(Full disclosure: I originally wrote this for my personal blog. I intended to do it as a series, but never wrote more than this initial entry. However, over the next few weeks, I plan on writing it up for JediNet)
So, the Star Wars Blu-rays were released last fall, and I, while being a huge Star Wars fan, have yet to buy them. Why not? Well, essentially, I’ve got several issues with the technical side of the sets. While I hear that the sound quality is pretty decent and has been upgraded, they used the same digital masters that were created for the 2004 DVDs for the picture. I’ve never been a fan of those digital masters as there were a lot of color issues with that release: in A New Hope, the interiors of the Millennium Falcon are weirdly colored, one of the twin suns setting on Tatooine is obnoxiously more red than the other, Luke’s lightsaber turns white or green in certain shots instead of remaining blue, etc. And it just wasn’t that film: it was all three original movies. The technique of creating digital masters has greatly improved since those DVDs were made (The Wizard of Oz on Blu-ray, which was made from a 4K master just a couple of years ago, is amazing), so for the life of me, I can’t figure out why they didn’t just create new, better scans of the original flicks.
In addition to using old, outdated technology, in a press conference, Lucasfilm said that they had fixed those color issues. But, upon the Blu-ray’s leak to the internet, it became apparent that while they had fixed certain shots, they didn’t fix all of them, sometimes fixing a shot in one scene while allowing the rest of the color mistakes to remain in the rest of the scene (Luke’s lightsaber changing colors on the Millennium Falcon in A New Hope being the most obvious example of this).
If I’m going to buy a Blu-ray, I expect better quality than this. And while I’ve read enough reviews and borrowed a friend’s copy of the Blu-ray to know that these films “have never looked better,” knowing the state of the technolog, I can’t help but think that this set could have been so much more.
This has got me to thinking, what would I like to see out of a Star Wars Blu-ray set? And the conclusion that I’ve come to is, I don’t want to see just one massive set for all of the movies, but each movie released individually as its own massive set. Think of it as being similar to how Peter Jackson released the Extended Editions of Lord of the Rings one per year (actually, Lucas could learn a lot of Jackson and those versions of his films as the “right” way to treat a mega-franchise on home video).
I’ve decided to do a series of posts including what exactly I’d like to see included in a so-called Ultimate Edition. So, check back for future updates on this subject. In the meantime, here is what I’d like to see included in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Ultimate Edition.
- Star Wars: The Archival Edition – The original edit of the film upgraded to the best possible HD, with some of the compositing cleaned up (essentially, remove the noticeable matte lines around things such as the TIE Fighters and such) to match the original intentions of the theatrical cut.
- Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope– This would be the “definitive” special edition of the film, with new special effects, restored scenes, all of the compositing cleaned up, etc. As with the Archival Edition, it would be a completely new digital master, in the highest resolution possible, and with correct color timing. Here is the list of changes I would like to see:
- All of the laser blasts for the star ships and laser guns re-rotoscoped to showcase their original, vibrant colors.
- All of the lightsaber blades, in every shot and in every scene of the movie, re-rotoscoped to remain consistent throughout the film and to match up with all of the others throughout the rest of the saga.
- Reshoot the scene where Darth Vader interrogates and chokes Captain Antilles with the actor who portrayed the character in Revenge of the Sith, using make-up to age him appropriately to allow for the passage of time.
- Update the dewback effects in the “Look, sir, droids!” scene with the latest in CGI technology.
- Restore the scenes where Luke goes to the Toche Station. Place it right after Aunt Beru tells Owen that Luke has too much of his father in him. Cut the first Toche Station scene right after Luke discovers Biggs is back (eliminating the business about the battle in space), and dissolve it into the second scene where Biggs and Luke are walking through the streets of Anchorhead and Biggs is talking about joining the Rebellion. Color grade this second half to make it appear at sunset, then add in a wide shot of Luke’s landspeeder arriving back at the Lars’ homestead immediately after, and lead into the scene of Luke discovering Threepio hiding in the garage after Artoo has set out on his own.
- Restore the suns to a less vibrant red for the sun set scene.
- Restore Obi-Wan’s original Krayt dragon scream (or at the very least, craft a new one that more closely emulates the original).
- Remove the digital rock placed in front of R2-D2 when he is hiding from the Tusken Raiders in the cave.
- Add even more buildings and denizens to Mos Eisley to really make it seem like a crowded spaceport.
- Han shoots first.
- Update the CGI Jabba the Hutt with newer, better effects. Add in additional Jabba guards from Return of the Jedi. Insert a close-up of Jabba’s face with a Han stand-in walking past the camera (so we never see Han’s face) and Harrison Ford’s dialogue overlayed to eliminate the “walking on Jabba’s tail” gag. Also, eliminate Boba Fett looking at the camera and instead just have him walk off with Jabba’s men.
- Add new scenes with Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa and Ian McDiarmid as the Emperor showing the dissolution of the Imperial Senate.
- Also include a new scene of Bail Organa (with Jar Jar Binks), worried about his daughter’s seemingly failed mission, arriving on Alderaan just as the Death Star shows up in the sky.
- Insert shot of Alderaan citizens, Bail, and Jar Jar staring up into the sky just before the planet is blown up.
- Update the space debris from Alderaan as the Millennium Falcon flies through it with new, more realistic CGI effects.
- Use CGI to smooth over the jump cuts as doors open and close on the Death Star (and throughout the rest of the film).
- Improve the Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader lightsaber duel aboard the Death Star using stunt doubles and CGI to make it bigger and more epic (as is fitting the first encounter between the characters since Revenge of the Sith and their final encounter, and also to make it more inline with the rest of the saga’s lightsaber duels).
- Star Wars: The Special Edition – The 1997 theatrical edition of the film, upgraded into the best possible HD.
- Multiple audio commentaries for both the Archival and Ultimate Editions, featuring the filmmakers, the actors, and the special effects crews that created the movie.
- Deleted and/or alternate scenes of the original film, including those from the Special Edition which were upgraded/replaced by the Ultimate Edition.
- Before Star Wars – A new documentary looking at the state of the film industry leading up the 1977 release of the film.
- George Lucas – A biography featurette on the creator of Star Wars covering up to the making of the film.
- The Mythology of Star Wars with George Lucas and Bill Moyers – The complete PBS documentary discussing religion, mythology, and the influence of Joseph Campbell in Star Wars.
- The Influences of Star Wars – A new documentary/featurette that focuses on the influences of Akira Kurosawa films and Flash Gordan serials in the crafting of the original film.
- The Making of Star Wars – An Empire of Dreams-style, multi-part comprehensive documentary showing the preproduction, production, and post-production of the original film.
- After Star Wars – A new documentary about how the original movie revolutionized the modern blockbuster, and the cultural phenomena which it spawned.
- Updating a Classic – A new documentary covering the work that went into the making of the 1997 Special Editions, as well as other updates to the film.
- Trailers and television promotions, featuring the original theatrical trailer and the Special Edition trailer.
- Stills gallery featuring behind the scenes and promotional images, as well as merchandising images, including a complete gallery of the original Kenner Star Wars line.
- Deleted scenes.
- Vintage documentaries, interviews, and news coverage
That is all that I can think of which I would like in such a set at this time. I’m sure that as time goes on, more items will spring to mind, but in the meantime, if something like this were released just for A New Hope, I’d have no problems shelling out $50 for it (and other films have had comprehensive releases, such as the aforementioned Lord of the Rings, Wizard of Oz, and also films like Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, and Citizen Kane).
And even though this is what I truly want as a fan, I’d just be happy with better quality, color-corrected Blu-ray editions of the current and original versions of the films (though, don’t expect me to pay $50 for just that). Maybe I’m asking too much, who knows? Maybe I’m not asking for enough. Add your two cents to the debate in the comments.
PHOTO SOURCE: Star Wars Cookies for Moose’s 5th Birthday