I was two years old when the original “Star Wars: A New Hope” was in movie theaters. My parents, both of whom happened to like sci-fi movies, took me to see it. I don’t remember this, of course, but my mom tells me that when “The Empire Strikes Back” came out three years later, the theater that my family went to had a large balloon replica of Darth Vader’s head on the top of the theater.
I must have remembered him well enough to know he was the bad guy, because she says that I cried when I saw it. To be perfectly honest, though, the only one of the original three movies I actually have memories of seeing in the theater was “Return of the Jedi,” when I was eight years old. Still, I take great pride in telling all of my friends how I was lucky enough to have seen all of the Star Wars movies, when they were first released, in the theaters.
When the movies were re-released in theaters 1997, I was ecstatic. My family had owned the movies on VHS, and we watched them often, but it wasn’t quite the same. So I gladly paid my money to get into the theater, thrilled to be able to see them on the big screen once again.
And then was disappointed. These were not the movies of my childhood memories! Sure, they were still basically the same movies, and some of the changes were good, but why, oh why, did they have to go and change the Ewok song? Now Lando Calrissian had no rhythm! I had hoped to get these re-released versions on DVD, but after seeing them in the theater, I wasn’t really interested any more. I wanted to be able to watch the movies the way I remembered them.
Now, finally, I have that possibility. September 12, 2006, saw the release of the the original Star Wars trilogy on DVD, each movie in its original theatrical version. Each of the three movies comes as a two disc set – the first disc contains the revised version of the movie, while the second disc contains the original theatrical release. Neither disc contains much in the way of true “special features,” but the capability to watch either version of the movie is special enough, in my opinion. True, I probably will never sit through the entirety of the revised versions, but some day, I may have the strange urge to see the part where they edited Hayden Christensen in as the ghost of Darth Vader, thus making Luke Skywalker older than his father… or I may want to see Lando Calrissian’s lack of rhythm…
But somehow, I doubt it.
Fans of this trilogy who have not already bought copies will want to be sure to do so before December 31st, because after that date, this version will not be available for retail purchase.