Star Wars: Return of the Theatrical Versions…Sort of

For many years, now, fans have been clamoring for an updated – yet unaltered – version of the original, theatrically released trilogy. For nearly two decades, the special editions have been the only editions available that meet today’s high definition standards. This has been something of a perplexity. Much of the charm of Star Wars is the sentimentality millions of us have ascribed to it. It’s the trilogy we grew up with; the lines of dialogue we remember; the scenes unfolding as they did in our youthful eyes. For older folks, the special edition aren’t so much “special” as they are just different. For younglings, the special editions are their Star Wars, but they recognize something’s a tad bit off in some of the scenes….

I’ll explain.


In my humble opinion, the glaring irony of the special editions is that Lucas managed to date his movies by attempting to update them. Far more jarring than any older special effects that he might have felt didn’t quite cut the mustard are the newer effects that utilized rapidly advancing CGI technology – technology that grew up and evolved right out of its own shoe size. With the passing of every decade, a good portion of the “new” effects look more obviously out of place than any of the old ones and, ironically, some updated parts of the special addition have already undergone more than one makeover since their release. Lucasfilm has been scampering to keep up with its own updates. Mind you, I don’t think the alterations have damaged the overall effect of the movies, and certainly a lot of scenes have indeed been enhanced by the special editions, but it’s pretty obvious the movies have been tampered with, so to speak. Most of the movies look like they were filmed when they were filmed, but some scenes look just like what they are – scenes filmed sometime else. Meh, no big deal. Or is it?


Through a combination of time-sensitive licensing agreements between Fox and Disney, the powers that be have not granted us with an official release of crispy clean fully restored cuts of the original movies in high definition. For Empire and Jedi, it may not happen until 2020. For Star Wars: A New Hope, it may not happen at all. Well, that’s pessimistic, it should happen eventually; but can ya’ blame a guy?

So, anyway, there’s technically savvy fans out there that have taken matters into their own hands. I’ve provided a link below this paragraph that explains more about the process they’ve undertaken to restore the original films, and the people involved. Mind you, these aren’t “official” releases, and I’m neither condoning nor belittling anyone’s desire to seek out an unofficial version of the classic movies, but it’s a testament to just how fervent the fans’ desire to obtain the originals exists. It’s noteworthy in the pantheon of Star Wars history. In other words, it’s as if millions of voices cried out – Just give us the darned originals! [Source]

1977 2011

I’m not a Lucas “basher”, not at all. I grew up in a time when he was considered a cinematic God, and he remains tremendously influential to me to this day. He gave us Star Wars, and a helluva lot more in the world of cinema. He just couldn’t resist tinkering with his most precious creations. As a writer and musician, I get it, I really do. An artist is never satisfied with his work. It can be torture. Hell, I’ll read back over this little ramble, cringe, and desperately resist the urge to log back in and revise (which I may do anyway. Hypocritical? …hehe); that’s just the way it is. One is constantly learning, evolving, desiring to improve, and noticing where our little darlings have gone sour. Time often uncovers our little transgressions in the learning of our craft. But there’s a beauty in this perceived imperfection, a raw purity, a capturing of the initial spark of inspiration.

Some people criticize movies for looking dated. Well, they are, even the best of them, in the sense that they’re a reflection of the time in which they were created, and of the people who created them. We’ve all said, “Man, they don’t make em’ like that anymore!” No, they don’t, because they’re products of a bygone world. And though we can go back and improve upon that which we’ve long abandoned with a nice coat of polish, it may not always be the best idea to try and rebuild the essence of a thing, cause really, it was kinda perfect as it was.

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About Jason Alan 41 Articles
Jason Alan is the author of Phate: The Cosmic Fairytale, the epic fantasy novel now available through Oloris Publishing. Jason lives in Cape Coral, FL, and when not working, he's seeking out new things to ramble about on the Star Wars Reporter, working on Phate's sequels, or shredding his fingers on the guitar, which he plays for the progressive band, Mourning's Hope. Come say hey! Follow Jason Alan on Twitter @JasonAlanPhate