George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy is widely considered one of, if not the, greatest film trilogies of all time. And yet, since the release of the Special Editions in 1997 (which added a number of contentious changes to the films, including new CGI effects, added scenes and new musical choices), there has been a growing frustration among fans that George Lucas and Lucasfilm have thus far refused to release HD quality versions of the unaltered pre-special edition versions of the films.
To date, the best quality officially-released versions of the theatrical editions were the 2006 DVD bonus disks, but unfortunately these were very poor quality overall, and did not live up to fans hopes and expectations.
When Disney acquired Lucasfilm in November 2012, hope was renewed that perhaps high-quality versions of the unaltered original trilogy would be released, but alas, despite some rumours, no official release has yet been announced.
Thankfully, due to the ongoing hard work of a fan-editor by the name of Harmy, fans are now able to enjoy the theatrical editions in High Definition for the first time.
Harmy, on the restoration project:
Despecialized Editions are high definition reconstructions of the theatrical versions of the STAR WARS films. The original shots are painstakingly restored using various sources ranging from VHS, LaserDisc, DVD, Blu-ray to 35mm print scans.The main goal is to get as close as possible to the original versions of the films as seen in cinemas on opening day, while maintaining high picture and audio quality.
Harmy and his collaborators have done an extraordinary job in their attempts to recreate the original films, as can be seen in these comprehensive comparison galleries for Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. Harmy has also created a short documentary, detailing his extensive work on recreating the original versions of the movies:
Word of Harmy’s hard work has been spreading, and he has now started to gain recognition for his work on many news sites and popular youtube channels, including Jeremy Jahns, who recently reviewed the Despecialized Editions on his channel.
Custom Blu-ray Disks
Recently, an updated version (2.7) of Star Wars Despecialized was released, which prompted me to finally complete a long-gestating project: A custom Blu-ray set, dedicated to the Despecialized trilogy, complete with menus, a variety of audio options, and special features. Harmy has given his personal approval of this project. As of today, the set is now complete, and includes the following features.
The Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi
Please note, as per Harmy’s Facebook page:
This is a fan preservation made for culturally historical and educational purposes. Fanedits and preservations must not be bought or sold.
Please report every fanedit or preservation you find for sale to webmasters of originaltrilogy.com or fanedit.org. Fanedits and preservations are an artform and to be shared among legal owners of the officially available releases only.
Do not support piracy.
To discuss the Despecialized editions and/or the new custom blu-ray set, join the conversation in the forums!