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Blastfrog

Star Wars: Despecialized Editions

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I just recently discovered these gems. Fucking amazing! 99.99% accurate recreations of the theatrical cuts, the only flaw being the low res sources for some of the restored footage (which is masked as best as possible).

I actually grew up with the 2004 Special Editions. It took me this long to see the films as they were originally intended, and I am more pissed than ever at Lucas. I feel like I've been horribly cheated.

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We used to have the original trilogy on VHS but I think we sold them in a garage sale a few years ago. Lucas definitely ruined those movies a bit, and it's too bad I don't have access to those original versions anymore. I hope Disney decides to re-release the original non-tampered versions at some point in the future.

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Honestly I have grown tired of Star Wars since before Abrams moved into the scene, I may play some Star Wars games once in a while but that is it, I pretty much moved on to Star Trek since then but I'm already done with most of the older series from the 80's and 90's (TNG DS9 Voy) and care less for the new ones.

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yeah, i guess that these are on the lost media wiki, too. that's really interesting - i never knew that!

sooo...anybody have a lot of money and wanna track em down? :p

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The Special Editions did a lot wrong, but they did plenty right, too. However, I like the goal of the DE versions, to recreate the original films as they originally reappeared, while simultaneously given them a bit of a remaster.

Personally I'd like to see a version that combines the best of both worlds. I vaguely remember something like that, along with someone creating a lot of their own effects, but I can't recall what that version was.

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I keep meaning to watch these at some point as I've heard nothing but good things about them. I'm actually not sure if I ever watched the full original trilogy before the special editions came on the scene in the late '90s.

While I've never been a fan of the prequels, for a long time I never really questioned the special editions as reasonable improvements over the originals. After all it's still 99% the same original dialogue, story, etc. It's an action-based sci-fi adventure - why not go back and improve upon the original special effects using modern technology?

There was a mention of this in the Red Letter Media / Plinkett reviews that has since made me question this (I'd find the reference if those reviews weren't so damn long). Essentially the argument was made pretty convincingly that Lucas went too far in changing the movies, cramming in a bunch of new, unnecessary stuff that wasn't previously there. A comparison was made with the prequels, which had many of the same failings: scenes being made unnecessarily visually dense, full of distracting and unnecessary visual gimmicks. Often there's some kind of lame attempt at visual comedy that messes with the tone of the scene.

I'm all in favour of remastering classic movies and TV shows. The Star Trek remasters were tastefully done, I thought - check out this, for example. The difference with the Star Wars special editions is that they went an step further to change other stuff that really didn't need to be changed. By "they" I really mean George Lucas, who seems to have an obsession with CGI special effects and appears to lack any sense of when they're appropriate or when to stop. The Despecialized Editions look like they're probably what the remastering that took place in the '90s should have just been from the very start.

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fraggle said:

While I've never been a fan of the prequels, for a long time I never really questioned the special editions as reasonable improvements over the originals. After all it's still 99% the same original dialogue, story, etc. It's an action-based sci-fi adventure - why not go back and improve upon the original special effects using modern technology?


I'm all in favour of remastering classic movies and TV shows.

By "they" I really mean George Lucas, who seems to have an obsession with CGI special effects and appears to lack any sense of when they're appropriate or when to stop.


He butchered his own work. I still wonder why, he felt that he had to do it....
I don't have anything against remaster, but i rather have the original or director cut. That's they way they were meant to be seen, play or heard.

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I've had the despecialized editions for a bit over a couple years now, in my opinion, they're the only proper way to watch the films. A large part of that is due to all the extra crap added to the special editions. If they had only stuck to a pure remastering, no changing scenes, no added extra CGI creatures... it would be fine.

I had the last VHSes before the special editions came out, and I remember having a distaste for the latter once they did. In 2004, when Lucasfilm made a limited run of DVDs with the original versions included, I bought them happily. Objectively, the quality of these DVDs were crap -- they were transferred from LaserDisc instead of the original source, but it was all that was available at the time. In a very real sense, it feels like a different set of films comparing the theatrical to special editions, and I much prefer the former.

@fraggle: TNG is definitely the more conservative series taken in the HD upgrade. Some effects were replaced with CGI (transporter beams, phasers, planets...), but most of the effects are still composited from original filmed models. This is a good example of not pissing off fans, but The Original Series took an approach that proved more controversial, outright replacing all of the special effects with CGI.

I do love the new effects with TOS, they aren't anywhere close to being as egregiously bad as what happened to Star Wars (actually, I think they improve the show a good bit...). There is a clear intent to respect the original material and not change the events of the story. The handling of the Blu-ray release even went all the way to appeasing fans: it includes both the original and CGI effects on the same discs, you can just swap between them mid-episode. Truly the best of both worlds :-)

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I have only seen the "Enhanced" editions. So I'm willing to track down the despecialized versions, just to watch them once. But...

Avoozl said:

Honestly I have grown tired of Star Wars since before Abrams moved into the scene, I may play some Star Wars games once in a while but that is it, I pretty much moved on to Star Trek since then but I'm already done with most of the older series from the 80's and 90's (TNG DS9 Voy) and care less for the new ones.


I'm right there with you, except for the Star Trek part. I jumped head first into Warhammer 40k lore when I needed a Sci-fi fix a few years ago. Ever since I have found it hard to get back into Star Wars and Star Trek. It's not that I dislike SW or ST. They just don't interest me as much as they use to.

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I've got all the despecialized edition videos, and I love them. while there are some shots in the originals that do look a bit odd these days, I've found that a lot of the cgi added in the special editions actually looks much worse than the old practical shots. the transitions between the two in particular just stick out like a sore thumb.

I actually wouldn't mind a star wars "remaster" that does a few things like fixing some scenes where there's compositing glitches (I remember one scene where the starfield is applied on top of Luke's head while in his X-Wing) or fixing those occasional moments where the lightsabers are visible but the effect isn't drawn over the prop. That'd be fine I feel, but Lucas isn't fine with that, and that makes me sad.

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We had the VHS editions before the prequels or any of that. I miss those. I have to say the extra 'musical number' scene at Jabba's flotilla added to Return of the Jedi is the fucking stupidest thing I have ever seen. I need to get my hands on these for my next yearly Star Wars binge.

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I'd love to see these, but I don't have a way to get them (or play them). I like watching the original trilogy and marveling at the how well the special effects were for the time, but it's hard to pick out what was done back then or added in the special edition. I also have a thing were I like to experience things in a 'vanilla' state for greater appreciation.

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Wild Dog said:

He butchered his own work. I still wonder why, he felt that he had to do it....

Same reasons all his new work is garbage. I realised recently that George Lucas basically hasn't made anything good since the '80s. If you're curious why then watch the Red Letter Media / Mr. Plinkett reviews - they're long but incredibly interesting. But a brief summary is: he became lazy in his methods and over-reliant on special effects; his fame as a director led to a situation where he was calling all the shots and nobody dared question his instructions; his talent was always overrated and significant credit for some of "his" best work arguably belongs with some of his colleagues.

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Being richer than God probably didn't help either. Back then there was more at stake, his career would have been ruined by a really bad movie. Now even his farts are gold. I feel like this has also tanked James Cameron's movies.

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Blastfrog said:

I just recently discovered these gems.

I highly recommend them. Besides the improved visuals over the 2006 DVDs they include just about every subtitle and audio option possible (even edited versions of the DVD and Blu-Ray commentaries). Most notable are the original mono and stereo mixes and a re-creation of the 6-track mix. (Although I tend to go with the 1993 LaserDisc remix when I watch it because I'm pretty sure that's the one on the VHS copies I had. It's nice to have choices available.)

fraggle said:

By "they" I really mean George Lucas, who seems to have an obsession with CGI special effects and appears to lack any sense of when they're appropriate or when to stop.

I figured it was only a matter of time before Lucas had a bunch of CGI Jawas doing a dance number composited into the scene where Luke discovers the charred remains of his aunt and uncle. He'd probably say something like "I always intended for that to be there, but the technology just wasn't available in 1977. Or 1997. Or 2004. Or 2011."

To be fair to Lucas, there's speculation that at least one of the changes (having Han not shoot first) was forced upon him to avoid a PG-13 rating. Speilberg had the same problem in E.T. and at one point digitally replaced some guns with walkie-talkies. Which is sort of ironic considering the two of them collaborated on Temple Of Doom which is cited as one of the reasons for the existence of the PG-13 rating in the first place...

chungy said:

The handling of the Blu-ray release even went all the way to appeasing fans: it includes both the original and CGI effects on the same discs, you can just swap between them mid-episode. Truly the best of both worlds :-)

I was a bit leery of the Star Trek remasters when they were first announced, but was thoroughly impressed after seeing one on TV. Once BD-ROM drives came down in price I ensured that they were the first Blu-Ray discs I bought for exactly the reason stated above. (It's nice to have choices available.)

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I haven't watched the despecialised ones yet, but I downloaded v2.4 of ANH for a friend and he said it was amazing. I agree with Clonehunter, some of the SE changes, the fixups and more subtle stuff, are quite welcome and it's a bit of a shame to see them undone. For example the backdrop for corridors in the death star prison area sequence, it's a fairly obvious painted canvas in the original, the SE versions gave it some depth. I think some of the cloud city improvements in ESB (extra windows etc.) were also tastefully done.

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I think I might be the only person on this planet who's not interested in Star Wars. I've seen the "classics", and I liked them, but people have since turned the franchise into some sort of religion. I almost feel bad for exclaiming that I'm not that into it.

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