English - Hearing Impaired, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian
Audio commentary - with director George Lucas and various cast and crew.
Star Wars - Episode IV - A New Hope
Lucasfilm Ltd./20th Century Fox Home Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 125 mins .
PG . PAL
It only takes a few hours to change the course of history. Since 1977 movies have never been the same and it was all due to one independent movie by a then unknown film-maker named George Lucas.
Star Wars, a classic tale of farm boy rescues princess but set on a much larger scale where castles are Death Stars, horses are speeders and guards are clones called storm troopers. This might all sound like common folklore these days but back in the late 70's, such dialogue uttered in front of a camera would often induce laughter; "I was going into Toshi Station to pick up some power converters" just rolls off the tongue.
We can laugh now but it was the vision Lucas had over a quarter of a century ago that was to bring the likes of Luke Skywalker, Obiwan Kenobi and Darth Vader to a big screen near you. With the likes of Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbacca tagging along for the ride we were taken to a world far, far away that yet seemed so real and so close. C-3PO and R2-D2 tagged along as well as other mechanical marvels such as the X-wings, the Tie-fighters and the dreaded Death Star with more firepower than a whole starfleet, able to destroy a planet with a single sneeze.
In my 30 years, I've only ever come across a small handful of people who have yet to see Star Wars and its sequels. This coming from someone who was busily watching Superman over and over again on the silver screen whilst unbeknownst to him said Star Wars was causing a stir a year beforehand and countless times since then.
"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."
Luke Starkiller and Biggs Darklighter
In its simplest form, Star Wars is the tale of a rebellion rising up against an evil Empire that has taken over the galaxy. The rebellion has acquired plans to a super weapon and placed these plans in the care of Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). Her little blockade runner has been captured so the plans are stored in her little R2 unit who his jettisoned, along with his side-kick C-3PO, onto a planet called Tattooine. When local farm boy Luke Skywalker (Mark Hammill) comes across the 2 droids and subsequently loses the only family that he has to the deadly accurate Storm Troopers out to retrieve the plans, he teams up with Obiwan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness), a scoundrel in Han Solo (Harry Ford) and his trusty sidekick Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). Together, they travel across the galaxy to rescue the princess meanwhile taking on the giant Death Star and hordes of Tie-fighters in some of the greatest film scenes recorded.
Whoops, wrong turn.
Having only seen the special editions on the big screen, there is no other format currently available that can compare with this immaculate presentation. Previously, the cream of the crop has been the various laserdisc incarnations and whilst they are the best 'composite' format available, they are dull and lifeless in comparison to the imagery set before you on these discs.
Right from the outset, the opening crawl in space is as black as you would expect it to be with every twinkling little star right there before you. Through the opening digital crawl to the adrenalin pumping finale, each frame is beautifully presented right there in front of you. There are not enough superlatives that can be used to describe the experience of owning arguably the most entertaining movie of all time on the best possible format.
Those of you from the laserdisc era will already know what the 5.1 experience of Star Wars is like and this release just adds onto and polishes off what is already an absolutely engrossing and active soundtrack. The opening shot of the blockade runner being chased by the giant Star Destroyer will send chills through your senses.
But even before that shot, the wondrous and thunderous score by John Williams blasts from all speakers in a way some of you may have never heard in your home before. This is one of the great movie soundtracks of all time and deservedly won an Oscar for it too. Having listened to the CD soundtrack hundreds of times, it is still best appreciated when complimenting the movie on a big screen itself.
Present on this disc are the same animated menus that you've come to see on the current Attack of the Clones and Phantom Menace DVDs with suitably themed screens that randomly change upon each reload.
The Olympic Closing Ceremony.
The best feature is a long awaited audio commentary by director himself George Lucas, 2 of the gurus of Lucasfilm in Ben Burtt the sound engineer and Dennis (CG T-Rex) Muren as well as the Princess herself, Carrie Fisher. Whilst this isn't really a group commentary per se, the four of them provide for thoroughly entertaining snippets of information neatly edited together across the entire movie.
Add in the usual THX optimiser we've had on the other prequel DVD releases and you're done.
Much has been said about the special editions and tampering with the classic originals. The pros and cons of each side are all valid arguments but in the end the owner and artist has final say on the product released and if we are to believe that these are the ways the movies were envisaged way back when, then so be it I say. Let them put in an exceptional amount of effort to clean up what was almost a lost original negative and provide us with something that seems like it was shot yesterday. Let them tweak environments and add a dash of CG here with a hint of colour correction there.
There's only a small minority out there that didn't enjoy Star Wars which can probably be attributed to not 'experiencing' the phenomenon back in 1977 and only catching up with the hype in recent years. For those of you that lived, breathed and ate Star Wars from day one, this DVD is what you've been waiting for and it's only disc 1 of a 4 disc collection.