Original Star Wars Trilogy Retro Version DVDs
Star Wars fans can go back to the future with DVDs of the unaltered versions of the original trilogy scheduled to hit stores this fall.
Die-hard Star Wars fans soon can see the original theatrical versions of the first three Star Wars films on DVD.
Even though George Lucas adamantly declared 2004’s digitally restored Star Wars Trilogy DVDs the definitive versions of his movies, fans have held out hope for DVDs of the originals. Their wishes will be granted Sept. 12 when Fox releases new two-disc DVDs ($30 each) of Star Wars (since retitled as Episode IV: A New Hope), The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi that include the films as they first appeared in theaters, along with the new, restored versions (now available in the four-disc $70 Star Wars Trilogy).
Fan attachment to the originals is strong. The movies topped entertainment website IGN.com’s recent chart of Top 25 Most Wanted DVDs. “People want the option of having the movies that they remember and people are opposed to George Lucas’ revisionist tendencies,” says the site’s Chris Carle.
The original films’ video quality will not match up to that of the restored versions. “It is state of the art, as of 1993, and that’s not as good as state of the art 2006,” Ward says.
The idea of movies, especially hugely popular classics, as a work in progress is an odd one. Still, most of us routinely buy DVD versions of more recent films that differ from the theatrical releases, with the Director’s Cut and additional scenes added being most common. No one seems to have a problem with that. And we’re not just talking about films no one will remember.
Just announced from Columbia is the two-disc set of Monty Python And The Holy Grail. Replacing the previous. Largely disappointing release, this new two-discs special edition looks terrific. Featuring a new “21st Anniversary” cut of the film running an extra 24 seconds, the feature is presented in anamorphic widescreen, English 5.1 along with the original mono track, subtitles in English, French and Spanish and even a separate subtitle track “for people who don’t like the film” (with text from Shakespeare’s Henry IV!), an “onscreen screenplay” allowing you to read the screenplay while you watch, audio commentary with Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, John Cleese, Eric Idle and Michael Palin and “Follow the Killer Rabbit” (yes!). Disc two includes”Three Mindless Sing-Alongs” and “The Quest for the Holy Grail Locations” featurette, “How to Use Your Coconuts” educational film, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail in Japanese” (with English subtitles), the BBC Film Night special “On Location with the Pythons,” an interactive cast directory, still galleries with Terry Gilliam’s original sketches and behind-the-scenes photos, “A Load Of Rubbish” with mystery items, unused ideas and other material, and finally two trailers and weblinks. Retail is $29.95. Sweet!
The 144-minute director’s cut enhances the theme of male bonding that recurs in many of Peckinpah’s films, restoring deleted scenes to deepen the viewer’s understanding of the friendship turned rivalry between Pike and his former friend Deke Thornton (Robert Ryan), who now leads a posse in pursuit of the bunch, a dimension that adds resonance to an already classic American film. The Wild Bunch is a masterpiece that should not be defined strictly in terms of its violence, but as a story of mythic proportion, brimming with rich characters and dialogue and the bittersweet irony of outlaw traditions on the wane.
Superman (1978, Christopher Reeve version)
For this brand-new, fully restored DVD release of Superman: The Movie, director Richard Donner has reinstated eight minutes of footage cut from the original 1978 theatrical release. The overall effect of the new footage is just more of a great thing. The additions help to flesh out characters a bit more, especially Jor-El (Marlon Brando), given his short screen time in the original. Such additions as a scene where Superman discusses his newfound purpose with his long since gone father is a good example. This is a rare case in which the changes made for a new special edition don’t detract from the story, such as they often do in many other director’s cuts and alternate versions. (For a detailed look at the changes made to the new edition, visit our Cut List update.)
Now, granted, these examples at least involve scenes filmed along with the rest of the movie, the original actors, and so forth. But it’s odd that there is essentially no controversy over this type of thing and yet Lucas has been the subject of South Park parodies and sheer vitriol over his tinkerings.