Star Wars DVD Review

Discussion in 'Reader Reviews' started by wd40cloud, Oct 11, 2004.

  1. wd40cloud

    wd40cloud Guest

    Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope DVD Review

    Specs and Features

    123 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16X9 Enhanced, THX-certified, Single-sided RSDL (layer switch at 1:03:08), keepcase packaging, commentary by George Lucas, Ben Burt, Dennis Muren and Carrie Fisher, DVD-ROM weblinks to exclusive Star Wars content, 3 random animated film-themed menu sets with sound and music, scene access (50 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 EX), English (DD 2.0), French (DD 2.0) and Spanish (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

    The Film

    In 1977, George Lucas wrote and directed Star Wars, which would become the highest grossing film in America (until 1997’s Titanic). He revolutionized the way movies are made today and inspired some of today’s biggest directors. It became a merchandising machine. It also turned its three main leads into household names.

    The story of Star Wars is now legend. A kidnapped princess stores plans for destruction of a super battle station with the power to destroy a planet in the memory banks of a little R2 unit. The R2 unit along with his companion C-3PO is sold to a farmer whose nephew uncover s the princess’s message and enlists the help of an old hermit with a mysterious past to help save her and restore justice to the galaxy. Along the way they meet a captain and his wookie co-pilot who ultimately save the day.

    For a film 20th Century Fox thought would be a bomb it turned out to actually save the studio from bankruptcy. Even with all its acclaim Lucas never personally felt the film was as good as it could be. He started making changes to the film in 1981 when he added “A New Hope” to the beginning crawl of the film. In 1997 technology finally caught up with his vision, so Lucas went back and added deleted scenes, new scenes, improved special effects and a CGI Jabba the Hutt. He went back and also “spiffed” up the original film elements for A New Hope and the other films for theatrical re-release.

    Well now in 2004, for the trilogy’s DVD release he has gone back again and tried to perfect his films. With “A New Hope” he improved his CGI Jabba the Hutt and other small noticeable changes.

    Image Quality

    Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen Star Wars looks better than ever. Having never seen the film in its original format before, I am noticing all new things. There is not one speck or piece of grain in the whole film. The amount of detail is amazing. On previous incarnations of the film there was always a washed out look to it. Now there is accurate flesh tones and dead on blacks.


    Star Wars is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 EX. It is possibly the one of the best sounding discs I have ever heard. Your rears will never get so much use. A bit of controversy surrounding the soundtrack is that in parts what should be coming out of one speaker should be coming out of another. Also the force sound is almost inaudible in parts. It does not however ruin the audio presentation and is only distracting for purists and Star Wars fanatics.

    A New Hope also includes English, French and Spanish stereo surround tracks with English subtitles.

    Special Features

    A New Hope’s main special feature is a commentary track with George Lucas, Ben Burt (Sound), Dennis Muren (Special Effects) and Princess Leia herself Carrie Fisher. Each track was recorded separately and edited together. Subtitles are included so you know which participant is commenting. A pretty solid track, all in all. Lucas, Burt, and Muren comment the most. Lucas will mention additions to the film but only those from the 1997 theatrical re-release.

    Final Thoughts

    A good first disc all around. It just shows how much time and effort Lucasfilm put into these new transfers. Even though there is a faulty soundtrack it doesn’t ruin the viewing experience.

  2. Semerrill

    Semerrill Member

    Oct 12, 2004
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    Tampa florida
    So Is This Dvd Worth Buying
  3. wd40cloud

    wd40cloud Guest

    I'll tell you on the bonus disc review. By then your mind should be made up to go out and purchase.
  4. For those who never saw the original theatrical version, here are some footnotes on it's presentation back in 1977.

    The film was originally a "Roadshow" in 70mm and six channel magnetic stereophonic sound. I saw this version at the Loews Astor Plaza in NYC and it
    was quite spectacular. They sold programs of the movie before the screening. The film was photographed in 35mm Panavision but the special effects were done in VistaVision, then reduction printed to 35mm anamorphic to match the rest of the negative. VistaVision was a high quality fifties' format
    ("White Christmas", "North by Northwest") whereby the image was shot horizontally in 35mm. In other words, rather than shooting the film vertically in a standard camera with anamorphic lenses and four sprocket square, the camera was adapted to turn on it's side and photograph the image area of two frames or eight sprockets wide. Since the negative area was twice the width of regular film, all of the optical superimposions for the effects were much sharper than normal. Also, reduction printing a larger frame into a standard frame (by adding the anamorphic squeeze to it) generated superior sharpness and resolution. That's why the effects looked so good in the first few films. This method is superior to the computer generated effects of the later movies which tend to be grainier and less realistic.

    From this combination 35mm negative, direct blow up 70mm prints were made.
    Camera negative blow ups. These prints looked great on the large screens of the era (most of these theaters were demolished in the interim). Lucas also changed the track design for six track stereo. Rather than having the dialogue spread across the five front channels, he only used the front three channels and left the extra ones for subwoofer explosions and sound effects.
    This was a departure from the fifties style of stereophonic sound which had mutliple mikes on the set to get directional dialogue and so forth. The rear channel was used for surround effects as well as background sounds. In the fifties and sixties, the rear channel was only used for a specific effect, not for general atmospheric location sound.

    For general release prints in 35mm, Lucas created an entirely different mix in mono sound. This version is apparently 'lost' unless you have an original print in 35mm or 16mm. There were also very limited numbers of dolby stereo 35mm prints for selected theaters. These were adapted from the six channel mix.

    Unfortunately, all of the above 1977 prints were printed on quick fade Eastmancolor stock at the notoriously sloppy De Luxe lab. They are all
    completely faded now.

    However, in England, they still had the Technicolor dye transfer process through 1978. (It was abandoned in America in 1975). Therefore there
    are spectacular 3 strip Technicolor prints from England that were all in dolby stereo to boot. These became hot collector copies for film collectors although they cost upwards of $5000. Reportedly, Lucas has one in his archive. Of course the color is better than either 35mm or 70mm American version but some of the surviving Technicolor prints have the new title Lucas added ("A New Hope") which were re-printed on Eastmancolor stock. Thus, some Technicolor prints have completely faded titles but the rest of the film is fine.

    As far as I can determine, no new prints were made on the film other than these. By the nineties, everything was in poor shape (for theatrical exhibition) except for the rare Technicolor prints were were all in private collections. Then in 1997, it was announced the original film was going to be re-issued. Like everyone, I looked forward to seeing it again on new 'low fade' Eastmancolor stock in digital stereo. Unfortunately, the prints left much to be desired. The color definately looked faded on the first reel and fleshtones were pinkish. The added computer generated effects did not match the VistaVision optical effects at all. The prints were much grainier and less sharp than the 1977 originals in any format. At least the video version of the new version was not as grainy as the theatrical prints.

    Recently, an associate wanted to screen the original British Technicolor print of "Star Wars" as part of a festival but Lucas refused to allow it to be shown.
    He doesn't want the original version to be seen again, even in the superior Technicolor release prints. (I saw a film collector's print of this years ago and it looked sensational with velvety blacks of space and rich tan fleshtones).

    At least I was able to see the movie in 70mm back in 1977. It was one of my favorite moviegoing experiences although I'll never be able to see it in that format again.
  5. rxfiend

    rxfiend Joe Six-Pack

    May 1, 2001
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    I say it is! the V/A is the best i've ever seen on the SW trilogy. I was blown away by it.
  6. wd40cloud

    wd40cloud Guest

    I should have me Empire Strikes Back review up later this evening.
  7. dwatts

    dwatts Active Member

    May 13, 2002
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    I saw this DVD being played (I didn't buy it, Star Wars just isn't my bag). I just wanted to say that the wuality of the release is amazing. Definately, from what I saw, in the top echelon of DVD releases. The clarity of the image is hard to beat.

    I know we argue about the changes (I find them repugnent) but what I cannot deny is that this release is as good as Star Wars can currently look on DVD technology. Even the naysayers will be taken back with the wow factor.
  8. Katatonia

    Katatonia Hellbound Heart

    Jun 12, 2003
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    Yeah, I agree. As much as I hate all the changes Lucas has made...the picture of the three films all look simply phenomenal on the DVD set.
  9. Grim

    Grim Well-Known Member

    Oct 25, 2002
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    Baltimore, MD
    I agree about the quality. Simply amazing. And, besides A New Hope, the changes aren't really that major, so I don't think that should hold anybody back from getting this set.

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