“Despecialized” Star Wars is the Only Way to Watch the Original Trilogy
Star Wars fans are some of the most dedicated to a particular series than perhaps any other property. People eat, sleep, and breathe Star Wars like it’s the second coming of Christ. Trust me; I’m one of those people. However, with those so dedicated, they are the most vocal of fans as well. If there’s one thing Star Wars addicts have been yearning for, it’s the original trilogy without all of those “special features” added on to the special additions in 1998.
The changes are what George Lucas’s “vision” supposedly was when he was first making the iconic trilogy. Due to budget reasons, and technology constraints of the 70s and 80s, Lucas wasn’t able to create the world he wanted to. At least, that’s what he says to be true. He’s even gone so far to saying that the original negatives of the films have been permanently altered to match the “special editions.”
However true or untrue these statements are, the fact is that the majority of Star Wars fans hate the heavily altered versions of these iconic staples in cinematic history. Well, fans took matters into their hands, and you know what? You can now access the original, unaltered Star Wars trilogy in Blu-ray quality. How is this possible you may ask? One fan, in particular, that goes by the name of Harmy, along with countless other “fan editors” made this possible.
Despecialized Editions are high definition reconstructions of the theatrical versions of the Star Wars films. The original shots are painstakingly restored using various sources ranging from VHS, LaserDisc, DVD, BluRay to 35mm print scans.
The community started years ago, and still going strong at originalTrilogy.com and fanedit.org. I was fortunate enough to obtain the current versions on Blu-ray, and my God it is something truly unique. Even though this is considered a “fan edit” of the original Star Wars saga, they are without question the entire movies from the vintage fox logo to the iconic credits.
The scenes are full of grain and film, which in 1080p looks just brilliant. No hard black levels or over saturation that is on the current Lucasfilm releases. The coloring is perfect, especially in the 1977 self-titled Star Wars that started it all. That’s right, you get the full theatrical effect before it was called Episode 4, how freaking cool is that?
The side by side comparisons of the special edition next to the “despecialized” ones are remarkable. There’s an authenticity of seeing the indie style filmmaking of the models used as tie fighters and x-wings in high depth that makes this experience so genuine. Let’s face it, seeing poorly rendered CGI animal in the middle of a film made in the 70s is more than distracting. Those “enhancements” are all gone with what is now the only version of the original trilogy myself or anyone reading this should watch.
The story behind how Harmy and his dedicated team pulled this off is fascinating. The sources that went into making this reality are as followed:
- The 2011 Blu-Ray edition
- An HDTV broadcast of the 2004 Special Edition DVD
- A low-quality version of the original trilogy from the special features of the 2006 DVD, affectionately called George’s Original Unaltered Trilogy (or the “GOUT”)
- Various scans of 70mm and 35mm film prints and still images from the films
The audio quality is also restored to the Academy Award winning sound mixing that won the original Star Wars multiple Oscars. When you pop these into your Blu-ray player and turn up that surround sound, you are instantly back in that Galaxy far far away.
The color correction alone is worth the price of this collection. Oh wait, that’s the best part, they’re free! Well to a certain extent. OriginalTrilogy.com states that the edits are “made for culturally historical and educational purposes” and that they are “to be shared among legal owners of the officially available releases only.”
That means the only way to get these bad boys are on various BitTorrent trackers, with a full instructional guide on Harmys website. The site also shows you how to burn different custom Blu-ray cover art, disk art, as well as menus and special features. Heck, there’s even an entire box set with step by step instructions and a list of materials you need to make it!
That being said, some of the materials aren’t exactly cheap. I went to my local Staples and had the custom cover art made there, which came out beautifully. To see these films mastered back to their theatrical state, in exceptional quality is something we as fans have been longing for. Though, this isn’t an “official release,” it’s obtainable by all. As long as you follow the rules, these can be yours. I own the “Complete Saga” on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital personally (excessive, I know). You follow the rules; these can be yours.
These Blu-rays will always be my “go to” when I decide to watch my favorite movie saga of all time. Thank you, Harmy and everyone at originaltrilogy.com for making all of this possible. Star Wars fans are some of the most passionate and dedicated fans in the world. The “Despecialized” editions of the original trilogy are proof of that in the highest regard.
You can see the official video sources documentary below:
May the force be with you all.