‘Jedi Rocks’: the decision that encapsulates George Lucas’ demise

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He was already a very wealthy man before he sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012. However, as the multimedia conglomerate continues to go from strength to strength financially, his position as the company’s largest individual shareholder has seen George Lucas get a return on his investment and then some.

Although he isn’t actively involved in the day-to-day operations of the Star Wars franchise anymore, he’s been known to pop up on the various film and television sets to say hello. He takes in the latest goings-on and lends words of wisdom to the current generation of directors following in his footsteps.

For reasons known only to him, though, Lucas continues withholding the original, unaltered, and definitive versions of the original trilogy from the public. For the 20th anniversary of the saga, the filmmaker tinkered with the trio to add CGI bells and whistles that nobody was asking for and then suddenly decided that these were the only versions anybody deserved to see.

He made further alterations in both 2004 and 2011 but continues to maintain the unedited originals shouldn’t be mass-produced, sold, or streamed. The undiluted cuts of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi aren’t available for purchase, have never been officially released in HD, and can’t be streamed on Disney+, which is as perplexing as it is infuriating.

There surely can’t be many Star Wars supporters out there who prefer the Special Edition versions to the OGs, which was the first sign that the iconic spacefaring saga was succumbing to its creator’s obsession with technological advancements. The Phantom Menace made that realisation hit like a sledgehammer when Jar Jar Binks made his presence felt before Yoda doing backflips painted it clearer than ever in Attack of the Clones.

Revenge of the Sith largely gets off scot-free, apart from its lamentably wooden dialogue. While there’s no shortage of changes made to the first three instalments that marked an active downgrade from what came before, the most galling by far is the ‘Jedi Rocks’ musical interlude from the Return of the Jedi redux.

Since the halcyon days of 1983, the sequence set in Jabba the Hutt’s palace featured Sy Snootles and the Rebo band belting out ‘Lapti Nek’ with all of the gusto expected from intergalactic jazz fusion. It was a weird song, sure, but it fits the tone of the slovenly crime lord having a taste in music every bit as weird as his penchant for maintaining a harem of slave girls from all across the galaxy for his own amusement. Strangely, he does not have any identifiable genitals with which to justify their imprisonment, never mind arms too short to possess much function should the urge take him.

Lucas revisited the scene, presumably decried it as utter bollocks, and then cursed Star Wars forevermore with ‘Jedi Rocks’. It’s a bizarrely upbeat track that’s more reminiscent of Broadway than Boba Fett, with the original three-piece band tripling in number, the practical Sy being replaced by an unsettlingly provocative CGI creation, with the fuzzy Joh Yowza drafted in to add support.

It was a wholesale change that never needed to be made, added nothing to Return of the Jedi, was decidedly worse than the scene it replaced, and existed for no other reason than Lucas’ amusement. This trend would seep into the prequels before he decided to sell up.

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