The First Star Wars Trilogy Limited Editions—20th Century Fox
Finally available in their 1977, 1980, and 1983 versions, the new Limited Edition Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi DVD sets contain minimally tweaked re-releases of the laserdisc masters created in 1993. Disc one in each case is essentially the same as the first disc inside the four- and three-disc Trilogy sets that came out two years ago; the second disc for each movie contains the original theatrical version. So, this review pertains to those second discs, the supplemental inclusions of the “unaltered” films.
The video is listed as 2.35:1, but is not anamorphic, so be sure to set your DVD player and display accordingly. The movies do vary slightly, and they all actually measure out a bit narrower than the full Panavision aspect ratio. As the resources at Fox and Lucasfilm are behind these releases, I can honestly say that they look better than any of the bootlegs I have ever seen—which were generated from the laserdiscs, the best-ever renditions of the original films. The colors are truer to the theatrical presentations, and the discs have an overall more filmic look than the reinvented 2004 special editions, even if they are a bit soft, dirty, grainy, and artifacty. The Dolby Surround audio is a hybrid mix of different soundtracks from over the years, with respectable fidelity and directionality. Extras are simply an Xbox-playable demo and a trailer for the fun Lego Star Wars II video game from Lucasarts.
These discs are for die-hard fans, as we have to wonder when better looking and sounding versions of the classics are coming. Perhaps for Star Wars’ 30th anniversary next year?