In 1997, George Lucas was certain that the DVD version of Star Wars would eventually be the only version of Star Wars. He worked diligently curating the DVD release to fit his specifications and was certain that within 30 or 40 years, all previous cuts would be wiped from history. Well, not with the people behind Project 4K77 on the watch — a ragtag team of editors has restored Star Wars to its original glory, and you can watch it on the Internet Archive.
The Star Wars: A New Hope 1977 original version was thought to have been lost, but fans are meticulously restoring it in all of its glory.
For Star Wars fans, there’s a particular kind of magic that comes with experiencing the galaxy far, far away as it was originally presented in 1977. George Lucas’ epic space opera became a cultural phenomenon, and the theatrical release of the original Star Wars film later retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, holds a special place in the hearts of fans. However, with the advent of modern technology and George Lucas’ alterations in subsequent releases, the original theatrical version seemed to be fading into obscurity.
That’s where Project 4K77 comes into play, a dedicated effort to preserve the essence of Star Wars’ original cut. Project 4K77, undertaken by a group of devoted Star Wars fans known as Team Negative 1 (TN1), is not just a restoration but a labor of love. These enthusiasts set out on a mission to ensure that the 1977 theatrical version of Star Wars remains accessible to both dedicated fans and new generations of viewers.
Unlike some other restorations or re-releases, 97 percent of the content in this project originates from a single, original 1977 35mm Technicolor release print. This source was meticulously scanned at full 4K resolution, cleaned at 4K, and rendered at 4K, preserving the essence of Star Wars’ original film’s visual quality.
George Lucas famously wanted the old versions of Star Wars to be destroyed over time, which is why fans are trying hard to preserve the original version.
The restoration process was laborious, undertaken by dedicated fans who poured their passion and expertise into this project. They used off-the-shelf software to painstakingly remove dirt, dust, and scratches from the film, striving to retain Star Wars’ original cinematic experience.
The changes made in the Star Wars special edition re-release are substantial alters from the original version, most of which were despised by fans.
But why go to such lengths to restore the original version of Star Wars? Especially since George Lucas himself wanted older versions of the movie to be obliterated with the passing of time. For many, it’s about nostalgia and preserving a piece of Star Wars original cinematic history.
George Lucas’ later editions, including the Special Editions and subsequent releases, introduced substantial changes to the original film. While these alterations may have merits, they also moved away from the raw, unadulterated experience of the Star Wars original 1977 version.
These changes can be jarring for fans who grew up with the Star Wars original. The old VHS, Betamax, CED, and laserdisc versions no longer meet the standards of modern HDTVs and 4K UHD Televisions. Project 4K77 provides an opportunity for fans to introduce the classic film to new generations without the distraction of CGI enhancements, oversaturated colors, or a magenta tint.
Project 4K77 is not just a restoration project; it’s a preservation effort. It stands as a tribute to the enduring legacy of Star Wars as it was originally released and the dedication of its fans. This initiative ensures that the classic cinematic experience of 1977 will remain accessible for generations to come, allowing fans to appreciate the film in its purest form, just as George Lucas originally envisioned.