On May 3 when Starwars.com announced Lucasfilm LTD and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment would finally release the Original Trilogy, unaltered on DVD, fans rejoiced. For good reason, as it seemed George Lucas has finally given in to the relentless pleading from countless fans for the original version of the movies on DVD.
Caught up in the excitement, few wondered out loud exactly what form these would take. Certainly fans have become well used to amazing and pristine DVD releases of Star Wars movies with incredible soundtracks on DVD.
This, however, is not to be for this release of the movies.
This week, a number of details about the release have come out, and for many, the news is terrible.
I'm not going to go into this in much detail, as it is already well documented over at the fine DVD site, TheDigitalBits.com. Below are the key points, but if you really want some detail, do head over to The Digital Bits for much more.
DVD Release Details
Video source: Same as used for the 1993 Definitive Collection Laserdisc.
Widescreen: Letterboxed, not anamorphic as the other Star Wars DVDs are. (IE, compared to most DVD releases which are anamorphic, these can't possibly look as good as they would if anamorphic.)
Note: These DVDs will apparently not include the amazing restoration seen in the Special Edition set. They will not look as good, nor will they sound as good as the Special Edition sets.
If you have comments on this, whether you are delighted to get them in any form, or are disappointed with the details, write us, and we'll post your emails. For or against, feel free to state your opinion, but of course keep it professional.
Added: We received a set of scans from Video Watch Dog's Jan / Feb 1994 issue, which was a review of the Definitive Collection Laser Discs we're referring to here. It's an interesting look back. Check the scans out here.
UPDATED! According to Hometheatreforum.com there is an official email response Lucasfilm is now using to reply to the large amount of email from an unhappy fanbase the DVD news has stirred up. In it they clearly state:
"We want you to be aware that we have no plans – now or in the future – to restore the earlier versions."
Read the LFL response here below. I wanted you to know how much we appreciate the passion and enthusiasm you have for Star Wars, and thank you for sharing your concerns about our upcoming DVD release.
The DVDs being released in September will contain two versions of Star Wars: Episodes IV, V and VI – the Special Editions (which represent George’s vision of the movies) and the first versions, which will be included as bonus material. We hoped that releasing those “original” movies on a bonus disc would be a way to have some additional fun with the debut of the movies as individual DVDs. We certainly did not want it to become a source of concern or frustration for any of our fans.
As you may know, an enormous amount of effort was put into digitally restoring the negatives for the Special Editions. In one scene alone, nearly 1 million pieces of dirt had to be removed, and the Special Editions were created through a frame-by-frame digital restoration. The negatives of the movies were permanently altered for the creation of the Special Editions, and existing prints of the first versions are in poor condition.
So many fans have requested the original movies, we wanted to find a way to bring them to you. But since these movies do not represent George's artistic vision, we could not put the extraordinary time and resources into this project as we did with the Special Editions. The 1993 Laserdisc masters represented the best source for providing the original versions as DVD bonus material. Although these are non-anamorphic versions, they do preserve the original widescreen composition of the movies.
We want you to be aware that we have no plans – now or in the future – to restore the earlier versions.
We hope you will understand our decision and, again, want to let you know how much we appreciate your interest and enthusiasm.