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Feature: Star Wars

DVD Wants You!

Darth's back… As LucasFIlm’s announcement of a DVD release for 2004 sends fans into a frenzy, we take a look at why the original Star Wars trilogy will be in everyone’s collections when it eventually arrives…

The recent record-breaking DVD sales of the Indiana Jones trilogy has paved the way nicely for the most wanted, nay, demanded DVD trilogy of them all. Yet, in the case of the adventures of Indy (let us not forget, based on an original story by George Lucas), the release was announced many months in advance. At present, we’re still waiting for official word on the Star Wars trilogy – although a September 2004 release has apparently been announced to attendees at a meeting of LucasFilm licensees in San Francisco.

So, fingers crossed, we’re looking at 2004 – assuming Mr Lucas can find the time to oversee a DVD package that can possibly live up to expectations. And here the complexities start, for it isn’t a simple case of making sure there’s enough special features to fill a Death Star. Decision number one is which version of the films to include: original, special editions or even both?

Re-released theatrically before The Phantom Menace felt the full force of critical and fan disenchantment, these new Special Editions benefited mainly from cosmetic computer generated changes to dated visual effects. We were also treated, however, to additional footage featuring an earlier Jabba introduction, a new dance number in his Palace, climactic celebrations all over the galaxy and more.

Although we can’t speak for all Star Wars fans, it’s safe to say that the majority preferred the original versions, as so many recall with fondness the scenes that held them spellbound aged 10. Indeed, feelings run strong amongst Star Wars purists, as illustrated by the fan-site , who have an ongoing online petition (currently standing at 44,500 signatures), sparked by statements from George Lucas that the versions released 1977-1983 will never be released on DVD.

In their passionately written open-letter to Lucas they say that, ‘While we appreciate your creative viewpoint on the evolution of the films, we respectfully submit that there is tremendous importance in the original theatrical prints of the Star Wars Trilogy. Above and beyond the nostalgic value that they hold for millions of fans the world over, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi are landmark films that represent watershed moments in motion picture history… Preserving the unaltered theatrical release forms of these movies and making them available to your public is of utmost importance.’

Unfortunately, like Close Encounters’ unwanted, unnecessary entry into the mothership, it would seem that a revised Special Edition is the one that film-makers tend to stick with and stand by. There is a possibility that both Star Wars versions could be included, but, to allow for the best possible audio-visual transfer, this could necessitate one disc just for each of the movies, never mind the extras. More work for Lucasfilm and more money required from the consumer.

by Jason Caro

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Photo © Lucasfilm Ltd
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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