Nowadays, the Star Wars saga may be churning out back-to-back moneymakers like The Force Awakens and Rogue One, but let’s not forget how not so long ago the “galaxy far, far away” had fallen into disarray in the eyes of many longtime fans.
Perhaps this latest bit of rumor will then provide some closure on this troubling time in the series’ history. That’s because, according to reports, the unaltered versions of the original Star Wars trilogy may finally be available this year.
With the release of the special edition in 1997, franchise creator George Lucas retooled many elements of the classic films, using CGI to purportedly augment and update the visual effects. However, this set off a long era of tinkering with all six films in the initial saga.
Some changes – such as including a computer-generated Yoda in place of the awkward-looking puppet in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace – were welcome, while others (e.g. Greedo shooting first, a bizarre CGI Jabba the Hutt in A New Hope, etc.) have since been considered among the most bone-headed decisions Lucas ever made in regard to the franchise.
While it’s still very much a rumor at this stage, Making Star Wars seems convinced the original, pre-1997 versions of the first three films – that is, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi – will hit various formats just in time for the 40th anniversary of the first film. The site has yet to disclose details but credits the rumor to “several sources” leading them to believe the long-awaited re-release is likely happening at last.
If it’s true, the release of the original cuts of these three classic films will be the culmination in many years of fan anticipation. Lucas himself long denied a widespread release of these earlier cuts, deeming the latest versions his true vision. Only a 2004 limited edition of the films included the unaltered versions, but they have not been released since and are now considered collector’s items.
Disney’s 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm seemingly renewed hope such a release may happen, but alas, the reissued 2015 Blu-ray set came and went with no further updates.
If Disney does manage to get the unaltered trilogy out this year, it will certainly please a generation of fans simply looking to experience the films as they were in their youth. Now that the saga is back stronger than ever, the studio really doesn’t need to curry favor from hardcore fans, but with Lucas out of the picture and little to lose, it seems silly for Disney to hold out on fans still waiting for this.
After all, we can be sure sales of these unaltered sets will more than justify the investment. Holiday season 2017, anyone?
Robert Yaniz Jr.
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