to become a daughter of the air. Some compensation.) How many people even remember what the original Winnie-the-Pooh looked like before he was Disneyfied? Even Pixar, now owned by Disney, has been less consistent in its moviemaking genius in recent years.
So will this new purchase mean a rewritten, happy ending for Darth Vader? Will the Evil Empire enter the Death Star in a flying-car race?
We really don’t know. Disney certainly made a good thrill ride out of “Star Wars.” But no matter what it does with its new powers over Wookiees, clones and The Force itself, it’s worth remembering that nostalgia itself can be overdone, and that what George Lucas himself did to the franchise with his overly explicated prequel series, and with the serious mistake of creating (and letting his children name) Jar Jar Binks, didn’t exactly do a great deal to enhance the quality of what was, to start with, an exhilarating ride into hyperspace but not perhaps the best written or acted movies around.
We tend to be wedded to our own generation’s version of things as the best; everything afterward is a diminishment. Rejiggering the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride to show scenes from the movie that were originally taken from the ride is somehow seen as toying with a classic. What’s classic to today’s 6-year-olds is the ride as it exists.
And if people don’t like the new Disneyfied version of the old story, they can cozy up at home with old tapes of Luke racing along in his Landspeeder (which has been a Lego for about forever, anyway). Assuming they can still find a working VCR.