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In the early 90s I remember having "digitally remastered" versions of the Star Wars Trilogy on VHS (Letterbox/Surround/THX), it would be good to have higher quality versions of these but I'm unsure whether they are generally available.

I have heard some criticism of the 're-released' trilogy.

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  • Look for the DVD's with bonus discs including the "original theatrical release versions". – Wad Cheber Jan 16 '16 at 21:52
  • This question generally meets our requirement as a good "shopping question". I have voted to reopen. – Skooba Apr 6 '19 at 14:49
  • I have have also reworded the title of the question a bit to remove possibly subjective "best' wording. – Skooba Apr 6 '19 at 14:54

10 Answers 10

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There is a DVD box set release that came complete with the unaltered original films as bonus material.

Each movie comes as a two-disc set—one disc is the 2004 remastered version of the film, while the second disc is a version that captures its original theatrical presentation.

Star Wars Trilogy - Unaltered

If you heard that this 're-released' trilogy was not so good. It's because it used non-anamorphic video sourced from the 1993 LaserDisc releases. It's just not good as the restored 1997 Special Edition (Gold or Silver box) and any subsequent release, which you should avoid because it include many changes from the original theatrical version.

Special Edition Gold : AVOID Special Edition Silver : AVOID

After that, I think your best bet would be to check garage sales or to go on Ebay for the first VHS release of Stars wars or The "1995 VHS THX Edition" (Black box).

VHS THX Edition

The 1993 laser disc Star Wars Trilogy: The Definitive Collection would be also OK, if you have the player to use it, but you wont have a better image than with the DVD, as the source is the same.

But, be notified even those versions has some small changes, I recommend to check the wikipedia page about List of changes in Star Wars re-releases to pick the release you want.

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    +1 - I hadn't realized this box set contained those versions. – DampeS8N Sep 18 '11 at 1:42
  • Alas, the 2008 sets had the original versions of the movies in really low quality, non-anamorphic video. – user1027 Sep 18 '11 at 2:55
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    @keen the 2008 original versions "used non-anamorphic video sourced from the 1993 LaserDisc releases". So it is good as the LaserDisc and it cannot be badder than a VHS tape for technical reason. – DavRob60 Sep 18 '11 at 12:00
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Another great alternative is Harmy's Despecialized Editions. Basically a guy called Harmy went and reconstructed the original versions from a variety of newer sources:

This is a reconstruction of the 1977 theatrical version of STAR WARS. The original shots were painstakingly restored using various sources (listed below) and the film received an extensive shot by shot colour correction based on a fade free 1977 I.B. Technicolor Print.

You can find them here:

Star Wars

Empire Strikes Back

Return of the Jedi

If you want physical copies of them, there are printable covers and disc art included as well. The end product looks like this:

enter image description here

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    "Another great alternative" is an understatement. It's the best version right now and it's awesome. – bbigras Aug 30 '14 at 18:15
  • Is there a way to get these already on blu-ray? (instead of downloading, etc.) – Malachi Sep 2 '15 at 22:05
  • Not as far as I know. All of this is fan generated, so it's not sold anywhere. – Wayzgoose Sep 3 '15 at 10:15
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LaserDisc will probably be the best quality you can find of the 'original' version of the first trilogy:

http://www.amazon.com/Star-Trilogy-Widescreen-Collectors-Laser/dp/B000EDQCC8

I reckon that it will be easier to find hens' teeth, though.

Also - reputedly - Lucas has destroyed the original masters so that the only 'definitive' studio version available is the special edition which was released at the end of the 90s.

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    The version on the Laser Disk is the 1981 rerelease, but it is, for the most part, the same as the later prints of the original run. – aramis Sep 14 '11 at 16:45
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    Watching hen’s teeth for six hours isn’t quite as entertaining as watching the original Star Wars trilogy. But the prequel trilogy, well... – Paul D. Waite Jun 2 '15 at 13:37
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It really depends what you don't want. If you want the movies as they appeared in the theaters, you'll have to hunt down one of the original film reels. That's an expensive proposition but ALL of the at-home releases of the films are modified in some way. Even if just to add "Episode IV: A New Hope" to the opening crawl.

The VHS releases up to the special edition are the only versions that don't contain the now infamous extra footage and Greedo shooting first. The special editions and the DVD releases are all more-or-less the same. And the new Blu-ray versions are different still. Although exactly how they differ I am not sure.

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The best recreation of the original version is Harmy's "Despecialized Edition", which is based primarily on the Blu-ray versions, with most of the SE content removed:

http://originaltrilogy.com/topic/Harmys-STAR-WARS-Despecialized-Edition-HD-V25-MKV-IS-OUT-NOW/id/12713

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Certainly in the UK can can get these:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Star-Wars-Episode-IV-Theatrical/dp/B000FMH8UI/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1296458411&sr=8-9

They include both the original theatrical release and the Special Edition.

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  • I'm pretty sure my copy of these does not have the original theatrical release - but I'm not at home to confirm... – HorusKol Jan 31 '11 at 22:30
  • the original original theatrical release didn't even say "A New Hope" at the head of the crawl text... and was replaced 2 weeks into the initial run... tho it too up to 4 weeks for the revised prints to arrive in some theaters. (Such as those in Fairbanks and Anchorage, Alaska.) – aramis Sep 14 '11 at 16:44
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This restoration of an original 35mm film print is probably the best pre-Special Edition version currently available:

http://www.thestarwarstrilogy.com/starwars/post/2016/01/15/Team-Negative-One-completes-35mm-Restoration-of-Star-Wars

http://originaltrilogy.com/topic/team-negative1-star-wars-1977-35mm-theatrical-version-release-details-and-updates/id/14590

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  • Only an answer for Star Wars (no "new hope" nonesense), rather than for the whole trilogy, but I can't recommend it too much. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Nov 15 '19 at 22:03
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Have you tried "Starwars revisited" By Adywan? Search "Adywan revisited" into YouTube to see side-by-side comparisons of the original and improved footage. He also removed unnecessary and annoying CGI that was in the official revisions.

P.s, I got a special ediditon with both the original unaltered footage and the "improved" ones or the originals a few years ago, you might want to check it out on Ebay?

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I have the Star Wars Trilogy THX Widescreen Edition VHS box set that DavRob60 was referring if you would like to know what the packaging looks like.

enter image description here

Star Wars Trilogy Theatrical Edition DVD Box Set: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Star-Wars-Trilogy-DVD-2008-6-Disc-Set-Widescreen-Theatrical-Edition-BRAND-NEW-/271870769445?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f4cc2b925

Star Wars Trilogy THX Widescreen Edition VHS Box Set: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Star-Wars-Trilogy-THX-Box-Set-Editiond-Limited-8729-VHS-Set-of-3-Widescreen-/161720238102?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item25a7470016

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The best non special edition is the Japanese special collection widescreen cav laserdiscs from 1985-1986 they are the truest representation of the original trilogy in digital Dolby prologic

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