20-years later, fans still really hate the Star Wars special editions that George Lucas forced upon us in 1997. The biggest crime is that he altered the original film prints, so the original cuts of the movies have yet to be officially released in any sort of modern format. Though, many dedicated fans have done their best to amend this. Super fan Adywan is one of the most shining examples and he has just finished work on the long-awaited The Empire Strikes Back: Revisited, a painstaking fan edit that is intended to present fans with "what the special editions should have been." And you can see it for yourself, if you're willing to jump through some hoops.
According to a recent post on the official Facebook page for Star Wars: Revisited, this new version of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back is now available. The creators provided some links to download the newly edited version of the movie, which incorporated newly created models and "upgraded" shots in order to create something much more in line with the original theatrical release, but with some less offensive improvements. A complete list of changes, and there are more than 200 of them, can be viewed on Star Wars Revisited Blog. So far, the fan response has been overwhelmingly positive. Here's what the creative team had to say about the release.
"The day has finally come where I can share this edit with all of you. It's been a long hard slog, with many ups and downs (mainly downs), but I was never prepared to just give up. The support you have all shown is what kept me going, so I can't thank you enough. Now, how do you get it? We do not support piracy. Please don't ask us for copies of the DVD or offer us any money or anything else in return for a copy. We will refuse every time. We did not set out to do this project for anything other than enjoyment and wanting to share an alternate version of the films. We have purchased the official versions of the films, so we would like you to do so too."
As much as fans may want to see The Empire Strikes Back: Revisited, which follows the "Revisited" version of the original 1977 Star Wars, it is certainly operating in some sketchy areas, legally speaking. Disney currently owns the rights to Star Wars and releasing any version of these movies is certainly not legal, but Adywan and his team are doing their best to make it clear they aren't doing this for profit and aren't trying to step on any toes. That is why they aren't directly providing copies to anyone and why they aren't accepting any money.
Illegal or not, this is something that Star Wars fans arguably deserve. Even though these versions are intended to "exist within its own canon," they are filling a void. As it stands, the only way to watch the original, theatrical versions of the original Star Wars trilogy is a very poor DVD version that was transferred from a LaserDisc copy. Beyond that, it's VHS or an actual LaserDisc copy, which is far from ideal, given that we live in the age of Blu-ray and digital HD. And, as it stands, Disney and Lucasfilm have no plans on releasing the unaltered versions of the original Star Wars trilogy.
This is just one of many examples that prove the Star Wars fanbase is like no other in the history of pop culture. If you want to get your hands on a copy of The Empire Strikes Back: Revisited, the links probably won't stay online forever before they start getting taken down. You can check out the full Facebook post from the Star Wars: Revisited gang below, which includes any information you'll need to see this version of the movie for yourself.