George Lucas will always get a lifetime pass from the Star Wars fanbase for creating the beloved franchise in the first place, even though his approach to the material has generated plenty of criticism over the years. The Original Trilogy is one of the finest three-film arcs ever made, but Lucas’ constant tinkering with it has caused huge frustrations among longtime fans who would much rather see the theatrical editions in their unedited form rather than having Lucasfilm return decades later and add unnecessary CGI enhancements.
The filmmaker himself now considers the Special Editions to be the definitive versions of the Original Trilogy, even though there are an awful lot of people that would disagree with that sentiment. After all, the Prequel Trilogy failed to recapture anything close to the acclaim that greeted A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and only reinforced the notion that the childlike sense of wonder and adventure that permeated the first three episodes had been overlooked in favor of Lucas’ desire to push the boundaries of VFX.
The practical and visual effects in A New Hope were groundbreaking in their own way, but in a new Star Wars book, Lucas admits that he felt embarrassed by some of the shots in Episode IV, and the impending 20th anniversary of the movie’s release gave him the idea to go back and fix what he deemed to be his mistakes.
“There are two or three shots that are really bad and I know that Star Wars is going to be judged on that. I was embarrassed. In 1993, the 20th anniversary was coming up and that was the impetus for doing a Special Edition of A New Hope, to bring it up to the standard we were aiming for.”
Of course, a lot of movies are limited by the technology of their time, and by going on to become a global phenomenon as well as the highest-grossing film ever made back then, it wasn’t as if audiences were put off or distracted by Star Wars failing to fully represent what Lucas had in mind.