Star Wars Trilogy (Widescreen Edition)

Release Date: September 16, 2011
Number of discs:
3 price:
$44.99 (buy it now)

BLU-RAY details
- Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt and Dennis Muren
- Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew STAR WARS: EPISODE V THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
- Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt and Dennis Muren
- Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
- Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt and Dennis Muren
- Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew


So George Lucas finally bit the bullet and decided to release the original STAR WARS trilogy on Blu-Ray. That's fantastic, no?

I mean, finally, after years of waiting, we can finally have HD, pristine, unfading copies of the original three movies that captured our hearts over thirty years ago. Everything is peachy and birds are singing and the world just became a better place, right?

Hell no.

You see, we're not getting the original Star Wars trilogy on Blu-Ray, despite what Lucasfilm and their gang of cronies would have you believe. Nope, we're getting the laaaame "Special Editions", the versions released in 1997 that supposedly captured George Lucas's "original vision" for the trilogy. Unfortunately, Lucas's "original vision" is a lot suckier than we would have ever expected, and it left the vast majority of Star Wars fans screaming for the versions they grew up with to come back.

Now, don't get me wrong: there are a few positives to come out of the Special Editions. Some technical glitches have been fixed, some antiquated effects were polished, and the print looks more crisp and vibrant. There's also a scene with Luke Skywalker and Biggs Darklighter from the first of the trilogy, A New Hope, that had been completely cut out from the original print and restored in the Special Edition.

It's important that we know who the hell Biggs is, because otherwise the death of random Rebel pilot #7 getting emotional theme music just leaves you scratching your head. Of course, they still left out the scene from earlier in the movie, before Biggs goes off to join the Rebels, that better illustrates them as old pals, but it was probably a boring scene anyway. But the fact of the matter is that for every tiny little detail used to improve the trilogy, there was a glaring change that took away from the original films' majesty.

What I've decided to do here is look at some of those big ones: the alterations made to the Star Wars trilogy in the Special Editions that make the films far inferior to their original versions. Here are the top ten examples, in order of appearance, that illustrate my point.


One of the first noticeable differences in the two versions of the trilogy is the enhancements made to the spaceport town of Mos Eisley on Tattooine.

As we approach the town, there are all kinds of shiny new things to catch our eyes. There are ASP droids, not originally in the trilogy. There are little flying droids. There are dozens more Stormtroopers lining the streets. There are new beasts and more interaction with the ones that were there before. There's Dash Rendar's ship, The Outrider, from Shadows of the Empire.

And the end result of all this new stuff? It's too much shit. It's distracting, it's corny, and it shows how much of a whore Lucas is for selling his own merchandise. It's like "Well, we've got these Shadows of the Empire and Expanded Universe toys on the shelf, but little kids don't read the books, so let's make sure to put 'em in the movie to sell more toys!" Whatever. It's ridiculous. A little enhancement goes a long way, and too much enhancement isn't a tough goal to reach.


Okay, you're George Lucas. You've created the most popular trilogy of movies in history. Part of the reason for that popularity is the cool characters. In particular, you've got the rugged and heroic space pirate Han Solo.

Now, let's say you have a scene between said character and a Bounty Hunter who aims to kill him. Would you say that it makes the spiffy pirate guy seem cooler if, say, he outsmarted the creepy Bounty Hunter and blew his head off first, or rather if the Bounty Hunter shot first, missed, and then the pirate fires back in self-defence.

Yeah, I thought so.

In the original edition, Han Solo shoots first. It rules. It got cheers from crowds. So Lucas "fixes" this by having him be a trembling coward who only fires as a last resort. My theatre actually booed the scene. Lucas says that the new version better represents his "vision of the scene". If that's the case, then I'm wondering if Lucas also originally indicated for Darth Vader to have a puppy. Would have been about the same for dismantling the coolness of a character.


One of the things I was looking forward to the most when the announcement of the Special Editions was originally made was the fact that the scene with Jabba the Hutt in Mos Eisley that had been cut from the original print was to be restored.

This scene could only improve things, said I. Unfortunately, I was quite underwhelmed. For starters, Jabba the Hutt just doesn't look right. He's not nearly as fat and disgusting as he is in Return of the Jedi. He's quite a sprightly slug here, moving about like a star athlete. I guess you could make some argument that he's supposed to be younger here, but he looks the same in The Phantom Menace, and that's supposed to be a forty year difference as opposed to the three years between A New Hope and Jedi.

There's also the fact that they add so much slapstick to the scene. Where Han Solo stepped on a cable in the original footage (which featured a fat Irish guy playing the part of Jabba,) they now show him stepping on Jabba's tail, which causes him to bug his eyes out like a cartoonish frog. Sure, there was a funny moment or two in the scene (Jabba asking why Han fried poor Greedo and Han reusing the "sometimes I get boarded" line) but overall it served no purpose other than to give the CG animators something to put on their resumes.


At the end of the Jabba scene, an ominous bounty hunter dressed in colourful armour appears and looks directly at the audience. He's Boba Fett, the guy who captured Solo in the second movie. When The Empire Strikes Back was first released, Fett was an afterthought; a mere peripheral character who was later scripted to die like a little bitch at the hands of a blind man.

But the character took on a life of its own when he garnered a cult following. As a result, Lucas decided to cow tow to these rabid fans by inserting him in a gratuitous cameo here (and later went so far as to give the guy a back story in the prequels.) Now don't get me wrong - I'm a bit of a Fett fan myself, but it doesn't stop me from realizing that the guy's mystique was the majority of his charm.

In other words, we didn't want a back story, and we sure didn't need him acting like some drunk guy who's trying to get his face on the local news.


Next: "As much as STAR WARS fans bitch about the Ewoks, we realize that they are indeed unavoidable. And over the years, we've come to enjoy our little victory celebration song at the end of the trilogy. Sing it with me: Yub-yub, ee-cha, yub-yub. So what the hell do they do in the Special Editions, but replace the song with some stupid Yanni-sounding New Age thing . . . "




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