See Every Change Made to the Original ‘Star Wars Trilogy’

By July 27, 2015

If there’s anything that can stir a debate among geeks and movie fans, then it has to be the alterations made over the years to the original Star Wars Trilogy. While the more prominent changes brought about by the 1997 “Special Edition” re-releases generally draw ire from fans, there’s actually a legacy of tweaking and alteration that extends as far back as 1981. Now, due to the very comprehensive efforts of one Star Wars mega fan, you can see exactly what all of those changes are.

YouTube user Marcelo Zuniga has compiled a series of videos that demonstrate exactly what has been changed in 1977’s Star Wars, 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, and 1983’s Return of the Jedi going all the way back to the May 1977 theatrical exhibition of the movie that started it all.  The first two videos are devoted to the original film, which has seen the most changes made over the years. From the 1981 addition of “EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE” to the opening crawl, down through the various changes made over the course of the “Special Edition” re-release and a few other home video releases — including the controversial change made to the cantina scene between Han Solo and Greedo — all of them are documented. See the videos devoted to A New Hope below.

The next two videos are dedicated to The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, respectively. While not as heavy on the alterations as the original film, there are a pretty surprising amount of more incremental changes made to both films over the decades, from pre-1997 changes for remastered home video releases, up through the Special Editions and subsequent releases on DVD and Blu-ray. While the two follow-ups are generally less altered than their progenitor, some of the changes will likely make for an interesting viewing experience, as some of the less-embedded fans of the Star Wars saga may start to wonder why certain changes were made in the first place.

See the videos for Empire and Jedi below.

Now that the Star Wars franchise is under the control of the Walt Disney Company, rumors have been circulating surrounding a new home video release of the unaltered, theatrical cuts of all three films of the original trilogy. Fans have been very vocal for many years about their stated desire to see the original films as they stood when they were released in the late 70s and early 80s, and Disney would certainly be pleasing quite a large crowd if they were to give those films that kind of re-release.

Of course, all eyes are eagerly awaiting this December, when Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be released to theaters as the seventh main installment of the entire saga, and the first to take place after the events of 1983’s Return of the Jedi. With all of the Star Wars fever that’s sure to hit all over the world — as happens when any film in the franchise is released to theaters, including the prequels — we’ll just have to see if fans will get the opportunity to see the original, unaltered films in a new home media release in the future.

For more on Star Wars as it develops further, keep your feelings focused on GeekNation (remember, your eyes can deceive you).

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation,, The Huffington Post, and He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.
  • David Johnson

    Some People Have A Little Too Much Time On Their Hands!!!!

  • jnzooger

    The fact that the single issue DVDs have the original cut, or at least the laserdisc cut as a second disc seems to always go unremembered in articles like this.

    • Chris Clow

      It’s not unremembered, but since that version of the original cuts featured no remastering work, no anamorphic widescreen images, and no scene selection, it didn’t seem worth mentioning.

      • jnzooger

        I could argue that is exactly what some people are asking for. Since remastering it would be “touching” it, it would no longer be untouched original versions.

        But yes I get your meaning. Its just so many people don’t even know they exist at all for some reason.

        • Chris Clow

          Well, it’s no different than a film like Citizen Kane being remastered at higher resolutions. You’re not changing any of the content, you’re merely bringing the audio/video qualities up to modern standards so new audiences can enjoy it.

          Technically, all seven seasons of Star Trek: TNG were “touched” when they were released on Blu-ray, but since none of the material from the episodes themselves were altered in any significant way, it was a welcome remastering (and downright gorgeous).

          But yes, I can see how you may have thought that I didn’t know those DVD releases existed. I’m very aware of them, but was also one of the many fans disappointed by the sub-par treatment that the original cuts received by basically being thrown onto those discs with little care or attention.