Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-ray will be available on September 16th, and The Digital Bits were the first to get a sneak peek at this nine disc set. They've revealed that Lucasfilm, under the supervision of George Lucas himself, has gone back and made even more changes to these films, which have already been tooled with beyond any fan irritation.
Some of the changes are for the better and are purely technical. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace will finally contain the entire film image from its digital transfer, meaning that none of the picture is lost from the original file to the DVD, as it was when this chapter in the saga was first released on the DVD format. To see the difference in image, and how much of the actual picture is being restored, CLICK HERE
There have been overall improvements in the image quality of all six films, as they are being mastered from original digital source material. The unnecessary edge-enhancement and color-timing issues, which made some of the lightsabers on display in the 2004 releases look washed out, have also been corrected. George Lucas has also, in his infinite wisdom, gone back and corrected some of the more quirky visual mistakes that he originally, intentionally left in the last time these movies were reworked. For instance, when the Wampa attacks the Tauntaun, we will no longer see the puppeteer's arm at the edge of the frame. The audio has also been greatly improved on all six movies.
Those all sound like legitimate changes necessary in updating Star Wars for its Blu-ray release, even though erasing some of the more charming on-screen mistakes may tick off certain fans. The disturbing news is that George Lucas has gone back through the films, adding in new "surprises" and additions that could royally piss off those hardcore audience members who were hoping to see the original, uncut trilogy included here.
The first three Star Wars movies, as originally released in theaters, will not be included as part of this set. But there will be some new additions, starting with a digital Yoda that, some speculate, will be reinserted over the puppet used in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. As far as we know, Frank Oz's original puppet work in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi is being left intact.
What are these new surprises? Well, we'll have to wait for Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-ray to be released on September 16th to find out, as Lucasfilm is keeping this information a secret. Here is what The Digital Bits had to say about these new surprise changes.
"These should probably be best considered new 2011 versions of these films, and not the 2004 DVD versions. All the fixes and corrections alone justify this in my opinion, but there's another reason too... and you can probably guess what it is: Once again, George Lucas has apparently added a few new "surprises" into these films. I don't know what they are and didn't get to see any of them on Friday, but I was assured that there will be "new things to notice" when we watch the films. I think we can safely assume that one of them will be the new all-digital Yoda in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. Way back when Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sithwas released on DVD, ILM digital effects supervisor Pablo Helman confirmed to me that the puppet Yoda in Star Wars: Episode I was replaced with a digital version to better match his appearance in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. In fact, the Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith DVD extras includes a clip of the Star Wars: Episode I digital Yoda. However, this Blu-ray set is really the first opportunity we'll have to see it in full. What the other changes to these films may be, I have no idea, but I suspect there will be no lack of blog posts on this very subject within hours of the first discs becoming available to fans."
Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-ray arrives in stores on September 16th.