11. October 2011 14:39
I bought the original Star Wars Trilogy on VHS, then I bought it again when they released it in wide screen. I bought it again on Laserdisc and again when the released the Special Editions. By 2003, impatiently awaiting the DVD releases I bought the "Five Star" DVDs which were laserdisc captures. The quality was quite good, but they were the Special Editions (I'll discuss my thoughts on those in a separate post) and I really wanted the originals, so I bought a video capture card, connected my laserdisc player to my PC and captured both the Star Wars Trilogy and the Indiana Jones Trilogy in reasonable quality. Better than VHS, and - it could be argued - slightly better than laserdisc because I now had the entire movie on a single disc that didn't need to be flipped and changed every 30 minutes or so. However, it still was not good enough. About this time, I also found OriginalTrilogy.com where there were at least a dozen similar projects underway, and all of them had already achieved higher quality picture, sound and menus than I had been able to.
Then George Lucas finally released his DVD set which I quickly rushed and and bought. The sharpness of the picture blew away everything else I had seen, but it was only the special editions, and the color "correction" was questionable to say the least. This was the picture and sound quality I had been looking for, but I wanted the original versions of the movies. The good people at OriginalTrilogy.com began working on a number of new projects to "despecialize" the special editions by color correcting them and inserting footage from the old laserdiscs to replace the special edition shots. They updated their online petition, hoping to persuade George Lucas to release the original films with the same standard of quality.
In 2006, George Lucas seemed to relent, and did finally release the original Trilogy on DVD (which I also rushed out and bought). Compared to the Special Edition releases, the quality looks pretty bad, which I think is very deliberate. It is almost as if George is saying "see - look how bad the original is compared to my new version". All the DVNR (Digital Video Noise Reduction) smearing that was on the THX laserdiscs is still there, but it is still the highest resolution version of the original Trilogy available. Once again, new projects were started on OT.com. Some took the the "GOUT" (George's Original Unaltered Trilogy) and worked on improving the picture (Mothr's pawnage edition and Dark Jedi's V3 DVDs are probably the best to date) while others continued to despecialize the special editions, now using the GOUT to source the replacement scenes.
5 Years later Star Wars was released on Blu-ray, but still no pristine unaltered original trilogy. I don't object to Mr. Lucas tweaking and changing and updating the Special Edition trilogy for every new release, but I do wish he would also release the original versions. I understand that he was not happy with the theatrical versions, felt they were unfinished, but he doesn't seem to care that millions of people watched that version for 20 years, before he started tinkering, and that is the version we still want to watch.