Tech UPTechnologyWhere is the original Star Wars movie?

Where is the original Star Wars movie?


It may seem like a silly question, because we all know where to find the movies in this saga. Sure? I challenge the dear reader of MUY to try to locate the original film that gave rise to the franchise, the one that those of us who are now fully mature saw as teenagers. At most, and if you’re lucky, you’ll find it among the extras -and in very poor quality- of the DVD edition that Lucasfilm made in 2006. Because what we are really going to find if we look for it is the retouched and modified version that was released in 1997 , the famous Special Edition.

Even if someone keeps the movie on VHS with a date after 1981, they are not going to see the movie that was shown in theaters. In this case the difference is only in the titles of the beginning: the original film did not include the subtitle Episode IV: A new hope.

By the time the Special Edition was released in theaters in January 1997, George Lucas and his special effects company ILM had retouched 277 shots from the original film . Most of the fixes were almost imperceptible, like the shadow cast by the landspeeder with which Luke travels around Tatooine or the Death Star dump monster, Dia Noga, who in the only shot that appears (looking like a periscope) They made him blink. Leaving aside the inclusion of a scene that was shot but not included in the original, the meeting between Jaba and Han Solo, one of the main changes was the cantina ‘shootout’ with the bounty hunter Greedo. If in the original film he just shoots without saying a word, in the Special Edition Lucas made Greedo shoot first, miss and Han responded. And, of course, the controversy broke out among the fans, he has his own name and everything: Han shot first or Han shot first . And to add fuel to the fire, with the Blu-Ray release of the series in 2011, Lucas changed the scene again by moving Greedo’s shot forward 11 frames, which made both shots coincide in time.

retouched star wars

Now, can an author retouch his finished work? For Lucas, a director is the only one who has the power to modify his film until he is satisfied. In this way he follows the path set by other artists, such as the French painter and lithographer Pierre Bonnard, who always went with a small box of paints when he visited a museum or collector who had some of his works, to retouch them. Of course, in this case the paint box is a powerful computer. Even Spielberg fell for the same temptation : In the 20th anniversary version of his smash hit, ET , the director digitally swapped out the FBI men’s guns for walkie-talkies. Fortunately -or unfortunately- Spielberg regretted it and in the Blu-Ray version he eliminated this change.

In this way, George Lucas is to the cinema what Orwell’s Big Brother is to history: the original negative of the film is kept under lock and key at the Skywalker Ranch , Lucas’s home, and will never see the light of day. Lucas himself made it abundantly clear in 2004: “For me, in reality, it no longer exists.” And he justified the tweaks this way: “Anyone who makes movies knows that a movie is never finished. Either it’s abandoned or it’s ripped out of your hands and thrown on the market, but you never consider it finished.”

And even if a copy is kept in the Library of Congress, it can never be shown because the rights owner, Lucasfilm, will never allow it. Researchers have access to it, but for ordinary mortals the original tape from 1977 has ceased to exist . The only true one is the (rewritten) version of the Special Edition. (Note to purists: there are certainly minor differences between the DVD and Blu-Ray versions.)


Sabadell, MA (2020) Beyond Star Wars, Redbook Editions

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