Star Wars Original Trilogy - Unaltered
Han shot first.
Of all the details modified over the years since the original Star Wars movies hit theatres, that one change exemplifies why the changes in the newer versions irritate.
To be clear, I am no purist. I actually appreciate some of the changes made. A lot of new ground was broken in the making of these movies, but in the end, the technology to bring George Lucas' vision alive simply did not exist. Instead, tricks were used, such as a smear of petroleum jelly to hide the mechanism that held up vehicles that were supposed to be floating above ground, and comprimises made, such as the closed in sets for Cloud City, which was envisioned as open and filled with light and scenery.
My appreciation stops when details of the story itself gets changed.
This set is 6 disks; 3 of the original, unaltered series, in all their rough and tumble glory, plus 3 in their modern versions.
A New Hope is the dramatic beginning of our story, following the young Luke Skywalker as his universe is turned upside down by tragedy and hope, and he begins to learn who - and what - he is. To this day, A New Hope is considered the finest example of pacing in a movie, as the story unfolds to its dramatic, inconclusive conclusion.
The Empire Strikes Back came out at a time when sequels were notorious for how bad they were, and it is considered by many to be the best sequel ever (though some would argue Aliens holds that honour). Film making technology of the time was pressed to its limit, beginning at the ice planet Hoth. Here, all the hope of the previous movie appears to be crushed, culminating in Luke discovering the now infamous, paradigm shattering secret about himself.
Return of the Jedi is the first of the trilogy that I ever saw, a consequence of living in the sticks, and I remember it well. One of my brothers took me to a neighbouring town's little theatre. There were so many people, the theatre owner brought in benches for extra seating, yet it was still standing room only. I'm sure a few fire codes were broken that night! I was enthralled, and the entire theatre exploded with applause and cheering at the end.
(A little bit of trivia I discovered: some of the Ewoks are speaking Filipino.)
Each time these movies were re-released, something else was changed. Today's versions, released after Episodes I, II and III, have even removed the actor portraying pre-Vadar Anekin Skywalker, replacing him with Hayden Christensen. Again, I understand why it was done, but it irritates.
Some changes, such as the extended musical number, don't really add anything. Others improved details, such as removing the transparency from inside views of fighter cockpits.
In the end, though, I still prefer the original. In fact, I recently snatched up an original release VHS of A New Hope, even though I already own all 6 episodes on DVD. No matter how much they "fix" things, nothing will quite match the original releases, and no matter how much is changed, those of us who were around for the original releases will never forget.
Han shot first.
The original releases, with modifications.
They say so, too!