Lucas made all kinds of changes, ranging from new effects to changing voice actors, reordering scenes and new musical choices. (Han shoots first, George.)
I did not grow up a big fan of “Star Wars.” I was a teenager before I finally saw the originals and did not see the special editions in the theater. Of the millions who were eager to experience the films again, many left with a feeling they’d been had. Some felt that Lucas had altered the films so much that they should be considered different movies entirely.
Lucas thought so much of his special editions that the original versions were never re-mastered into high definition. They cannot be purchased on DVD or Blu-ray. Unless you still have your old videotapes, the only place to find them is in VHS-quality, tucked onto special features discs in a multi-disc set of the special editions.
About 10 years ago, one fan became angry that he could not watch beautiful renditions of the versions of the films he had grown up loving. Lucas had long ago sold his soul (and his films) to Disney, so the fan and his friends decided to remaster the original trilogy themselves.
By using the newest Blu-rays of the special editions for most of the material, they used old LaserDisc footage to fill in the gaps. These “despecialized editions” look fantastic. The audio and video are edited together so perfectly, it is impossible to tell that a major studio didn’t put them together.
For the passionate fan, the casual one and definitely for those new to “Star Wars,” these are the versions to seek out. A-
Quarantine TV picks
“Line of Duty” (AMC). This British import from early last decade has finally made it stateside. Expertly written and acted, “Line of Duty” digs deep into the anti-corruption side of the police department. Lennie James, in particular, is great as the mysterious DCI Tony Gates. AMC is airing the first three seasons.
“Snowpiercer” (TNT). Before “Parasite,” Bong Joon-ho made sci-fi films like “Snowpiercer.” The world has entered such a deep freeze that the only people now reside on a 1,000 car long train speeding around the planet. After a few years of tinkering, TNT has finally debuted its series based on the film. It should expand on some of the socio-political discussions the movie presented.
“War of the Worlds” (EPIX). Forget the Tom Cruise film from 2005 (although it was pretty good). This is the best version of “War of the Worlds.” Eight episodes take place in Europe and pull absolutely no punches. This is as serious as sci-fi gets. A handful of people survive the attacks, but why? And how are they connected?
Jeff Mellinger is a screen writer and film buff. He holds a BA in Film Studies and an MFA in film production. He lives in Concord. Email comments to email@example.com.