Star Wars original trilogy (high quality versions of original theatrical prints; 1977, 1980, 1983)


Star Wars original trilogy (1977, 1980, 1983 theatrical prints)
By far the most controversial change to the original trilogy, Sebastian Shaw as Anakin Skywalker's force ghost in Return of the Jedi is replaced by Hayden Christensen, the actor who played Anakin in Episodes II and III.
By far the most controversial change to the original trilogy, Sebastian Shaw as Anakin Skywalker's force ghost in Return of the Jedi is replaced by Hayden Christensen, the actor who played Anakin in Episodes II and III.
Status Partially Found

Star Wars is one of the most well-known science fiction franchise to dates, spawning seven (soon to be eight) films, several spin-off shows, video games, novels, merchandise, etc. Beginning with the release of the eponymous film in 1977, the series made a name for director/producer George Lucas and gave Hollywood an increased emphasis on brilliant special effects in films. However, the series is also quite infamous for the extensive alterations made to the films by Lucas himself, which have caused the original prints of the films to fall into obscurity. In particular, Lucas's constant modifications to Episodes IV, V, and VI have caused their original, unaltered theatrical prints to fade from public eye.

In 1997, 20th Century Fox commemorated the 20th anniversary of Star Wars by screening a "Special Edition" of the original 1977 film. Going under its 1981 re-titling of Episode IV: A New Hope, the film was extensively modified to fit George Lucas's original intentions, which he claimed were absent from the 1977 print due to the technological limitations that were present at the time. Dissatisfied with the original film's quality, Lucas digitally restored the original negatives and added a variety of changes, adding in computer-generated characters & effects, modifying the audio to stereo sound, and reorganizing the film's soundtrack and sound effects. All of these alterations came under considerable backlash from fans, who felt that the changes were both gratuitous and detracting from the film's quality. Likewise, the fanbase responded similarly to a number of other changes made to the Special Edition releases of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, whose modifications were also performed to satisfy Lucas's original intentions. Fans particularly took aim at the modification of Greedo's death in A New Hope, where the Special Edition changes Han's killing shot to be more clearly out of self-defense by making Greedo shoot first and miss, despite firing at point-blank range. This gave rise to the memetic phrase "Han Shot First", the most prominent aspect of the Star Wars fan tradition of mocking George Lucas for his extensive re-editing. A New Hope has received the most alterations out of any of the films, and as such has become the biggest focal point when discussing George Lucas's continued modifications.

Lucas would go on to continue re-editing the trilogy in later releases, fixing some of the more glaring modifications (such as making Han dodge Greedo's aforementioned shot and having both characters fire near-simultaneously, making the scene more acceptable to fans) and adding in new ones to better tie in with the prequel trilogy (which received their own sets of minor modifications in re-releases). Lucas has claimed that the original prints of episodes IV through VI were only 25 to 30% of what he had intended, and that whatever modified re-release is the most recent is the canonical version of the trilogy.

The last time the first theatrical prints of the films ever saw public release were as the bonus disks of a limited-edition DVD release in 2006. Even then, the DVDs used scans from the trilogy's Laserdisc release rather than the original film negatives, resulting in blurry visuals, faded colors, and video smearing (and additionally, they use an audio cut that is slightly different from the theatrical, including glass shattering when the security cameras are shot). This release is commonly known by fans as the "GOUT" (George's Original Unaltered Theatrical version) release of the film. When asked about the matter, George Lucas claimed that the original negatives had deteriorated beyond usability. Even more, when Star Wars was selected for admission into the National Film Registry, Lucas attempted to hand in the 1997 Special Edition rather than the 1977 original print, a defiance of NFR regulations that led to the film's rejection (a film can only be admitted into the NFR if a copy of the earliest surviving print is provided). However, it is rumored that both the NFR and the U.S. Library of Congress now possess high-quality prints of the original trilogy's unaltered negatives.

To this day, no home release of the original trilogy's original prints has ever occurred, and it's unknown whether or not Disney (the current owners of the Star Wars franchise) has any plans to re-release the unaltered trilogy. However, A New Hope is permanently owned by Fox.[1] A group of fans have been able to modify the 2011 Blu-Ray releases into a "Despecialized Edition" that compiles footage from a variety of sources to create an unofficial cut of the trilogy that tries to match the original cuts as closely as possible in high-definition; the Despecialized Edition is only available through torrenting. There are also some film prints that have been scanned as well, such as Team Negative One's scan (which can also additionally be downloaded through torrenting), and others are known to exist in private archives and libraries. Although the 2006 DVDs exist as well, they are fairly difficult to find cheap; a cheaper alternative for those who aren't willing to shell out the cash can also hunt down a pre-1997 release VHS copy, though these are usually in pan-and-scan and the less commonly found letterboxed versions suffer a significant quality loss due to squeezing so much picture into such a low resolution.

External Links


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Comments


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Anonymous user #1

4 months ago
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My friend used to have some 3 stills from the movie.
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Anonymous user #2

4 months ago
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What about the laserdisc version? I don't know the release date, but my dad gave it to me when I was young. It should be the original version, but I've never tested it.
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Anonymous user #3

3 months ago
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Yes, the original theatrical releases were put out on laser disk. Star Wars LD is dated 1989 by CBS/Fox Company.
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MrEightThreeOne

3 months ago
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This is honestly a bit of a stretch. Yes, the theatrical versions have never received a public release, but they are known good and well to still exist (albeit in varying qualities). A New Hope especially has quite a few fan preservations, even outside of Harmy's Despecialized edition. There's a number of scans of original film prints circulating around, and a solid amount of home video releases were of the originals (including many of the original VHS releases and the LaserDisc versions). Also, there were the 2006 GOUT DVDs as well.

Although, it's also worth mentioning that the Laserdisc/GOUT versions aren't the originals either; the audio was changed in a few places for the "Definitive Collection" (for instance, the glass shattering when they shoot the security cameras in ANH), but fans have pretty easily fixed that by sticking audio from VHS releases over it.

I think the only version of these films that has actually been "lost" so to speak is the 70mm print of The Empire Strikes Back. It was released a little while before the more widely-seen 35mm print and had a few differences of its own, and apparently it has never had a home video release or any preservations; in fact I believe the only surviving remnant of it is a fan's recording from 1980, which is audio only. Otherwise, I believe nearly every version has been preserved in one way or another.
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MrEightThreeOne

3 months ago
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Edited the article a bit to "Partially Found" because "lost" implies no remnants of them exist, which is completely untrue given the countless VHS releases, the 2006 DVD releases, and the circulation of film prints. Though I'm interested in making a seperate article for the 70mm print of ESB.
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MrEightThreeOne

3 months ago
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Though really, if I still want to be honest, I still think this really doesn't count a whole lot. The VHS versions are so hilariously easy to find especially that I don't know why people consider this "impossible to find". And it's certainly not nonexistant either.
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Anonymous user #4

2 months ago
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HOLY SHIT MY FRIEND HAS THE ORIGINAL STAR WARS THEARETICAL CUT! I swear to non existent Christ he does, I'm Gonna Tell Him When He gets back from the Bay Area, Hopefully we'll find a way to get it online, I'll keep you guys posted.
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Zen298

2 months ago
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I forgot to log in, but the post above is me
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Anonymous user #5

2 months ago
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I own these on VHS...
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Anonymous user #6

28 days ago
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Same I have the remarsted UN altered God video UK tapes from 1994 I belive
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Game4brains

1 months ago
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Added "high quality" to the title since the untouched Original Trilogy is available, albeit in LaserDisc quality at best.
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