The New OT Canon

A temporary page with a preliminary report on the Original Trilogy DVD versions and their impact.

The new versions of the original Star Wars films are a sight to behold.  The crispness of the DVD format is wonderful, though I can't claim to be as impressed as I hoped to be. 

Given that this is now the second time Lucas has gone back to clean up the original films, I found the various uncorrected scenes rather jarring.   Remnant matte boxes around spacecraft, bluescreen halos around people and objects, and similar problems abound.  (Even the inaccurate line-drawing of the Death Star remains in ANH.)  Whereas one might look past them were these the true original versions, they are especially irritating given that so many of these issues were resolved or replaced altogether in other scenes.  That said, however, one can easily see that the actual original versions simply wouldn't have survived the transition into the DVD format . . . they would've looked horrible compared to more modern films, and especially against the prequels.

The only other thing I've found really bothersome is the peculiar choice of color balance.  Some scenes have had color added, others have seen it removed.  For instance, the Alderaan blast is now impressively red-hued, whereas the Death Star blast is now almost drained of color, save for a new blue field around it.   Other explosions have random areas of unfamiliar green.

In any case, there are only certain issues that affect the site.  While the below is by no means a complete list, it contains most of the major elements I've noticed while watching:

1.  Whereas I once said "'difficult to see, the arrow is'" regarding the scene in RoTJ of Ewok arrows striking Imperial troopers, the arrows are now clear as day.  Below is one of the most striking examples.  Compare the images from the current page, wherein I had to mark the nearly-invisible arrow, to the new DVD image:

Though that could, of course, have been digitally added, I'm reasonably certain it was not.  It was just hard as $#!+ to see before.

Similarly, the arrow that penetrates the trooper's armor is now clearly visible, finally rendering moot any effort to claim that it did not penetrate said armor.  

(Update:  Though it boggles the mind, SD.Net denizens are still claiming, even on the basis of the DVD, that the arrow didn't penetrate the armor, but instead that it is sticking into the trooper's exposed neck/upper back.  I must say, they never cease to amaze me . . . and not in a good way.)

2.  The ESB scene of the bridge tower being sheared off is now clearer than ever.  The tower itself is gone as always, though some of the aft neck may now remain.  

3.  The shot to Leia's arm was the subject of a peculiar claim that it was a hit to the wall near her and not her arm at all.  This was entirely senseless even with the images available at the time, but now that argument is completely destroyed by the DVD images.

4.  Here, we have the old screencaps from the "original Special Edition" of ANH of Alderaan's destruction.  As noted, there've been a few changes . . . the primary explosion is now a bit redder than it used to be, for instance.  In addition, one frame has been significantly altered:

Whereas there used to be visible planet on the left and other detail within the bright white area, now all that is visible is whiteness and something orangey-red to the right.  I'll have to re-examine the sequence to see what that does to the band of brightness, since that was previously the first frame in which it was visible.

That said, this revision actually makes more sense.  The glow previously raced around the planet at or near lightspeed, but had come to a virtual halt for the SE frame above.  Though I don't like the lack of detail within the explosion area, the glow's travel speed now makes more sense.

Also, you can more clearly see the little doodad on the upper left, which I previously didn't pay much attention to (presuming it to be a vidcap artifact, or part of the rig holding the planet model, or what-have-you).  As Alderaan has no moon, I'm not sure what that is supposed to be.  If I didn't know better, I'd almost be tempted to say it was a second Death Star firing a red beam at the planet.   In any case, the object floats off toward the left, and gets lost in the primary blast.  I pondered whether it could be considered the source of the secondary blast somehow, but the object does not travel in the proper direction.

Besides the above, the pre-ring impact frames have not been significantly changed, though it is all much sharper and with much higher contrast now.  Below, we have DVD and, where readily available, similar-sized SE versions:

There's still nothing to indicate the shield that one could've inferred from the original version of the superlaser hit:

However, it sadly comes as no surprise that the opposition is still claiming a clearly visible shield.  I'm not sure where this fanciful claim comes from.   Given the last shot from the Death Star command center (wherein the same frame of Alderaan is used as seen pre-hit above), the superlaser is fired on Alderaan, nearly missing it.  Everything else, save for the altered frame, proceeds normally.

I've heard reference to the lighter-colored crescent on the right from the first impact frame being the source of the shield claim, but that makes no more sense with the DVD version than it did with the SE version.   What would a shield be doing over there, far to the right of the impact site?  Why is there no trace of it on the left?  Why does it correspond to the nearby cloud patterns?  Why would a shield show up only as a distant crescent just to the right of the terminator, but not over the proper location of the surface?  And so on.

In reality, it's a simple error rendered more visible on the DVD . . . you can look at the other frames and see that ILM's artists from '97 don't seem to know where the surface is past the terminator, and overestimated how thick the atmosphere is supposed to be on a planet that distant.   Of course, since they left the planet with its muted blue water and muted grey clouds, the latter actually makes a little sense.

In-universe, I'm not sure what it is, off-hand.  Given the next frame it looks like it must be clouds, but you can see at the upper right how this would require a misshapen Alderaan, and I'm not fond of that idea.  I suppose the little divit could be a gap in the clouds, but it seems awfully sharp for that.

For now, I'm holding off on a firm "IT IS THIS" position, pending further analysis.  After all, I'd hate to behave like my opposition and leap to an irrational conclusion.

More to come . . .