Last month, we reported that Disney was preparing to release on Blu-ray the original Star Wars trilogy, minus all of Director George Lucas's 'Special Edition' edits, which included new special effects, a re-recorded soundtrack, and addition of previously unreleased scenes. Sadly, Disney - the parent company to Lucasfilm - issued a statement quickly debunking the rumor.
Wait, you didn't know there was a difference? For years, Lucas has stated that his original version of the film was only "25%-30%" of the version he had envisioned. Yet, for many fans who first saw the original crawl without from A New Hope sans the 'Episode IV' subtitle, that version is still the best. Who could blame them? Greedo shooting first? A comical interlude with a younger Jabba the Hut? Nonsense.
Even when the Blu-ray set was released, fans complained that the transfer process darkened too many blacks, and left Princess Leia looking too pink. Even the Master Audio 5.1 surround track was belittled for not sounding good enough. For those of you who noticed these issues, you were not alone: over the years, a group of dedicated group fans have tried their best to clean up the Blu-ray, even going so far as to add planets and even a new scene introducing the Death Star in a more dramatic fashion. However, no one has attempted to bring back the original film, until now.
That project, titled Star Wars Despecialized, has resulted in a completely restored version of the film and its Special Edition sequels The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Everything has been cleaned up, re-colored back to the original tones, and even the audio had been bumped to up to DTS Master Audio levels. Where can one find such a superior product? No,m it's not at your local Best Buy, or even available from Lucas himself, but for download on the Grey-net. Yes, you'll have to torrent it, and the file is a massive 17GB MKV file. And while we haven't seen it, the numerous updates which this team has made can be found at their website in the above video, screen captures show just how much has been improved.
Regardless of the final product - and Lucas's seemingly inability to release an unaltered version himself - the Despecialized Eidtion is the version we grew up with, bar none. Will we ever get an official restored version? if Disney is anything like Lucas, they'll know how to squeeze more money out of our pockets in an effort to cash in on nostalgia. But until then, this one will more than do.
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