16. July 2014 07:45
An intriguing new thread appeared on Original Trilogy this week. Lowry Digital, the company that 'restored' the Star Wars trilogy in 2004 for the DVD release - removing all the film grain and cranking up the saturation to a candy colored mess, is now owned by Reliance Media Works and they list a 2012, 4k, 16 bit restoration of Star Wars on their list of projects. Since the 2011 Blu-rays and the 2004 DVDs were based upon the same 2k scan, this has to be a new scan but which version of the film is it? If the 1997 SE materials are to be believed, the 'original negative' now represents the 1997 Special Edition, having been chopped up during that process. Hopefully, the original elements still exist, and perhaps they have been scanned also, ready to be re-inserted into the film digitally.
The original 1977 version of Star Wars has not seen wide release in theaters since the early 1980s so an entire generation has grown up only knowing the Special Edition versions of the films. With Episode VII coming next year, this would be the perfect time to screen the original, unaltered trilogy in Theaters again, and to make it available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray in Christmas 2015 while Star Wars mania is once again sweeping the world. A multi-disc, or seamless branching version of each film, incorporating all the different versions (1977, 1981, 1997, 2004, 2011 - yes, they are all slightly different!) is a tantalizing possibility, however unlikely it may sound.
Fans however, have had their hopes dashed so many times now, that we are reluctant to get too excited about it. Given the timing of the scan, it is likely that it was made in preparation for the aborted 3D version of the films, which would have certainly been Special Edition versions of some flavor, probably matching the 2011 blu-rays. Fans on OT have been studying the sample images and videos trying to determine exactly which version this is, and so far the experts are fairly confident that is from the 'original negative', meaning the 1997 S.E. Only time will tell, what, if anything is done with it, but if we don't see some sort of "remastered" release of the original trilogy to coincide with the new film, I'll be very surprised.