Sep 252006

Released September 12, 2006

I can’t tell you how sad I was when George Lucas said that the original theatrical versions of the Star Wars Trilogy would never be released on DVD. This statement was the only reason I purchased the SE DVD box set. I figured I could ignore most of the stupid changes that were made. Low and behold George Lucas changed his mind and decided to release it this year. I was ready to buy them until I realized it would only be released as a “Bonus” disk to the Re-Release of the SE DVDs. Not only would I have to re-purchase DVDs I already owned, I would be getting a sub-par Laserdisc transfer that was only 4×3 Letterboxed (non-anamorphic). I personally hate the SE version. I thought Lucas had lost his mind when he took away Han Solo shooting first and removing my favorite Ewok song just to name a few things. There was no way in hell I was going to buy those again just to get the bonus disks. Luckily, I noticed Netflix was offering them as rentals so I popped them in my queue and did a visual comparison and was surprised by the results. I didn’t really compare the audio.

Equipment Used

  • Toshiba CZ36V61 36″ TV (Old style tube approx 7 years old)
  • RJ-Tech RJ-800DVX DVD Player
  • Toshiba M754 6 Head VCR with V3 Technology
  • Star Wars Special Letterbox Collector’s Edition (THX Re-mastered)- 1992 Release
  • Laserdisc Transfer Original Trilogy DVD 2006 Release

The opening text crawl showed a bit more crispness in resolution and a bit deeper color on the DVD. The DVD seemed to show more artifacts such as film dirt/spots than the VHS. I am not sure if the VHS had most of them removed because of the THX mastering, or because the age of the tape and the fact that the resolution was lower and gave it a bit more smoothed over look. I skipped to a few scenes of the Death Star in Return of the Jedi and could notice the difference in detail when flipping back and forth between the DVD and VHS. I can’t say that anyone watching the movies at different times could say there was a “big” difference.

Looking back I have to say that the film artifacts are VERY noticeable in the DVD version. If anything the clarity of the transfer seems to actually make it look worse. It seems that Lucas is actually trying to discourage people from watching the trilogy as they remember it. It is pretty obvious that the theatrical versions are dead to him and he could care less about his fans. I for one will NOT be spending another dime on another version of Star Wars. What I have now is good enough. It is very sad when a 14 year old VHS copy is almost as good as a DVD.

There are several reasons why someone might want to buy the new SE DVDs with the OT bonus disks though.

  1. You are a collector
  2. You like to give money to George Lucas
  3. You don’t have any versions of the OT already
  4. You want a portable version of the OT (Hard to take VHS on a plane)
  5. You’ve managed to sell your 2004 SE DVD set to some sucker on Ebay

This completes my review for now. For a complete history of Star Wars saga releases, visit TheForce.net and read the editorial there.

Posted by Stettin

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