LucasFilm has confirmed some very controversial changes in its upcoming 9-disc Blu-ray release of Star Wars: The Complete Saga with 40 hours of extras. To hardcore fans, even the concept of changes is hard to fathom. For instance, Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi specifically yells “Nooooo! Nooooo!” when the Emperor is trying to kill Luke. Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Krayt Dragon howl is noticeably different in Star Wars aka A New Hope. (One Internet site said the new version “sounds like a pedophile getting his dick caught in a screen door”.) The Ewoks’ eyes have been CGI’ed and now blink. Yoda’s not quite the same Yoda of yore because of digitalized alterations. As you know, this isn’t the first time George Lucas has released special editions, adding new scenes and special effects. But there are widespread online campaigns cropping up to boycott this new Blu-ray collection when it goes on sale September 16th. As Deadline’s Mike Fleming summed up succinctly: “Nobody has found a way to squeeze more cash out of a film franchise than George Lucas has done with Star Wars, and he’s at it again.”

UPDATE: These hardcore fans, reacting to today’s news, are telling me this 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.” As Lucas himself, in 1988 testimony before Congress 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.

Read his 1988 Congressional testimony in its entirety here.