Friday, August 18, 2006

Oh for God's sake, John, sit down!

You will all agree, I am sure, that the only thing to improve upon a two-hour musical based on the signing of the Declaration of Independence is to make it two and a half hours.

O! Awaited day! Recently released was the director's cut of 1776 (with signing scenes too hot for the MPAA!) and it includes a complete remastering of the negative. I've seen this movie approximately eighty billion times on the tired pan-and-scan VHS tape I've had since I was a sophomore in high school, and suddenly I'm noticing gold thread on waistcoats and harps in the underscore and a fuller embracing of the hopeless loser I really, truly am. Deleted material has reappeared, making it... closer to the director's original vision. Nuance is in town and I am delighted.

How is this different from the legendary sacrelige known as Greedo Shot First? Because it doesn't suck, for one, and the changes make cinematic sense, for another. The add-ins are all gorgeous, original footage of the wildly pathos-ic Mr. Feeney that floated to the floor of the cutting room thirty years ago. It is the original vision, it is removing the Atari-style boxes from around the X-wing fighters, not shoving in such crap as the Ewoks New Age music at the new end of Return of the Jedi, which sounds like something Barry Manilow vomited, Yanni performed, and John Tesh remixed.

I suppose you've heard that the original Star Wars trilogy is to release in September, "each packed with a bonus disc containing the original unaltered theatrical version of the classic film," which means we have to buy the crappy digi-Anakin in order to get our hands on it. Oh, and LucasArts just happens to be releasing a new video game involving Legos on the same day. Uh.... huh.)

Clearly someone got next to Lucas while he was in the middle of digitally adding breasts to Yoda for the next re-release and was all, "Um, George? People hate you for destroying their childhood memories? And they tend to be the types of people who have never been within fifteen feet of the opposite sex, but they do know how to burn a VHS tape into a digital file? Which is what they're going to do with the un-effed-with trilogy anyway, so you might as well get your eighty-seven cents from it."

Actual logic penetrated the plaid, somehow, and here we await what is, by my count, the seventh home-release of the trilogy. I dare him to not replace the Tusken Raiders' gaffi sticks with chewing gum. I DARE him.

respectfulLY at: mb@blondechampagne.com

15 comments:

Josie the Teenage Reader said...

really, i was too distracted by the fact that mr. feeny was singing (mr. feeny! singing!) to appreciate the historical aspect of the movie. i was waiting for topenga and corey to make a guest appearence, but alas, some things are not meant to be.

MB said...

Ah, but to Slightly Older Mary Beth The Author, he will always be John Adams in my heart. I think I was the only one in the room who started laughing when I saw the name of the junior high in Boy Meets World.

Cbell said...

I saw this film the very first time on a school field trip in the sixth grade. I remember giggling because they used words in this movie that I was not supposed to hear... and it was SANCTIONED by my school! Oh. The. Joy.

I now own the DVD. I am such a geek.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting us know about the Director's cut - I've just ordered it from Amazon. I will always remember William Daniels as John Adams. "Sit down, John!"

Kate Hill said...

Oh joy! I found fellow geeks! I absolutely LOVE this movie! I saw it on the HUGE screen at Radio City Music Hall on a Girl Scout field trip and fell in love with William Daniels then and there! I didn't know that this DVD was in the works and I too just purchased it from Amazon! Thanks, MB!
Just a bit of historical trivia to those who don't already know this... John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on the same day, July 4, 1826... exactly 50 years after the "big day". John Adams' last words were "Thomas Jefferson still survives." Alas, John didn't know that Jefferson had died just a few hours earlier. Heck, I think that's even better than the "Lincoln-Kennedy Coincidences". Oh, and MB, I was laughing along with you when I heard the name of Mr. Feeney's school!

MB said...

Well lookit me, drivin' the Amazon traffic. I'm so glad I'm not alone in having John Adams as my Founding Father boyfriend.

You guys are going to adore the DVD. I'm eager to know what you think when it arrives and you can carve out about a year and a half to watch the whole thing. In many ways it was like seeing the movie for the very first time. I can't believe how much was lost with the pan and scan. For instance, in the scene in which Ben Franklin is told that his son has been arrested, it turns out that in widescreen, you can very prominently see William Daniels standing off to camera right, kind of rolling his eyes. And in the Franklin portrait scene, you also get to see how the artist reacts to John Adams saying, "It stinks." In pan and scan he'd been cut out entirely. Booooo! And the restored scenes are very interesting; the original debate in Congress, it turns out, was cut down considerably.

The sound is fantastic-- in the portrait scene, you can actually hear the brush on the canvas. And I was listening to it on a fairly lame in-the-TV speaker from Wal-Mart. Some underscoring has been removed (the stupid, extremely unhistorical cane-fight between Adams and Dickenson and at the very end when John talks to Abigail in the bell tower), but much to the films' advantage. The scenes are much more powerful this way.

The commentary track has lots of great tidbits; for instance, when "Piddle, Twiddle, and Resolve" was shot, it was freezing cold, and William Daniels had to suck on ice cubes right up until he starting singing so that you couldn't see the steam. Kewl.

Loser status confirmed.

mike, night mover said...

Ah, but to Slightly Older Mary Beth The Author, he will always be John Adams in my heart.

No love for William Daniels as the voice of KITT?

If I decided to go by "Michael" and not "Mike," I'd have his voice in my head everywhere I went:

Michael, turn left here.

Michael, don't leave your apartment, you forgot your keys.

Michael, you should shower, you positively reek.


So, could be a good or bad thing, I suppose.

tamar said...

LOL! Watching 'America's Got Talent' was the first time that it dawned on my DH that Kitt and Feeny are one in the same. (Course, this was when I told him :)

I'm the biggest dork of dorkdom. I have wasted TONS of space with the useless info of voices. You should see me when a new animated feature comes out...or heck, even a new commercial! I'm like 'Honey!, That's so and so, from such and such! Totally exicted that he listens, laughs and agrees, instead of...y'know....Laughing AT me, calling me the dork that I am, and wondering off to more challenging tasks.

P.S. That darn annoying as HE** Nasonex bee......Antonio Bandaras. If he need dough that bad, he can mow my lawn :)

tamar said...

P.S.S. Thanks Mike, now all I can hear is the theme song.

Do, do, do doooo. Do, do, do, Do, Dooooo. Do, do, do, do, do, DUMMMMMMMMMM!

Yeah, I officially hate you! :P

red pill junkie said...

It's not hard to predict, that by 2020 or something, George Lucas will release the INTERACTIVE version of the Star Wars Trilogy.

Picture it:

-If you want Han Solo to shoot first, press 1

-If you want Greedo to shoot first, press 2

-If you want the two of them to make peace and start a wet t-shirt contest at the Mos Eisley cantina, press 3

Kate Hill said...

I'm surprised no one's mentioned William Daniels in St. Elsewhere! I could listen to that sexy voice forever! He could use that condescending tone on me anytime! I have an autographed 8x10 glossy of Mr. Daniels in my photo album! Beat that for geeky!

Rachel said...

I love 1776 more than words can express. And John Adams is my Founding Father boyfriend, too.
LOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVVE.

Anonymous said...

Now you've done it MaryBeth. You've made me spit up coffe on the keyboard and screen.

"...sounds like something Barry Manilow vomited, Yanni performed, and John Tesh remixed."

Man that's freekin' Hilary - ous.

MB said...

Thank you, anon. It makes me so happy when I damage my readers' electronic equipment.

Monica said...

I shouldn't have read this while eating dinner. First, I snarfed my orange juice (Ow! That burns!) when MB rightly pointed out that Yanni would perform Manilow's vomit. After wiping up the tears, I felt strong enough to read the comments. Big mistake. Now I have little bits of my Lean Cuisine Panini all over my PowerBook screen. Argh! Ultimately, I blame Red Pill Junkie. I managed to control myself during the Kitt references, but the interactive Star Wars finally did me in. Any tips on what I should use to clean it would be very much appreciated.

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