It seems like it happens every few years, but recently rumors began to make the rounds that Disney was going to release George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy, the unaltered versions—the ones we saw in the theaters as kids before he went back, added a bunch of crappy CGI, and made Han shoot first—on Blu-ray for the first time. We’ll get into why that’s probably not going to happen any time soon later, but one enterprising fan isn’t content to sit back and eat whatever scraps fall from the proverbial table.
A super fan who goes by the name of Harmy (which, once you hear his voice, is somehow oddly fitting) has taken it upon himself to manufacture an original version of the trilogy, which he calls Star Wars: Despecialized Edition. This featurette documents the process he is using to lovingly restore his favorite movies (at least I hope they’re his favorites, because this is going to take a lot of effort).
Using the “Special Edition” Blu-rays that were released a while back as a starting point, Harmy plans to essentially undo all of the things Lucas did. He’s going to restore the original title cards, correct the altered color palates and screwed up blacks, and reverse the automated digital clean up that gave everything a fake, artificial appearance (they may not have been shot on green screen, like most of the prequels, but it sure looks like they were). Ideally, the high resolution of Blu-ray should allow him to make all of these fixes.
This video is most interesting because it, almost inadvertently, details one fan’s rampant obsession, showing the lengths one man is willing to go through to see the film he loves, as he loves it most, one more time (okay, likely hundreds of more times, but you get the point). While it’s cool to hear about the process and see some of the side-by-side comparisons, this video itself is also 11 minutes long and gets old after a while. But we can all relate to this sentiment, to this rabid fandom, and if nothing else, this whole project is really a love letter to Star Wars, and illustrates one more time just how vital and important movies can be in our lives.
Earlier this month, we heard rumblings that Disney and Lucasfilm were going to put the unaltered original trilogy on Blu-ray, which would make sense with the impending release of Star Wars: Episode VII and the massive relaunch of the franchise. This would be the first time the untouched version would be available in this format, and would surely be a massive seller.
The problem, which many people pointed out, is that Disney and Lucasfilm don’t own the distribution rights to the first three Star Wars movies (or the prequels, but we’re less concerned with those). That deed is held by 20th Century Fox. Eventually, in 2020, Fox will have to surrender the rights to The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, but A New Hope is all theirs in perpetuity.
So, in order for an original trilogy Blu-ray set to happen, both sides would have to play nice (and by that I mean come to some accord where both parties will make a ridiculous sum of money), and who knows when, or even if, that will happen. Basically, despite the rumors, until we have these discs in our sticky little hands, we’re skeptical that this will transpire any time in the near future.