On November 1st, the Star Wars saga will be complete on DVD with the release of the missing piece of the puzzle, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Developed by the same team that put together the bestselling and award-winning DVD releases of the other Star Wars films, the Episode III DVD was produced concurrently with the hit movie.
DISC 1: THE FEATURE
"From the beginning of production, George Lucas wanted to be sure we chronicled everything that went into the making of Episode III specifically to create an incredible DVD experience," said Jim Ward, the DVD's executive producer and Senior Vice President of Lucasfilm Ltd. "This DVD has literally been three years in the making, and it's going to be a fantastic way to complete the Star Wars saga at home."
Like its predecessor Episode II, Revenge of the Sith's live action was captured with the latest generation of HD digital cameras and lenses. Since the source material and the final DVD transfer stayed within the digital medium from beginning to end, the finished result is pristine image and sound clarity, overseen by the quality assurance experts at THX. Like previous releases, the release includes a THX Optimizer for on-screen calibration of picture and sound to perfect levels.
To best preserve the image and sound quality of the feature, the centerpiece of any DVD release, Lucasfilm has once again separated the movie and bonus materials onto two discs. Upon inserting Disc One into a DVD player, the screen soon fills with an Episode III environment transformed into a menu presentation.
DVD Producer Van Ling is again responsible for taking the worlds of Star Wars and customizing the imagery to create a dynamic and engaging menu experience. "ILM really worked hard to give me usable elements as digital files," says Ling. "I'm constantly trying to find ways to take their elements and use them in ways they never intended or could even imagine."
The menus consist of familiar yet new presentations of Episode III imagery. One of three randomly selected environmental themes appears each time you watch: either fiery Mustafar, with its lava rivers and heat-blasted industrial facility; Utapau, base of operations for the wicked General Grievous; or Coruscant, with the showdown between Emperor Palpatine and Yoda in the Senate being a featured scene. Hyperspace members, for more information about the creation of these menus, click here.
Knowing that fans like to home in on their specific favorite scenes, Lucasfilm segmented the film into 50 chapters. With titles such as "Tragedy of Darth Plagueis," "Mace vs. Sidious," "Order 66" and "Immolation," and animated presentations on the menu screens, viewers will have no problem finding just the scene they're looking for.
The DVD is available in both Widescreen and Full Screen. Determining which version is right for you is primarily a question of personal tastes. Widescreen preserves the rectangular image as it was presented in movie theaters, but in order to fit that rectangular image into the more squarish shape of a standard TV image, black bars appear at the top and bottom on the screen. Full Screen doesn't have the black bars, but fills the screen top-to-bottom with imagery. However, since a rectangular image cannot fully fit into a square shape, parts of the image are cropped out of the frame. An example of the differences is included here, but to find out more about the differences, see this article.
Disc One presents multiple audio options for viewers. You can fully experience the rich aural experience of Revenge of the Sith in Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 EX, or choose from English Dolby Surround 2.0, French Dolby Surround 2.0 and Spanish Dolby Surround 2.0. The movie also has optional English subtitles that can be toggled on and off. For those seeking insight into the creation of the movie as it plays out, one of the optional audio tracks includes commentary provided by George Lucas, Producer Rick McCallum, Visual Effects Supervisors John Knoll and Roger Guyett and Animation Director Rob Coleman.
"This was my seventh commentary with George [Lucas], including all six Star Wars films and THX 1138," says Gary Leva, producer of the audio commentary. "We have fun together and, since I've also produced documentaries for all the previous DVD sets, I know the ground we're covering pretty well by now. So I can ask intelligent questions and sort of guide him into areas I think would be interesting for fans. George has gotten increasingly skilled at doing commentaries. It's been fun for me to work with him over the years and watch the progression."
DISC 2: THE EXTRAS
After enjoying the movie, viewers can delve deeper into the Episode III experience with Disc Two, where all the bonus features reside. Known as "value-added material" in the industry, Lucasfilm has taken care to make bonus material engaging, insightful and entertaining. While some other DVDs load their value-added discs with playable interactive gimmicks and games, Lucasfilm has instead concentrated on making the material illuminate the filmmaking process and serve as a sort of abbreviated "mini film school."
Disc Two content is also introduced through a series of animated menus that transform familiar Episode III settings. The tight production deadlines of the Episode III DVD meant that Producer Van Ling and his team only developed the concepts for the Disc Two menus, but the actual execution of these designs fell to The Studio at New Wave Entertainment. "They have a very different style and feel from my menus, which were very interesting to see," says Ling. Producing for New Wave was Paul Miles Schneider, with art direction by Mike Romey. Environments include the bridge of General Grievous' cruiser, the Jedi Temple computer rooms, and Darth Vader's rehabilitation chamber.
The centerpiece of the bonus material is the 78-minute documentary Within a Minute. It is an unusual format for a documentary, with a specific and challenging story to tell. "It truly is mind-boggling how many people, how many thousands of hours it takes to make just one sequence," says Rick McCallum. "An interesting experiment is to actually take a sequence of shots, and analyze how many people were involved in the making of that sequence. Within this brief moment of the film you really have a window into the entire process it took to make Episode III."
To that end, Within a Minute takes a 49-second sequence from the Mustafar lightsaber duel and looks at its development from start to finish. "There are hundreds of names and jobs in the end credits, but hardly anyone understands just what all of those people do and what an enormous contribution they make to the movie," says Tippy Bushkin, director of Within a Minute. "By focusing on less than 60 seconds of the movie, Rick McCallum and George Lucas examine the entire process of making Episode III in a fun and fascinating way."
There are two other documentaries provided by Bushkin and her crew within the same section of Disc Two. The Chosen One is a 14-minute look at Hayden Christensen's role as Anakin Skywalker and the transformation of the character into Darth Vader.It's All For Real is an 11-minute documentary about Nick Gillard, Stunt Coordinator and Sword Master for Episode III, and his crew's development of the amazing action and swordplay in Revenge of the Sith. Hyperspace members, for more information about the making of these documentaries, see this story here.
Fans who have been tracking the making of Episode III online since the earliest days of production are already familiar with the Making Episode III web doc series. First debuted on Hyperspace, the best 15 chapters of the 18-chapter series are included on the disc. Watch the following in full screen resolution without having to log onto the website to see them:
"Two Worlds, One Movie"
"...One World, Two Movies"
"We Still Do A Little Bit"
"Creating General Grievous"
"This Weapon Is Your Life"
"Epic Designs for an Expanding Universe"
"C-3PO: His Moment to Shine"
"Pick-ups & Reshoots"
"The Wookiees are Back!"
"B-107: The Life of an HD-Tape"
"The Creatures of Episode III"
"Endlessly Compelling: The Music of Episode III"
The Episode III DVD also contains a collection of deleted scenes. As in previous DVD releases, some of these scenes have been completed, with finished visual effects, sound and score.
The first one, however, in a mix of complete and incomplete footage, serving more as an animatic to a story-point cut from Episode III. "General Grievous Slaughters a Jedi; Escape From The General" has the evil cyborg general kill Shaak Ti before a helpless Obi-Wan and Anakin. The two Jedi escape Grievous' grasp by cutting their way through the cruiser's floor, from the proverbial frying pan into the proverbial fire by landing into a chamber filled with volatile starship fuel.
The next three deleted scenes follow the cut Rebel Alliance storyline cut from Episode III. Padmé Amidala would conspire with Senators Bail Organa, Mon Mothma and others to create worst-case contingencies to Palpatine's growing powers. In "A Stirring in the Senate," the Senators gather in Bail Organa's office to start the discussion. In "Seeds of Rebellion," the conversation picks up in Padmé's apartment. In "Confronting the Chancellor," diplomacy is given once last chance as Padmé voices her concerns to Palpatine with Anakin standing nearby.
The next deleted scene, "A Plot to Destroy the Jedi?" is a quiet scene with Yoda, Mace Windu and Obi-Wan in Yoda's apartment. They discuss the imbalance in the Force and the danger of Palpatine's rule. Finally, there's "Exiled to Dagobah," the long-anticipated scene where Yoda arrives on the bog planet where he will live out the rest of his life. These deleted scenes are playable with optional introductions by George Lucas and Rick McCallum.
Marketing and promotional material developed for the release of Episode III is also included on the disc, including the theatrical teaser and release trailer, as well as the "A Hero Falls" music video, which features John Williams' epic "Battle of the Heroes" score. There are 15 television spots, ranging from action-packed commercials for younger audiences, longer emotional spots for older audiences, and even the review spots that showcase the overwhelmingly positive critical response to Episode III. Disc Two also features poster galleries and dozens of photos from production, including some never before published.
By now, gaming fans should know that November 1st is not only the release date for the Episode III DVD, but also the day the sequel to the most successful Star Wars videogame of all time comes out. Star Wars Battlefront II is coming out for Xbox, PlayStation 2, PC and Sony PSP. The open-ended battlefield play of the original that let you control the troops, vehicles and weapons you wanted against multiple players, is back and better than before. It now features playable Jedi characters, space combat, and new Episode III content. For those wanting a taste of Battlefront II, the DVD contains a fully playable Xbox demo of the game. The trailer for the game, as well as the trailer for Star Wars Empire at War is also on the DVD.
There's more. The DVD is your gateway to online exclusives. With the Episode III DVD, an Internet connection, a web browser with Flash 7 or higher, and a system running Microsoft Windows 2000 or higher*, dvd.starwars.com is your source for exclusive text-based commentaries. Find out a wealth of behind-the-scenes trivia, hard-to-spot visual details, and expanded universe lore as in the Depth Commentary. Compare the differences between the movie on paper and the movie in action with the Script-to-Screen commentary, and get a whole new and decidedly strange interpretation of Episode III with the "Busted Protocol Droid" Commentary. That's just the start. There are more online commentaries and unique viewing experiences in the works for Episode III and the entire Star Wars DVD library.
* Some features may work on Apple Macintosh running OS 10.2 or higher.
For more information, visit starwars.com
Dont't forget to also check out: Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith [WS] [2 Discs]