Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Holy Grail for Star Wars Fans

Rumor has it on ComingSoon.net, that the original, un-altered, un-Special Additioned Star Wars trilogy will be released this fall for the first time on DVD. Casual Star Wars fans will say that the trilogy was already released twice on DVD, but they would be technically wrong. The original trilogy (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) that is currently available are not the original theatrical versions but rather the Special Addition versions that were released in 1997 to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the first release of Star Wars. They include added special effects and very lame changes that George Lucas felt needed to be made just before their release on DVD.

There are several things that lead me to not believe these rumors, namely that Lucas himself said that the currently available versions of these movies are the definitive versions and that the original theatrical versions would never see the light of day. But he has been known to change his mind before. He also vowed not to release the new prequel movies on DVD until he could be sure that the format was piracy-safe. That lasted about a year and then he caved to overwhelming pressure to release the new movies shortly after they played in theaters. At first I also questioned the "limited time" availability of the movies, but then thought that it might be a ploy to get people to purchase them now and then again in HD-DVD format in a few years. Again, this is something that Lucas has already done. Prior to the release of the Special Edition, the original trilogy was re-released in 1995 on VHS under the claim that it would be the last time it would ever be released in that form. It ended up being true because two years later, the videos were released again but with the Special Addition changes.

I would love for this new rumor/story to be true mostly because I loved the movies as they were when I was a kid and have been a bit turned off by the pointless tinkering that Lucas keeps doing to these films. I have personally resisted purchasing the original trilogy DVDs that are currently available in the hopes that one day Lucas would come to his senses. I was also okay with that decision because I already own a complete version of the original theatrical trilogy in letterbox format on VHS. Granted, repeated viewings and time will deteriorate the tapes, so I sparingly watch them when I feel nostalgic or need to let someone enjoy the pure quality of the originals. I also don't buy that many DVDs anymore, but there are a few sets that I would spend my money on and I can say that the original theatrical versions of Star Wars on DVD is one them.

UPDATE: The rumors are true! The theatrical versions of the original Star Wars trilogy will be released on DVD for a limited time from September 12 through December 31. I'm still not sure why there will be such a limited release, but the Digital Bits noted that 2007 will be the 30th Anniversary of the release of the first film, so we can probably expect some deluxe repackaged release. I was cautiously optimistic about this story this morning but now I am very glad that this one turned out to be more than just a rumor! After all, I am a childhood Star Wars fan who experienced the first film in utero (my mom was five months pregnant when my parents saw it).

3 comments:

Timmie Smith said...

That would be great news. I too have my box set of VHS tapes stashed in the video drawer. I grabbed them right as the new versions were released and am glad that I did.

I'll believe it when I see it though.

ex-tvwriter said...

I read a news piece via MSNBC (don't have the link for the piece though) that said the original theatrical movies would be released in special 2-disc sets with the "special edition" versions of each (but not as a trilogy) on Sept. 21 and would only be available until Dec. 31, 2006. But like Timmie, I'll believe it when I see it.

Timmie Smith said...

The MSNBC story I was able to dig up is here.

Nothing there that wasn't said in the starwars.com piece.