smoketetsuo: (GalaxyGirl)
This is something that caught my attention today. As many of you know for the longest time George Lucas has been monkeying around with the Star Wars Trilogy changing things here and there for new editions. These changes have become more drastic and egregious as time goes by. Of course this makes many fans who grew up with the movies unhappy. Some of these fans are so unhappy that they have made their own edition to preserve the original while "remastering it in HD". The concept of these "despecialized" editions seems like a good one in theory. For me the reality doesn't line up with that though.

Basically the idea is to combine the work needed to be done to preserve the original film while not changing things such as who shot first or adding in obvious CGI or possibly even keeping the old songs for Jabba's palace and the Yub Nub song for the Ewoks. 

I also like the idea that some have had of recreating the 6 channel Dolby Stereo audio track from the 70mm prints of the film which is supposed to sound better than even the latest 5.1 Dolby Digital remixes for some elements. Yes, sometimes older sound track mixes for movies sound better than the later Dolby Digital or even DTS Datasat remixes. I noticed this in Micheal Jackson's Moonwalker for example.. the new digital surround sound tracks in the blu-ray edition sounded disappointing compared to the Dolby Pro Logic encoded Hi-Fi stereo track on the old VHS tape I have. Even when I decided to switch back to the old speakers I used to use with my old surround sound system it still doesn't 100% match it. So if they can do an audiophile mix for Star Wars that would be fine by me.

However there is one major flaw that this collection has. In order to restore much of the old scenes as they where in the original cut they've gone and used footage from the last unaltered DVD release which of course was Sub-HD.. then upscaled it and photoshopped in photographic elements from the special editions. I'm sorry but I'm not interested in a version of the movie with even more wildly varying degrees of quality than what the film had with different film stock\lighting conditions\etc. as it is. The only way it would have worked out for me is if the people working on it had access to the restored and unaltered negatives rather than low grade compressed Sub-HD footage from home video. Yes, even the laserdisc wouldn't have cut it for me as a source because that too was Sub-HD.... and worse if it had hardcoded letterboxes because they didn't make it anamorphic for widescreen TVs instead making it for 4:3 big screen TVs that where popular amongst home theater enthusiasts of the day... this makes the resolution even lower as the widescreen frame has to be shrunk down and fit onto a 4:3 SD frame.

I was looking through some screenshot comparisons and for some scenes it was fine especially the easier stuff like the title screens, the opening crawl, stuff that's OK in the special editions, etc. they almost had me "sold". What un-sold me on the concept was seeing the Princess Leia hologram in their edition compared to the Special Edition versions. It was obvious to me in scenes like that that they simply upscaled footage from the DVD since it obviously lacked the resolution the HD remasters have. 

Take a look at this example.. superimposing scan-lines to the hologram is not enough.. I can obviously see that the right side is more blurry than the left side even considering they are all downscaled to DVD resolution in this example... there are other examples perhaps even better ones but this is a quick one:
Click on it to view it full size and see what I mean....

Unfortunately for me that means there's no perfect edition. I doubt there's any restored 35MM 4 channel (left, center, right and surround) Dolby Stereo or 70MM with 6 channel Dolby Stereo audio prints with color correction and other photographic work done on it but no CGI added for example. For now I'm sticking to the 720p version I got of the movies in HD recorded in 2004 from an HD movie channel that is 1997 special edition rather than the latest special edition. 

I realize for some people nostalgia counts more than anything else and they'd rather see something like this with some elements in HD but everything the way they remembered it. To be honest though if nostalgia is all that mattered to me I wouldn't want to re-watch any old movies at all I'd rather keep the rosy memories or not so.. I remember some things from the past not being so great looking back... some stuff in the past was subbar in quality and even as a kid I could see this.


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