Funny how quickly promises are forgotten when there’s money to be made. Back in 2004, when the Special Editions of Episodes IV, V and VI were released as a DVD box set, George Lucas assured us that the unaltered versions would never be released again. Two years on, we have these Limited Edition two-disc DVDs, which contain both ‘George’s vision’ and the original theatrical releases as a bonus. Now Star Wars fans will have to buy them all again. Ker-ching!
The 2004 Special Editions have their pros and cons. The most notorious – for some, downright criminal – change is in the Cantina scene, altered so that instead of Han gunning down Jabba’s assassin in cold blood, he is acting in self-defence. Now, Greedo shoots first. Intended to make Han slightly cuddlier, it feels like a complete betrayal of his character.
On the plus side, there’s some unobtrusive
tidying up: the removal of ugly matte lines around old special effects, for
example. In The Empire Strikes Back,
George should have resisted the urge to cram in the kind of unnecessary CGIeye candy that blighted the prequels and left well alone. Which means this reissue of the original releases is, ultimately, very welcome – even though the old films haven’t been digitally scrubbed up.