Star Wars, Home Video, and Me

In 1978, the year after Star Wars was released, our family got two things: our first VCR, and our first VHS copy of Star Wars. The bootleg video came from a friend of a relative who worked in a movie theater. A video camera was setup on a tripod after hours in a movie theater, and the entire movie was videotaped. The quality was crap — everyone appeared tall and skinny and you can imagine what the audio sounded like — and we still watched the heck out of it. I remember Christmas Day, 1978, watching Star Wars in our living room while reenacting movie scenes with the ships and action figures Santa had delivered.

By the time Return of the Jedi hit theaters in 1983 HBO was showing Star Wars regularly, and the following year it aired for the first time on CBS. A few years later I got my first legitimate copy of Star Wars — an ex-rental tape.

The original trilogy boxset was released in 1994, while I was working at Best Buy. The first three films (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi) were released in a single boxset for $50. Finally, I owned all three movies on video! I would never need to purchase them again!

(Insert sound of Jabba the Hutt laughing at me here.)

A year or two later, I bought the THX re-release boxset. And then, the letterbox edition, followed by the version that was both letterboxed AND THX. Not including the original bootleg and the ex-rental, I now owned four complete copies of the trilogy.

And then came DVD.

Not willing to wait for Lucas’ official releases, I bought two DVD bootleg copies of the trilogy. One was actually VCD discs from Singapore/Malaysia. The other were out-and-out bootlegs, copies that someone had transferred from laserdisc to DVD. Then came the official special edition releases, which I also purchased, which were followed by the newer three movies which I also picked up.

If you include both Ewok movies (both of which I own on both VHS and DVD), the Ewok cartoons, the Droids cartoons, the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, both seasons of the Clone Wars cartoons and other odds and ends I’ve picked up over the years … that’s a lot of freakin’ Star Wars movies.

This is all a long winded way of saying yes, I did purchase the “new” Star Wars DVDs that came out last week. The new 2 DVD releases contain the Special Edition of each movie on one disc and the original unedited theatrical versions on the other. $20 per package times three movies.

At this point I could watch a different release of the same movie every night next week. And I just might.

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3 comments to Star Wars, Home Video, and Me

  • I’ve been a little more conservative in my trilogy-buying over the years. Well, slightly. I have the VHS box set of the special editions in widescreen, a UK VHS box set of the pre-SE THX editions (again in widescreen), which I used to burn DVDs from for myself, and at that point I held off until this most recent DVD release. I don’t treat the special edition debate as a holy crusade like some folks do – in fact, sometimes I’m in a mood for the SEs rather than the originals. But I wasn’t going to buy them on DVD until the original versions were at least an option. I’ll worry about them not being anamorphic one of these days when I actually have a widescreen TV.

  • Rob

    I’m sure Mason will grow up preferring the Special Editions over the originals, but to me, Jedi ain’t Jedi without Sy Snoodle’s original song and the Ewok celebration. Yub yub!

  • The thing about the SE version of Jedi dropping the original music is that, if that music that was dropped in at the end had turned out to be Anakin’s theme (which we wouldn’t realize until the prequels came out), then I would’ve been much more okay with that. But it wasn’t, so it just becomes a pointless change because the original music that was there wouldn’t have covered all of those extra CGI scenes of the galaxy celebrating. I would much rather have just had the Ewok music re-recorded with an extra verse of “yub nub!” or two.

    Eh, don’t get me started.